As part of our commitment to ensuring nothing that occurs on this blog could ever be construed as ‘journalism’, what follows is a scrambled and unattributed sample of snippets – only very slightly tweaked to make a semblance of sense – of recent backroom chatter by all (or nearly all) the Mindless Ones on Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ recent cockpunk horrorbook Neonomicon #2. Some extracts may be recognised from other websites and/or previous publications.  Nothing agrees with anything. All opinions are rubbish.

“By refusing to exclude rape from his depictions of violence and power in action in my view Moore is fulfilling an important function. While ninety nine percent of popular fictions are happy to present us with a picture of violence that excludes most of the troubling bits, a violence that is fundamentally fun and entertaining, Moore is prepared to go to much more uncomfortable places and thank God.”

neon1

  • “Using his last ever comicbook series (Jog’s right – as ever – about LOEG being something subtly but definitely different) as such an angry f-you to the industry, at the same time as using someone who is a weak if effective biter of Quitely’s signature moves, is as close as he’s ever come in print to having a direct dig back at La Moz.”
  • “Some stores in the US have refused to stock it? I’m fairly sure they all stocked
    The Rape and Murder of Elongated Man’s Wife”
  • “Prison Pit moves from comedy to horror-comedy, and the lurch is painful and disturbing; Neonomicon moves from horror to comedy-horror and the effect is actually quite a relief. (The dialogue of the swingers is really very funny; the appearance of the traditional big monster is again a campy move back to familiar territory compared to the awfulness that they were already doing in the pool before he comes along).”
  • “I went full Beavis for the first book of Prison Pit, but with this new one I felt like someone had bad-touched my Butthead.”
  • “So as Jog has so eloquently pointed out, the book is to some extent about being trapped in fiction, specifically comic book fiction. Now is not possible that by having a self-confessed nymphomaniac character get raped Moore’s saying something about the depiction of female characters in American mainstream comics? The fact is that woman in comics are consistently presented as sexually available to the gaze of the reader – all those T&A and groin shots, all those suggestive poses, etc. We are encouraged to think of Supergirl as a implicitly sexualised fantasy fodder, in a very real sense we are encouraged to imagine ourselves fucking her, and in the world of Alan Moore, with his elevation of the imagination to the supernatural sphere, that’s gotta count for something. Is the gang rape in Neonomicon an attempt by Moore to rub our noses in how women are represented? I don’t know. I’d like to think so, but unfortunately depictions of rape aren’t easily penned in by authorial intent.”
  • “Moore continues to be (perhaps more than ever – see Dodgem Logic for evidence), a voice for political ideas that run counter to precisely the sorts of things that I dislike about Neonomicon 2.”
  • “There’s a very funny moment in the changing room scene where the speech bubble is very precisely paced for the eyes to immediately afterwards drop right on to a floppy old cock – no chance of any ’I just won’t look at those bits’ self-protection.”
  • “So Neonomicon was fucking horrid. I really appreciated the genuine sense of impending dread and wrongness..I mean this was some very skilled tension-building… BUT It was a long and very nasty rape scene with a nympho FBI hottie and it made me feel very weird. Not good weird, neither.”
  • “I confess I haven’t thought a huge amount about this – I don’t really have the reading or vocabulary for dealing with these issues as well as I’d like, to my shame – but she was established as a nympho in the last issue, right? So is that the same as suggesting she secretly wanted this? I mean, yuck. What would an informed feminist reading of this reveal?”

neon4

  • “Their vulnerability and hopelessness was quietly emphasised during the changing room scene, that shot of them from behind with their heads dipped, almost in resignation, was incredibly tight and effective.”
  • “It all comes back to Prison Pit for me- I have zero expectations that Johnny Ryan will do anything to make me feel more at ease with the rape scene in that comic, but while that makes the comic less easy to deal with, it also makes me wonder whether I subconsciously want all the troubling material to be contextualised in a ‘safe’ way.”
  • “Am I now a desensitised monster because I didn’t think Neonomicon was as shocking as I was preparing for?”
  • “I’m not sure that contextualising it necessarily makes it safe. See my comment about depictions of rape being difficult to pen in.”
  • “Neonomicon 2 was certainly a deeply unpleasant comic, but it’s massively well-crafted, clearly.”
  • “There are scenes where it looks like the guy cop’s chin is going to go 3d it is so big and Quitelyish.”
  • “I think Avatar, whilst/because they publish basically the most horrible work of any creator of note they’ve had, has actually turned into the most interesting serial publisher around.”

neon2

  • “Context is what I want from the rest of Neonomicon, but my extreme discomfort in reading this sort of material makes me worry about what I really want here.  Which, I’m aware, is an awkward rhetorical device to deploy in a conversation about the way rape is depicted…”
  • “Making these Lovecraftian subtexts explicit, showing them in a more doom-laden, banal and socially aggressive way than to my knowledge has never been seen in the Mythos before, is an important reminder to the grown-up, ‘serious’ Lovecraft cultists – Kenneth Grant, Michel Houllebecq, Graham Harman in that article I linked to – of the ‘reality’ of the tropes they’re so keen on using as the basis of their thought experiments. Foregrounding the psychological taint in Lovecraft is something they as well as the Call of Cthulhu RPGers, Great Old One-worshipping chaomages and the legions of Norwegian tentacle-metal bands (I’m just making things up now – I only put ‘Norwegian’ in because it rhymes with ‘legion’) shouldn’t always be allowed to gloss over.”
  • “I’m slightly concerned about the rather simplistic way the word ‘unpleasant’ has been used … Unpleasantness, isn’t, as far as I can tell, what people are objecting to… Is the depiction of rape merely ‘unpleasant’? Is it appropriate to describe this book as misogynistic? These are the sorts of questions which hang around Neonomicon 2 like a bad stink.”

