The English author Raymond Briggs who died early August this year wrote many children's stories with illustrations. One of his best children's books is ‘The Snowman,’ an inspiring story without words. As if he was not satisfied enough to write books for children only, Briggs left graphic novels for adults, too. One of such novels is ‘When the Wind Blows’ published in 1982. The book is classified as for infants and children in libraries but it depicts a story too terrifying for kids to read.
An old couple in London moves to a province as the husband wants to enjoy peaceful rural life after retirement. The couple loves the time there. And one day, a nuclear war is about to break out between Britain and the Soviet Union. The couple makes a shabby fallout shelter in their attic, using their cushions, books and a ripped-off door according to a government-issued manual book. They paint their windows white and stockpile food for emergency. Meanwhile, nuclear missiles launched from distant sky, ocean and plain fall into London. The couple are relieved that they had left London to live in the province, which turns out to be a naive idea. Provinces are no exception for nuclear holocaust. Wind carries radioactive fallout.
The ‘wind’ in the title of the book refers to the wind carrying lethal radioactive dust. They find peas and lettuce dried to death, apple trees leafless and green grass ruined. And the couple is exposed to radioactive fallout. They suffer from headaches, vomiting, bleeding and hair loss. They start to die a slow death at the home where they planned to spend their remaining time of life peacefully. They are even deprived of the right to restful death. All that is left of them is to pray for a rest on the green pasture. That graphic novel of Briggs was published in the Cold War era of the 1980s but ironically still resonates with us living in the 21st century. Fear and anxiety over possible nuclear war became a daily concern. What would it be like if all we have left is to pray, to pray for "making us lie down in green pastures and leading us beside the still waters," just like the old couple did from the book?