Up until about six months ago, I didn’t even know that ‘Lost Girls’ existed; while I tend to like Alan Moore’s creations, I’m not enough of a fan to follow each of his mad footsteps. But my eye caught the first edition of this book in a used bookstore and, enticed by the large pretty box containing three hardcovers, decided to peruse it briefly.
These books are essentially a series of pornographic stories revolving around the heroines from Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of OZ and Peter Pan (hence the title). From what I could capture in a quick flip of the pages, this was not erotica: this was, without a doubt, hardcore sex – with all manners of lurid permutations filling its pages to overflow.
When I realized that Alan Moore was the author, I was stunned: was this the same guy behind ‘V for Vendetta’, ‘Watchmen’ and ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’? Seriously? Stupefied, I probably would have bought it then and there if the store hadn’t been asking a price that I found unreasonably out of reach of my newly-minted interest. (to top it all off, the set wasn’t in great shape – and, as a collector, this was inexcusable to me. )
But I read up on it, discovered that there were two editions (the boxed set of three hardcovers and large paperback), that it had been a controversial release to say the least and then discovered that the local library had it on its shelves. Well, not so much on its shelves as in permanent transit, with a sole copy being in high demand. So I requested it and waited patiently.
‘Lost Girls’ takes the overly familiar stories of Wendy, Dorothy and Alice and turns them completely on their ears, giving us real-world -but lewd- spins on their adventures. Moore found ways to explain each of their fantasy-world tales with skewed views of what “really” happened, as though their true stories had been exaggerated, embellished, and white-washed for the books that we all know and love.
He and Gebbie (his actual life partner) proceeded to retell these stories in three books/volumes of ten chapters each, each of which holding eight elaborately detailed pages:
-In book 1, we are introduced to, and recounted the origins of, our three (now adult) ladies, as well as their respective companions.
-In book 2, the three ladies become friends and share their past adventures with each other.
-In book 3, the ladies continue to spend all of their time together, if you will, and finally conclude the retelling of their life stories.
Although the first few chapters start off with a bang, so to speak, the set actually becomes progressively more transgressive as it goes along. I don’t know if the whole intention was to consistently push the envelope and see if it was possible to gradually bring their readers to a place they never would have imagined visiting at the onset, but Moore and Gebbie inserted something to trouble just about everyone but the most sexually liberal individuals.
‘Lost Girls’ is absolutely not for the prude. This book covers all sorts of sexual acts, many of which could disturb or offend, including woman on woman, man on man, group sex, anal sex, fetishes, mild b&d, light s&m, bestiality, ….etc. I just couldn’t believe the imagination that went into making each chapter vastly different from the last, incorporating new acts and/or combinations. (To think that, despite being so explicit, the only censorship in the whole work was the word “bloody” in book 2! Seriously. )
I was also impressed and quite appreciated that there’s a different structure and/or style to each chapter, some incorporating classic literature, others juxtaposing period artwork, the deadly sins, and many other elements, into the storytelling. This kept everything fresh from a narrative perspective, even as they kept creeping the dial up from a purely sexual angle.
Gebbie’s artwork is adequate, but hardly genius. I found that she even had trouble with symmetry, at times. However, she is capable enough to handle many different styles and tasks, some more eloquently than others, which led me to wonder if her apparent weaknesses weren’t actually inherent to the stylistic choices. But, between the three different forms for each of the three protagonists and the other tales being told, it all blended very well, and illustrated everything appropriately enough.
If anything truly bothered me with this book, it was the inclusion of underaged boys and girls in some of the fantasies. That made me terribly uneasy, even though I fully understand that there’s a world of difference between real life and fantasy. For me, this spoiled what could have been quite an impressive work, something worthy of revisiting from time to time.
Unfortunately, ‘Lost Girls’ left me with a feeling of disquiet, and one inescapable question: Has Alan Moore finally gone too far?