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Comicscape - April 12, 2006

The Virtues of Vice: The Alan Moore Interview, Part One

By Kurt Amacker     April 12, 2006

© Top Shelf Productions
After years of starts and stops, Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's LOST GIRLS will see print in August of this year in a three-volume hardcover set from Top Shelf Productions. The idea is classic Moore -- three of literature's most famous female protagonists -- Dorothy Gale, Alice Fairchild, and Wendy Darling -- meet in a hotel in Austria in 1913 for an adventure of sorts. Yet, unlike Moore's past works, LOST GIRLS unrestrainedly addresses and embraces its characters' sexuality. Make no mistake -- LOST GIRLS is a work of pornography. It is not the dainty erotica you might find in your mother's nightstand. Moore and Gebbie unflinchingly present all manner of sex acts, both pleasant and, at times, shocking. However, no one can argue that LOST GIRLS belongs on the same shelf as a tattered issue of JUGGS. It is a work of art, as beautiful in its execution as it is defiant in its subject matter. Place it next to the KAMA SUTRA or De Sade's PHILOSOPHY IN THE BEDROOM on your shelf.

I recently passed a pleasant afternoon talking with Alan Moore about LOST GIRLS, along with the finer points of sex, politics, and, yes, movies. Given the sheer length of our chat, half of the interview appears below, and the other half will appear next week.

Kurt Amacker: Chris Staros already advanced me a copy of LOST GIRLS. My wife and I have already read it, and one of my friends my housemate had a look at it as well. We all rather enjoyed it.

Alan Moore: You liked it? Well, that's really good news, Kurt. Thank you.

KA: Unlike so many people, I'm not offended by pornography in principle, so it had an easier time going down. My wife's from Germany and they watch it on television like sports over there.

AM: Absolutely, and they're a much healthier nation for it.

KA: Indeed American hang-ups about sex and all that. So, did you create LOST GIRLS to emphasize the potential of pornography as art, as opposed to just vice?

AM: I think it struck me that it was kind of unusual that there are all these relatively rarified areas of human experience that very few of us are actually involved in, such as being private detectives, space explorers, or vampire hunters. There are whole shelves full of books that are devoted to all of those exploits in every major city. However, we all have a sexuality, even if we're celibate that's sexuality. And yet, the only medium the only genre that deals with sexuality is this grubby, under-the-counter genre in which there are absolutely no standards. It struck me that even though there have been many artists who've dabbled in the erotic and the pornographic in the past, most of them have done so anonymously, even if the work they've produced has been absolutely wonderful. They have not wished to associate that work with themselves, which means that there's a whole area of art that is more or less completely ignored. And I wouldn't have thought that we'd have that much culture that we could completely ignore this huge treasure trove of art and literature. It just seemed a bit strange to me that we seem to be laboring under this very odd idea that there is something wrong with looking at depictions of people having sex, and there must be something wrong, because you might get aroused. And yet, it's perfectly alright to have the most insanely elaborate and intricate acts of violence portrayed everywhere. I know that there has been sort of an argument that, 'Oh, well, pornography causes rape'

KA: That's nonsense.

AM: because most rapists have read pornography at some point in their lives. I should imagine that they've also drunk milk. But, whether there's a direct connection, I doubt it. And it has to be said that in countries where they have a more liberal approach to pornography, such as Denmark or Holland, that they have far, far less raped and murdered children thrown into the canal as we do over here in England. In fact, they look at places like England with horror and incomprehension as, I must admit, do I. You know, it seems a bit strange that we should, just for the sake of prudishness and not wishing to scare the horses or upset our maiden aunts, be prepared to tolerate a kind of unhealthy pressure cooker sexual atmosphere that evidently does turn out a fair number of monsters. And so, it was for all of these reasons that I thought, 'Why not do a piece of pornography that is every bit as valid and as beautiful as you would expect from any work of art?'

KA: That's interesting, because so much genre fiction deals with desire and wish-fulfillment. As you said, a lot of it has to do with being vampire hunters or aliens. There are American romance films that are targeted at women that are essentially relationship wish fulfillment fantasies.

AM: Chick flicks, yeah.

KA: I once told my mother that those movies are essentially pornography for women.

AM: It's like the Barbara Cartland romance novels that we have over here. They're a kind of emotional pornography.