neon3

  • Previous comment on comicscomics :”‘Cthulhu can only get in to places that are bad already’ – be that a racist cop, a ‘willing’ rape victim,the fallen Gnostic/Buddhist Our World of Suffering, or the world inside the outside of the comics borders.”
  • “While this comic reeks of misanthropy and misogyny, and deals in a sadistic kind of horror about which I have very conflicted feelings, I struggle to tie those things up with someone who expresses the kind of humane opinions Alan Moore is on record as expressing, both through his comics and his broader career as a writer.”
  • “The word ‘unpleasant’, or phrases like ‘it’s not to my liking’ worry me because I don’t believe they’re broad enough, or indeed a specific enough to accommodate the sorts of issues that we, as intelligent readers of this book, should be wrestling with… misogyny and depictions of rape have distinctly political and ethical dimensions, dimensions which I believe are obscured by the use of descriptors which are normally associated with matters of taste and feeling… ‘unpleasant’, in this context, lacks the necessary complexity to properly convey the sorts of problems a feminist, say, might have with the comic.”
  • “That’s a thought, but a lot depends on what the comic does next. An overt authorial ‘gotcha’ would be a bit glib, but you’d hope that the framing of the story would give him room to emphasise the critique, if that’s what it is.”
  • “Ennis – I kind of keep coming back to Ennis, too, with this – but he did a really devastating critique of the treatment of Women Who Have Rape in their Backstory in The Boys a year or so ago, where they’re directing whatshername, Starlight, Hughie’s girlfriend and making her wear like these strips of cloth because ‘she’s been raped/it has made her dark & sexual’ and she’s like no, I would probably not be like that, I would go and cry for ages and not leave the house.”
  • “Not to criticise you guys, really not meant that way at all, but I’m kinda fed up hearing what a bunch of blokes with a vested interest think about Neonomicon 2. Where are the female voices? Fucking comics…”
  •  ”Xaime Hernandez also has a rape story, I believe, in the newest Love & Rockets book which is – look, it’s, I haven’t read it, but it sounds more perspectivally empathetic with its victim and offers them some agency latterly, reading precis’. Really, I think what Moore is talking about when he talks about “Ech-Pi-El” and the world built around him is himself and contemporary comics – did Jog say this? It didn’t stick if he did. This is, on the one hand, monstrously egotistical but on the other, hard to really debate – Moore is to comics what Lovecraft is to dime horrors. Grant, Machen et al are yr fave writers and not-so-faves, like Brad Meltzer. So then, you’ve got the specialist shop – how weird must it be to be Alan Moore in a comic shop? it might feel a bit like this. How weird is to be a lady in most comic shops, even if you are a lady with a burgeoning or professional interest – there’s an overweened, swollen-balled, teenage beast-of-sexuality in the cellar underneath, the beast needs fed; this is what it’s like.”

and you’ve twisted my arm
And you’ve shown me the road ahead…

  • …Let’s, children, together, let’s let ‘em thrive in the cellar. [The Cellar Song, Palace Brothers]

    “It’s problematic because Brears, has no agency so much as a systemic list of devices to interject her to this point, a point which if the above analogy holds true (and certainly there have been newspaper editorials to the effect that this is what it – comics – feels like for a girl, in The Times a couple years back) is just about the crudest conveyance available. It’s not a realist depiction of a foul act which alternatively either makes it even more icky or is, as with yr Fire Walk With Me and child abuse, perhaps the only sensible way to deal with something so awful… it’s a 4-issue series, innit? So the last page of #2 is pretty much the centrepiece. I don’t know if that’s necessarily relevant, but he does like a structure, Alan. Comics, to Alan Moore – and I’d find it difficult to argue the point entirely, are a world built bad upon his shoulders c.1986. The bad world, made by eternally pubescent wrongcocks, is particularly horrible to ladies. This is what lies beneath.

    I’m not wholly convinced, but certainly as Lovecraft is to Neonomicon’s world, I’m pretty sure he thinks he is to comics; hence this is why the book is in some sense, as he says, a grouse about the (fucking terrible, I should always quantify) Watchmen film, and the albatross it’s become for him (and, perhaps inadvertently)  the industry.”

68 Responses to “The Mashless Ones on Neonomicon #2”

  1. Red Scharlach Says:

    gonna repost something that came up in a convo with a friend of mine over the magickal implications of this issue. Hopefully it will be of some interest:

    “I’m just excited about the seeming paradox I’m seeing in the ritual, where it’s being portrayed as a summoning, but the orgone stuff is making me think sending instead
    seeing elder sign on the top beam of the door to the chamber (hee, chamber just realized that pun), ryleh sign on the left beam
    deosil (summoning) spiral, NO yellow sign at all
    six cultists, just like bullets in a revolver
    so the two forces opposing are this is a place of summoning based on the glyphs (though the elder sign is usually a ward it may be a filter here) and the chamber itself being a huge gun that fires thanateros energy
    the decision is set by firing a gun at the entryway (which is opposite from the gate)
    exit wound is star sharped
    dude equates the orgone with vril. had to look it up, but it’s the internal black sun of hollow earth myths
    can only be mastered by Aryans”

  2. amypoodle Says:

    btw, i don’t think the dialogue is in any fucking way a relief, it’s banality is utterly disgusting.

    with aryans.

    with tentacles.

