Alan Moore - Lost Girls
Through the looking glass
Miles Fielder talks to Alan Moore about his most controversial project yet, as he depicts the sexual fantasies of three iconic female creations
‘What we wanted to do with Lost Girls was to come up with a different form of pornography. We realised we had the ideas for something enormous and wonderful.’ Alan Moore, who’s widely considered to be the finest writer working in comics today and is best known for his groundbreaking and hugely influential graphic novels Watchmen, V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, is talking about his latest book, an erotic literary fantasy he co-conceived with the American underground comix artist Melinda Gebbie, who also happens to be Moore’s wife. Like Moore’s League stories, Lost Girls brings together a number of famous figures from literature as adults, in this case Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz and Wendy from JM Barrie’s Peter Pan in a highly erotic – and very graphic – ménage-à-trois that takes place in a hotel on the Austrian border on the eve of the First World War.
Completed over a lengthy 16-year period, Lost Girls was originally published in the US back in 2006, but didn’t appear in the UK until the beginning of 2007 when the copyright to Barrie’s characters lapsed and Wendy and the boys came into the public domain, though former rights holder the Great Ormond Street Hospital balked at Moore and Gebbie’s use of them in a sexualised context.
Lost Girls was further delayed, however, by the interference of UK customs, and when it finally arrived in Britain last March many bookshops literally kept it under the counter. Happily, the book has since been embraced by stockists and by the end of 2008 had sold out it first print run. ‘We thrashed some ideas around,’ Moore recalls of Lost Girls’ origin back in the late 1980s, ‘and found out what we did and didn’t like in pornography. Then, I threw an idea into the mix: a sexually decoded version of Peter Pan. Then I began thinking: if one of these women was Wendy from Peter Pan, who would the other two be? Immediately, the names Alice and Dorothy came to mind. And as soon as we got those three names, the entire idea for the book exploded in our faces.’
What Lost Girls does so cleverly is to subvert the girls’ well-known stories to interpret their fantastic adventures as metaphors for sexual abuse and awakening, and then has their erotic liaisons act as emotional healing for them. Given its explicit nature, it’s unsurprising that Lost Girls has had a rocky publishing history. It is, however, a smartly conceived and beautifully delivered labour of love, a psychosexual drama that genuinely represents, as Moore puts it, a ‘good’ form of pornography.
‘Pornography will always be with us, but its influence on society is largely negative. I don’t necessarily think that should be the case. We wanted to counter the seedy, grubby under-the-counter kind of pornography with another kind, one that was well-conceived, beautiful, intelligent, which answered the feminist critics, and which might make pornography something that could even be socially useful. After all, sexuality is something that affects us all.’
Lost Girls is out now published by Top Shelf.