Graphic Novel Review – Lost Girls
Alan Moore really likes writing transformative fiction. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen certainly proved that. Alan Moore also really likes writing porn. There are some excessive scenes in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen that makes this pretty obvious. Moore was able to put both of these passions together when he worked together with the artist who would later become his wife, Melinda Gebbie. This 16 year long project was Lost Girls, a three book sexual odyssey that features pornified versions of Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, and Alice in Wonderland. For the record, before I start this review, I’ll give a warning for potential buyers that the story contains brief child pornography and depicts incest. This being the case, it isn’t available in a number of countries.
‘The plot of Lost Girls is very start and stop, and is for the most part structured to be consumed in small bits. Each chapter is just about 10 pages or less. Granted, there are a lot of chapters. The story follows Dorothy Gale, Wendy Darling, and Alice (given the surname Fairchild in this book), who meet at an Austrian resort hotel in 1911, on the eve of World War I. The characters meet and begin having casual sexual relationships with each other, while also telling erotic stories from their past, which mirror the stories that they are based on. For instance, Dorothy tells her stories of sexual awakening with characters meant to be analogous to the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion. They take turns telling parts of their stories, so it isn’t all delivered in one long chunk. I would guess that this plays into the short format chapters that Moore chose to write.
In a style similar to Watchmen, panels are kept relatively uniform based on what sort of chapter you’re reading. In Watchmen, many chapters were kept with 9 panels on each page, and the size and organization never altered. In Lost Girls, each chapter has a different panel composition based on what kind of chapter it is. Dorothy chapters have long horizontal panels, three to a page, Wendy’s have a header and three long vertical panels on each page, and Alice chapter panel are long and horizontal, but are oval panels instead of rectangular. Other chapters have different layouts, some of which are pretty unique. Melinda Gebbie and the letterer Todd Klein should be the two who get the most credit for this work. In addition to Melinda Gebbie’s outstanding mastery of color making the book a sensational experience, Todd Klein’s lettering also adds a lot of character to the visuals. Gebbie’s coloring style alters between lush oil painting textures, the light tinted hues of watercolor, and the rigid craftsmanship of colored pencil crosshatching. The expressiveness in the faces of the characters can look a little dead in some panels, which can be somewhat amusing during some sex scenes, but for the most part, the artwork in this novel is absurdly beautiful looking.
Where I part with my praise for the book is in how the writing was handled, and also how much text is included in the novel. There is often times so much to read in each panel that it takes away from the enjoyment of the images, and breaks the smooth flow of moving from panel to panel during sex scenes. This may sound somewhat anti-intellectual, but I think I can back up my points with some commentary from Scott McCloud. In Understanding Comics, McCloud argues that when the two different mediums, writing and visual artwork, combine to meet in the middle to create sequential art, that if there is too much consideration for one medium without any thought about how the other will be carried out, that the product, the finished comic, will suffer as a result. Not everyone agrees with that statement, but since I usually have a dichotomous approach to interpreting the images and the words in comics, it certainly affected my enjoyment of the book. For those wondering, a dichotomous approach would be one that considers visual and verbal information as two different kinds of information that are perceived in different ways and at different speeds. There are some clever comics that encourage a more interdependent approach, but this isn’t one of them. One of the reasons why I would place Jess Fink’s Chester 5000 at the top of the erotic graphic novel genre instead of Lost Girls, which normally takes that spot, is because Chester 5000 for the most part eschews with verbiage outside of one joke character, and everything is conveyed through images. This makes the sex scenes flow more easily and the reader can perceive it all at their own pace.
Lost Girls was a great read for me, although it didn’t really hit the spot as far as erotica goes. Considering that it’s such a sensitive and subjective subject to hit all the right spots on, I can’t honestly make good suggestions for erotica, considering everyone has such different tastes. But I can recommend it for its other qualities as well, so I’ll let the reader decide if they want to drop the decent pile of dough needed to get a hold of a copy.
Lost Girls on Amazon