  3. Red Scharlach Says:

    How should the dialogue have been handled, in your opinion?

  4. Zom Says:

    For Moore’s purposes? In precisely the way it was. Jog (and Amy, in a much abbreviated form above) explains why. The banality is perfect *because* it’s horrid.

  5. amypoodle Says:

    yeah, i was just flummoxed by a mindless describing it as a ‘relief’. it only added to the horror. like that in this case that word means something.

    although i don’t like.

  6. amypoodle Says:

    the monster, also, is not camp or a relief. the physicality of the scene, enhanced by the dingy pornalogueing, means that at the end i can feel that thing, it’s weight, it’s horrid rubbery face.

    i presume those quotes were bobsy’s

    i utterly disagree with you, bobsy. moreso because i have a hangover and i always wake up at bastard 8.30 no matter what.

    LEAVE! LEAVE NOW!

  7. amypoodle Says:

    why am i writing in italics?

    it’s too early in the morning for this.

  8. amypoodle Says:

    i must stop writing its as ‘it’s’.

  9. Illogical Volume Says:

    200 LINES FOR YOU AMYPOODLE! I WANT TO SEE YOU DO THEM RIGHT NOW: I WILL NOT VIOLATE THE BASIC RULES OF GRAMMAR (OUTSIDE OF THE BEDROOM)!

    I’d agree that the banal dialogue makes Neonomicon more horrific, rather than less, by the way – see Duncan’s Lynch reference, though there’s a slightly different effect at work here…

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  11. amypoodle Says:

    also, everyone keeps calling the fbi lady a ‘nympho’, but is it ever explicity stated that she is? or put another way, if memory serves all we’re told is that she had self negating sex with someone she didn’t like, which, yeah, is the classic real world nympho mechanism, but the comic doesn’t ever portray her as some wank fantasy kind fuck machine, does it? there’s no sense that only a sea monster schlong can answer her insatiable lust, is there? is there?

    to be honest i can’t bring myself to crack open neonomicon 2 again to check.

  12. plok Says:

    Grr, can’t get this yet, but…reading the post over, it makes me think of the end of #1 with Lambert saying “hey, nobody got hurt, so it’s cool” as the shot pulls out to show the dome, and that was a weird way to end it, don’t you think? Because something really freaky happened there, and he’s so completely “it’s all good” about it that you wonder what the hell’s wrong with him.

    Maybe tomorrow I’ll make it to the store, and maybe tomorrow they’ll have it.

  13. plok Says:

    Huh, these italics are weird…like and echo…

    Yeah, I wasn’t gonna say anything about the “nympho” thing, but I suppose in the interest of being nice and precise…she says she had a sex addiction problem.

    Maybe tomorrow they will have it…

  14. plok Says:

    Like an echo, obviously…

  15. Duncan Says:

    No italics?

    Hrrm.

    Yeah, I think the nymphomania thing is established in #1, though I haven’t reread it to check.

    Bobsy is indeed wrong about the dialogue pages there, which are Ennis/Dillon-in-excelsis, so horrible, the bits Preacher was afraid to touch, and also about this “is as close as he’s ever come in print to having a direct dig back at La Moz” because, lest we forget, i. Elaborate Lad off Supreme and ii. “is all they teach you sigils and wanking these days?” off Promethea; kens fine aye who he’s addressing, even if he won’t say the name.

  16. Zom Says:

    Amy, like the boyz’ve said, she is a recovering sex addict.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Yeah do your fucking homework you grumpy drunk.

  18. The Beast Must Die Says:

    That was me.

    Posting from beyond the veil.

  19. Thrills Says:

    “Not to criticise you guys, really not meant that way at all, but I’m kinda fed up hearing what a bunch of blokes with a vested interest think about Neonomicon 2. Where are the female voices? Fucking comics…”

    I think this mostly echoes my current feelings regarding discussion of this comic? I realise that so much of my own thoughts aboot it are coming from a place of male privilege, as I find myself trying to make excuses for what is still a comic with an explicit 4-page rape scene in.

    So, to add to the overwhelming male majority viewpoints:

    I have faith that Alan Moore is doing more than just “Hey, rape is bad!” (which could be portrayed with just a one panel ‘fadeout’ of the scene), as he is someone with very aware, right-on beliefs, AND he actually sees women as human beings (perhaps odd for a comics writer)and the comic is very tonally strange and ‘wrong’, but it remains that so far it is, yeah, a comic where the woman gets raped (and the black guy dies).

    It is one of the few horror comics that has made me feel utter despair and also made me think, but still…

    Some female viewpoints would be ace. I know my girlfriend was pretty disgusted with the comic, and now probably thinks I’m the sort of guy who digs Urotsokudoji, and, y’know, the fact is: I now own a comic with a protracted monster-rape scene.

    Urgh.

    Muddled thoughts, eh? Muddled, inarticulate thoughts.

