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When the Wind Blows
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When the Wind Blows

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  1,254 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Raymond Briggs's comic cartoon book depicts the effects of a nuclear attack on an elderly British couple, in his usual humorous, yet macabre way.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published 1982 by Schocken Books
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This is possibly the most disturbing book I've ever picked up. The format alone, jarring with the subject matter, sets ones teeth on edge... there's something wholly discomfiting about the illustrated evolution of the round and homely forms of an late-middle-aged couple as they undergo the effects of radiation poisoning. The isolation and naiveté of Hilda and Jimmy Bloggs, their ability to do exactly the wrong thing despite their best intentions, is as appalling as it is compelling to the reader ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Sep 22, 2015 Ivonne Rovira rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: especially for those interested in the 1980s
Recommended to Ivonne by: Manny Rayner, Petra
For those who are too young to remember the 1980s, it was a decade of utterly foolish magical thinking about nuclear annihilation, an era in which governments in both the United States and the United Kingdom pretended that, with enough shovels — and a stiff upper lip — people could survive a nuclear blast. Cartoonist Raymond Briggs published this illustrated black comedy in 1982 at the height of Cold War brinkmanship and civilian terror.

In When the Wind Blows, pensioners James and Hilda Blllogg
If you're like me, guys, sometimes you're like, "Curse you sun! Curse you daisies! Curse you smiling faces! I need something that's going to make me feel like curling up in a ball of woe, drowning in my own tears! I demand BITTER IRONIC SORROW!"

This is a total lie, of course. If I never had to read a sad book again, it would be too soon.

But for people who are like this, I recommend When the Wind Blows.

Jim and Hilda, an adorably batty British couple, learn (from their public library!) that nucle
I've seen the movie previously but that doesn't change just how horribly sad and blackly funny Raymond Briggs' adult book about the nuclear warfare situation in the Cold War era is. The juxtaposition of his illustration style as seen in things like The Snowman and Father Christmas (staples of my childhood) with the bleak adult subject matter serves to underline the absurdity of the situation lived through by Mr & Mrs Bloggs.
Global thermonuclear war is a surprisingly amusing subject. This graphic novel isn't quite as funny as Doctor Strangelove, but it has some excellent moments.

My favourite bit is near the beginning. Jim is responsibly following the advice in his "Protect and Survive" leaflet (American translation: "Duck and Cover"). He wants to construct a fallout shelter by leaning a door against the wall at a 60 degree angle. So he goes down to the shop to buy a protractor.

He comes back and tells his wife that t

Briggs brings the realities of what the Cold War was and clearly demonstrates the threat that faced most of the modern western world in the early 1980's.

The reader is invited to look inside the private country home of Mr. and Mrs. J. Bloggs,and observe the daily goings on of a naive, stiff upper lipped, British couple as they struggle to make sense of an impending nuclear strike by the Soviet Union ("Ruskies"); these struggles acting as comic relief (military acronyms are another instrument
I enjoyed the black humor approach in this short read in how Briggs facetiously illustrated how a total and naive reliance on the government to protect us in times of nuclear warfare would only prove to be foolhardy. Though the material is presented in a light and almost playful manner, its hard to read this book without being affected by the disturbing themes that lie subtly beneath the text. Apparently this book was so popular when it was released that it was even included in England when the ...more
A graphic and desperately poignant tale; which importantly bears periodic re-reading.

A retired working-class couple, James and his wife Hilda (affectionately referred to as ducks/ dear / dearest) respond to the threat (later proved) of a nuclear bomb strike.

James reads in his broadsheet newspaper and hears on the radio of the ‘deteriorating international situation,’ expressed in a typical political vagueness of speech. Thankfully he has picked up a leaflet in his local public library entitled
Illustrated in a comic book format, which shouldn’t work with this type of story but does do so well. A graphic novel that depicts the horrors of nuclear war; sometimes a difficult, moving and poignant read, it tells the story of Jim and Hilda Bloggs who are a retired and thoroughly English couple (previously seen in Gentleman Jim by Briggs), that face the situation of a nuclear attack on English shores. When Jim hears on the radio the three-day warning he sets about making a homemade shelter, w ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Andrew rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrew by: Comix - Japana
Shelves: comix
A couple of morons prepare for a potential nuclear attack (and fall out). The husband starts building a bomb shelter in the living room while the wife bakes a cake.

I guess I found it more sad than humorous. I found the two characters infuriatingly stupid. Unlike the lead in Gentleman Jim, the male character in this book was depressing. I quite liked Gentleman Jim and will admit the character is very similar. I guess in that book it was about the character getting a job during his retirement, wh
Sarah Brownlee
Everyone should read this. Everyone. A powerful, chilling tale. We are not rulers, leaders, conquerors or kings. We are ordinary people; and as ordinary people we may find it difficult to grasp the motives and concepts of the powers-that-be - and the true reality of nuclear warfare. This is a simplistically brilliant book and I would urge everyone to read it.
Sarah M
The Bloggs are the cutest elderly couple I've ever come across in all the books I've read. Their innocence, optimism and sheer love for one another through that ordeal made me want to hug them. If this book doesn't discourage people from initiating war and remind them of their humanity, then I dont know what will.
Nellie Airoldi
Di una tenerezza a dir poco infinita con quel mix di ansia e angoscia per il futuro che viene a poco a poco annientata da una delle coppie letterarie più innamorate e più affettuose che io possa ricordare.
Heart touching story I have read after so long. It's about a elderly couple who survived the 2nd world war and experineced another atomic blast. Loved the story, loved the artwork.
Well golly, this little graphic novel from the 1980's sure packs an emotional wallop in a short amount of space. Following the lives of a couple British retirees who live in the country and experienced WWII as children, they are thrust into the Third World War with no sense of scope besides some outdated civil emergency group pamphlets, and a warning that the bombs will begin dropping in three days.

