Six popular fiction tropes KATUSHA has in common with books, TV, and movies

Wayne Vansant’s KATUSHA GIRL SOLDIER OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR has been added to the popular fan-edited wiki  A massive resource on all kinds of fiction, describes itself as:

…a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.  Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means ‘stereotyped and trite.’ In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.

Here’s six ways’s KATUSHA page shows what Wayne Vansant’s epic of the Eastern Front has in common with some of the most popular works of fiction:

1. Anyone Can Die – defined as “Anyone Can Die is where no one is exempt from being killed, including pets, children, the elderly, even the main characters (maybe even the hero)!”

The opening paragraph of KATUSHA BOOK ONE states “No one was safe.”  Another example of Anyone Can Die:  George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the basis for TV’s Game of Thones (which actually featured Arya Stark stating “Anyone can be killed” in the second season trailer).


The Starks and the Tymoshenkos have more in common than they would probably wish.

2. Genre Savvy – a Genre Savvy character “doesn’t necessarily know they’re in a story, but they do know of stories like their own and what worked in them and what didn’t.” notes that Uncle Taras is genre savvy “in spades”.

Another example given of a genre savvy character:  Roy Mustang of the anime Full Metal Alchemist

©2015 Wayne Vansant

3. Too Dumb To Live – “The character who puts life and limb at risk by doing things that no sane human being would do.” cites the Soviet officer who gets killed standing too close to the bridge he’s blowing up.

Another example of Too Dumb To Live:  Almost every Red Shirt on Star Trek: The Original Series

Be it Soviet Red Army or Federation Red Shirt, just duck!

4. Shown Their Work – “…when the creators tweak their stories to show the viewer/reader what they have learned. The trick is to do it so this advances the story instead of stopping it cold. When it’s done right in a well-made work, awards for its educational value can be just as nifty as the artistic awards.”  Wayne Vansant’s meticulous research definitely qualifies KATUSHA.

Another example of Shown Their Work given by the works of Frederick Forsyth



5. La Résistance – “A Ragtag Bunch of Misfits using the The Power of Friendship to fight against a tyrannical rule… always underdogs, they fight using guerrilla warfare and by raising the rabble of the people by revealing unpleasant truths about The Empire.”

In KATUSHA BOOK ONE, Katusha, her family, and friends form a partisan band to resist the German occupation.  Another example of  La Résistance: the kids of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

This may be the only thing that Katusha has in common with South Park.

6. It’s Personal – “this is where a character (or characters) has a highly close, emotional investment in the story’s conflict.”

There are many examples of this in KATUSHA, especially in Zhenya Gersteinfeld, who saw her parents executed by the Germans at Babi Yar.  An example from fantasy literature cited by  Harry Potter’s personal vendetta against the wizard who killed his parents, Lord Voldemort.

©2015 Wayne Vansant

Zhenya only escaped execution herself with the help of her friend Vasily.

Altogether, found twenty-eight popular fiction tropes identifiable in Katushabut in a work as massive (over 500 pages) as Katusha there’s bound to be more.

In fact, Katusha creator Wayne Vansant has spotted a few more tropes that could apply to his graphic novel and webcomic series.  Uncle Taras personifies the tropes The Charmer (“When he starts talking he can charm a crowd and it’s easy to see how he gets people to follow him”) and Badass (“a character who gets away with outright insane stunts”), a trait he shares in common with one of Vansant’s favorite TV characters:  Boyd Crowder of Justified.


Wayne Vansant: “I suddenly thought of a very intelligent (although uneducated) person, who is philosophical and thoughtful, and loyal to his friends and those he loves, but can also kill at the drop of a hat.  It is of course Uncle Taras, but another is Boyd Crowder of ‘Justified‘, to me one of the most complex fictional characters of recent times.”

KATUSHA GIRL SOLDIER OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR is a graphic novel trilogy by Wayne Vansant.  Book One and Book Two are available in print and e-book format from, Comixology, and many other vendors.  Book Three is expected to be published in 2015.  Read the webcomic for free at



Action Lab’s comic book series HERALD: LOVECRAFT AND TESLA has been one of the breakout hits of 2015 and now it could be heading to television.  The clever teaming up of two of the most interesting men of the early 20th century is an ongoing series from Action Lab.  Grand Design Communications represents foreign rights for HERALD: LOVECRAFT AND TESLA.