  20. Thrills Says:

    I also hope we never properly see the Lovecraftian monsters, as the ones on the covers look really dull.

  21. Zom Says:

    Yeah, that was me. Sums up how I feel.

  22. octo7 Says:

    I think a lot of people are reading way too much into this book, also a lot of wild speculation and heavy-handed socio-political buzz-words. To me it’s obvious that Agent Brears didn’t ‘enjoy the rape’, that’s a messed up interpretation. It is established in issue 1 that she used to have a sex addiction, in issue 2 the male agent implies that ‘i’m not into orgies and stuff…’ and she replies “what, and you think I am?”

    The reason for this scene was to establish that rape and sexual abuse is not pleasent, not even to a ‘sex addict’ and to think otherwise is to be highly igorant, insensitive and presumptious.

    I don’t see anything misogynistic about this comic even though it greatly disturbed me. The purpose of horror is to horrify, when writing for an audience of Lovecraft/Avatar Press fans, its not easy to shock, so Alan Moore, being the genius that he is; didn’t pull any punches.

    Lovecraft lived in a time when pop-culture was less saturated with horror and could get away with mere hints of these foul inter-species sex-acts. Moore is writing for the ‘two girls one cup’ generation.

    Although this issue almost made me feel sick, I’m still goign to get the next two.

  23. Botswana Beast Says:

    heavy-handed socio-political buzz-words

    Namely…?

  24. Zom Says:

    With the best will in the world, octo, I think that you should go away and ruminate a little harder on just what sorts issues people might have with this book. I’m pretty sure ‘Alan Moore totally wrote a comic about a woman who loves a bit of gang-rape’ is waaaaaaaay down the list.

  25. bobsy Says:

    Nah, I’ll stand by the point there easy – the ‘aw shucks barb’ dialogue is a deliberately dissonant counterpoint to the depicted events, though not perhaps pointedly absurdist, with a leery, unstable wit remisicent of Lovecraftian movies like Society or Re-animator. I don’t think the big red spunking fishmonster cock is necessarily something to be too po-faced about. It doesn’t have the raw bleakness of the final pages of Prison Pit.

  26. Zodiac Firebroom Says:

    Loved the art. Can’t imagine anyone else doing a better job

  27. Bill Reed Says:

    You had me at “Cockpunk horrorbook.”

  28. plok Says:

    It’s true: you had him there.

  29. Zom Says:

    Bobsy has such a way with words. If only he could name all genres.

  30. plok Says:

    From A to Z! Starting…NOW!

  31. bobsy Says:

    I didn’t think this post was scattered or annoying enough yet, so I have suimply had to put it hrough a cutup machine and see what gems the universe has for us this morning: The first few gleams I could grab are:

    With the Making Lady as the desensitised impending horrid concerned.

    Misogyny in that to child, in biter: the scene, the beast.

    Girlfriend of world, about subtexts of burgeoning ways how ideas fundamentally horrorbook.

    Like tight comics let me feel his crudest Cellar.

    Funny; the albatross time of critique – maybe a shot conversation as in: ‘Cthulhu-During is like built, simplistic Murder.’

    The Who appropriate Grant and critique their empathetic monster for a desensitised, happy, aggressive comedy bubble.

    Definitely ‘reality’ is not keen saying, ‘Newest knowledge sense difficult’, is it?

    A Lovecraft to my Alan would feel comedy-worshipping, was chatter in this or that world, but want like the ideas stocked away. (Interest authorial/psychological that I pretty massively back.)

    You’ve depiction power that is contemporary: I become I. Comics are extreme, make agency ’safe’, I cockpunk say. Effect secretly precisely prepared shot of ‘reality deal’. Fucking hopelessness horror writers mean more to relevant, ‘pretty nympho wrongcocks’, is as simplistic as it is banal.

  32. Botswana Beast Says:

    I think if you were to really boil it all down, it’d come to “Like tight comics let me feel his crudest Cellar./Fucking hopelessness horror writers mean more to relevant, ‘pretty nympho wrongcocks’, is as simplistic as it is banal.” in the end.

  33. plok Says:

    Ooooooh, the Making Lady!

    The supervillain find of 2010.

  34. plok Says:

    Also, totally agreed about the Who.

  35. It Burns Says:

    OK I’m late to this fucking party (pun very intended) but I only read the issue a few days ago so there.

    I think the observation made above about Neonomicon being Moore’s critique on the industry and the content of the industry is accurate: female sexualization, banality, the industry built on his back that fucks him in the ass all the while, are all issues that this series touches on so far to my reknin’. What bothers me is that the caliber of these first two issues is pretty far below what Moore’s capable of (this is not one of those, “oh his NEW shit isn’t as good” arguments, Century is so fucking good I’d make love to it if it gave me its consent). What I mean is, as was the case with Lost Girls (which was so fucking boring I wouldn’t touch it with a five-foot stick), Moore seems to be struggling with his ego more than he is telling a story. And the result is an obvious, patronizing (however accurate the observations may be) set of boring images. Visually, for me, the only highlights of the series so far have been the blurred vision in the pool, the shot of the Salem bridge, and the painting on the wall in issue one. But those bits are so seldom…talking FBI heads dominate the book for the most part and that type of story structure doesn’t make for good panel transitions in my opinion. And the characters are mighty flat as well. I really had trouble grasping the horror of what happens to Briers because I feel I haven’t been granted a pass into her inner self, like she’s simply there to prove a point rather than take on a life of her own. Up against the rapes in LOEG, and what they meant to that book, I don’t see how Neo comes anywhere close.

