By Matt Petras
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
Local comic book artist Jim Rugg constantly plays around with his art style throughout his work.
“I’ve done ball-point pen on notebook paper,” Rugg says. “I’ve done drawings that are three-dimensional drawings using the… red and blue glasses just because I tend to like to experiment. I’ll see something, and then I’ll have to try to make it.”
Recently, he discovered fluorescent blacklight coloring, something he says begs to be used to make a comic.
The result is Rugg’s ongoing Kickstarter project Octobriana 1976, a comic following a Soviet-era public domain character with a storied history that has already raised tens of thousands of dollars.
This Kickstarter project – Rugg’s first ever – launched May 8 and has already raised more than $75,000 with less than a week left in the campaign. Folks who pledge money to the project can receive digital and physical editions of the book as well as extra goodies like original prints and drawings from Rugg, which are all slated to be delivered to backers by September. Three concept drawings, packed with print and digital editions of the comic, have already sold for $500 each.
The character Octobriana has an exceedingly complicated history. A book called Octobriana and the Russian Underground published in 1971 claims she was created for the public domain by counter-cultural Russians calling themselves the Progressive Political Pornography group in the 1960s, but this was mostly a salacious hoax. Since then, the character has stuck around, used by cartoonists in their own stories.
Conventionally, when superheroes enter the public domain, it’s because they fell out of style and their publisher went under, but Octobriana is so different from that norm.
“In the case of Octobriana, that’s part of her design, is that she’s a public domain character,” Rugg says. “So, pretty interesting I think, especially when you get into creator rights and things like that, which is a big part of comics history.”
This project has Rugg stoked, because he feels like he’s come up with something truly unique.
“As we get more and more connected to everybody, it’s harder and harder to find things that are really different or something new or something that I haven’t seen before,” Rugg says. “And so then I get really excited if I think I’ve come up with something like that. And I think I’ve come up with something like that.”