Entertainment news website wrote about the TV deal:

HERALD is such a smart idea that, just seven months after the first issue hit the stands, the rights to adapt the Action Lab Entertainment comic into a television series have been picked up by Romark Entertainment and Markerstone Pictures. Newcomer Jared Battaglia has been given the task of handling the adaptation.

Watching Lovecraft and Tesla fight monsters every week sounds like fun to me. If HERALD does end up going to series, it’s definitely a show I would check out.

Hollywood Reporter: Marvel’s “summer crown jewel wouldn’t exist without Roy Thomas”

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, featuring two characters created by GDC client Roy Thomas, has grossed more than $600 million around the world in its first ten days.

The long-awaited Avengers: Age of Ultron opened to movie theaters around the world and with it the spotlight is on the legendary comics creator Roy Thomas, the co-creator of the titular villain Ultron and the breakout hero the Vision.  The sequel, which took in more than $180 million at the domestic box office over the weekend, is one of many film and television projects featuring characters and concepts that Thomas created during his decades-long career as a comic book writer and editor.

The Hollywood Reporter puts Thomas’ influence well in context and goes on to cover his transition from fan to “pro” and some of the major media characters and concepts he went on to create:

Stan Lee is the face of the Marvel Universe, but its summer crown jewel wouldn’t exist without Roy Thomas… in 1965, Thomas was just a 20-something comic book superfan from Missouri who walked into Lee’s office looking for a job. He was already working as an assistant at DC, where he was miserable. Lee hired him on the spot. It was a good hire. Thomas went on to co-create Ultron and The Vision in the pages of Avengers in 1968 and also created a number of Marvel mainstays, including Adamantium (you are welcome, Hugh Jackman), Iron Fist (coming to Netflix soon) and Yellow Jacket (the villain played by CoreyStoll in the upcoming Ant-Man).

roy thomas times and democrat

Roy Thomas was also interviewed in Rolling Stone magazine for their April 24 issue.  In a Hulk-themed issue, Thomas and Rolling Stone’s Brian Hiatt discuss the early history of Marvel’s green giant, the roles of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in creating the character, and how Marvel is now compensating the original creators of characters when they’re used in movies and television.

Three newspapers in South Carolina, where Thomas lives with his wife (and frequent collaborator) Dann, carried interviews with the legendary writer.  The Times and Democrat featured a photo of Thomas at the Hollywood premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron and The State quoted him as happy to go the premiere but that “I can’t wait to see it in an IMAX theater in 3D with a big tub of popcorn.”  The weekly Free Times made note of Roy’s long run as writer of Avengers comics as well as his influence on two other hugely popular fictional franchises, Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian:

Thomas penned about 70 of the first 100 issues of Avengers, the superhero team-up that has since spawned one of the biggest franchises in film history — Variety reports that Age of Ultron, which opens in the U.S. on Friday, grossed $201.2 million in its first weekend internationally. He also spearheaded the ’70s and ’80s adaptation of Star Wars that buoyed Marvel during a rough financial patch and helped launch the series that popularized Conan the Barbarian.

The Hollywood Reporter story (and others, including Mashable and the Rolling Stone interview) went on to detail the history of the creation of The Vision by Thomas and artist John Buscema.  Introduced in Avengers #57 (October, 1968), the super-powered android has been a mainstay of the Avengers ever since.  Played by Paul Bettany in the new film the Vision is being called breakout character of the year’s biggest movie.

