Smuggled Communist Comics and the Birth of Octobriana

103 years ago this November, the Bolshevik Party, lead by Vladimir Lenin, successfully carried out a coup later known as the October Revolution and effectively transformed Russian into a new soviet republic. While this is the famed political upset that led to the notable Anastasia mythos, it also birthed an entire regime of communist loyalists.

Smuggled Communist Comics and the Birth of Octobriana
Octobriana, 1971, Tom Stacey Ltd.

One such stalwart was Petr Sadecky, a man who was born on January 4th, 1943, in Prague and passed away a mere 48 years later. While there is not much in terms of a biographical footprint for this Czech artist and writer, his propaganda creations helped cement the Progressive Political Pornography group and its most notable heroine, Octobriana, into comic book infamy. The PPP was formed by a collective of young communist purists, including Sadecky, who believed that Stalin's influence had corrupted Lenin's original ideas. They fought for such principles by creating fanzines called samizdat, which was a mix of the words self and publish, which the group both produced and illegally distributed.

Panel detail from Octobriana, 1971, Tom Stacey Ltd.
Panel detail from Octobriana, 1971, Tom Stacey Ltd.

Sadecky and the PPP collective put together these propaganda pieces in hopes of influencing other communists through the heroic exploits of their most popular creation Octobriana. This Barbarellaesque vixen may have been lost if not for the endeavors of Sadecky, who smuggled the works of the PPP out of Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia and into the West. Although this dynamic history has led some comic book historians to call malarky on this spy vs. spy origin of a communist sweetheart, there is still almost nothing known about Sadecky after introducing this controversial heroine to the world. Although her true origin may be unknown, she still lives on in various pop culture corners (such as a tattoo on Billy Idol's arm); Octobriana can technically be used by creators anywhere – that is, the PPP was so dedicated to the shared valued of communism that their most popular creation was never copyrighted.

Panel detail from Octobriana, 1971, Tom Stacey Ltd.
Panel detail from Octobriana, 1971, Tom Stacey Ltd.

Although various publications have called Sadecky everything from a pathological liar to a secret capitalist pawn, the legacy of Octobriana is long and complicated. She was originally created to be the ultimate sweetheart behind the Iron Curtain in the same way Captain America was a champion of western ideology. For anyone interested in more reason about this "devil-woman who fights Soviet oppression," Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Jim Rugg (Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream) launched a psychedelic reimagining of Octobriana, which concluded in June of this year. So whether or not she was a stolen symbol, which was ultimately shared by her captor or a representative of the PPP's efforts to spread the ideas of true Communism, Octobriana has a wild origin worth looking into.

Artwork detail from Octobriana 1976, 2020, by Jim Rugg.
Artwork detail from Octobriana 1976, 2020, by Jim Rugg.

About Chelsy Bloomfield

Chelsy Bloomfield is an artist, cosplayer, writer, and comic book aficionado. She is the founder of Utah’s Graphic Novel Book Club, the first of its kind in Utah, and has hosted monthly meetings since 2011. If she is not writing or preparing for the next book club meeting, she can be found yelling about conspiracy theories on the internet or playing with her perfect puppy, Puffin.