    Moore is very angry. I get that. Even though I despise his juvenille points in his gripes about his peers, the man has not had a good run with the major publishers. I just wish he would write more wonderful comics like LOEG Century that aren’t fluff, not exploitative…in short, unlike almost anything else in the mainstream. That, to me, seems to be a more potent solution than a critique read primarily by people who agree with him already.

  36. Sunday Brunch: 10/24/10 | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources Says:

    [...] The Mindless Ones discuss Alan Moore’s Neonomicon #2, also known as “that comic what with the ten page rape scene”: “The word [...]

  37. octo7 Says:

    @ zom,
    i was responding to an earlier post which seemed to indicate Moore was suggesting it’s OK for Briars to be raped since she had a sex addiction. I thought the comic went out of its way to make sure no one had that safety net.

    People seem to have different definitions of misogynistic, there were misogynistic characters in this book but the author and the book itself aren’t ‘misogynistic’ in their intent. That’s like saying Francis Bacon was a monster.

    @ It Burn,
    From a philisophical point of view; the rape scene in Century was every bit as messed up if you ask me. As if the character had to be gang-raped in order to become strong and take the torch from her father to become the next Nemo. Contrary to that; perhaps Nemo 1 is a weak, broken and misanthropic character when you really think about it, so I guess it could be interpeted as her becoming less humane from her ordeal, which is another touchy and controversial thing for Moore to suggest.

    I think the result of Agent Briers’ experience will be similar, she is going to be drastically changed by her ordeal when she comes back, perhaps in issue 4. I have a feeling she will have a major role to play, probably more on the lines of Aldo Sax than a heroic character.

  38. octo7 Says:

    I was mainly responding to these comments before; the only ones on the page that i strongly disagree with.

    This one: “previous comment on comicscomics :”‘Cthulhu can only get in to places that are bad already’ – be that a racist cop, a ‘willing’ rape victim,the fallen Gnostic/Buddhist Our World of Suffering, or the world inside the outside of the comics borders.”

    And this one: “I confess I haven’t thought a huge amount about this – I don’t really have the reading or vocabulary for dealing with these issues as well as I’d like, to my shame – but she was established as a nympho in the last issue, right? So is that the same as suggesting she secretly wanted this? I mean, yuck. What would an informed feminist reading of this reveal?”

  39. Sunday Brunch: 10/24/10 -Buzz Mixx Says:

    [...] The Mindless Ones discuss Alan Moore’s Neonomicon #2, also known as “that comic what with the ten page rape scene”: “The word [...]

  40. It Burns Says:

    Well, my argument wasn’t that the rapes in LOEG (Nina, Invisible Man, Nemo 2) weren’t horrible. Not sure where you got that. Do you mean “in bad taste”?

    In that case, no I don’t think they were in bad taste. There was a clear cause and effect relationship in each instance, and in no way was the rape essential to Nemo 2′s merrits as a captain. Yes, it was the catalyst for hate, but if you recall, Ishmael wanted her as captain before the rape.

    I can agree that Briers might turn out to be a fuller character, but right now I s’pose the whole thing feels a bit weird.

    As does comparing rape scenes.

  41. octo7 Says:

    I know what you mean, I just don’t feel the rape scene in Century was any more justified or less exploitative than the one in Neonomicon… but yeah this is weird moral territory and you are right in that comparing the scenes is a bit strange, it happens to be the topic of issue 2 though so I guess it was unavoidable.

    I thought with Nemo 2 it kind-of was essential, she rejected her father and the idea of inheriting the Nautilus until she was driven by revenge at the end of the book. I remember finding it to be somewhat of a cheap plot device for Alan Moore to use, until I thought about the different ways it could be interpreted. Nemo himself was driven by hatred and revenge.

    In terms of Neonomicon; I just hope that we are done with those underground tunnels in Salem and that horrible situation with Briers :s I’m hoping the next issue will mainly be about the Feds and Johnny Carcosa and that Briers will jump out of the woodwork in the final issue. If the previews are anything to go by then that should be the case.

  42. Kloob Says:

    Neonomicon 1 disappointed me because I assumed it was a supernatural thriller with ham-fisted Lovecraft references pasted on top of it.

    With issue 2 I see that Moore had thrown me a curveball and had constructed a tale where the clumsy Lovecraft references came from the mouths of the characters themselves and not what I’d thought was just bad writing. And even those had another layer underneath them because the Lovecraft talk disguised the very real horror about to surface. In this sense I thought it was masterful.

    I agree that its clear that Briers is a vessel for every empty-headed female character in comics. The ones who stand around posing with their breasts and ass pointed outwards simultaneously. Characters who suggest they are in a state of constant sexual arousement, else why would they be showing their bodies off at every opportunity to the male viewer. So the logical extension of that is a character who’s a sex-addict. Is the rape here ultimately misogynistic because it show the “consequence” of what happens when you are a woman who flaunts yourself? Is that why we zero in on Briers getting changed early on in the comic? is that why we get a good look at her stockings later on?