This is not the first time that Thomas’ characters have graced the screen and it won’t be the last.  Netflix will be featuring two of Thomas’ characters in upcoming Marvel-produced series: his martial arts creation (with Gil Kane) Iron Fist, which has been the subject of recent casting speculation in scores of online articles; and Luke Cage, “Hero For Hire”, which Thomas created with Lee, Archie Goodwin, John Romita Sr., and George Tuska.  Marvel Studios has also recently hired writers for Captain Marvel, their first female-headlining movie, to be released in 2018.  Captain Marvel’s alter-ego, former Air Force officer Carol Danvers, was originally created by Thomas and artist Gene Colan in 1968.  A reboot of Red Sonja, the “She-devil with a sword”, which Thomas co-created (with Barry Windsor-Smith) is in the works, having recently hired a new screenwriter.  Another 1980s film project, Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi’s animated fantasy Fire and  Ice, for which Thomas co-wrote the screenplay, is being developed by Robert Rodriguez. Some of Thomas’ other characters and concepts that have been brought to film and television screens include the Quinjets, the Marvel universe’s fantastic flying vehicles used by the Avengers and the Agents of SHIELD (and now on toy shelves everywhere), the Irish hero Banshee (with artist Werner Roth), featured in 2011’s X-Men: First Class, the Japanese X-Man Sunfire (with Iron Man co-creator Don Heck), who was featured on the anime Avengers: Disk Wars, and was the original leader of Big Hero 6) and perhaps the most popular comic book hero of modern times, Wolverine, whom Thomas created with Romita Sr., Len Wein, and Herb Trimpe.

Roy Thomas will mark fifty years writing comics in 2015, and he hasn’t slowed down.  He will pen a new Red Sonja story for Dynamite Publishing’s upcoming Red Sonja #1973 and continues to work on the Amazing Spider-man syndicated comic strip.  He was also recently honored with two Eisner Award nominations: “Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism” for his work editing the magazine Alter Ego, published by TwoMorrows; and “Best Comics-Related Book” for authoring the well-received over-sized hardcover for Taschen, 75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen.  His three creator-owned series with Heroic Publishing, Anthem, Captain Thunder and Blue Bolt, and Alter Ego, are available in digital format from Comixology, ComicsPlus, Amazon, and through Heroic’s website.   Thomas’ extensive back catalog of comics are being rapidly collected and released regularly to the book market, with more than a dozen titles scheduled to be released in the first half of 2015, including collections of Avengers, Star Wars, X-Men, Elric, Warlock, and Sub-Mariner.

Katusha Book One is comiXology’s Featured Submit Comic

Katusha Book One: Edge of Darkness is now available on the #1 digital comics platform, comiXology.  Issued through Grand Design Digital and comiXology’s Submit program, Katusha Book One has been named the “Featured Submit Comic” and is currently being featured at the very top of in a feature ad along with Saga, Daredevil, and DC’s new crossover, Convergence.  Thanks to our friends at comiXology for this fantastic launch on their renowned platform!

Katusha features top of page on comixology

War Is Boring profiles Wayne Vansant

War Is Boring, a collection of reportage covering current and past conflicts and hosted at, has issued a feature-length profile of GDC client Wayne Vansant.  In an article titled “Meet the Comics Artist Who Draws War in Meticulous Detail”, Kevin Knodell writes, “Wayne Vansant brings a historian’s touch to comics from the Eastern Front to Vietnam.”

Grand Design Communications represents rights to Vansant’s historical fiction trilogy Katusha – Girl Soldier of the Great Patriotic War, and has represented Vansant in the sale of numerous non-fiction military history graphic novels.

Knodell writes:

Wayne Vansant, the son of a World War II veteran, grew up on war stories. As a child, he loved hearing adults talk about the war, reading about it and watching movies about it.

As a result, the 65-year-old comics writer and illustrator has had a lifelong fascination with military history. He’s best known for his work on Marvel’s cult-favorite war comic The ’Nam. But his other projects range from stories set in Normandy, the Eastern Front and Korea.

Vansant has made something of a name for himself with his military history comics — distinct for their painstaking research and realism. He recreates uniforms, equipment and landscapes in exhaustive detail.

War Is Boring1253

Knodell delves into Vansant’s long history as a graphic novelist and reveals some of the author’s working philosophy and process:

Today, Vansant overwhelmingly illustrates military history, but has also chronicled the Abolitionist and civil rights movements.

