Like a lot of comics fans my age, I had my view of what comic books could and should be completely changed when Alan Moore took over Saga of the Swamp Thing in 1984. Moore took a character that was at that time a bad joke, in a book that was slated for cancellation, and recreated it from the ground up, resulting in one of the most critically-acclaimed titles of the time. Moore's Swamp Thing stories are still damn good, but they're dwarfed by the body of work he's done since, such as Watchmen, From Hell, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, not to mention V For Vendetta, which had been published in incomplete form in England before DC hired Moore for Swamp Thing, and should be considered one of the classics of modern anti-authoritarian literature.
This August is a great time for fans of Alan Moore's explorations of our most beloved icons: Top Shelf Comix is releasing a collection of The Lost Girls, which is itself one of the great lost works of comics. Neil Gaiman describes the history and concept of The Lost Girls:
Almost ten years before Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen… Moore, in collaboration with expat San Franciscan underground artist Melinda Gebbie, began Lost Girls, with a similar, although less fantastical, conceit – that the three women whose adventures in girlhood may have inspired respectively, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Peter Pan and Wendy, and The Wizard of Oz, now grown, meet in a Swiss hotel before the first World War. Wendy, Dorothy and Alice, three very different women, one jaded and old, one trapped in a frigid adulthood, one a spunky but innocent young American good-time girl, provide each other with the liberation they need, while also providing very different (and, needless to say, sexual) versions of the stories we associate with them – we go with the girls, in memory, down the Rabbit Hole, to Oz, and to Neverland.
The concept itself is nearly pornographic in its audacity, and of course, the very mention of it has people in a tizzy. The London hospital that owns the rights to Peter Pan in England is already screaming copyright violation.
I'm dying to get my hands on the new edtion of The Lost Girls. Not only because I'd read Alan Moore's grocery lists, but because there's been buzz about this particular work for years, and the few panels I've seen of Gebbie's work so far just makes me burn to see more. It's gentle and sensual, and despite being flagrantly pornographic, very innocent and respectful. (The pictures here were respectfully stolen from Violet Blue's site; go there for more.) I probably won't get a copy for a long time, though; Top Shelf is releasing it as three hardcover volumes in a slipcase for $75. If you want to pry sexual favors or something out of me, this is a good path.
One of the things that I love about Moore's attitude towards this project is that he very proudly adopts the label of pornography. He makes no bones about the fact that it is pornography, and certainly doesn't try to hide it under the middle-class euphemism of "erotica."
More Links About The Lost Girls:
- Top Shelf Comix
- Cinescape Interview w/Alan Moore
- Newsarama Interview
- BBC Interview (Streaming Audio)
- Slate Magazine: How Alan Moore Transformed American Comics
- Alan Moore Fan Site