The Best Russian Books in English

Forget War and Peace: this blog offers reviews of fun and interesting Russian books in English, links to their Amazon pages, interviews with new and upcoming Russian authors, with the emphasis on Russian genre fiction: LitRPG, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, romance, mystery and other popular reads.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm back!

Yes, I stayed in Russia much longer than expected due to my mum's suspected cancer (thank God it wasn't) so now I'm busy catching up with all sorts of things.

Today's tip:

There was no such thing as comic books in the Soviet Union.

Kids' mags did publish comic strips, but comic books themselves were viewed as something good only for the illiterate, a printed equivalent of graffiti. With the country's literate population counting 98.5% in 1959, comic books were not considered literature or artwork, period. They were never published. In the 1920s and 1930s there were a few attempts to create "a Soviet comic hero" but they failed. The first Soviet comic books per se appeared in the late 1980s, created and printed by the first private entrepreneurs.

Recently, there was information on the Net about the discovery of "first Soviet comic books" from the early 1920s in some remote village library. Sorry to disappoint anyone, but it was an April Fool joke. Some covers were even dated April 1st!

Of course, nobody explicitly banned Western comic books in the USSR so theoretically a kid whose parents had brought some back from an overseas business trip could read ("read"??? :-))))))) them or take them to school for others to marvel at, but those were extremely rare occasions. Before the early 1960s, such a kid could be ostracized by school officials for "spreading Western influence", but later, the official position towards "Western influence" relaxed a lot. As long as you did it cleverly and didn't make any waves, you could get away with almost anything.

Actually, the first time I held a comic book was in France (the French are mad about them) when I was 32. I still find them very weird. Can't you just read a flippin' book???? :-)