Nikolai Volkoff, the WWF’s premier Russian boogeyman throughout the 80s, spent his wrestling career decrying democracy. John Crowther and Kevin LaPorte bring to light the man behind the gimmick in their new Kickstarter.
First Comics News: Who is Josip Nikolai Peruzović?
John Crowther: Josip Nikolai Peruzovic is a semi-retired professional wrestler, known primarily by his ring name, Nikolai Volkoff; “Volkoff” being a surname from his mother’s side, which he decided to use in the ring in the early-70s..
1st: How did he escape Communism?
John: As a youth, Nikolai determined quite early that he intended to leave the Communist Bloc and escape to the West. The opportunity finally presented itself while he was competing in a weightlifting competition in Austria at the age of 17.
1st: He isn’t actually Russian, how did that representation come about?
John: Correct. Nikolai is Croatian. He was born on the island of Brch, in the former country of Yugoslavia. The idea of presenting Nikolai as an “evil” Soviet Communist was created and presented to Nikolai by Vince McMahon, Sr.
John: I was contacted by a mutual friend in early-2015, who was aware of my work on the “Rochelle” series published by Antarctic Press. I was told that NIkolai had wanted to tell his life story in a comic book format but had, thus far, failed to find anyone who he could work with on the project. I gave Nikolai a call and instant magic. We did a series of telephone interviews and are now great friends and collaborators.
1st: How did you get your comic officially licensed?
John: “Nikolai” has not been officially licensed by WWE. As Nikolai personally owns the rights to his name and life story, the series is being produced as a private agreement between ourselves and Nikolai.
1st: How did he get involved in Wrestling?
John: At a very young age, Nikolai knew that in order to escape Yugoslavia, he would need to distinguish himself. He felt that the best way to do this was through sport. As such, he trained extensively in weightlifting, Judo, and wrestling. The early background in amateur wrestling eventually led to his introduction to Stu Hart upon his defection to Canada.
1st: What brought him to Stu Hart?
John: Nikolai defected to Canada in 1967. Contacts he had made on the Yugoslavian National Weightlifting Team arranged to have him met at the Calgary airport by two young men of Yugoslavian decent. These men were, at the time, students at Stu Hart’s legendary “Hart Dungeon”. They felt that Nikolai would be an excellent candidate for the school, with a possible career as a professional wrestler in Stu Hart’s promotion, Stampede Wrestling.
1st: His first match was against Bruno Sanmartino, how did he debut against the world champion?
John: Nikolai had actually been wrestling for several years throughout Canada (with Stampede Wrestling) and in the various wrestling territories in the United States as part of the tag team “The Mongols”, before his famous match against Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden in 1974. This match, which was the first sold out professional wrestling match in Madison Square Garden, was orchestrated by Vince McMahon, Sr.
1st: The Kickstarter is fully funded, when can backers expect delivery of the first issue?
Kevin LaPorte: The first issue is fully rendered and ready to go to print, so, as soon as the campaign is finished, and we know how many copies we need, NIKOLAI 1 will go to print, likely before the end of November, with shipping to backers to commence as early as the first week of December!
1st: How many issues a planned?
Kevin: There are three individual issues planned, with a collected edition to follow, some time after publication of NIKOLAI 3.
Kevin: Our Kickstarter campaign has a variety of options for receiving NIKOLAI, in digital or print versions. Backers can select to receive only the first issue as part of this campaign, or they can sign up for a subscription reward that ensures we will ship them each issue as they are released! It’s just a matter of preference for our backers, the people who are making publication of this comic possible.
1st: What is the minimum bid to get a copy of the PDF?
1st: What can backer get in addition to the comic?
Kevin: The NIKOLAI Kickstarter campaign offers a variety of reward options, sure to suit the tastes of any fan of Nikolai, wrestling in general, or comics. Reward possibilities include Nikolai’s autograph on the comics, photos and art prints illustrated by animation and comics legend, Dell Barras. Dell is also providing a limited number of original art commissions as rewards, as well as many of his original art pages from the comic! Also, we are nearing our first Stretch Goal at $3000, which will net our non-digital backers a bookplate signed by the creative team. If funding reaches $3500, Nikolai himself will also sign it!