A Beginner's Guide

It is often said that the spirit of youth is indomitable. No matter what you throw at them, no matter how hard you try to keep them in line, the young will always fight back. Whether it be through music, film or literature. However, this conquering spirit is not the sole domain of the Western youth, as the tale wrought in Petr Sadecky's book, Octobriana And The Russian Underground, more than attests.

A native of Czechoslovakia, Sadecky travelled to Kiev in 1961 and became involved with a Soviet underground movement called the Progressive Political Pornography Party. The PPP were a group of Soviet citizens who had become disillusioned with the way that communism (and the ideals behind the Russian Revolution) had become 'perverted' under the rule of Stalin. Meeting in secret, PPP would discuss philosophy, politics and pornography, whilst indulging in alcohol and free love.

They looked for a new hero, who would represent what they believed in and would be willing to fight for their ideals. Since this saviour did not seem to be forthcoming, PPP created their own, and called her Octobriana.

A Slavic Bridgette Bardot
PPP created their own self-published magazine called Mtsyry, and through their anti-state comic strips, they placed Octobriana in all manner of bizarre scenarios across the globe.

In one instance Octobriana would be fighting a radioactive giant walrus in Russia, the next she would be caught between a herd of stampeding Buffalo in China. The comic strips only limitation was the PPP's ever fertile imagination. The character herself was obviously influenced by the 'decadent' West. Visually, Octobriana conjures up images of a Slavic Bridgette Bardot, whilst in concept she owes a considerable amount to Barbarella and James Bond.

Sadecky claims that in 1967 he escaped to the West and managed to smuggle out copies of the Octobriana strips, photographs of the PPP and other examples of the group's work. He packaged all of this together into the book, Octobriana And The Russian Underground, which was released in a number of countries during 1971. The dubious authenticity of the book (which has no tangible evidence to prove the contents originated in the Soviet Union) perhaps played a part in it disappearing into relative obscurity. But the story doesn't end there...

Octobriana Or Amazona?
The nature of Octobriana's genesis means that she is unique within our modern capitalist society. She was created by a communist group who believed in the spirit of true communism, so consequently no-one actually 'owns' Octobriana -- she belongs to no-one and yet, at the same time, she belongs to everyone.

This was enough to influence and excite a number of cartoonists in the West, including the UK's Bryan Talbot, America's Trina Robbins and Finland's Reima Mäkinen. Interestingly enough, Octobriana also had an influence on the music world, as Billy Idol apparently has a tattoo of the Russian Devil-Woman on his arm. Also, in her autobiography, Angie Bowie mentions a character 'concocted' by her then husband, who she described as "a sci-fi priestess of high Bowie camp and magic [and] a pretty cool customer." This character's name was Octobriana. Further research (ie, trawling through the music press of the early-1970s) shows that Bowie was working on a feature film about Octobriana, and had also apparently written songs for the alleged motion picture soundtrack. But rather than being a genuine piece of anti-Soviet State literature, Sadecky's Octobriana book may well have been the product of three Czechoslovakian cartoonists.

According to the aforementioned Reima Mäkinen, Sadecky asked Bohumil Konecny, Sdneck Burian and Milos Novak to draw an action adventure comic strip for him called Amazona. They did indeed produce the material for Sadecky, who promptly left Czechoslovakia for England in 1967 with the Amazona comic strips. The story goes that Sadecky copied the comic strips and changed the central Amazona character into the now familiar image of Octobriana. Interestingly enough, in one of the panels from The Living Sphinx comic strip Octobriana is referred to as 'Amazona', which thus casts tremendous doubt over the authenticity of Sadecky's book.

Another often quoted example of the dubious nature of Sadecky's book can be found in the pages of a 1970 edition of Vampirella magazine. A picture of a character called Amazona appears on the letters page, and is submitted by one Petr Sadecky of West Germany. The same piece of reader art is included within Sadecky's Octobriana And The Russian Underground book, but with the noticeable difference being that the woman in the Vampirella picture has a bat on her forehead, rather than Octobriana's characteristic red star.

Unfortunately, following the publication of The Russian Underground, Sadecky disappeared off the face of the planet. No-one has seen or heard anything from him for over 25 years, so whilst the cult of Octobriana continues to grow, the truth behind the myth looks like it will remain hidden.