Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hail Progressive Political Pornography!

Octobriana is a fictional character, a comic superheroine originated from literary hoax made up by Czech artist Petr Sadecký. According to the 1971 book Octobriana and the Russian Underground by Peter Sadecký, Octobriana was created in the 1960’s by a group of dissident Russian artists calling themselves Progressive Political Pornography (PPP). Actually the story given by Sadecky was untrue and Octobriana was, in fact, his own invention.

In Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Sadecký describes the PPP, as a loose group of cells, not only in Russia, but throughout the Soviet Union. This group, Sadecký wrote, started around 1957, after the Twentieth Congress in 1956. At first they called themselves Progressivnaya Politika (Progressive Politics) and tried to go back to the pure principles of The White Russian people and their Scandinavian roots; the Swedish Rus' Vikings. Later they put together samizdat comics about the superheroine Octobriana. One of the stories was: "The living sphinx of the Kamchatka radioactive volcano 1934" in which she swims into a radioactive volcano and kills a giant walrus with her kris. Afterwards she brings the tribesmen of the Koryaks home with a giant flying ball. Another story was titled: "Octobriana and the Atomic Suns"

Octobriana was actually Sadecký's own creation. Petr Sadecký, while still in Prague, enlisted the help of two Czech artists, Bohumil Konečný and Zdeněk Burian, in creating a comic centering around the character of "Amazona." Sadecký told the two that he had a buyer interested in the comic, and they worked together on writing and illustrating the Amazona comic. However, Sadecký betrayed his friends by stealing all the artwork and escaping to the West, where, in his efforts to market the Amazona comic, he changed the dialog, drew a red star on the character's forehead, and was successful only after turning Amazona into a fake political statement, "Octobriana: the spirit of the October Revolution." Major inconsistencies in his story, and a frame in his book where Octobriana is referred to as "Amazona" (p. 83), lend credence to this story. In addition, Burian and Konečný sued Sadecký in a West German court, winning the case but never recovering all their stolen artwork. Since Octobriana is still widely thought to be the product of dissident cells within the U.S.S.R., she is not copyrighted, and has appeared in a variety of artistic incarnations.

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