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This is the story of a man and his young protegé who altered the course of history in 1961, even though the world knew almost nothing about them. The younger man’s great achievement, celebrated to this day, took him less than two hours to complete, yet required his courage and commitment over a period of years. A happy and triumphant superstar at the age of 27, his toughest challenge was to recover his sanity and self-respect in the glare of the global fame that came afterwards. Meanwhile, his protector and boss, Russia’s greatest rocket genius, was forced into the shadows of obscurity by the State authorities.
In 1938 Russian aircraft engineer Sergei Povlovich Korolev was developing simple rockets at an army laboratory in St. Petersburg when he fell victim to Stalin’s terror purge. He was beaten, then imprisoned in a freezing Siberian labour camp. Three years later, on the verge of death, he was ordered to Moscow. Hitler’s armies had invaded andStalin suddenly needed engineers. In 1945 Korolev was sent into the German heartland, where he found to his dismay that Wernher von Braun’s V2 rocket bomb had already outstripped his wildest ambitions.

But by 1957 Korolev had created ‘Raketa-7,’ the first intercontinental ballistic missile. It was designed to drop nuclear bombs onto America, but Korolev knew it could also reach into space. On October 4, 1957 he launched Sputnik into orbit. A month later Sputnik II went up, carrying the dog Laika. Korolev then told the Red Army generals he could build a satellite to snoop on the West, but first he would have to enlist a pilot with excellent eyesight to look out of the satellite’s window and check on what the spy cameras might see. The generals believed him, and in October 1959 a squad of ‘cosmonauts’ was formed. From among that small cadre of hopeful candidates, Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was selected to become the world’s first human space voyager. The consequences of his successful flight are still being felt today.

In the wake of Gagarin’s triumph—and almost exclusively because of it—America felt compelled to bid for the moon. Korolev’s strength of personality enabled him to bend the clumsy Soviet industrial system to his own ends. The moon was his dream, too. Only in recent years has it become clear just how hard he (and other elements within the sprawling Russian rocket sector) really did try to beat Apollo to that famous lunar touchdown.

On January 14, 1966 Korolev died at the age of 59 during what should have been a routine stomach operation. He had designed Soyuz, Russia’s workhorse capsule which is still in use today. He had also embarked on a giant lunar booster, the N-1. After 1966 his legacy was in the hands of weaker administrators. Who knows what might have happened if he had lived a few more years? As for Gagarin: had he lived a little longer, he would have become, to our generation, so much more than merely a famous name repeated in history classes.

Yuri’s Day illustrates a merging of incredible events in glorious comic style…

23 Responses to

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention | Yuri Gagarin - A Graphic Novel --

  2. Mikhail

    There are several mistakes in Russian namely ‘Orenberg’ instead of ‘Orenburg’ and ‘Lisicha’ instead of ‘Lisichka’. I hope there are not too much bears and balalaykas in the book in question.

  3. Darya

    Dear authors of “The Yuri’s day”!

    My name is Darya Varlamova and I’m a journalist of Izvestia newspaper in Russia. I’m very intrigued by your graphic novel and would like to write an article about it. Could you contact me, please? My e-mail is [email protected]

  4. Vlad

    Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov is the correct spelling. The “Sergei Povlovich Korolev” shown here is not. Sergey or Sergei, both are OK, but not middle name Povlovich that definitely misspelled.
    I would buy one if it’s available in US.

  5. Anatoliy

    “Some readers from Russia have not been so happy with us westerners telling the story of…”
    This is mainly because of very ugly and vicious West’s understanding of Russia, russian people, life and history.

  6. Pingback: Британці видали комікс про Гагаріна, що відкривається арештом Корольова | Інтернет-газета "ТАК!"

  7. Rin

    and Sergei Povlovich Korolev instead Sergei Pavlovich Korolev

  8. Pete Hodkinson

    Dear Darya,

    It is better you email Piers who is handling interviews. Perhaps you could email your questions and I could add some sample pages for your article.

    Best wishes,

  9. P Hodgkinson

    Dear Vlad,
    Thanks for your corrections.
    We are happy to post anywhere in the world.
    Please see the store for more details.

    Best wishes,
    Yuri’s Day team

  10. Darya

    I haven’t found Mr. Bizony’s e-mail on the site pages, how could I contact him?

  11. Pingback: Гагарин стал героем британского комикса | Давление света

  12. Alessandro

    Dear Yuri’s Day Team,

    I have seen that you may be looking for a translation of your GREAT work. As a huge fan of Jurij Alekseevich and as an interpreter/translator from/into Italian, English and Russian, I may be extremely happy to help.

    If you are interested, drop me a line!

    Thank you very much for your work guys!


  13. P Hodkinson

    Dera Alessandro,
    Thank you for your interest regarding a translation of Yuri’s Day.
    We already have someone in mind for the Russian.
    Regards, Peter

  14. Ann

    We would have already been on Mars if korolev didn’t die

  15. Anton Grafov

    Hope it was mentioned before, but there is a design flaw on inner page of front cover sample (where the timelines are shown). In lowest “box” the Chaika & Lisichka launch sits under first successful R-7 flight, as if it was in 1957 too (the correct year was 1960). The Belka and Strelka flight also looks misplaced in time.

    PS I’d like to wish you best of luck with this book and please take my apologies for some not-so-perfect English.

  16. P Hodkinson

    Thanks Anton, we will address this in next reprint.

  17. Korolev

    Some news about the comic. (in English) (in Russian)
    God speed you!
    Thanks for the comic!

  18. Alistair

    Have you read Nick Abadzis’ 2007 graphic novel ‘Laika’? Although it’s a mostly fictional story on a related theme, it does compare rather well as a graphic novel product: 200 pages of full colour, quality artwork for £15. I’m afraid 64 pages of (sorry) mediocre art in black and white for £10 seems expensive. I look forward to the written biography.

  19. Stanislav Rubyteno

    This is a joint compilation release celebrating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarins first trip into space. The release is a joint effort of two german (,, two russian netlabels (, and two netradio stations (aura radio from, Release concept and all administrative work was taken over by Andreas Fertig of Klangboot radio. It has been released simultaneously by all four labels on April 5th, 2011. All music is licensed to the public using Creative Commons Licenses so feel free to share it according to the CC regulations.

  20. Stanislav Rubyteno

    Main release page on Kosmoraum:

  21. Andrew J King

    I love Nick Abadzis work, although it took me a while to get used to his style at first. We have adopted a very different approach to storytelling. ‘Laika’ uses a format of regular panels and dialogue that doesn’t change much from page to page. We deliberately adopted a dynamic approach to page design and a more varied mix of text, dialogue and images. Sorry you don’t like the art style, that’s always going to be a personal thing. We chose black and white as it seemed to fit the mood we wanted to create. As for the price-point, that’s down to hard facts of publishing economics. As a relatively small publisher we have to live within the economics and price points of the print runs we can afford. We think, with the additional material, and the fast-moving way we tell an exciting and complex story, we are giving readers something worthwhile, and many have agreed with us. With an expanded hardback and e-book editions now available we feel we are offering readers a good range of deals.

  22. Pingback: Yuri’s Day – The Road to the stars. La graphic novel su Yuri Gagarin | K Comics Fest

  23. Pingback: Graphic novel celebrates the life of world’s first spaceman, Yuri Gagarin |

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