He’s worked with writers like historian Dwight Jon Zimmerman and political activist Joyce Brabnar, and has frequently done his writing and research solo.

To tell historical stories in a visual medium, Vansant has to be meticulous. For him, it’s not enough to just to get the eventsright. It has to look right.

That means looking through thousands of photos, visiting museums, and going to the actual battlefields. In Vansant’s eyes, no detail is too small.

“I want the trees to look right, the ground to look right,” the artist said.something else cool about the article is how it mentions katusha and some other stuff

Vansant also talks at length about Katusha – Girl Soldier of the Great Patriotic War and his desire to see it more widely published upon completion.  The first two graphic novels in the trilogy, KATUSHA BOOK ONE: EDGE OF DARKNESS and KATUSHA BOOK TWO: THE SHAKING OF THE EARTH are currently available in digital and print format from Grand Design Publishing, and are currently being serialized as a webcomic at  The third and final volume, KATUSHA BOOK THREE: ON WINGS OF THUNDER, is nearing completion:

Katusha depicts the Eastern Front through the eyes of Ekaterina “Katusha” Tymoshenko — a female child soldier. She begins the war as a naive 16-year-old Ukrainian guerrilla and ends it as a hardened 20-year-old Soviet tanker.

The war on the Eastern Front was a vicious one. It was the bloodiest battlefield in history’s bloodiest war. The Soviet military had the highest casualty rate of the whole conflict — which meant that the Soviets couldn’t afford to turn away recruits.

Women frequently found themselves in combat roles, fighting as guerrillas, gunners, snipers, fighter pilots and yes—even tankers.

The young Tymoshenko is hardened by years of battle. But while Vansant said she loses her innocence during the course of the war, it was important to him that she maintains her moral core. The war may make her a killer, but she doesn’t lose her capacity for empathy.

I MARRIED ADVENTURE 75th Anniversary DVD out now

Grand Design Communications represents graphic novel rights to Osa Johnson’s classic autobiography I MARRIED ADVENTURE, and the Johnsons seem to be popping up everywhere these days – Huffington Post just included “Osa” as one of “14 Baby Girl Names Inspired By Strong, Adventurous Women“.

But I MARRIED ADVENTURE wasn’t just a best-selling book – several months after the book was released and became one of the best sellers of the year, a film version also titled I MARRIED ADVENTURE was released.  The Johnsons were seasoned filmmakers already, so it made perfect sense to compliment the release of Osa’s book with a movie too.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the release of the film, Alpha Video has teamed up with the Martin and Osa Johnson Museum to release a new DVD edition of I MARRIED ADVENTURE, being sold on Alpha’s website.  Here’s how describes the special edition:

Actual footage is artfully blended with dramatic recreations in this amazing documentary which presents the adventures of American explorers Osa and Martin Johnson. Based on the 1940 best-selling book of the same name, this fascinating film follows the exploits of the Johnsons as they travel the primitive wilderness of Africa and the South Seas during the late teens through the mid-1930s, recording all their expeditions. From Borneo to Nairobi, captivating nature photography captures a wild lost world. Narrated by Jim Bannon, best remembered for playing Red Ryder in four films between 1949 and 1950.

This 75th Anniversary Edition of I Married Adventure is brought to you by the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, dedicated to preserving the legacy of these two remarkable naturalists. A bonus postcard of Osa Johnson is included.



The Comics Alternative interviews GRAPHIC CLASSICS artist Joe Ollman, the website of the podcast featuring “Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics!”, has an interview with cartoonist Joe Ollman about his work on GRAPHIC CLASSICS and more.  Grand Design Communications is the digital and foreign rights agent for GRAPHIC CLASSICS


Ollman has contributed to multiple volumes of GRAPHIC CLASSICS.  His first Graphic Classics appearance was as a co-illustrator of “Roads of Destiny” in Graphic Classics: O. Henry.  He soloed on “The Premature Burial” for Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe, and an adaptation of “Dracula” for Graphic Classics: Bram Stoker.