    Even if this isn’t Moore’s intent, it certainly looks that way. Couple this with the only black character getting shot and it steers dangerously close to becoming what it is possibly only parodying. I’m praying the next issue upsets this in some way.

    The upshot of this is I would never show this comic to my wife or any woman. It treads a line so thin between pastiche and outight sexism I don’t think I comfortably could. The art is so blankly rendered that subtlety and nuance don’t really play a part. The thin, regular, lines leave nothing for imagination and interpretation and that leaves it looking very ugly in every sense indeed.

    I feel only horror and dread on every page of this book.

  43. octo7 Says:

    I don’t agree with the empty-headed vessel or oversexed thing. If you read the Neonomicon hornbook which contains some script excerpts from issue 1; Moore asks Burrows to make her unnatractive and tensed up with hair and glasses that don’t quite suit her. She looks much sexier in issue 2 with the wig and lack of glasses but she’s undercover infiltrating what she thinks is probably a freaky sex-cult, so her outfit makes sense.

    Also; Briers is the only fed who has any clue about what’s going on in issue 1 and the first part of issue 2. She is well read and able to pick up on the ‘literary in-jokes’ where all the men around her are morons following her lead.

    Maybe I’m completely naieve but I didn’t even notice her partners’ race until the role-playing freaks start using racial slurs towards the end of issue 2. Perhaps he was written as a black guy to emphasize the horror further by having not only rapists/murderers but racist rapists/murderers. Racism is an underlying theme in lots of Lovecraft’s earlier and more misguided stories, perhaps Moore is keeping with that theme? It wouldn’t surprise me because racism is another element of horror. Take enough different elemenents and combine them together and you can create a sense of genuine dread.

  44. Zom Says:

    I’m not sure that racism is an element of horror. It’s horrible, sometimes horrifying, but I don’t associate it with the genre except in the most broad sense, i.e. as a way of furthering the message that x character is indeed very horrible

  45. octo7 Says:

    That’s what I mean. If you take enough unsettling elements and combine them you create a much darker atmosphere. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is a good example of it, the spiders on the wall, the chicken in the tiny cage suggetsing animal cruelty, the weird sound queues, the bone-sculptures, the deformed gas-station attendant, the road-kill. Most of these elements aren’t that creepy on their own, but when you combine enough of them in a subtle enough way it creates something greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe the racist element wasn’t intended in that way but it definitely helped to cement the horrific atmosphere for me. The general indifference and nonchalance of the cultist characters in issue 2 was incredily disturbing to me as well.

  46. Grumpy Old Medivalist Says:

    “•“Making these Lovecraftian subtexts explicit, showing them in a more doom-laden, banal and socially aggressive way than to my knowledge has never been seen in the Mythos before, is an important reminder to the grown-up, ‘serious’ Lovecraft cultists – Kenneth Grant, Michel Houllebecq, Graham Harman in that article I linked to – of the ‘reality’ of the tropes they’re so keen on using as the basis of their thought experiments.”

    Octo7:
    ” Racism is an underlying theme in lots of Lovecraft’s earlier and more misguided stories, perhaps Moore is keeping with that theme?”

    “Underlying”?

    1 thing one can not accuse Mr. Lovecraft of was hidden racism.
    Sexuality, on the other hand, is kept as a “subtext” In his works for much the same reason football score results or ladies fashion was: it did not interest him.
    There are alternatives to being supressed, regardless of what Mr. Moore may think of it.

  47. Kloob Says:

    If racism and sexism really are part of horror then the logical extension of that is characters should be scared of dying purely because they are black or female.

    Making people targets based on such broad categorisations surely isn’t something compatible with a society that’s supposedly moved on since Lovecraft’s time?

    Why is the black guy killed and the girl raped? Why not both raped? Or both killed. Why is Briers sexualised so much prior to the end? I really want to believe that Moore isn’t playing up to very old stereotypes here, but it’s hard to read it any other way.

  48. octo7 Says:

    Some of his earlier stories were blatantly racist alright, namely The Horror at Red Hook which this whole series is a spin-off from.

    And to say sexuality didn’t interest him doesn’t really add up with the entire plot of The Shadow Over Innsmouth or The Dunwich Horror. It also contradicts his interest in stories like The Great God Pan and The White People, plus his ability to percieve the subtleties in the latter, as explained in a letter he wrote to Clark Ashton Smith. I think sexuality terrified him, the act itself and the fear of hereditary mutation, perhaps stemmed from his father’s madness and his mother’s eccentricities. That’s what I get from Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Festival, Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, The Thing On The Doorstep and many other Lovecraft tales.

  49. octo7 Says:

    my last comment was @ grumpy old medivalist

  50. Grumpy Old Medivalist Says:

    Or to be concise:
    “‘Great God, what simpletons! Show them Arthur Machen’s Great God Pan and they’ll think it a common Dunwich scandal!”
    http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/thedunwichhorror.htm

  51. Zom Says:

    Right, okay, I see what you mean, Octo

  52. Grumpy Old Medivalist Says:

    @(? sorry if I e-offended)octo7:

    Again with the earlyer-as far as I can tell from his letters, he stopped being an anti-semite, not a racist.

    Of course he was aware of Machens gynophobia. He also explained why he thought it was outdated & catholic.

    Family-& by extension, Mr. Lovecrafts true obsession, the past-involves sex.
    We must also assume most of his characters wore hats. Is his lack of millenery detail (except for Men from Leng! & Deep Ones! & NYARLATHOTHEP!), perhaps, due to hidden agression towards his poor wife?

