Phantom Living: Ibiza’s ‘Instant City’, 1971

The Instant City was an inflatable construction created in Northern Ibiza in 1971 to provide temporary accommodation for students attending the three-day 7th Congress of ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design). A series of brightly-colored, interconnected environments that housed up to 350 people at any one time…

This Green and Pleasant Apocalypse: Graham Oakley’s ‘Henry’s Quest,’ 1986

Four years after the release of Raymond Briggs’ When the Wind Blows, children in the British Isles were treated to another misleadingly cheerful-looking jaunt through a postlapsarian landscape in Graham Oakley’s 1986 book Henry’s Quest. I’ve spoken elsewhere about the extent to which the British culture of the 1970s and ’80s seemed determined to inculcate feelings of dread and hopelessness in young people, but with its superficially light-hearted tone, Henry’s Quest took a different approach…

Waiting for the Flood: ‘Noah’s Castle’ and the Inevitability of Brexit

By Richard McKenna

One of the most irksome things about my drizzly homeland of the United Kingdom is the widespread domestic habit of mistaking the material benefits of industrial and Colonial wealth, post-war socialism, and a happy lack of mass violence—all of which, for a good half century, guaranteed a relatively safe and stable life, good opportunities to better your lot, free healthcare, welfare, and a relatively graft-free state—for something as ineluctable as rain…

In the Driver’s Seat: The Paintings of Paul Roberts

In the tradition of the Photorealism and Hyperrealism movements that had evolved as offshoots of Pop Art, the paintings of musician, songwriter, and figurative painter Paul Roberts exist in the liminal space between perceived glamor and kitsch, taking their cues from the archetypes of genre fiction and the heightened realities of cinema and photography…

Free From the Gravity That Holds the Mind: Playskool’s Star Rider

As part of this year’s holiday “festivities,” my fellow US-based Mutants have mockingly given me a couple of the toy pages from a 1979 American catalog to look at in the hope of stimulating some idiosyncratic British take on the very different world of US toys, and possibly provoking a bit of retrospective seasonal gift envy. I can almost hear them now, chortling away mirthlessly in their La-Z-Boy recliners in their respective dens, or wherever the fuck it is that North Americans go to chortle. But they won’t break me; I’m made of sterner stuff…

Earth Visitor’s Passport: ‘Tour of the Universe’, 1980

A collision of imperial phase-Young Artists—the London-based illustration agency whose imagery would dominate and define British science fiction and fantasy art throughout the 1970s and ’80s—and an attention to graphic design detail that bordered on the unhinged, Tour of the Universe was a bold attempt to create an immersive world of science fiction art and prose that still looks as wildly ambitious today…