WHEN THE WIND BLOWS by Raymond Briggs
Kirkus Star


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In comic-strip form like Fungus the Bogeyman, this tells the grimmer story of an ultra-ordinary retired British couple face to face with a nuclear attack. Much like the airing of civil defense films in the film Atomic Cafe, it points up the foolishness of preparing for nuclear attack and of pretending such a bomb will be comparable to those we survived ""last time."" Ludicrously, the husband goes about building a shelter from old doors, obediently lining them up at a 60 degree angle according to specifications in the County Council leaflets, as the wife interjects with ""mind you don't scratch the polish"" and ""I hope you haven't left that wet cape dripping in the hall."" The two bumble along, spouting malapropisms (everything nowadays is done with ""commuters""), he checking off the leaflets' lists of shelter supplies (. . . calamine lotion, rodent poison, eyewash. . .), she interrupting with ""Mashed or chips?"" and fussing ""Oh dear, I'll just get the washing in,"" when the announcement comes that the bomb will fall in three minutes. Every now and then the strips are interrupted by a double-page dim picture of what is approaching ""meanwhile."" It comes, evidently falling some distance away, in a wonderful flurry that turns the shelter pictures from white to pink to red and then dark--and the couple continues to act and think in the ordinary manner: talking of insurance and propriety; dismissing evidence of disaster when the TV, water taps, and gas stove all fail to work; and continuing to trust in the authorities (""Yes, nowadays there's bound to be all sorts of andi-totes and protectives"") as they begin to feel sick, to bleed, and to break out in black-and-blue spots. Through these last pages we see them turning a sickly green and a sicklier white, and then they fade out grotesquely. The humor is black and bleak, with lines like ""We won't have to worry about a thing. The powers that be will get us in the end."" And so they will, if we fail to see ourselves in these two docile souls.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1982
Publisher: Schocken