34. Sober confession

Just as Yuri is taking off into the bright lights of international celebrity, the story jumps briefly back to the dark days of Stalin, as Korolev, perhaps aware of his own growing frailty, reveals to Yuri and a colleague his experience of the violence of the Soviet state.
korolev truth, leonov, gagarin global hero
Curiously, a few months before I even knew I would even be involved in Yuri’s Day, I had drawn, as one doodle among many in my notebook, a sketch of two young men having an anxious conversation. With a few modifications it became one of the most significant frames in the story.

Some significant changes were made here, between the original paperback edition and the later hardback and e-book versions. When we began the project it was intended purely for a British audience that we felt knew too little about this crucial event in world history. As the project got under way however, we were astonished by the level of interest coming from around the world.

British audiences tend to be distrustful of heroes who do not have a few human weaknesses. In the original, a page was devoted to glimpses of Yuri’s marital problems, and the stresses of life in the fast lane of celebrity. I decided to drop these, not only because we were now thinking of a wider audience, but also because I had been worried for some time that we were leaving out one of the most surprising aspects of Yuri’s story: The quite astonishing abilities he revealed as an international goodwill ambassador.

Yuri seemed able to apply the same quick thinking that served him well as a pilot and a cosmonaut to facing the world’s press, deflecting hostile questions and making everybody his friend. He seems to have achieved this, not by manipulating people, but through genuine warmth and sheer likeableness. In a way, it was a testimony not only to Yuri’s own abilities, but to Korolev’s genius in seeing the future diplomat and communicator in his raw space-cadet. The first man in space, was always going to have to be more than just a cosmonaut.

A montage of press photos creates a sense of the buzz and excitement of Yuri’s world tours, and gives a happy high point to a story that after all, will have a tragic ending.

This entry was posted in Making a Graphic Novel, Sergei Korolev, The Book, The Space Race, Yuri Gagarin, YURI's DAY, Yuri's life. Bookmark the permalink.

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