Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It Can Happen Here!

The mushroom cloud is the horrific symbol of the atomic age, a time we still live in despite a lack of concern which once dominated the culture.  Always it is a symbol of power, and sometimes horror. Like many others in the early 80's I fretted about this stuff quite a bit, even subscribed to The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for a time. (By the way it's currently three minutes to midnight if you want to know.) But then I learned to compartmentalize this stuff and got on with my life. It's a threat that hangs over all of us, but like so many such things (asteroids, taxes and twitter being examples) there's little we can do about it on our own.

The comic book covers below track the appearance of mushroom clouds over the course of the decades from the earliest to some of the most recent and some very limited extent document the shifting attitudes about atomic power.

Rip Off


  1. On British TV in the '70s there were government information films called 'Protect And Survive' telling us what to do in the event of a nuclear war which seem ridiculous in hindsight. They said we should whitewash the windows to deflect the glare from a nuclear blast and if somebody died we should wrap up the body and leave it outside to be collected by an ambulance. Also we were told to listen to the radio regularly for the latest information - apparently ambulances and radio stations would still be operating normally in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

  2. And the Bush administration told us to lay in a supply of duct tape.

    The Bomb was in the forefront of American Culture, especially in the generations who had a clear memory of World War II. I was a kid in Miami during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and we all thought there was a chance we would be hit by atomic fallout if not an actual bomb before it was all over.

    A couple of years later I was able to watch and enjoy Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. As a matter of fact, one of the books I'm currently reading is Terry Southern;s novelization of the movie. Laughing at what terrifies us is one of the great things people do.

    In the late fifties Jules Feiffer drew a story called Boom!, a very dark satire about the commercialization of radioactive fallout, It was later reprinted in the 1964 collection called Passionella and Other Stories. This is the sort of thing that was in the public consciousness pretty much all the time.


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