Moriarty Is Blown... Away... By Alan Moore's Scorching Hot New Masterpiece, LOST GIRLS!!
Published at: Aug. 10, 2006, 6:12 p.m. CST by staff
Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
This isn’t an easy book to write a review for, but then again, I suspect it wasn’t an easy book to write. It won’t be an easy book for most people to even find for purchase, and when they do, it won’t be an easy read. Alan Moore, the acclaimed writer who was one of the primary talents who forced comic books to grow up, has written a disturbing, funny, and even touching story that takes some of the most beloved icons of children’s literature and brings them together in a blatantly pornographic tale that is about the very nature of our relationship with pornography.
So... yeah... tricky stuff.
Let’s be clear up front: I think LOST GIRLS is not only one of the best things Alan Moore has ever written, I also think it’s a fairly important work of art judged by any standard. It’s genuinely dangerous... this is the kind of book that will give some people conniptions when they read it, and they’ll get so worked up over the specifics of certain scenes that they’ll miss the bigger picture. Modern-day pornography is based on the photographic image. What you see is what happened, more or less. When you’re talking about hardcore explicit pornography, when you’re looking at two people fucking (or three or two and a horse or one-hundred-twenty-seven-up-the-butt-in-a-row), there’s a reality to it that brings a certain weight with it. I think pornography is depressing and, for the most part, reeeeeeally ugly these days. I think “gonzo” is one of the scariest things that ever happened to the adult industry. I think there’s a cruelty to pornography that makes it hard to defend right now. I will defend its right to be published because I think that’s the point of free speech... defend the stuff you don’t like as vigorously as you defend the stuff you like. Putting LOST GIRLS in a class with something like ANAL VIRGINS #22 hardly seems fair, but since some of the sexuality in LOST GIRLS involves underage participants, I’m willing to bet it will prove particularly difficult for some people to accept it as pure fantasy and separate it from footage or photos of the real thing.
Does it really make sense, though? We take fantasy images of violence and pepper them through our entertainment for even the youngest of audiences. We find violence thrilling, and we consume mass quantities of it. We are open about our love of action and adventure and thrills and terror... we are ravenous. But we lock away sex. One destroys. One creates. And it always amazes me which one we consider acceptable for mainstream digestrion, and which one we do not.
Preamble aside, Moore and his collaborator Melinda Gebbie have spent the last 16 years preparing this book for its finished publication, and the care and devotion they both have to it is pretty overwhelming when taken as a whole. I’m glad I never read earlier versions of the material as Moore published parts of it previously. This is something that should be read from start to finish so you can see the totality of Moore’s vision, the full intent of his story. I think it’s one of the most human and heartfelt pieces of work of his career, and his reputation as a dark genius will survive the truth of this piece... that he’s a fucking romantic deep at heart. It took writing about sex to bring out a passionate, soulful Moore that I’ve never seen before in print.
Like LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, this is a book about iconography. Moore has taken three of the greatest characters of children’s fantasy and he has interpreted them as purely sexual metaphor. Alice from ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, Wendy from PETER PAN, and Dorothy from THE WIZARD OF OZ all meet as adults of varying ages on vacation in Europe. It’s just before the premiere of the Rites of Spring, just before the beginning of WWI. There’s something terrible building on the horizon. For these three women, this remote hotel that they are each visiting offers a temporary refuge from the cold, cruel world outside. They meet each other, they immediately hit it off, and in no time at all, they fall into bed. Dorothy and Wendy find themselves seduced by the much-older Alice, but they don’t take much convincing.
As the three women find increasingly frenzied and acrobatic ways of bringing one another off, they tell their stories of sexual awakening to each other. And in doing so, they retell the classic stories you know in a whole new light.
Here’s where people are going to get angry.
And, seriously, I get it. I know exactly why people are going to be upset by what they read here. They’ll be upset because on some level, you can’t argue with Moore’s interpretations of the material. He hasn’t had to radically reconfigure the details of any of these stories to make them work, either. I think what’s most upsetting is how logical his interpretations are. Once you’ve read his take on PETER PAN, it’ll be hard not to think of it when you re-read the original. The Peter in her story is a young man who she sees in a park near the family house when all of them are out one Sunday afternoon. When she and her brothers first see Peter, he’s having sex with a girl against a tree. Wendy’s shocked, but she can’t look away. More importantly, Peter sees her. And a few nights later, as she stands at the window, she sees him again in the garden behind her house. Staring up at her window. Watching. And Wendy finds herself compelled to invite him up, into the nursery, through the open window. He climbs up, comes inside, and then... well... he teaches them to fly, figuratively speaking. Melinda Gebbie’s artwork is nothing like what I’m used to in comic books. It’s soft. It’s painterly. It’s not remotely concerned with realism, but is instead all suggestion and emotion. Even so, all it does is heighten the surreality of a scene of John and Michael sucking each other off while Peter fucks Wendy from behind. It’s the opposite of what we think of as pornography. There’s nothing clinical about it. These aren’t real people... so there’s really no baggage. Or is there more because of our affection for these characters? Is it more upsetting perhaps to see PETER PAN as pure sexual metaphor than it is to think of real people whose lives have taken whatever turns they had to in order for them to consider posing for a camera while having sex? Moore’s book seems to make the point that our initiation into the private world of sexuality is always unique and terrifying and overwhelming, and for each of these women, they reacted in ways that define them as adults. Wendy finally had to grow up, just as she did in the classic Barrie tale, and close the window to the garden against any intruders. Alice took a dangerous trip down a rabbit hole of moral decay, and she barely escaped with her mind and body intact. Dorothy ripped through her Kansas home like a tornado, and she’s off to see the Wizard, looking for some magical thing to transform or transport her.
The book is published in three volumes. Each of the volumes consists of ten chapters. Each of the ten chapters is eight pages long. Moore loves his formalism, and within that rigid structure, he’s free to do anything, try anything, say anything. He hasn’t restricted himself at all. Gay sex, group sex, incest, pedophilia, golden showers, fisting, and more, more, more. It’s all in here, all explored with the same open willingness. It’s as if no boundaries exist for Moore. It’s fearless work, and because it so willingly ignores convention, it will shake some people up. The third book in particular is a tough read. The sex becomes more frantic, more perverse, rougher. Moore knows full well that his slow and steady stroke as a storyteller is all aiming towards an eventual release, and when his stories all come to a fitting climax, it really is completely satisfying. There’s a coda that suggests that all of this is just a dream, and if so, if it is in fact the dream of the person we see on the last page, then we have even less room to judge it. Would you deny anyone free reign over their imagination? Would you ever tell anyone that they can’t dream like this? The book will challenge your own response to that question, whatever you think your answer is now. Because Moore offers up so much heart and soul in the book, the potential for heartbreak is enormous, and the characters don’t make it out of the book without a few fresh scars. But they endure. Even after an interpretation as wild and as unfettered as this, these characters will endure. And maybe that’s part of Moore’s point as well. There comes a time when a character takes on such life that no matter what any one storyteller does to that character, the character endures. The character has a life of its own.
If you’re over 18 (or 21 depending on where you live and what restrictions there are on certain types of material in your area), I urge you to take a chance on Top Shelf’s LOST GIRLS. Once again, Moore has pushed the definition of what a “comic book” is, staking new ground in the illustrated literature field. His real-life collaboration with Gebbie has resulted in a book that casts a powerful sexual draw even when the material isn’t particularly edifying. I’ve read that Moore considers himself a magician, and seeing how deft he continues to be at expanding the potential of this form of storytelling, I think I believe it.