The story is very small scale taking place entirely on their farm, they try to understand the curr
Story is written in comic strip form with muted colours and inset with large full page dull dark pictures to set the mood, and the use of the words ‘meanwhile on a distant plain’ gives the impression that the war is a long way off. The tone of the colours change from a rich countryside palette to brown/green/yellow post detonation, as Briggs drains the life from his own artwork, as the radiation drains the life from his characters. There is different old language – ie humpty, ducks etc. giving t ...more
"Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die"
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson "The Charge of the Light Brigade"

The year is 1982. The tensions of the Cold War are prevalent in Western society. Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union are deteriorating, tensions are increasing, and nuclear war seems more imminent than it has since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Popular culture is taking a hard and unflinching look at the increasing probability of a post-nuclear worl
Graham Brunk
Raymond Briggs really does humanize an inhuman concept with this short graphic novel. The topic of nuclear warfare is no easy task to write about, but Briggs uses the story to describe (and subtly criticize) the inane pamphlets the British government had been handing out in the late 70s and early 80s about how to protect yourself in the vent of nuclear warfare. Who could not like an older couple living in the british countryside enjoying retirement? The story presents a couple just like that tha ...more
An interesting, unique little comix. In general, I like these concept comix - I loved the children's book-style illustrations, with the gentle watercolors and adorable blob-faced people. (The quiet art was reminiscent of Shaun Tan's wonderful The Arrival.) I loved the fussy, musty, English dialogue, and how this Englishness was meta-commented on by the moments of nostalgic, Churchillian, WW2 bombast.

And, of course, I liked how this was all woven with the obvious, underlying collapse of society:
A Cold War parable that retains its relevance well into the days of the War on Terror; after all, although the USSR went away, the various nuclear arsenals did not. In this slender book, which is not exactly a comic but close enough, a couple of doddering Middle Englanders face an impending nuclear confrontation with the same (misplaced) can-do spirit with which they and their families faced earlier bombing campaigns of the Germans during WWII. Clever, tender, and chilling.
Briggs published this when the idea of a graphic novel barely existed, and the same applied to the idea of comics for adults. Not only was he ahead of the curve, he also produced one of the great short graphic novels, in this funny and horrifying tale of the bomb falling and its aftermath. A savage indictment of politics, of course, but also of human complacency and ignorance.
Oh, this was incredibly heartbreaking. It didn't go where I was expecting it to. Predictable yet unpredictable. Horribly vivid yet very humorous with characters that get on your nerves but break your heart all at the same time.

Highly highly highly recommend!!! :) :D
Petra X
The coming nuclear war as a cartoon. Black humour and advice on how to use duct tape (of course, isn't duct tape used for everything?) and plastic bags to protect yourself.
I don't think its a spoiler to say that it doesn't work!
Felt like "On The Beach" only with an elderly cast. Very poignant and loving and terrifying!
Lee Battersby
Beautifully sad and whimsical fable about the effects of a nuclear conflict upon a retired pair of typical Little Englanders. Filled with gentle humour and deft characterisation, it's a wonderful parable of the dangers of trust in authority and the imminent threat of worldwide conflict. The message is from another time, now, and some of the jokes float more towards the nostalgic then the classic, but the sadness and tragedy at the heart of this bittersweet tale are still strong enough to make it ...more
Chris Lipscombe
So sad... and so powerful.
Raymond Brigg's genius is matching the normal, the banal, the important-in-its-own-way petty little things that actually make up all our lives, that we care so deeply for even as they are ant-like in the face of bigger issues, and then showing how those bigger issues (nuclear war in this) impacts so uncompromisingly on that smaller world. This is his Masterwork, the characters in this book are easy to love, they're everyone's grandparents, everyone's aunts and uncles ... and they're going to die ...more
I had such high expectations for this little graphic novel and was a bit disappointed… I must say it doesn’t have much to do with the book, probably just my feelings towards it. First of all let me say that the characters in the book are lovable and the ending will leave you feeling like crap.
We get to meet James and Hilda, an elderly couple who are terrified of nuclear annihilation. So, when James reads in the newspaper and hears news on the radio about the possibility of a nuclear attack, he
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I was posting a review on another site when this book was recommended for me. I'd never heard of it before but since I love apocalyptic books and Brigg's Snowman is a treasured favourite I knew I had to read it..

The only reason this book doesn't get a full five star rating from me is that it does show it's age and is a product of its times. This is a sad, despairing, dark book lightened with black humour. It packs quite the punch and at the time it was written during the Cold
I first became aware of this as a movie when it came out in the 80s as Bowie wrote a song for the soundtrack. As much as I loved post-apocalyptic worlds then, and as terrified as I was about nuclear war I didn't see it. But I found a copy of the graphic novel at the Oxfam and thought I'd give it a try. First off as a graphic novel it was SUPER ugly! The guy was a very good artist but he had NO idea how to lay out boxes or divide up the text. The last 10 pages or so were tiny little boxes of the ...more
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Raymond Redvers Briggs is an English illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist, and author who has achieved critical and popular success among adults and children. He is best known for his story "The Snowman", which is shown every Christmas on British television in cartoon form and on the stage as a musical.

His first three major works, Father Christmas, Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (both featu
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“Dear sir, Mr. B.J. Thing... er... we the people of Britain are fed up with being bombed. We had enough of it last time with old Hitler so will you just leave us in peace, you live your life and we'll live ours, hope you are well... please don't drop any bombs.
Yours sincerely, Mr. and Mrs. J. Bloggs”
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