Friday, 16 August 2013

WHO IS OCTOBRIANA?

Our next Kult Creations project is 'The New Amazons' – a superheroine team that sees the revival of cult comic character – Octobriana! Who is Octobriana? In 1971 a large format, hardback book was published in Britain, West Germany, the United States and possibly other countries. OCTOBRIANA AND THE RUSSIAN UNDERGROUND by Czech writer, Petr Sadecky told the story of an secret society behind the Iron Curtain that believed in free love and free speech. This group, the P.P.P., created the comic strip adventures of an anti-authority, communist superwoman called Octobriana (named for the 1917 October revolution.) You might say she was the superheroine equivalent of Pussy Riot. Sadecky explains how, if these underground comics creators had been caught they would have been sent to forced labour camps in Siberia! It's a great story... but I'm afraid it isn't true. Although Sadecky's book was believed in Britain and the US for decades, it was soon discredited in West Germany. The Czech originators of the comic strip material that Sadecky had used in his book took him to court over using their work without permission or payment and apparently won the case. West Germany's STERN magazine blew the whole story wide open in late 1971. It seems the original strips of a character called AMAZONA by Boluslav Konecny and Zdenek Burian (and maybe others?) were taken and altered by Sadecky to create the supposed underground Russian comic strips. Sadecky had replaced Amazona's orange triangle tattoo with a red star on her forehead to change her into a communist superhero (and effectively creating a new character.) It's thought Sadecky passed away in the early 1990s, but we would love to hear from anyone with more information. Sadecky greatest legacy is that he claimed the character of Octobriana stood for communist ideals and so therefore shouldn't owned by one person... that she should belong to everyone. This effectively makes Octobriana a public domain character... copyright free. This has allowed lots of different comics creators over the years to use the character and give her their own spin. Most famously Bryan Talbot used her in his epic THE ADVENTURES OF LUTHER ARKWRIGHT, but she has also appeared in 2000AD and dozens of other places over the years. Writer Stuart Taylor and myself used her in the OCTOBRIANA mini-series from Revolution Comics (which won an award for Best New British Comic back in 1997.) I obviously have a thing about public domain characters, having used Robin Hood (in LOXLEY) and comics books' original masked hero, the Clock (in THE CLOCK STRIKES!) in the last few years. So it should be no surprise to anyone to find that I have returned to the Russian She-Devil yet again! Inspired by her status as a female hero who represents her country, I thought she should have a team of similar icons around her... So the New Amazons were born!

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