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.
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.
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.
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.'
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.
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.
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).
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."
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.
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