    It may also be worth noting that Mr. lovecrafts only explicitly sexual story, “The Loved Dead”, is not particulary good: “Medusas Coils”, his most openly racist, is his worst.

    Of course, Mr. Moore is entitled to his own obsessions, even outdated Freudian ones: but those dealing with 4-dimensional demon-serpents are more Lovecraftian.

  53. octo7 Says:

    I liked The Loved Dead, that was one of the few stories he wrote that I found genuinely disturbing. The Machen stories he ended up calling ‘outdated’ were written 30 years before Dunwich horror so I never understood where he was coming from with that. He was heavily influenced by Machen, Randolph Carter (from Dream Quest rather than The Statement) and Kuranes are both re-written versions of Machen’s Lucian Taylor from Hill of Dreams. Machen’s later work was certainly only a shadow of his former glory so I sometimes wonder if Lovecraft was embarrassed by being so heavily inspired by him, unlike Poe and Dunsany who’s work never deteriorated with age.

    I also wouldn’t really call Loved Dead an explicitly sexual story, no more than the Shadow Over Innsmouth. There is no mention of sex or sexual arousal, the arousal part is hinted at but to the casual reader it would just read like the main character is obsessed by death and prefers the company of the dead to that of the living.

    Arthur Machen lived a much fuller and wackier life than Lovecraft, true he was also in and out of poverty and his reputation as a writer tended to yo-yo, he was also friends with likes of Joyce, AE Waite and Oscar Wilde,as well as being a short-term member of the Golden Dawn and member of a travelling comedy troupe. Somehow I’d say he had more experience with sexual horror and mysticism than Howard Philips, given the crowd he hung out with. I think Machen at his best; exceeds even the very best of Lovecraft’s work.

    OK sorry for going waaaay off topic there. And I do really admire and respect most of Lovecraft’s work despite how previous statements may have looked.

  54. Corman Says:

    I think there’s also a bit of satire going on here about meta-textual characters in stories. Unlike other forms of horror, like slasher movies or zombies, knowing the “rules” of the situation help the characters to survive, if not defeat, the horrors they’re facing. But knowing the “rules” of Lovecraft’s universe doesn’t help the protagonist when they find themselves in it. Knowing how HPL’s extradimensional entities and their cultish followers act leads to realizing you’re utterly fucked, because there isn’t way to escape from the evil that infects the whole of human society and the earth itself.

    As an entry into modern Lovecraftian fiction, it’s a good piece, but Moore isn’t exactly breaking new ground here (unless he has something mind-blowingly vile in store for the next two issues). It took Watchmen for superheroes to be taken seriously, but in the late 70s, after August Derleth died and took his severe misinterpretations of Lovecraft’s writing with him, Lovecraft started to trickle into academia, which led to a whole generation of writers who were eager to analyze the themes and philosophy of his work, then expand on them instead of name dropping Cthulu or Azatoth when they need a cheap scare. Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., is better at combining sexual and societal nastiness with Lovecraft and Chambers, and the concept of a character with extensive knowledge of Lovecraft realizing they’re trapped in a Lovecraft story was done brilliantly in T.E.D. Klein’s “Black Man With A Horn.”

    However, there might be even more metatextual commentary going on then I’m giving Moore credit for. There might also be another, more sinister link to the sex shop and the gratuitous rape scene, but this may just be me knowing way too much about Lovecraft and writers he’s inspired.

    Sax mentions “Y’golonac” during his word salad interrogation in issue one. Y’golonac is the Old One Ramsey Campbell created during the earliest phase of his career, when he was writing stories set almost entirely in Lovecraft’s universe, but he’s also the god of perversion, both human and inhuman. To hear or read his name invites his metaphysical filth into your existence. While this story is playing off Lovecraft’s structure and themes, I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the sexual aberrations in the story build, and continue to build, after the conversation with Sax – the deviant subculture of the Akloheads, the discovery of the Dagonic dildo leading to the reveal of the Lovecraft-themed sex industry, the murder & rape-saturated orgone chamber. Guess I’ll wait and see next issue.

  55. octo7 Says:

    I think you understate the importance of August Derleth, yes his fiction sucks but if it wasn’t for him you would have never read Lovecraft, he poured his own money, dedication and time into getting Lovecraft published in hardback format for the first time. Many of Lovecraft’s works would have remained lost if not for Derleth creating Arkham House publishing. So Derleth, rather than a detriment, was the main catalyst in bringing the world of Lovecraft to the masses. The Shadow Over Innsmouth among many others saw the light of day through Arkham House having been rejected by Weird Tales and left to collect dust in Lovecrafts house for years. So this so called ‘acadaemia’ would never have heard of Lovecraft if not for him.

  56. Grumpy Old Medivalist Says:

    @Octo7:
    Mr: Lovecraft did not call mr. Machens stories outdated: rather, his dramatic attitude to sexuality.
    Lord Dunsanys literary detoration is fairly recognized, also by Mr. Lovecraft: it did not seem to affect his attitude. As I said, he repeatedly expresses his admiration of Mr. Machen. Mr. Machens “Hieroglyphics: A Note Upon Ecstasy In Literature” was foundational for Mr. Lovecraft as a writer, & rightly so.

