Comic-strip adaptation of On The Beach from 1957


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Books and Arts Daily on Radio National here in Australia just did a piece on a new documentary, called Fallout, about the making of the film.

Don’t forget the 2000 TV movie by Russel Mulchay! OK, maybe you should forget it, but I didn’t think it was too bad.

The 1959 film is astounding, really beautifully made with heartbreaking performances. Fred Astaire is incredible in one of his few (maybe his only) roles that didn’t involve singing and dancing.

I bought a beat-to-hell 1960 paperback edition (with red-edged pages) at a thrift store for 25 cents a couple years ago. It has a photo insert with stills from the movie. Never got around to reading it though, will have to get on that.

So, your book report is a bit overdue?

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“Minatory,” huh? You’re making me work for this one Mr. Doctorow!

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No blood, gore, or heart-pounding chases, but one of the creepiest movie endings I can remember.
And, one of the few movies where the Morse code was the genuine article, not that canned background crap.

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I hope it reads better than that comic. I think because it was in comic form the artist must have though that he had to word it like an issue of Action Comics.

One of the weird things about these scans is that some of them seem to have the panel caption whited out. Wonder what was there originally?

On the Beach is one of those books that I always thought that I might read, but was in no particular hurry to, as it would seem to be massively depressing. This adaptation captures the melancholy as people contemplate their deaths, but parts of it are oddly romance comic-ish. Then again, comics usually doesn’t do nuclear war very well, unless it’s to go to the bog-standard post-apocalyptic mutant cockroach cliches.

One notable exception, sort of, is V for Vendetta, which (at least in the original comic book) takes place in a Britain which was isolated by a limited nuclear exchange. In his foreword to the collected comic, Alan Moore, who had started writing it in 1982 for a British publisher several years before he finally finished it at DC Comics, said that he’d changed his mind about two things: that any nuclear war was ultimately survivable, and that it would take such an event to drive Britain to fascism.

Hm. That was a bit relentlessly depressing. But good for it. Solid storytelling given the medium.

If you want Slow Apocalyptic Nihilism in comic form, do also seek out the Raymond Briggs “When the wind blows”. That’s pretty special.

I too was wondering what the redacted panels in those scans were all about. It can’t have been too politically sensitive, given what remained, so what’s up with that?

Speaking of moving anti-nuclear comics, anyone read When the Wind Blows.

Damn, this book always gets to me.

As a kid I remember ABC’s runup to and then showing of The Day After, and it scared me to the bone. The scene of the farmer standing quietly in his field as he watches nuclear missiles lifting off in the distance is one that I’ll take to the grave. Sagan was absolutely right about the whole thing being madness–from the wiki article, he’s quoted describing Mutually Assured Destruction thusly:

Imagine a room awash in gasoline, and there are two implacable enemies in that room. One of them has nine thousand matches, the other seven thousand matches. Each of them is concerned about who's ahead, who's stronger.
Simply madness, and a madness I hope Earth never has to witness.

That was kind of the point of MAD. To make war so terrible that nobody could afford to engage in it.

I just finished reading Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb. I also got to see Mr. Rhodes (one of my favorite writers) at the Hanford’s 70th anniversary event (I grew up 20 miles north).

I think I need to read On the Beach, but for now I think the science fact is plenty creepy enough, most especially in Dark Sun. To my modern eyes, Curtis LeMay and Edward Teller were flat-out evil, but in those days shaped national policy.

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