Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Progress in the Arts

From Geekzine:

One of the first pornographic images I ever saw was a spread of Dorothy getting gang-banged by the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow. It was crude smut, nothing more than titillation created for its shock value. And when my mother discovered it hidden under my bed, it was deposited in the trash. It wasn't a new idea. The Tijuana Bibles of the '30s and '40s were full of similar images: Betty Boop giving head; Lil' Abner sporting a healthy hard-on; Popeye impaling Olive Oyl on his spinach-strengthened member. In one of my favorites Donald Duck buggers Mickey as the Disney mouse squeals, "Tee-hee, Donald, that tickles so good." These eight-pagers were the lowest form of comics, anonymously created and distributed. The sub-genre continues to this day. Do an image search of Marge Simpson for examples. It's pornography at its most common: unoriginal and mindless.

The writer's Lost Girls (which will be published tomorrow) is a beautifully perverse graphic novel that elevates the pornographic tale; it is a bold, and rare, story of uninhibited sexual fantasy that succeeds at titillating as well as enlightening. It is sensually drawn by Melinda Gebbie, Moore’s wife.

As in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Moore combines characters of the late 19th century and early 20th century for an epic adventure, except this time the adventures are sexual. The heroines from The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan meet as adults in an Austrian hotel in 1913, shortly before World War I. Dorothy, fresh off her Kansas farm, is a nympho in silver shoes; Alice is a world-weary lesbian; Wendy is a housewife trapped in a boring marriage. They romp with one another and tell their tales, sexually charged versions of the stories we associate with each character. In Wendy's case, Peter Pan is a male prostitute who seduces her and her brothers. Alice submits herself to the sexual dominance of the "Red Queen." Dorothy’s sexual awakening begins when she masturbates while caught up in a twister.

Moore explores a wide range of sexual fantasies. There are tales of pedophilia, bestiality, incest, rape, homosexuality, orgies, sadomasochism. In one of the many stories within the story, a Victorian family shares more than tea and crumpets, and the man of the house punishes his wife and two children by administering a rousing dose of anal sex. In defense of his lurid tale about the family (and of Lost Girls itself, one imagines), the hotel manager, declares, "They are fictions. They are uncontaminated by effect and consequence." It's a dirty book, no doubt; yet it still manages to paint an enchanting, fascinating world where the mind is free to roam.

The hotel manager later declares, "Pornographies are the enchanted parklands where the most secret and vulnerable of all our many selves can safely play." It’s a fitting description for Lost Girls, and only someone of Alan Moore's wild genius can pull it off. He wonderfully balances both ends of the smut/erotica spectrum, at times tipping toward the merely titillating, and then leaning toward that delightful world of exploration and discovery. Lost Girls is one of the most important works of pornography of our time and another example of the graphic novel as a powerful literary medium.

Here's what this lovely couple looks like.

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