How to make a graphic novel 16: KGB and FLYING DOGS


KGB saintDuring the Cold War period, westerners were used to seeing the KGB portrayed as sinister, secretive and shadowy, both in real life and in things like the James Bond stories. In fact the ‘spy’ angle was deceptive. The KGB certainly ran undercover agents, but by far the majority of KGB staff were in uniform, in what we might describe today as ‘public facing roles’. They would have been a relatively familiar sight, guarding public figures, government and military establishments, and dealing with public order and security matters. I’m not saying that KGB men routinely helped old people across the road, but they weren’t all undercover agents.KGB, samara, bomb, disposal, space dog
There was plenty of black humour in the Soviet Union about both the rigours of the Cold War, and the sometimes oppressive nature of the state. LIfe was not all slogans and Communist Party discipline, and in adapting the testimony of people who lived through these events, this little story about a rescued dog cosmonaut was a chance to bring out that side of life.

The plane and helicopter are (of course!), both authentic. The Ilyushin 14 airliner reminded me a lot of the old Vickers Viscount which took me as a schoolboy on my first ever international flight. The Yak24 ‘Horse’ helicopter does indeed have four legs. The Soviets took an early lead in the development of helicopters, and produced an impressive range of types for different roles.

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