IT has taken half a century for the talents of Moscow-based Kremlin Comics to be fully recognised in the western world.
Even as the Berlin Wall crumbled, the Iron Curtain was still being pulled across the alcove cupboard where writer Leiberski and artist Kirbov (alongside a plethora of State-authorised collaborators) created stories depicting super “communist” characters such as The Kremlin Kockroach, The Siberian Six and The Freedom Collective.
Within the pages of hundreds of publications produced by this dedicated group could be found an entire world of wondrous and dutiful heroes, all standing between the workers under the protection of their would-be capitalist conquerors lurking on the darker side of the Atlantic at the time.
The purchases of these titles were compulsory by all citizens of the States and Kremlin Comics flourished in the Eastern bloc right into the mid-seventies, at which time the decaying government controls eventually forced them into back-street stores and markets throughout Russia.
The early golden days of the comics had more or less been “wiped out” by the old regime … and many historians have spent the last thirty years working together to “unearth” the early pages of Kremlin Comics.
Rough Cut Comics’ Publisher Ed Murphy was an entertainment journalist back in the nineties when he stumbled upon a lead which took him to a contact that had discovered the original artwork of the early Freedom Collective stories.
He preserved this contact right through till he established his comic-book company at the beginning of the new millennium … and as the company rolled out its first roster of titles, Murphy signed an exclusive deal to license Kremlin Comics titles across the world.
Many salvaged comics would be “sweat damaged” due to them having been used by Communist military and civilians alike to pad out their clothing during their more severe winters.
The first title able to be fully restored was The Freedom Collective’s 22-page adventure called This Land … This Terror, which pitted the Super-Champions against an evil tyrant who had a passing resemblance to a certain American President of the sixties.
It was originally published as an “ashcan” and distributed at the Bristol Comic Expo in the UK back in 2004.
But Diamond Comics refused to distribute its first-run and many comic-book stores were reluctant to go with the title (there were some whispers in the corridors of power that a shadowy figure named ‘Bullet’; - a British agent known to have been trained by the infamous Lord Peter Flint – had visited some shop owners and dissuaded them from stocking the title).
But at a tremendous cost, Rough Cut Comics self-distributed in the UK and US and soon received reviews in The Jack Kirby Collector and Wizard Magazine back in the day. Over the following three years, it gained an incredible following from comic-book fans.
When re-submitted to Diamond in 2008, it became a monster-hit through its listing in their Previews Magazine … receiving orders which ran into the thousands.
Two of its biggest fans were artist Alex Ross and writer Grant Morrison.
If you haven’t yet stumbled across this fabulous slice of comic-book history, you are still able to purchase the last remaining copies of the 32-page Freedom Collective: This Land … This Terror from Rough Cut Comics’s online distributor UKonDisplay: http://ukondisplay-com.mybigcommerce.com/the-freedom-collective/
In the meantime, fans of “Communist’s Mightiest Super-Heroes” can stand-by for the brand-new trade paperback which collects a handful of stories into a 76-page book.
The collected edition – The Compulsory Freedom Collective – will bring to life the forgotten world of valiant character, including Ivan Karnage, Agent of KRUSH and the Siberian Six.
The book will be shipping into comic-book stores in August 2013 through Diamond Comics. It should be available from UKonDisplay after its first-run distribution. Spread the word … you just can’t beat these types of Freedom’s in the indie comic-book world. You can find out more about Rough Cut Comics and The Freedom Collective at: