Wednesday, February 27, 2008

lost girls

My favorite birthday present last fall was a copy of Lost Girls, an erotic graphic novel by Alan Moore (writer) and Melinda Gebbie (artist). It's a beautiful, hardcover 3-volume set that depicts the sexual adventures of three famous fictional characters: Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, and Wendy from Peter Pan. The narrative is set in a historical context, on the cusp of World War I, and the three meet in a resort hotel in Austria where they quickly become friends, tell stories, and engage in all manner of sexual exploration with each other. In this sense, the plot utilizes the common literary theme whereby disparate characters meet in a safe haven and engage in story-telling to pass the time. For other examples, see Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Poe’s "The Masque of the Red Death", and Neil Gaiman's Worlds' End.

The writing and dialog is quite good but obviously the focus of these novels is the pornographic art. Taken in small doses, it's breathtaking and arousing. Here's a panel from the re-telling of Dorothy's tale, in which the tornado carries her to the land of Oz. The tornado outside is reflected in the whirlwind of fear and ecstasy that she provides herself through masturbation. As she orgasms, she "emerges" into the land of Oz, which may represent something like her newfound sense of control and sexuality.
I found the story of Dorothy, and the artwork depicting her, particularly exciting. Alice's tale is more disturbing, as she describes being taken advantage of by an older man, a friend of her father: likely a reference to the suggestions that Lewis Carroll was a pedophile. Wendy's tale is also intense, with Peter transformed into a highly sexualized, Dionysian figure who introduces Wendy to the world of sexual pleasure - including an orgy with all the lost boys. Part of me found this appealing, as my last reading of Peter Pan left me thinking that Barrie had purposefully incorporated sexual overtones in his work and meant the tale to be an allegory of sexual awakening in a young teenage girl.

Note the very different artistic styles in these panels I'm posting - this facet of Lost Girls makes it all the more impressive. Gebbie moves back and forth between techniques, often adopting the style of various authors and artists of the period: including, Colette, Aubrey Beardsley, Guillaume Apollinaire, Alfons Mucha (one of Aili's favorites!), Oscar Wilde and Egon Schiele, Pierre Louÿs, and Franz von Bayros.

So is this for you? Maybe, maybe not. As a piece of art, I think it a great success. The erotic depictions are explicit, but rendered with such artistic care and in beautiful color that the images wash over and immerse you. If you consume too much at one sitting, you may feel a little nauseated and disturbed. But taken in morsels, especially with a partner, Lost Girls achieves its goal of perverse titillation. For an interview with Alan Moore, visit here. For some other reviews, including Neil Gaiman's thoughts, visit here and here.


  1. What does your girlfriend think about you looking at stuff like this?!

    Oh wait, she got it for you.

    Anyway, it's art.

  2. I highly recommend a runof comics called "Girls". It is written by the Luna Brothers. It is a sci-fi tale of a small rural town that has been cut off from society physically and overrun with homicidal naked female clones. These females run around andtry to kill all of the women and sex with the men. This is because once sx is finished they spawn more homicdal, nymphomaniacal versions of themselves. The art is pretty cool, not the standard stuff that is generally a hallmark of most marvel and DC stuff. I am pretty sure the first 3 years are in trade paperback at this point, vol 1-3. I know my description has not done it justice, but you should check it out.