Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lost Girls

To continue the Alan Moore theme of my previous post here's a review I did for a public interview he did back in 2006. The review originally appared in Machenalia, the newsletter for the Friends of Arthur Machen.


The girls were indeed lost. Or at least incredibly late.

Due to copyright complications Dorothy, Alice and Wendy – the heroines of Lost Girls – will be unable to regale the great British public for some time yet. “So,” chuckled Stewart Lee as he settled down to interview writer Alan Moore and artist Melinda Gebbie, “we’re going to spend the next hour and a half discussing a book that won’t be published until 2008.” No one minded in the least.

The interview got underway with comedian Lee serving up witty, intelligent questions. Perhaps the most pertinent of which was how the idea of a pornographic graphic novel featuring Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Wendy from Peter Pan and Alice from Alice in Wonderland first came about. Moore replied that sex had been creeping into his stories as far back as Swamp Thing and he had wondered if maybe, just maybe, he could write about sex without using swamp monsters. Gebbie added that when they had first been kicking around ideas she mentioned that she had previously had great success writing about trios of women. The idea of utilising Dorothy, Alice and Wendy soon followed.

Moore and Gebbie also discussed the visual motifs for the three heroines – silver shoes, shadows and a looking glass. And the many pastiches of 19th century pornographic art and literature they used throughout the book, including not only homages to that most prolific of creators Anonymous but also artists such as Alphonse Mucha whose work might not be seen as pornographic but which still carried an erotic charge. Moore also put forth a theory that war is a symptom of sexuality gone awry, explaining why the first rumblings of WWI serve as a backdrop to the book’s sexual shenanigans.

Lee suggested that the lesbian scenes were infused with tenderness whilst the scenes of male homosexuality were played for uneasy laughs. Moore responded that this was because Dorothy’s husband was so unbearably uptight that he remained a parody of British reserve even at the moment of orgasm. “And the fact that he looks like Sean Connery,” said Lee, “was that an act of revenge for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film?” “No, not at all,” said Moore. “Speak for yourself,” giggled Gebbie.

During the course of the interview illustrations from the book were projected onto the wall at the back of the stage. Gebbie had great fun persuading the onstage computer to show the slides in the correct order. When the correct images finally appeared Gebbie pointed out the different colour schemes she had created for the individual heroines – Dorothy for example was shaded with earthy colours to represent her midwestern farmland roots. Gebbie also lamented Moore’s request for certain pictures to be repeated over and over again. Moore apologised, saying that he thought she would simply Xerox the pictures rather than painstakingly recreating each one by hand!

Given that Lost Girls is a self-proclaimed piece of pornography several of the slides were of a sexual nature such as Wendy snuggling up with the Lost Boys or Alice fornicating with the cowardly lion. Stewart Lee moved over these quickly as the audience issued schoolboy sniggers. “I’m only skipping over these because we’re short of time,” protested Lee. “I’m not scared of them.”

After the interview there followed a Q&A session with the audience. How did Moore think Carroll, Barrie and Baum would respond to his handling of their characters? Did Moore and Gebbie view Lost Girls as feminist pornography? Was the book influenced by the texts used to school Indian princes in the art of lovemaking?

With the Q&A over the signing commenced. The queue seemed to stretch halfway across London with fanboys clutching copies of Watchmen, V for Vendetta and Snakes and Ladders. Moore and Gebbie chatted cheerfully with everyone. Even people like myself who initially stood frozen in dumbstruck awe before overcompensating by erupting into a torrent of babbling gibberish. I eventually pulled myself together enough to ask Machen aficionado Moore if he was aware of FOAM. He replied that he was in fact a member. That seemed a pretty good way to end the evening.

1 comment:

Quentin S. Crisp said...

A friend of mine bought this self-proclaimed pornography the other day, so I assume it's finally out. Haven't seen it myself yet.