Making a graphic novel 9: Mig15 & Valya

Mikhail Kalatozov – The Cranes are FlyingA new star thunders onto the scene! The Mig 15 was the Soviet Union’s top fighter jet in the 1950’s, and yes, another plastic kit had to be hastily built. It wasn’t quite that easy though. For Yuri’s pilot training scenes it had to be the ‘Mig 15 bis’ version, the two-seat trainer model. Rather than build two kits I just combined picture research with my single seater kit. Mig15 and Yuri marries Valya

It struck me how the silver Mig15 looks like the hood ornament on a fifties American car. An odd paradox. Even odder is that Artem Mikoyan, the leading partner in the MiG industrial group, had an older brother, Anastas, a politician in charge of food production who introduced American style ice-cream, hamburgers, corn on the cob, and a raft of other US innovations to the USSR.

Valya’s dress and hairstyle in the courtship scenes are also American inspired. In fact, I was finding that in picture-researching the domestic side of Yuri’s life, I was discovering a world that seemed more and more familiar. The reason for all this is simple. In the 1950’s many developed and developing countries were being heavily influenced by American culture and fashions – including the UK – and the Soviet Union.

I had some fun with Yuri and Valya’s trip to the movies, tracking down films they might have seen. History does not record which one prompted an early argument between them, but I finally made a guess at Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes are Flying, a three-handkerchief weepy about relationships set in WW2. The scene in the cinema uses an actual frame from the film. Reading the script summary, it seemed like just the kind of movie a boy and a girl might have very different perspectives on!

Mikhail Kalatozov – The Cranes are Flying

This entry was posted in Making a Graphic Novel, Mig15, The Book, Yuri Gagarin, Yuri's Flying Machines, Yuri's life. Bookmark the permalink.

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