An accomplished graphic novelist in his own right, Ollman’s works include MID-LIFE (Drawn & Quarterly, 2011), SCIENCE FICTION (Conundrum, 2013), and the recently published HAPPY STORIES ABOUT WELL ADJUSTED PEOPLE (Conundrum, 2014).



KATUSHA goes daily in webcomic debut

Wayne Vansant’s epic war story KATUSHA, GIRL SOLDIER OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR is being made available to read for free at  KATUSHA tells the story of a farm girl from Ukraine who becomes a Red Army tank commander during World War II.
KATUSHA webcomic screenshot
A coming-of-age story told against the backdrop of the bloodiest conflict in human history, the 1941-1945 Eastern Front between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, KATUSHA is created by writer/artist Wayne Vansant (Marvel’s THE NAM, Zenith’s Graphic Histories series). Inspired by the experiences of thousands of women who served in the Red Army as pilots, snipers, tank drivers, and other roles, it forms a sprawling epic that will total three volumes and over five-hundred pages upon completion.

The first two graphic novels in the series, KATUSHA BOOK ONE: EDGE OF DARKNESS and KATUSHA BOOK TWO: THE SHAKING OF THE EARTH are currently available in digital and print format from Grand Design Publishing. The webcomic version of KATUSHA will serialize both, adding a new page every day, with BOOK ONE completing in June and BOOK TWO completing at the end of 2015. The third and final volume, expected in print in mid-2015, will begin serialization in January 2016.

KATUSHA has received praise from critics and comics professionals. History magazine Armchair General Magazine included KATUSHA in its “Stuff We Like” column. Pat Mills, writer of the legendary British war comics series CHARLIE’S WAR has praised Katusha for dealing with a chapter in history that’s been overlooked in the West. Garth Ennis, writer of PREACHER and WAR STORIES (which includes THE NIGHT WITCHES, a story about Soviet women pilots) said of Katusha, “It’s great to see the story of the Soviet women tankers kept alive. Wayne Vansant has done a magnificent job with these first two volumes of Katusha; I look forward to reading more.”

Print editions are now available from, and other online retailers. Ebook editions are available to consumers through ComicsPlus, Google Play, Kindle, and (soon) Comixology, and to libraries though Overdrive and iVerse.  The webcomic version will be available on the Katusha website, and pages will also be posted on Facebook, Tapastic, VKontakt, and Google+.

KATUSHA BOOK ONE opens with young Katusha’s graduation from her tenth and final year of school. The next morning, Sunday June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union. The young woman and her family escape to the forests to begin a partisan war against the German occupiers. In KATUSHA BOOK TWO, Katusha and her sister Milla join the Red Army and are sent to tank school. Trained to operate the mighty T-34, Katusha fights from countryside to cities and learns the steep price to pay for victory.

Vansant has chronicled history in comics format since 1986. He was the primary artist for Marvel’s acclaimed Vietnam War title, THE ‘NAM, and he has recently returned to historical fiction with his three-volume series KATUSHA, an epic of the eastern front of World War II. He has researched, written, and illustrated many non-fiction graphic novels on subjects including the Korean War, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, and the Battle of Antietam. Since 2013 Vansant has released six non-fiction graphic novels through Zenith Publishing. Vansant is a native of Georgia and served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War era.

Phil Cross and Ronn Sutton talk to CBC Radio about LUCIFERS SWORD MC

On the February 12 edition of the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s show “All In A Day”, host Alan Neal interviewed the creators of the recently published LUCIFERS SWORD MC graphic novel, writer Phil Cross and artist Ronn Sutton.  The two, joined by Phil’s wife Meg,  talked about the process of creating a graphic novel inspired by Phil’s life in motorcycle clubs the Gypsy Jokers and the Hells Angels.

LUCIFERS SWORD MC was packaged in part for publisher Motorbooks by Grand Design Communications.

