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…

Murder Ballads, Stately Homes, Elven Armies: Steeleye Span on ‘Electric Folk,’ 1974

British folk-rockers Steeleye Span were arguably at the height of their powers and popularity in the mid-1970s, and their television series Electric Folk, broadcast on BBC2 in 1974 and 1975, shows exactly why. The series showcased the band’s blend of traditional British folk music and rock and roll to perfection, with the added bonus of being recorded in some of Britain’s oldest stately manors…

“An Immoral Experiment”: The Spiritual, Political, and Ufological Significance of the UMMO Letters

In the late ’70s and afterwards, UFOs hit the big time in pop culture with countless books about abduction experiences, major Hollywood motion pictures, and quickie B-movie documentaries. But before this turn into widespread exposure, ufology was largely a field defined by tightly-circulated, sometimes even self-published, written and photographic evidence…

Getting Bombed: Carl Chaplin’s ‘Art Nuko’

From the early ’70s through the early ’90s, Canadian artist and activist Carl Chaplin produced and exhibited a series of paintings depicting the atomic destruction of major cities from around the world “to point out the horror of what would happen to all of mankind in a nuclear war.” The series was called Art Nuko, and it became quite controversial…

Apocalypse, Rinse, Repeat: The Graphic Experience of Greg Irons’ ‘Light’

Despite a tragically short life, and despite still being almost completely unknown, Greg Irons has exerted an extraordinary influence on the course of underground and mainstream comics, graphic design, and the tattoo world, where he is regularly cited as a legend. Irons was born in Philadelphia in 1947 and moved to San Francisco during 1967’s Summer of Love, where he immediately found work designing event posters for music promoter Bill Graham…