President Volodymyr Zelensky has joined the ranks of superheroes in implausibly tight underwear and unfeasibly large capes – he has become a comic strip hero.
Zelensky’s journey from comedian to heroic war-time leader has been given the graphic novel treatment in TidalWave Comics’ latest biography, “Political Power: Volodymyr Zelensky.”
The 22-page glossy tells the story of how Zelensky, who once played a fictional president on a Ukrainian TV show, swept to power in 2019 promising to end a war with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
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He had no political experience when he took office as the country’s sixth president.
Now the comic has become a comic-book icon.
The graphic novel’s writer Michael Frizell said: “Who is he? What makes him tick? Why is he the right leader for Ukraine at this moment? Those are the things I was curious about when I started the research.”
The artist, Pablo Martinena, has also drawn biographies on David Beckham, Nelson Mandela and Donald Trump.
Publisher Darren G. Davis, based in Portland, Oregon USA, said:
“This book means a lot to me because of my Ukrainian heritage.
“Both sets of my grandparents immigrated from Ukraine. I wanted to use this medium to not only tell a story but to somehow donate to the cause at the same time.”
Previous TidalWave graphic novels have featured Donna Summer, Dolly Parton, Colin Powell, Jimmy Carter, Diego Maradona, The Beatles and, er, Lil Nas.
The graphic novel tells the story of Ukrainian leader until February 24, the date when Russia’s offensive in Ukraine began.
Davis said: “We did really well with the Justin Trudeau comic book, so we thought let’s do more international people and so Zelensky with all the stuff that is going on right now, we thought it would be a really great time to tell his story.
“They did not know he was an actor or a comedian and so we really do touch on that and when he decided that he was going to become president, or run for presidency, so his motivations from that are in the book as well.”
The book shows Zelensky kneeling in front of a grave of one of his family members – in an army uniform. “This is a story about a family of four brothers,’’ Zelensky is quoted saying. “Three of them, their parents and their families became victims of the Holocaust. All of them were shot by German occupiers who invaded Ukraine.
“More than a million Jewish Ukrainians were killed during the Holocaust.
“The fourth brother survived after the war. Two years after the war, he had a son and in 31 years, he had a grandson,” fictional Zelensky tells readers.
One scene pictures him meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu.
“In 40 more years, that grandson became president, and he is standing before you today, Mr Prime Minister,” Zelensky says. “Your nationality, your religion, your age, your sex, your place of birth have no meaning when there’s the kind of word and heart that moves you inside against the total evil you stand against.”
Zelensky was raised Jewish. He is shown wearing a kippah and a tallit, at age 13, with both of his parents on his side in front of a Torah scroll, while reading the Torah as tradition states. His father is also wrapped with a prayer shawl and wearing a kippah.
Zelensky was supported as an actor and filmmaker by Jewish-Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, who is president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine and also founded the European Jewish Union.
TidalWave’s products previously featured stories of politicians Jimmy Carter, Pete Buttigieg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
A portion of sale proceeds will be donated to the International Red Cross.