Forgotten Paradises: the Sovereignty of Sex in Lost Girls, by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie
24 december 2021 
25 min. read

Forgotten Paradises: the Sovereignty of Sex in Lost Girls, by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

In 1991, renowned comic book writer Alan Moore with his partner, illustrator Melinda Gebbie, released the graphic novel Lost Girls (Fig. 1), published by Kitchen Sink Press. The graphic novel brings together three female characters from 19th and 20th century fiction books, now considered classics: Alice, from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Dorothy Gale, from L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Wendy Darling, from JM Barrie's Peter and Wendy

Moore Gebbie Lost GirlsFig.1.

Book Cover Lost GirlsFig.1a.

Lost Girls Book CoverFig.1b.

"Hotel Himmelgarten"

Unlike the contexts of those works, Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie create for Alice, Dorothy and Wendy a narrative where their origins are conceived from an erotic outlook. Thus, Alan Moore extrapolated the original narratives by giving each character a specific age, based on the year of publication of the books in which they appear and the ages they are in them, in relation to when their meeting is narrated on the eve of World War I (1913–1914) at "Hotel Himmelgarten" in Austria. Thus, Alice would be around 60 years, Dorothy, 20 years and Wendy, 30 years. 

Gebbie Lost GirlsFig.2.

alan moore lost girlsFig.3.

graphic novel Lost Girls  Melinda GebbieFig.4.

Watchmen

In this encounter, each character reports how her sexual initiation took place. As in Watchmen or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in Lost Girls, the gathering of fictional characters from different works is not casual, it allows for different points of view on a subject to be explored and developed, so that the narrative unfolds, not linearly, but in ramifications that offer themselves like images in a kaleidoscope, open to the reader's interpretation. 

graphic novel Lost Girls  Melinda Gebbie MooreFig.5.

page from Lost Girls  Melinda GebbieFig.6.

erotic graphic novel Lost GirlsFig.7.

Openly Pornographic Work

As Lost Girls is an openly pornographic work, according to the purposes of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, the reading that the two artists propose on those literary classics inevitably seeks in sexuality the elements capable of triggering the narrative, as Alan Moore says in an interview:

'All three books are filled with powerful metaphors and images that can be interpreted in a sexual way. That was probably what sparked off the whole idea when I was just thinking about 'Peter Pan,' and dreams of flying can be a metaphor for sexual expression. I'm sure these things weren't intended as sexual ideas, but they have great application if they are used that way.'

comic Lost GirlsFig.8.

graphic novel Lost Girls  by Melinda GebbieFig.9.

graphic novel Lost Girls  by Alan MooreFig.10.

First Orgasm

Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie reinterpret the events of each book, giving them erotic meanings through the sexual initiation of the heroines (Fig. 2 to 13). Thus, Wendy is pursued by Peter, a homeless teenager, who teaches sex games to her and her brothers. Dorothy has her first orgasm while masturbating during a cyclone. Alice is molested by her father's friend and imagines having sex with herself in front of the mirror. 

Captain Hook

In this way, the situations of the original works are not reimagined as sexual metaphors, but are re-encoded according to what the characters physically feel and live, in Moore and Gebbie's narrative. For example, Captain Hook, in this work, is called Captain Huxley. He's one of the fellows at the stock market where Wendy's father works, and he has a crooked, claw-shaped hand, as if he's a victim of arthritis. 

lost girls graphic novelFig.11.

Lost Girls erotic graphic novelFig.12.

Lost Girls LesbianFig.13.

Art Nouveau

These interpretations are outlined by Melinda Gebbie's drawings in a different way for the story of each of the characters. Although the story takes place in the 1910s and Melinda Gebbie chose Art Nouveau as the dominant style in her palette and references, the design of the panels and the colors of the drawings are elaborated according to the origin of the characters and the way they see and relate to reality (Fig.16 to 22). 

melinda gebbie illustrator lost girlsFig.14.


Aubrey Neardsley Lost GirlsFig.15.

Horizontal Rectangles

Therefore, the panels related to Dorothy are horizontal rectangles, determined by the vastness of the field and the farm, in which warm tones stand out, as if to remind us that the story takes place in Kansas. In Wendy's narrative, the panels are vertical rectangles, with silhouettes of characters at the top. Such design follows the vertical axis of the trees and Peter's “flights” through the woods where he meets Wendy.

Aubrey Beardsley and Egon Schiele

In the narrative centered on Alice, however, we no longer have rectangles, but oval panels that resemble mirrors, which reminds us of the book Alice through the looking glass. There are also, according to Melinda Gebbie, references to Aubrey Beardsley and Egon Schiele (Fig. 14 and 15), in some passages of Lost Girls:

Ever since I'd been looking at erotic pictures, I'd seen some from the '30s that I thought were quite sweet. I really liked the child-like qualities in them, but most of the stuff was just really brash, and kind of not very human-looking," said Gebbie. "For the chapters where I pastiched Beardsley and Schiele, I was already pretty familiar with them and their style." 

Alice in Wonderland novel Lost GirlsFig.16.

scarecrow Lost GirlsFig.17.

melinda gebbie alan mooreFig.18.

Melinda Gebbie Alice in WonderlandFig.19.

Lost Girls Lion with nude girlFig.20.

Triumph Over Reality

Lost Girls can be interpreted, therefore, as a work that opposes the unnecessary and useless expense of wars, by making the accounts of Alice, Wendy and Dorothy, to a certain extent, triumph over reality, at the moment when memory, retrieved in the form of a report, is established not only as a connection between them, but as spaces of representation, in which the relationship between them prevails over the lack of meaning of existence itself. So, to Alan Moore:

They continue to stay in the hotel even after everyone's left and they know that the soldiers are coming, because they feel that it is more important. The stories they are telling and the fact that they are telling them is somehow more important than this terrible storm that is breaking over Europe and that will destroy everything. The exact opposite of that.

Melinda Gebbie erotic artistFig.21.

Lost Girls homoeroticFig.22

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Alexandre Rodrigues da Costa is poet and works as a professor of Art History at the State University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Paul P
By

Paul P

on 25 Dec 2021

I have the full print of Lost Girls. It's an amazing piece of work. I'm going to have to revisit it.

Alexandre
By

Alexandre

on 25 Dec 2021

Hi Paul. Yes, it's a work that is always worth reading again. It's one of Alan Moore's great works.

Jess
By

Jess

on 04 Jan 2022

This is one of the best pieces I've read on this website so far. I love Lost Girls and I think I need to read it again!

Alexandre Rodrigues da Costa
By

Alexandre Rodrigues da Costa

on 04 Jan 2022

Hi Jess. I think Alan Moore's work makes us always come back to it with another look. This is a characteristic of being a great writer.

Jess
By

Jess

on 08 Jan 2022

Yes! I just finished reading it again, thanks to your article and the fresh perspective it gave me.

Alexandre Rodrigues
By

Alexandre Rodrigues

on 10 Jan 2022

Thanks, Jess. Good to know my article was helpful to you.

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