When The Wind Blows: middle-aged pensioners after the Nuclear Apocalypse
I had read this short comic unsuspecting when I was a kid, and been simultaneously shocked and enthralled by it. Therefore, when I encountered it again, I decided I must review it.
This comic, written and drawn by Raymond Briggs (most famous for the Christmas cartoon "The Snowman"), concerns middle-aged English pensioners James and Hilda Bloggs in a somewhat alternate 1980s (although at the time the situation probably seemed imminent) where diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers have broken down and nuclear war is clearly on the horizon. Using pamphlets he got from the county information office James tries to construct a fallout shelter (basically a lean-to made out of doors) while Hilda does not see to grasp that annihilation is imminent, and its more concerned with her curtains or her throwpillows getting damaged. Even after the bomb drops, neither one seems to grasp the severity of the situation.
This is perhaps one of the most merciless anti-war (specifically anti-nuclear war) stories I've ever encountered, second only to "Grave of the Fireflies" and "Barefoot Gen." This takes two dim but quite likable characters and essentially dooms them to die for reasons totally beyond their control. Briggs' cutesy artstyle makes this even more painful, especially as the adorable James and Hilda start suffering symptoms of radiation poisoning.
James and Hilda seem totally unprepared for what's coming. They constantly relate their current situation to their childhoods during World War II, when war, "Hope and Glory"-like, seemed fun. Both of them seem to forget often that the enemy is the Russians now, not the Germans, and that fallout is the danger, not bombs. Their waiting for the emergency services they expect to come is therefore all the more tragic.
This is a brutal little book, and definitely not for the faint of heart. But for those wanting a brutal satire of the dangers of nuclear war, this is definitely the comic for you. Just make sure to reserve a few tissues for the last half or so.