Letter to Survivors

New York Review Comics. Feb. 2019. 128p. tr. from French by Edward Gauvin. ISBN 9781681372402. pap. $15.95. Rated: T+. SF
A man wearing a hazmat suit rides his bicycle through an irradiated wasteland. He stops at an air vent jutting up through the ground, which leads to a bunker down below, and starts reading a letter to the family within. This first letter describes the prosperous, idyllic life the family lived before an unknown cataclysm led to their current predicament. On subsequent visits, the letters the mailman reads become increasingly stranger, detailing the lives of kings, pre-World War I pastoral life, and a little girl's encounter with an elderly guitar player. Who is writing these letters? Who is this mailman? Is he trying to teach these people something, or is his goal to torment them?
VERDICT Originally published in French in 1981 and available now for the first time in English, this odd blend of sf and satire of consumer culture by former Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief Gébé raises more questions than it answers, but who needs answers when the cartooning is this elegant and the questions are this fascinating?

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