Lost Girls

Alan Moore rewrites three children's classics as stories of sexual awakening, to create a work that confronts every taboo in the book.

Feature by Jaki Hawker | 13 Sep 2006
Aunt Millicent: What adventures?
Wendy: I've yet to have them, but they will be perfectly thrilling.

-from 'Peter Pan' by J. M. Barrie

This is not Kansas anymore.

Down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass, and well past morning, 'Lost Girls' is an intertextual adventure, a love letter to three women who never grew up. History interleaved; pornography overwritten; original story appropriated and re-told. It is a playground for the words and images of a writer and artist collaborating on a work which is both strange and beautiful.

Alan Moore and artist Melinda Gebbies have been collaborating and publishing 'Lost Girls' in comic form for over sixteen years, now collected for the first time in three deluxe, clothbound volumes. The years of thought that have gone into this story show. It is a starkly intelligent, witty and erotic tale, the story of three characters in search of reality.

But the reality that Moore and Gebbies create is very different from that imagined by creators of the original texts - J. M. Barrie ('Peter Pan'), L. Frank Baum ('The Wizard of Oz') and Lewis Carroll ('Alice in Wonderland'). 'Lost Girls' is the story of what happened next to Wendy, Dorothy and Alice - and what happens next to little girls who stray is sometimes very frightening indeed.

It is 1913, that edgy, fragile year before the First World War. Havelock Ellis publishes 'Love and Pain'; in Paris, Nijinsky dances 'The Rite of Spring'; in Berlin, Ernst Kirchner begins his iconic series of paintings of the streetwalkers of the city. And in a hotel between the borders, somewhere in Europe, something extraordinary is happening in the lives of three very different women.

Alice, the oldest of the three ('Alice in Wonderland' was first published in 1865) is a middle-aged woman masturbating for the eyes beyond the mirror. Dorothy (published 1900) is an American good-time girl, guilelessly accepting the advances of her fetishistic lover. Wendy (published 1911) is trapped in a loveless marriage. It is Wendy's story which provides one of the most effective images of this densely woven text - as she and her elderly husband discuss mundanities, their shadows copulate wildly on the wall beyond. This witty interplay between word and image abounds throughout the books. Gebbies nods to Mucha, Beardsley and the artists of the Belle Époque. Moore references 'Fanny Hill' and 'The Oyster' in homage to the authors of the Victorian underground.

But for all its explicit dissection of desire and longing – and despite Moore's own testimony - 'Lost Girls' is not pornography. It is a journey through sexual yearning and sexual dreams: a journey where actions have consequences, words meaning, and images power.
Author of the groundbreaking 'Watchmen' and 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen', Alan Moore is a renowned creator of challenging graphic novels; Melinda Gebbie is a comix artist known for exploring themes of sexuality and empowerment.

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