St. Petersburg-based comic creator Olga Lavrentieva has adapted her 90-year-old grandmother Valentina Survilo‘s oral testimony about surviving World War Two into a powerful, beautiful 320-page graphic novel.
First published in 2019 by Boomkniga Press and the Boomfest – International Comix Festival, while not yet available in English, it has been translated into other languages, including Danish, French, German, Polish, Norwegian and Swedish. The French edition, Sourvilo, published Actes Sudes, by won a special Prix Artémisia from the Association Artémisia this year.
In this stunning-looking biographical comic, Valentina Survilo relates how a happy childhood in Leningrad is brutally interrupted by her father’s arrest in 1937. Then comes house arrest, the death of her mother, and the return to her father’s hometown, which will be besieged for more than two years, during the infamous Siege of Leningrad.
During that terrible time in the city now known as St. Petersburg, she experiences hunger, cold, fear, bombings and shootings, and the betrayal of friends – but also, sometimes, the surprise of an outstretched hand.
Through the exceptional testimony of her grandmother Valentina, Olga Lavrentieva reveals the destiny of an entire country, through events that left an indelible mark on Valentina, who lives in constant fear that her loved ones may not return home.
Olga Lavrentieva is a graphic designer, member of the St. Petersburg Union of Artists. Her comics are published not only in Russia, but also in Finland, Switzerland, Norway, the United States, Hungary and Poland.
“My Russian correspondent Denis Denisov selected it for his Best of 2019 Year in Review,” notes comics publisher and international comics expert Paul Gravett, who is well known for having a great eye for comic excellence. “Let’s hope an English edition will follow.
For those interested in finding out more, Kristian Hellesund has posted an English video interview with the artist on Facebook, covering this and her other comics projects.
With thanks to Paul Gravett
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.