KA: It all taps desire, but it just a different kind of desire. And it's okay to want to be a space explorer or to fall in love, but it's not okay to want sex, even though it's about as human as eating.

AM: That's it. And having sex isn't illegal, whereas killing people like that is.

KA: It's like we're comfortable depicting the end of life, but not the beginning of it, for some reason.

AM: Yeah, and I genuinely don't understand why that should be. And also, I'm 52 -- I think that I should be allowed to read what I want and not be sent to bed without supper. It was just sort of a thing of, 'Well, why is this? Why is there all this rich territory that most artists seem to shy away from?'

KA: I think there's just this idea that insight and arousal the experience of fine literature mixed with arousal are incompatible, and that the two are mutually exclusive and that you can't have both at the same time.

AM: I would say that it's a difficult trick to pull off. There does seem to be a kind of brain-genitalia blood balance that you have to get exactly right. If the book is a wholly intellectual experience, then probably all the blood is going to rush to their brain and they're not going to find it particularly arousing. There again, if all the blood rushes to the other end of their body, then they're going to be stupid and indiscriminant.

KA: Then, you're watching a wank movie, basically.

AM: Basically. This is by no means something that is easy. It took me, on my own, four or five years of quite hard thinking and I still hadn't come up with a viable idea for a sexual story before I teamed up with Melinda Gebbie. And it's taken us 15 or 16 years to bring this thing to fruition.

KA: I think you were quite successful.

AM: It's a very easy thing to describe, but it's a very tricky thing to actually make it work. You're reaction is very heartening. I hope that you found it both sexy and kind of intelligent and, you know, it had all of things that would've expected from any novel. That was our intention.

KA: I think what really hit home for me were the single-page splash illustrations that Melinda did that showed more literal interpretations of the fantasy aspects, like when Peter Pan and Captain Hook are dueling with their giant phalluses out, or when Dorothy's being taken by the Tin Man character. I was thinking that they almost look like something out of HEAVY METAL, except tasteful and even epic.

AM: HEAVY METAL does tend to be largely goddesses being raped by trolls.

KA: It struck me that they were beautiful and thrilling and epic, but it's two characters dueling with their penises.

AM: Two characters dueling with their penises it says a lot about a lot of male-on-male conflict in the media and film and literature. There's very often a kind of cockfight, as it were.

KA: Indeed. Do you think that LOST GIRLS implies that the separate experiences of Dorothy, Wendy, and Alice can be seen as metaphors for adolescent sexual awakening within the original texts themselves?

AM: I don't know if I'd want to go that far. I suspect that you probably could see them as metaphors for sexual awakening, and I suspect that if you were to scan through contemporary universities, you'd probably find several theses that actually make that very point. Whether I think that they were metaphors for sexual awakening or not, I don't know. The one that I'm least certain about is L. Frank Baum, because I think that probably he was telling, rather, a complex political allegory in THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Now, Lewis Carroll, he is open to seemingly endless debate in that he was a friend to children. He was, in the technical sense, a pedophile, in that he loved children. Now, whether that had any sexual element or not, I don't know. There were those naked photographs of Alice Liddell. There is one school of thought that says, 'No, in the context of the times, that could be seen as entirely innocent.' And there is another school of thought, equally well supported that says, 'No, in the context of any times, there's something a bit dodgy about that.' I don't know. I tend to give Lewis Carrol the benefit of the doubt, because I think that he was a lovely, lonely old man with a head full of nonsense and mathematics. And, he must've had very few friends. And so, I'd give him the benefit of the doubt.

Now, J.M. Barry -- PETER PAN is by far the most adult of the three texts. If you read the original unexpurgated PETER PAN by J.M. Barry, there's all these odd little things in it. There's a scene where one of the Lost Boys has fallen asleep on a forest track in Neverland. And, a group of faeries who are returning home drunk from an orgy have to climb over him. Now, this is in Barry's original text. There are also some very creepy bits about how children are the strangest things. They can meet their dead father in the woods and play a game with him and never breathe a word to anyone that it has happened. That's a bit strange. And of course, at the end of PETER PAN, Wendy is grown up. She is married and she has a child of her own, which kind of implies that, yes, the Wendy in Peter Pan's story, she was a little girl. And, the Wendy at the end of the book is a woman who, unless she's got this baby by some means that is not explained, she has had sex. She is now mature, and she is now closing the nursery window in case Peter Pan gets in and takes her child away. That seems to me to be the strongest sexual metaphor that simple act of Wendy closing the window. The things that were alright for us to do as teenagers are not okay for our children. I think that there is a lot of that hypocrisy, as a regular human thing. 'Just because I was having sex when I was 15, 16, 17, or whatever, I certainly wouldn't want any daughter of mine doing that.'

KA: That's sort of what my father told me 'I drank a couple of beers when I was 17, but if you do, I'll kill you.'

AM: That's it that little bit at the end of PETER PAN. There are other things that make PETER PAN one of the most sexual of the texts and it was, in fact, PETER PAN that first gave me the idea of the whole thing. It was just noticing all of the flying that takes place. On a simple Freudian level, flying can be read as sexual expression. And so, I thought, 'Well, that's interesting. I wonder if you could have a look at some of the other things and motifs of that book and actually decode them in a way.' Irrespective of whether those stories were intended as metaphors for sexual awakening, I'd say they can, with great justification, be read as metaphors for sexual awakening.

My interview with Alan Moore resumes next week, wherein the author further expounds upon sex, politics, and film adaptations.

New This Week
By Al Brown and Kurt Amacker

Have you ever wondered how awesome it would be if Carl Weathers and Billy Dee Williams were ever in a movie at the same time? Yeah, me too. But not anymore.


Berserk Vol 11 TP (MR) $13.95

Blade Of The Immortal #112 (MR) $2.99

BPRD Universal Machine #1 (of 5) $2.99
Al: You mean like one of those universal remotes? Because those never actually work on everything. There's alway one thing it just can't do. Wicked annoying.

Gungrave Anime Manga TP $14.95

Hellboy Vol 6 Strange Places TP (MR) $17.95

Journal Roman Dirge Lenore $9.99
Al: It's an ancient Roman dirge, written down in the journal of a woman named Lenore. Do I get a prize if I guessed right?

Nexus Archives Vol 2 HC $49.95

Oh My Goddess Vol 2 Rtl TP $10.95
Kurt: That's my dead, limp hand sticking out of that pile of Manga at your comic shop.

Star Wars Boba Fett One Shot $2.99

Star Wars Rebellion #1 $2.99
Kurt: I think if I liked Star Wars way more, I'd be broke. As it stands now, I'm good with the movies.


100 Bullets #71 (MR) $2.75

Albion #4 (of 6) (RES) $2.99

Amazing Adventures Of The JLA $3.99
Kurt: Is this like the Super Adventure Club?

American Virgin #2 (MR) $2.99
Al: Why do all series start so slow these days? It was intriguing, but we're still in set-up phase in #2. I think the set-up should be done in one, man.
Kurt: Because it means you buy more, spanky.

Batman Dark Detective TP $14.99

Batman Legends Of The Dark Knight #203 $2.50

Batman Strikes #20 $2.25

Batman Year One Hundred #3 (of 4) $5.99
Al: This, I'm having a great time with. For those of you who questioned what makes this any different from Dark Knight Returns: it's hard to explain, but it's really different.
Kurt: I'll report back when the series is over.

Captain Atom Armageddon #7 (of 9) $2.99

Crisis Aftermath The Battle For Bludhaven #1 (of 6) $2.99
Al: Aftermath? What? Did I miss the part where it ended? Just so y'all are aware, the Crisis is currently going on at the exact same time as One Year Later and, apparently, the Aftermath, which puts us in triple overtime hell.
Kurt: Um, just blame Hypertime. That's what I do.

Desolation Jones #6 (MR) $2.99

DMZ #6 (MR) $2.99

Fables #48 (MR) $2.75

Firestorm The Nuclear Man #24 $2.50

Green Arrow #61 $2.50

Hi Hi Puffy Amiyumi #3 (of 3) $2.25
Kurt: You know, some things just shouldn't cross the Pacific Ocean.

Loveless #6 (MR) $2.99

Mad Kids #3 $4.99
Kid one: If I don't get to be Green Lantern, I'm taking my toys and going home!
Kid two: Is that Al Brown guy around? He always wants me to play Robin.