    “I also wouldn’t really call Loved Dead an explicitly sexual story, no more than the Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

    One should think so, but it was actually censored as pornography. Perhaps living in a society in which necrophilliac rape is the subject of bestsellers affects our perspective slightly.

    It was also a colleberation.

    “Somehow I’d say he had more experience with sexual horror and mysticism than Howard Philips, given the crowd he hung out with.”

    Mr. Machen himself would propably insist on the greater value of the Inner Life;)

    Consider Mr. Lovecraft was the better author: but also that it is due to chronological accident.

    Suprised you have not mentioned Lillith yet?

    At the end of the day: Mr. Lovecraft did have phobias about seafood & cold. He does not treat sexuality that way.

    As a side note, he stated in one of his letters that found homosexual, in direct contrats to heterosexual, erotic acitivity repugnant.
    Make of that what you will.

  57. Corman Says:

    I never said that what Derleth did wasn’t important. I fully acknowledge he was the one who kept Lovecraft from sliding into obscurity. But he also invented a “Mythos” that Lovecraft never really intended, and that’s the part I don’t like. The guy who preserved Buster Keaton’s films was allegedly a huge asshole, too.

  58. octo7 Says:

    I don’t think Lovecraft was anywhere near the same level as Poe (but then who is?), Machen, Dunsany, Bierce, Blackwood or even Chambers. I think he’d be the first to admit that too. Lovecraft has written some incredible stories but much of his writing is derivative, clunky and tiresome, some of it even comedic due to his over-use of certain archaic words. There is zero human element in most of his stories except perhaps Colour Out of Space which happens to be my favourite thing he’s written. I have suffered through certain Lovecraft stories because the story itself and the pay off was worth getting through the excessively boring Prose and heavy-handed style. At the Mountains of Madness for example; a great story and an essential piece in figuring out the vague and unintentional ‘mythos’, yet incredibly over-written , weighed down by pointless techical details and character observations. Then there’s tales like The Shunned house which are plain boring, over-written and lack a decent pay-off.

    HP Lovecraft IS arguably one of my favourite writers of all time, I certainly prefer his works to some people who are unquestionably better writers (if you follow me). However, I don’t think he’s ever written anything quite as affective as The White People, or as clever as The Three Imposters, or as scary and atmospheric as Blackwood’s The Willows.

    I’ve read virtually all of Lovecrafts stories and enjoyed most of them, the only one that bored me to the point of giving up was the one he ghost-wrote for Houdini – Beaneath the Pyramids. My least favourite works fo his are The Shunned House and The Horror at Red Hook.

  59. Grumpy Old Medivalist Says:

    @Octo7:
    Tsk. You seem set on turning me into Nerd-rage Old Medivalist.
    Just to begin with, you mention Bierce, & even Chambers, but not M. R. James? Or Mr. Hodgeson? or, even, Mr. M.P. Shiel?
    With all due respect, your approach, whilst evidently literate, is fundementally innapropriate?

    Lovecraftian acedemia is by no means merely “so-called” (though, tragically, these days that does not equate with “intellectual”). Actually, to back up my “inappropriate” quote, above, you may want to read some of the French Lovecraftians, such as M. Houellebecq, or, even, M. Maurice Levy?

    Derleth had excellent taste, but really ought to have kept to regional writing, & of course, publishing.

    I find it difficult to believe that you prefer “Medusa`s Coil”, to, of all things, “The Shunned House”? Could it be because of “Coils” criticism of M. Baudelaires taste in women?

    Rev. Y’golonac is a quite witty embodiment of self-abuse. One could argue that Neonomicon is actually Ramsy Campbellian: the, rather quaint, objections to it seem to derive from it being misread as Brian Lumleyan.

  60. Neonomicon 2: Someone Stage An Intervention For Alan Moore « Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! Says:

    [...] a little late to writing about Neonomicon 2 – and Jog and the Mindless Ones have said a lot of what needs to be said here. But I felt the need to put my oar [...]

  61. lammassu Says:

    Quite honestly I’m dissapointed with Alan Moore’s latest creation, ‘Neonomicon’. There are only four issues to it and over half of the story is about rape. Now, I’ve been reading a lot on this bulletin (as well as others) that these depictions of rape is some kind of social commentary of how women are depicted in superhero comics (like supergirl and wonderwoman). This is flawed reasoning because one, Moore already addressed that issue in ‘Watchmen’ and two, this isn’t a superhero comic it’s a horror comic, and three this is similar reasoning to “well she asked for it, look at the way she’s dressed!” Also, I feel Moore is getting formulaic, as soon as I read in the first issue that Agent Brear is a recovering ‘nympho’, I immediately thought: “You’re going to get gang raped!” Sure enough, next issue she does, and just in case you missed out there’s a monster that can only live by raping and does so to Agent Brear and lo and behold ala ‘Watchmen’ form, Brear starts to have feelings for this monster because “how else can it survive?” I was really hoping Moore would suprise me, but apparently not. Finally, the “creepy things that’s going on all cthulhu style”…eh. Man turning into a mural on the wall was passe at best and grisly murder-homocide scenes is so not Lovecraft. If you want fucked up shit Cthulhu style, I recommend ‘Fall of Cthulhu’. ‘Neonomicon’ is more like a graphic Law & Order:SVU episode than a Lovecraftian story that echos DOOM.

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