Friday, 13 June 2014

Lost Girls by Melinda Gebbie and Alan Moore - For DonandLee (Hypocrites in a Horned Church)

It begins in 1990. It ends in 2007. Not with a whimper nor an orgasmic groan but with a blush. It is the colour that puts the pink into both a young man's thoughts and a young ladies cheeks. The conclusion of this erotic story that took seventeen years to complete, as so often is this case with Alan Moore, is the epitome of creative writing. That is without considering the exceptional quality of the artwork. This is one hell of an achievement.

For once this feels less like a Moore driven project, and I appreciate many of his works have been team efforts, but more like a truly joint initiative with Melinda Gebbie very much in the driving seat. Yes, all those cinematic devices he is so famed for using are seen here, the way one image is often projected in a repeated panel but with slight variations of content that inform the reader, without the use of either thought bubbles. speech balloons or captions, that time has passed. This intelligent allowance of conveying the narrative is his hallmark but with this series of books, and yes I have their elegant casebound editions beside me as I type, there is a symbiotic relationship formed by what I believe to be possibly the best union Moore has enjoyed in the comic book format. 

Gebbie really does deliver some beautifully crafted work. Things that could so easily be portrayed as lewd, gratuitous are given a delicious sensitivity that exudes eroticism but excludes porn. Her lines are simple but flexible enough to allow for a multiplicity of techniques to wander in and arrange the pictures, to dress them in cotton and lace as it were, to add little frills that compliment the story rather than muscle in or spoil it.

There is a feeling ever present that we are but voyeurs, very privileged voyeurs, of a very private, very passionate affair that spins its course during the briefest of times. There is no disputing the nature of the books, they are highly charged works or erotica that not only tell a beguiling tale but also illustrate that things of an erotic content can also be a philosophical study, a contemplative aesthetic concerning sexual desire, sensuality, and romance.

There is nothing obvious about these works, nothing cheap or tacky. The subject mater deals with sex but shows that sex, still given bad press in some quarters, is both physically and cerebrally stimulating as it is satisfying.

The story features three important fictional characters of fiction: Alice, from Alice In Wonderland; Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz and Wendy from Peter Pan. The three meet quite by chance in a resort high in the Austrian mountains. It is late 1913. War is on the horizon. The hotel they stay at is an expensive establishment that caters only to the wealthy. Lady Fairchild, Alice as once was, is now grey-haired and slightly beyond middle-age. Dorothy is in her twenties whilst Wendy is thirty and married to the fifty-year-old Harold Potter The three meet and begin to exchange erotic fantasy encounters from the past. The past though contains some unpleasant memories which, during the course of the telling, are revealed in all their murky detail.

These fantasy memories are told in flashback sequences as are the darker histories of the three protagonists. Wendy Durling met a young homeless boy called Peter and is sister Annabel whilst in Kensington Gardens. They meet again and begin a teenage sexual relationship which includes other friends of Peter's. Their activities are watched by one of her father's friends who brutally rapes the young Wendy. Her marriage to the much older Harold Potter is a sham, one she acquiesced to only as she knew that sex was not an option.

When the cyclone hit Kansas as Dorothy Gale was hiding trapped in her house, the excitement caused by the storm stimulates her into masturbation whereby she experiences her first orgasm. It being such an inexplicably moving experience she sets out to repeat the sensations by visiting three farm hands who she code names the Straw Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man. The people she refers to as her aunt and uncle are in fact her stepmother and the biological father who, upon discovering her sexual appetites, take her to see a psychologist in New York. It is whilst in transit that her father repeatedly rapes her. 

Alice Fairchild was forced into having sex with her father's friend. It is an act she found repugnant, so much so she stares into a mirror in order to enable her to see only herself having sex with her mirror image. The forced act of congress instills a dislike of heterosexual intercourse and so, when at boarding school, she has relations only with other girls. Alice forms a relationship with her PE teacher who offers her a job as a PA. Alice accepts the role becoming nothing more than a sexual plaything for the older woman. When her employer marries and begins a series of lesbian sex parties, Alice becomes addicted to opium. Another of Mrs. Redman's staff, a girl called Lilly, is instructed by the woman to perform oral sex upon Alice during the course of a social gathering. Alice, at the end of her tether, stands up and tells the assembled guests of the depraved ways in which Mrs. Redman makes her staff act. This infuriates Mrs. Redman who declares Alice mad and has her committed to an insane asylum.where Alice is systematically raped by the staff

It is a story, as so many of Alan Moore's are, that is beset by some delightful plot twists, a range of delicious characters, a narrative that is both structured but also with depth and some of the most exquisite art you could wish for. The story concludes in typical Moore fashion, it is a finale that I shan't reveal but it is one that brings the whole episode to a dark conclusion.

For those who believe anything mildly erotic equates to being crude then this proves the contrary true. The story is as fulfilling as good sex but is not an add-on to create bad porn, it is a good story in spite of it. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if Melinda and Alan created then published a monthly series of a steampunk version of Fanny Hill?

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.


twh said...

is there a facebook page or petition to acquire signatures to get moore and gebby to do a steampunk version? if not, you should create one!!

excellent review! and the illustrations, especially the black and white panels, are gorgeous! geez .... now i have to read it!! it is currently being moved to the top of my wish list!

Vanessa V Kilmer said...

Sounds very interesting. I like the last picture the best.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog