On 1996

1996 is a serialized comic by Chantal Montellier published in early issues of Heavy Metal magazine (also in this really expensive volume by Vertigo). It functions in much the same way that 1984 does, although there isn’t a narrative that stretches through all of the comics. Instead, we are shown hints of the world that the comic takes place in through short, often one-page narratives.

1996, also much like other dystopian works of fiction during the 20th century, has vaguely come to pass. CCTV in Great Britain carries a heavy weight of Big Brother; contemporary entertainment culture, Vice, and designer drugs that make everything a little bit better are only a short distance from Brave New World. Much more disturbing is the way that 1996 has seem to almost completely have come true. For instance, this page from May 1977 sufficiently explains the condition of the worker in the contemporary economic climate:

Heavy Metal V1 #2 - Page 47

“For the good of all we ask that you now proceed to the disintegration chamber. Thanx!”

Is there any better way to describe the global economic crisis other than “thank you for your work, we cannot support you, please die soon”? What is European except for a systemic death for those who are no longer useful in cognitive capitalism?

1996 is also strangely abstract sometimes. The language of the people in the comics is nonuniform and significantly different from the “media language” of the time period–it requires work to read through the vernacular of the people. Linguistically, people are alienated from the forces that control them–which goes along with the physical and emotional alienation that is shown in quite a few separate strips.

Heavy Metal V1 #6 - Page 20

“to be human: to be subject to chemically-originated pollution”

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