7 comics by up-and-coming Russian artists at the KomMissia festival

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The KomMissia International Comic Festival is taking place in Moscow for the 15th time from May 16-22. RBTH has chosen seven of the most interesting stories by Russian artists at this year’s festival, which also features participants from France, Serbia, the U.S., Bulgaria and Germany.

1. ‘War of the Worlds’

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Artist Askold Akishin drew his first comic strip in 1985 – about his army service. From 1988, he began to publish his work – Akishin's graphic stories came out in Italian and English magazines and anthologies.

In 1990, the artist turned to literature: He created A Chronicle of Military Actions, based on Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, and Mars 2146, based on by Ray Bradbury's short story, The Blue Bottle. In 2005, his graphic novel based on Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita was published in France.

This year, Akishin presents War of the Worlds, based on the novel by HG Wells.

2. ‘The Books of Hun-Tong’

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The Books of Hun-Tong – a graphic novel series chronicling the life of a non-existent town – has been being published since 2013. The festival presents the sixth part of the cycle. Its authors are known not only to comic fans, but also to the lovers of Russian cinema and contemporary art.

Alexander Gonorovsky is the author of the screenplays for director Alexei Fedorchenko's First on the Moon and Alexei Uchitel's The Edge. Meanwhile, artist Alexei Iorsh (who, incidentally, draws some illustrations for Russia Beyond The Headlines' opinion columns) was one of the founders of the first Russian comic studio, Kom.

3. ‘The Prisoner of the Caucasus’

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Alexander Yeremin first became familiar with comics while working at Soyuzmultfilm, Russia's oldest animation studio. Soon he came up with his own works in this genre – Maxim and Hacker.

Yeremin’s work has been published both in Russia and abroad: For example, Hacker came out in Belgium in two languages – in French and Russian, while his manga work, The Secret of a Mammoth, has been published in Japan. Pages from another of his comic books – The Prisoner of the Caucasus, based on Leo Tolstoy's novella – are featured in the festival competition.

4. ‘Important Things’

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Two years ago, a comic story called The Shining – about spirits who live on the edge of the Earth – won the festival prize in the "People's Love" category. Another story from artist Svetlana Shlepanova, who works under the pseudonym Morteraphan, is also devoted to these magical beings. The comic uses ethnic motives and concerns simple, but very important subjects for everyone.

Shlepanova is studying art pottery at the Krasnoyarsk Art Institute. She finds inspiration for her works in the traditional images of Siberia, North and South America.

5. ‘Another Story’

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Maria Konopatova describes mysticism and adventure as the main themes of her work. Her portfolio includes the graphic novellas Archives of Horror and Bird Island, as well as a cartoon called The Force of Attraction. Together with scriptwriter Timofei Mokiyenko, they work as the Aurora Crew duo and participate in comic-related events.

At last year's KomMissia, they presented the first volume of their comic book Avrora: Another Story. This is about the famous revolutionary cruiser – now laid up in St. Petersburg – and its new adventures. The authors promise that the second volume is due to come out soon.

6. ‘Hendrik's Mechanisms’

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Artist Tatyana Titova and screenwriter Tatyana Larina work under the pseudonym Tasha and Draik. Larina is taking part in KomMissia for the fifth year; her passion for comic books grew out of her love of adventure stories. In turn, animator Titova was inspired by the graphic novel series by Richard and Wendy Pini, ElfQuest. Now, her work includes the comic stories Wormhole and The Ivanovskiye Islands as well as the animated flash movie Life and Freedom.

The steam-punk story Hendrik's Mechanisms takes place in the 19th century; the main character finds an energy crystal and meet different monsters in his travels through a system of caves.

7. ‘Racer No. 7’

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Daria Konopatova, who is studying to become an animation director, tends to use gothic and ethnic motifs in her comics. Konopatova's works are distinguished by their skillful mix of styles and ease. Her post-apocalyptic novella Radio the Band won the KomMissia 2014 award for the best comic book.

This time, the artist presents a little story featuring a character from Radio the Band – Kofi.

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