In the Webcomic Guide to the Apocalypse, I've been drawing short comics about very early apocalyptic fiction. So far, I've covered stories about plagues and the dying Earth, and this week, we're looking above, to some 19th-century tales in which comets threaten to destroy human civilization—and sometimes extinguish all life on the planet Earth.

Click on each page to read it at full size. I actually scripted a seventh page that I didn't get a chance to draw up, so I'll add what I wanted to say here: Comets were not always agents of destruction in these early stories. Many poets, such as Gerard Manley Hopkins, wrote admiring odes to comets, and H.G. Wells' In the Days of the Comet spins a happy alternative to Poe's "The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion"; after the Earth passes through the tail of a passing comet, all of the nitrogen in our atmosphere is converted to breathable air, gifting humans with remarkable intellect and clarity of mind, enabling them to create a utopian society. But then again, the first disaster film, 1910's The Comet, capitalized on fears surrounding the approach of Halley's Comet by showing 11 minutes of conflagration.


If you'd like to read Vladimir Odoevsky's The Year 4338, there is an English translation online at Feel Do Think.