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…

“21st Century Global Guardians”: Corgi’s X-Ploratrons, 1979

Billed as “global guardians,” the X-Ploratrons were four toy vehicles, each equipped with its own novelty tool—mirror, magnifying glass, compass, and magnet—and charged with protecting humanity in the “fictitious disaster-wrecked world of the 21st century,” where “the elements rebel against man!” They were long-established die-cast toy brand Corgi’s attempt to adapt to the wave of SF-driven commerce that followed the unprecedented success of Star Wars

‘Science Fiction Monthly’ Cover Gallery, 1974 – 1976

From a merger of its 1961 acquisitions—British publishers Ace Books Ltd. and Four Square Books Ltd—the American Times Mirror Company created the New English Library (NEL) as a sister company to the New American Library. While the latter retained some of the cultural prestige of its original owner, Penguin Books, the NEL was under no such constraints of perceived quality: the publisher was therefore free to specialize in paperback genre fiction…

Portraits of the Mushroom Cloud, 1946 – 1990

From the moment atomic weapons were first inflicted on the planet in 1945, the mushroom cloud became one of the defining motifs of the second half of the 20th century, assuming an almost supernatural significance that would only increase over time. It might seem paradoxical to speak about serendipity in the case of something that has been the cause of so much misery, but it’s hard to imagine nuclear weapons occupying quite the same space in the human race’s imagination had their effects not taken such a recognizable shape…

Between Authority and Resistance: The Terminator’s New Clothes

By Richard McKenna

Although apparently naked upon its arrival in the gloomy labyrinth of 1984, the Terminator is, of course, already wearing a costume: the layer of flesh and hair covering the titanium bones of its endoskeleton, which allows it to pass for human. Over the course of the film, though, the titular cybernetic assassin procures for itself two further and distinct outfits—-suits of fashionable armor associated with a wounded and dangerous type of modern masculinity…