UK graphic novel ignites interest in Russia!

A 64 page graphic novel, published in Bradford on Avon, has set Russian news media alight, just three weeks after its launch…April 12th 2011 will be the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight: The first man to leave the Earth and enter space. ‘YURI’s DAY, The Road to the Stars’ celebrates this achievement.

The book has recently featured on dozens of Russian websites and publications, including Pravda, The Moscow Times and Izvestia. Russian and Ukrainian TV have both aired interviews.

Created by three local space enthusiasts, they never dreamed it would generate massive controversy in Yuri’s home country!

It was a bit alarming to hear of negative comments from former Cosmonauts, Heroes of the Soviet Union, accusing us of propaganda and distorting history illustrator Andrew King said.

Designer/publisher Peter Hodkinson and space historian Piers Bizony, both based in Bradford on Avon, teamed up with Bath illustrator Andrew King last summer to begin production, of ‘YURI’s DAY’, which is based on research done for Piers Bizony’s Gagarin biography ‘Starman’ due to be re-published later this year.

Pete Hodkinson, director of publishers Spaced Design explains, Our publicity material was initialy aimed at western readers and emphasised ‘Gulag’ slave labour camps, the Nazi invasion and Gagarin’s private life as well as aspects of the Soviet system. Some people in the former Soviet Union are still very sensitive about these things, because Yuri is such a national hero for Russians. We wish to celebrate both him and the Vostok rocket’s creators as world heroes. The chief designer, Sergei Korolev’s journey is an amazing story on its own.

The three are eager to defend their work. The dark side of Soviet life plays a part in the story, but we also show Yuri as he was, a loyal and enthusiastic young Soviet pilot who became a great international ambassador for his country.

The team have now negotiated with Russian translators and publishers to create a high quality edition for Russian readers, hopefully winning over some of their critics. This will be in the form of extended hardback editions in both languages.

The legacy of Cold War propaganda and secrecy means the extraordinary Soviet achievements in space are still not well known in the west. ‘YURI’s DAY’ sets out to reveal that story and to inspire a new generation of space explorers.

Now the creators of YURI’s DAY want an audience closer to home, right here in England, and in the US, to appreciate a story that is unfamiliar to most westerners.

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