“In London” by Vangelis and Neuronium, 1981

This atmospheric piece, which would later be given the name “In London,” was part of an improvisation session featuring Greek synthesizer musician Vangelis and Spanish electronic group Neuronium. Filmed in 1981 for Spanish TV program Musical Express as part of “Serie Amigos” (the “Friends Series”), the performance was recorded at Nemo, the London recording studio that Vangelis had established in 1975 and where he would continue to work until 1983…

Usborne’s ‘World of the Unknown: UFO’s’, 1977

The mandate of British publisher Usborne Books was to produce beautifully illustrated children’s publications, designed and written by its in-house team. The first wave of books Usborne released in 1975—which included the popular Spycraft—had sold well, and in 1977 the company followed it up with the World of the Unknown series: a triptych that included Monsters, Ghosts and UFO’s

Usborne’s ‘The KnowHow Book of Spycraft’, 1975

During the Cold War, a new archetypal establishment role joined the pantheon of soldiers, cowboys, and cops that often peopled children’s games: the spy. Equipped with false identities, given to using hidden surveillance devices, and communicating in strange codes, this newcomer was perfectly suited to the duplicitous, mistrustful mood that was the constant background noise of the times…

New Worlds for New Children: The Armada Sci-Fi Anthologies

By Richard McKenna

It’s one of the peculiarities of SF literature—and perhaps of genre writing in general—that the imagery generated to sell and promote it has often proved to be more visionary and transformative than the writing itself. Serious-minded SF fans are often heard complaining about this irony, claiming (not without some justification) that Star Wars, say, is not actually science fiction but rather fantasy, or just straight-up infantile dross…

The Uncoziest Catastrophe: Raymond Briggs’ ‘When the Wind Blows’, 1982

As the nuclear crisis between the Western powers and the Eastern Bloc deepened, and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists‘ Doomsday Clock stood at four minutes to midnight, perplexed children across Great Britain were treated to the release of When the Wind Blows, a graphic novel by British artist Raymond Briggs that narrated the aftermath of a nuclear attack from the perspective of the Bloggses, a working-class couple who have recently retired to the country…

“Mum Says It’s Alright As Long As I’m Careful”: British Public Information Films

Designed to educate the country’s public in virtuous behaviors and warn them of the dangers they might encounter in everyday life, Public Information Films, or “PIFs,” were broadcast on British national television throughout most of the second half of the 20th century, and were one of the tools successive post-war UK governments employed to educate the populace in civic comportment…

The Surreal Within the Everyday: Jim Woodring’s ‘Frank’

Set in a world called “the Unifactor,” Jim Woodring’s wordless Frank recounts the adventures of the title character—a gormless-looking, anthropomorphic, rabbit-like creature with a nature by turns passive and perverse—and his interactions with the Unifactor’s other inhabitants and the world’s beautiful and frightening flora and fauna, given to unpredictable reactions and behaviors…