Thousands of Russian and American comics fans have been sharing a love for pop culture, as Moscow and New York hosted their annual Comic Con festivals.
Fans in both cities checked out the latest in graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, films and television shows. They heard from the artists. They participated in cosplay.
They also met with contemporary comics heroes, or more precisely, the actors who play them on television. American actor Michael Cudlitz, known for portraying Sergeant Abraham Ford on The Walking Dead TV series, based on the comic book series of the same name, bonded with the Muscovites and revealed an interesting connection to Russia.
Russians’ connection to the original superhero
Long before there was Comic Con, there was a fascination with superheroes and the classic stories of good versus evil that they inhabit. This foundation of so many comic books transcends geographical and cultural barriers. Superman, created during the Great Depression by two secondary school students — Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, both of whom had Russian roots — was the first comic book hero. Siegel’s parents immigrated from a part of the Russian Empire that later became Lithuania, while Shuster’s mother came from what is now Ukraine.
Superman still represents the ultimate good guy, ready to confront the world’s enemies. He fought Nazi Germany during World War II, while hiding behind his self-effacing alter ego, Clark Kent.
Many years later, in 2003, Superman literally became Russian, when Mark Millar released “Superman: Red Son,” a comic with the premise “What if Superman had been raised in the Soviet Union?”
I finished #Superman Red Son last night.I read it in two nights.Very engaging. Excellent story.I loved the ending. pic.twitter.com/D6DSUWeZ8d
— Michael Earls (@cerkit) September 8, 2016
In this story, Superman, instead of landing in Kansas as a child, lands on a farm in Ukraine. Instead of growing up to work for the fictional American newspaper the Daily Planet, he reports for Pravda.
Zombie appreciation in Moscow
During a Q&A session with Cudlitz of The Walking Dead, the Russian audience not only demonstrated extensive knowledge of an imaginary world overrun by zombies, but also claimed the actor as one of their own.
One fan, suggesting that Cudlitz is “a Russian type” who should star in a Russian movie, brought the audience to life with applause and laughter. Cudlitz, gracious about the idea, revealed that his grandmother was Russian and went on to charm the audience with his pronunciations of the words “pozhaluysta” (please) and “spasibo” (thank you).
Referring to himself and his wife, Cudlitz said that before coming to Russia “we didn’t know what to expect … and it’s been amazing. Mostly amazing because of the people, the Russian people.”