Before anything else, I have to warn you that this book, Lost Girls, is porn. I had heard rumors to that effect, but didn't know of anyone who had actually read the thing, so I didn't know if it was artsy, almost porn, or legit, hardcore porn. When I saw it in a huge, leather-bound version at Borders the other day—with a nice "For Adults Only" sticker on it, btw—I decided to see if it was really all that scandalous. It is.
Set just before the outbreak of World War I, Lost Girls tells the story of three women who meet in an Austrian hotel and quickly become close friends. These three women, however, are not just ordinary people, but Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy, from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan, respectively. Another unique quality that these three women share is that they each had luridly sexual childhoods, committed unspeakable acts of depravity, and have never shared their secrets with anyone—until now. Alice details her misspent youth as a virtual concubine to the "Red Queen," an abusive woman with an insatiable sexual appetite; Dorothy tells a story that involves becoming rather intimate with three farm hands and a "wizard" of a man; Wendy confesses to having been sexually involved with a charming young street urchin named Peter and his "lost boys" one summer when she was sixteen. Startled by the bizarre similarities between their childhoods, the women continue to grow closer together, until they ultimately become lovers themselves.
So yeah, it's pretty much just porn. Alan Moore made an interesting comment regarding Lost Girls that I had discovered before purchasing the book, and which made me curious as to the artistic elements vs. its pornographic nature:
If we’d have come out and said, 'well, this is a work of art,' they would have probably all said, 'no it's not, it's pornography.' So because we're saying, 'this is pornography,' they're saying, 'no it's not, it's art,' and people don't realise quite what they've said."They," naturally, are anyone who might be a critic of the book. As it turns out, he was right. Since he preemptively labeled it "pornography," it hasn't received nearly as much criticism as would be expected. Nevertheless, that doesn't change the fact that, indeed, Lost Girls is one big, fat, comic book porn.
I don't like Alan Moore very much. I didn't enjoy Watchmen or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and as much I loved the film version of V for Vendetta, I couldn't even get through the first few issues of the comic book. Lost Girls is a little better. Moore and Gebbie—who are married now, btw, as a result of working on porn together for 16 years (yeah, that'll do it)—do a really good job of separating the characters and their stories stylistically. Alice's stories look completely different than Dorothy's stories, which look nothing like Wendy's stories, which have little in common with the smaller stories told through a book they read together, which don't look anything like the regular style of the main narrative. Lost Girls is also very mathematically meticulous, and is broken into three books of ten chapters each, with each chapter consisting of 8 pages. I also have to admit, begrudgingly, that the way Moore retells each of the girls' stories is rather ingenious. Apparently his idea for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which brings together characters from several different novels to fight crime and solve mysteries, was born out of the sexual dalliances of Lost Girls. Enough of this artistic mumbo-jumbo, though.
At this point, I'm sure half of you are saying, "Oh my god, this is absolutely disgusting," and the other half are saying, "I get it, it's porn, but is it good porn?" Interestingly enough, both of these comments can be addressed pretty much simultaneously. Yes, it is disgusting, it's an absurdly depraved book containing several absolutely unspeakable sexual acts which I hope to God have never actually been committed by anyone over the course of human history. That being said, it's also a comic book, so it's not nearly as disgusting as watching things that are half as bad in a John Waters movie or a real porn. Yeah, it's gross, but it's clearly not real. My biggest problem with Lost Girls, though, was that after a while it got boring. It's just the same thing over and over again. People having sex, telling stories about having sex, having more sex, watching other people having sex, etc. ad infinitum. This book is gigantic, and every single page depicts someone having sex. Although, when I think about it, I guess that's kinda the point...
by Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie
Similar to poetry, I'm not going to give a numerical rating to pornography. Poetry and porn have a lot in common, actually: both are highly subjective; both can be intensely personal; both tend to induce phrases like "Oh yes, this is exactly what I've been looking for" or "why would anyone ever publish this garbage?" If you're into comic book porn, then read Lost Girls, because I can't imagine that there's a book out there with more sex page-for-page than this (and no, you can't borrow my copy, that's gross). You can get it in stores for $45 now, or on Amazon for cheaper, which is a deal considering until recently it was extremely rare and cost well over $100. However, if you're squeamish, sexually inhibited, uninterested in porn and/or comic books, prefer movies, never want to think of your favorite literary characters doing explicit things to eachother, don't enjoy lesbians, or are under the age of eighteen, this book is not for you. I must say, though, this is definitely my favorite Alan Moore comic. Does that say more about me, or him?
Either way, keep reading, Genoshans!