Get local news delivered straight to your phone

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Alan Moore hates Hollywood. The prickly English comics writer recently lambasted the adaptation of his comic V for Vendetta and has publicly distanced himself from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell. But he won’t have to worry about Hollywood vultures circling his new book, Lost Girls—it’s an unapologetic work of pornography, including explicit scenes of rape, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality. A collaboration with illustrator Melinda Gebbie 16 years in the making, Lost Girls—employing a gimmick similar to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s use of British literary characters—concerns a meeting between three familiar women: Peter Pan’s Wendy, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice. But where Extraordinary Gentlemen was a smart, spot-the-reference adventure story, Lost Girls reads like an academic exercise. Centered on a chance encounter in an Austrian hotel on the eve of World War I, the plot quickly leads these famous women to sex and stories of sexual awakening. Moore’s libidinous interpretations of their classic stories can be read as a direct challenge to conservative sensibilities about sex, art, and literature; in fact, the actual narrative of Lost Girls seems to be more about pushing boundaries than about crafting an interesting plot—after all, it is porn. But most porn won’t stretch liberal sensibilities as far as Moore does. Instead of making the Darling children fly with actual “fairy dust” and “happy thoughts,” Peter Pan instructs Michael and John in the “happy thoughts” of mutual masturbation, before mounting their sister. Moore knows depictions of child pornography are criminal in America, but he gleefully challenges would-be censors and critics by draping himself in the cloak of artistic license. He throws down the gauntlet to would-be censors at an orgy in the hotel lobby later in the book, during which the hotel proprietor reads a story about incest involving an entire family. When Wendy reacts to this with disgust, thinking of her own child, the proprietor says to her, “Your child is real. These, however, are only real in this delightful book. Incest. C’est vrai. It is a crime. But this? It is the idea of incest.…Fiction and fact. Only madmen and magistrates cannot discriminate between them.” As passionately as it defends artistic freedom, Lost Girls is just as staunchly anti-war, interplaying sex with scenes of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. “I’m afraid lots of boys will be dying in mud when they should be fucking in bed,” Alice remarks one morning as the three women get dressed to evacuate the hotel. “War’s such a frightful perversion. It turns everything contrariwise.” This said, of course, by a woman who had been on the receiving end of a dildo train the night before. The actual sex in Lost Girls, however—heterosexual, homosexual, oral, anal—is far from interesting. The various hookups of the various characters in various positions is more like a statistics lesson in permutations and combinations than anything remotely erotic. Part of that is due to Gebbie’s hardly cartoonish illustrations, whose understated palette is almost too serious in serving an absurd story. In the tradition of such eroticists as Marquis de Sade, Gebbie keeps a straight face throughout—even as she’s illustrating something as absurd as Peter Pan and Captain Hook dueling with giant erect penises. Much more interesting are Moore’s über-Freudian readings of the Wonderland/Oz/Neverland mythologies: how Alice was raped in front of a mirror; how Dorothy helped three farmhands, through sex, discover their brain, heart, and courage; how Wendy confronted a pedophile whose hand was shaped like a hook. All the chapters in between—the “plot”—is cumbersome foreplay. —Josh Eiserike