Sunday, 10 November 2013


Here's a rather scary reminder of our nuclear past circa 1960. This US comic book-sized publication was designed to equip the reader with the knowledge to survive fallout radiation. It was published by Charlton Press, a company which is best known within comic collecting circles for their horror, SF and romance books (though I've never come across any references to FAMILY FALLOUT SHELTER anywhere).

The creepy cover

Back cover - the yellow rectangle at the top left was designed to place a stamp of the organisations who'd have bought large quantities of the 50c book 

the first its 66 interior pages
Figure 1: areas of attack 

Page 33 - it's not looking good

turn your radio to the Conelrad (control of electromagnetic radiation) frequency

My copy of 'Build your own Family Fallout Shelter' turned up sometime in the late 1980s - found languishing in a pile of second hand Marvel and DC comics at the Islington Branch of the 'Popular Book Centre', which was in Upper Street near the Hope and Anchor pub. These 'Popular' book stores were once a very familiar fixture of London's high streets. Most of the branches that I remember all dabbled in the collectible comic and magazine market as well as offering their local customers cheap and used copies of the likes of Mills & Boon's potboiler romances, Penguin's, Pan's and car maintenance manuals, and their discreetly placed section filled with old 'gentlemen's' magazines.

The upside of the Popular Book Centre was that in the days before the ubiquitous charity shop opened up in closed-down high street units, these were some of the only accessible places to find interesting second hand stuff - especially the less common material that had somehow found their way across the Atlantic.

The downside of the Popular Book Centres was that their ugly price stamps were always splattered on the cover in indelible ink. A quaint reminder of the 20p spent at a PBC, but definitely a down-grade or two for those hoping to cash in on their 'valuable' old treasures!

The last PBC that I remember popping into was in London's Shaftesbury Avenue, and that was well over a decade or two ago, though there were certainly several branches that did make it into the 21st century.

How this relic of the Cold War turned up in London N1 we'll never know...

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I've read many posts about dog, and I can tell that yours is very valuable. War and other dangerous situations like tornadoes, hurricanes, and violent storms have always terrified people and caused them to desire safe shelter. This is why even today people question how to build a fallout shelter, so they will always have a safe place to stay in the event of a serious situation. See more