It's set in the not-so-distant future but takes its design cues from the past, specifically the familiar stylings of old Popular Science magazines. Popular Pandemics is the parody publication of Bob Rucker who shared with Boing Boing:
When I first saw videos of people in China collapsing on the sidewalks at the beginning of the pandemic, I knew it was going to be bad. And I was sure our government would not only botch its response, but they would probably find a way to turn it against us. So I went into self-quarantine on March 1 (I'm retired).
With nothing much to do, I started compulsively cleaning my house and wondering how bad things could get. There was so much going on—the pandemic, conspiracy theories, propaganda, huge gaps in wealth and income, climate change, unemployment, entitlement, the stock market collapsing, etc etc.—and no way to hold back the flood. The press was failing to keep up. The CDC was a mess. So many institutions were failing.
One day when I was cleaning up around here, I picked up a Popular Science magazine from the 1950s. So that became another theme that converged with the first—the nostalgia some people have for the era when America was "great". There was so much optimism and earnestness then. People would submit ideas to magazines for crackpot inventions that they thought would make them rich. They'd share ideas for making useful things out of scrap materials—which was suddenly not so far-fetched now that everyone was in quarantine and unable to shop.
The magazine was also full of these anachronistic ads, with happy "housewives" and white businessmen running everything. In those days it was just okay for people to say out loud the stuff that in the interim—until recently, anyway—they'd learned it was better to keep quiet—sexism, racism, classism. All that stuff.
I started tinkering around with those two ideas and I guess I just decided that my coping mechanism would be to create a reminiscent publication that could help me and hopefully other people laugh at the absurdity of our "Current Situation" and yet still see it as a cautionary tale about how much worse things can still get.
So when you read a copy of Popular Pandemics from 2022 or 2023, you get a glimpse of a world where a huge percentage of the population is considered just Human Capital Stock, where one Amazon-like company owns all the major industries, there's a small privileged class of "professionals" and "investors", and where the government would rather play pranks on citizens than serve them. That kind of thing.
This future world of Popular Pandemics is one in which there are multiple simultaneous pandemics, earth orbit shifts, food shortages, nuclear cyclones, etc. Basically, everything that could go wrong does.
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images via Popular Pandemics, used with permission