Click on the image below to listen on the CBC website!cbc lucifers sword


I MARRIED ADVENTURE inspires fashion, design around the world

GDC represents graphic novel rights for Osa Johnson’s famed autobiography, I MARRIED ADVENTURE, a book which has provided inspiration to dreamers ever since it was originally published in 1940.  In Spring 2014 the book was the inspiration for design firm Better Shelter’s display at the “Legends of La Cienga” design event, and in 2015 the Johnson’s story will provide inspiration for no less than three clothing lines, and for one more, very unexpected, accessory:


aje collection

The Australian clothing brand Aje is currently featuring clothes inspired by Osa Johnson in their Spring/Summer 2014/2015 line. Their latest offerings include Adventurer Blazer, Escapade Skirt, Explorer Shorts, and Trail Skirt.  Edwina Robinson, Design Direcgtor for Aja told Coco Republic’s Field Notes website how the brand found inspiration in the life of Osa Johnson:

We create our collections for strong, bold women – and they don’t come braver than the first female adventurer Osa Johnson. In the early 20th century she was famous for exploring exotic faraway lands such as Borneo, the Congo, Africa; authoring books and creating films to share her amazing adventures with the world. After researching Osa, we fell in love with the woman who was as comfortable walking the  red carpet in couture as she was trekking through the Serengeti in a safari suit, and we wanted to tell her story through our SS14/15 collection ‘AJE Married Adventure’. Osa Johnson completely epitomizes the Aje brand.


It was recently announced that both Woolrich in the U.S. and Colenimo in the U.K. will have Spring/Summer lines, likewise, inspired by Martin and Osa.

As reported in the Women’s Wear Daily story “Woolrich John Rich & Bros. RTW [Ready to Wear] Spring 2015”:

American explorers Martin and Osa Johnson informed the Woolrich John Rich & Bros.’ sporty spring lineup for women.  Designer Monica Lardera imagined the pair traveling to today’s Africa, which led to a striking, whimsical giraffe pattern − “a new dot,” she said at the showroom presentation − worked as a print on a cashmere-and-cotton-knit cardigan and a cotton poplin suit.  Other patterns, such as a zigzag for a twin set, nicely complimented the vibe.


Colenimo’s collection, titled “SS15 − One Million Feet of Adventure” is profiled on

For Spring Summer 2015 Colenimo presents a collection inspired by explorer and film maker Osa Johnson. A Kansas born adventuress who captured the minds of America in the early 20th Century with her fearless lust for discovery.  Embracing life at full speed, she was equally at home in the Savannah or on the red carpet, always exuding a quite confidence. With her husband she shot over a million feet of film bringing to many their first glimpses of untouched exotic distant lands, animals and people.  Informed by Osa’s practicality, poise and elegance the collection is comprised of Irish linen unstructured tailored jackets, trousers and skirts in pale grey, indigo and natural white. Water resistant raincoat made from ‘Typewriter’ urethane coated cotton. Pure silk crepe hand pleated dresses and blouses. Vintage cotton men’s shirting fabric tops.  A Wide-brimmed pork-pie sisal hat, dip-dyed organic woad-indigo silk tops and scarves.  Vintage beige gabardine unstructured tailored jacket and shorts, and Irish linen checked and striped dresses.

The Colenimo brand is popular in both the U.K. and Japan. This new line will include an “Osa rain coat” and “Osa Johnson trouser.”

bum bumpattern

So, you’re probably wondering what’s available for younger Johnson fans. Cotton Babies and bumGenius have that covered (pun intended) with a new limited edition cloth diaper called Martin. Their “Walk on the wild side: Martin” promotion reads:

Forged after a true wildlife explorer,   Martin exhibits adventure, risk, courage and strength. Capturing the bold yet majestic characteristics of a tiger, this eye-popping print includes a striking mix of black, white and Mirror. Fierce and revered, Martin was created for any little scout. Martin Johnson was a photographer, a filmmaker, a naturalist, an author, but most of all − a voyager. From Africa to the South Pacific Islands, he embarked on various adventures with his wife by his side, researching and studying the wildlife and people of distant lands.  Through photography, books and films, their findings captivated people all over the world and inspired the design of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Martin has been unleashed in bumGenius and Flip Cloth Diapers. Capture this wild print before it is extinct! Cotton Babies’ newest design captures the fun and adventurous side of life!

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