Majestic #16 $2.99

Nightwing #119 $2.50

Nightwing Second PTG #118 $2.50

Showcase Presents Teen Titans Vol 1 TP $16.99

Superman #651 $2.50
Al: Oh yeah, Clark Kent ponders the offer from last issue's last page. That was an interesting idea, man. I'm into this.

Superman Archives Vol 7 HC $49.99

VS (versus) Vol 1 $9.99

Wildcats Nemesis #8 (of 9) $2.99


Battle Pope Color #7 (RES) (MR) $3.50

Battle Pope Color Vol 1 Genesis TP (MR) $12.99

Casefiles Sam & Twitch #23 (MR) $2.95

Freak Show TP $5.99
Al: I'm not the biggest fan of Bruce Jones' recent work on Hulk and Vigilante, but this book - originally released in hardcover last year - is a pretty entertaining throwback to his kickass early-70s horror stories. And even if you hate everything about Jones it's worth picking up for the staggering art of Bernie Wrightson.

Freshmen TP $16.99

Girls #12 (MR) $2.99

Nameless Directors Cut TP $15.99
Al: This is actually just a random director's cut with the cover sheet ripped off. You have no idea what you're gonna get.
Kurt: Kind of like a David Lynch movie?

Night Club #3 (of 4) (RES) $2.99

Noble Causes #19 $3.50

Portent #2 (of 4) $2.99

Tourist GN (MR) $9.99
Al: And this is mainly about how awesome fanny packs and safari hats are.
Kurt: If it's tourist season, why can't I shoot them?


Annihilation Super Skrull #1 (of 4) $2.99
Al: Annihilation: getting good reviews from everyone except me. Scattershot and half-assed in my book.
Kurt: This was way past the "too many crossovers mark," so I'm ignoring it.

Astonishing X-Men Vol 1 HC $29.99
Al: Everyone gets all psyched about old-school stories in the first arc, and then blasts 'em for it in the second. It's like Simon's attitude towards Chris. If you want old-school stories, kids, you're gonna have to put up with the Danger Room going crazy on a regular basis.
Kurt: Meh. I think I'm the only on one the planet that doesn't really dig this book.

Cable Deadpool #27 $2.99

Exiles #79 $2.99

Fantastic Four First Family #2 (of 6) $2.99

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #7 $2.99
Al: Jesus, Peter David...we know you can write, dude. Feel free to start doing so any time now.

Iron Man Demon In A Bottle TP $24.99

Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #11 $2.99

Marvel Romance Redux Restraining Orders Are For Other Girls $2.99
Al: Hey, I didn't know Kurt's mom had a writing gig.
Kurt: She's writing a tell-all about your mom. Man, if only you knew.

Marvel Select Flip Magazine #11 $3.99

Marvel Tales Flip Magazine #10 $3.99

Marvel Zombies 2nd Ptg Var #4 (of 5) (PP #708) $2.99

Ms Marvel #2 $2.99
Al: See, this book managed to finish the set-up in issue one. Now it's on to the action, presumably. This series is off to a fun start, if not a ground-breaking one.

New X-Men #25 $2.99

Son Of M #5 (of 6) $2.99
Al: Teetering on the edge of losing me with the time-travel stuff, which should really be outlawed in general since it just never ends up making any sense...but still fair.

Thunderbolts #101 $2.99

Ultimate Extinction #4 (of 5) $2.99
Al: The continuing saga of the Yankees' hopes of winning another World Series in your lifetime.

Ultimate Spider-Man #93 $2.99

Uncanny X-Men #472 $2.99

X-23 Innocence Lost TP $15.99
Kurt: The X-23 mini was way better than it had any right to be. Might want to check this one out.

X-Men Complete Age Of Apocalypse Epic Book 3 TP $29.99

X-Men The 198 #4 (of 5) $2.99
Al: The continuing saga of all the home runs David Ortiz is gonna hit this season.

Young Avengers Vol 1 Sidekicks TP $14.99
Kurt: And, I'm spent!

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at


Showing items 1 - 2 of 2
lracors 4/12/2006 8:20:28 AM
Damn dude you got Alan Moore... congrates!!!
skorka 4/13/2006 12:18:39 AM
Wow, always nice to read a Alan Moore interview, seems a bit rare. More please...


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