I hope you’ll forgive me a little bit of Mindless Self Indulgence here since we’ve already covered the comic in question in some detail, but just try to imagine my surprise when after reading pages and pages full of brilliant, moving stuff about growing older in a world that is indifferent to your bewildered perspective in LoEG Century, I came face-to-face with the young Antichrist and discovered that he was me.

Of course, he was also Harry Potter and Will Stanton and Kevin the Teenager, but as he peeled his way out of the page…

…and started rambling away at our heroes in that deadened voice of his, I began to feel like I was watching myself rip my way through the comic. A spoiled young man raging against the story he’s grown up in?

Fuck! Yeah, okay – guilty as charged!

But we’ll get back to that in a minute, becuase as I said in an earlier post, there’s a strange nested dolls effect at work in this LoEG trilogy, with old(ish) men Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill trying to imagine how it must feel to be as absurdly old as Mina Harker, who is in turn trying to work out how it feels to be as impossibly old as Orlando:

There’s a temptation here for the young(ish) reader to join in by trying to imagine how it must feel to be as old as Moore and O’Neill, which… this probably sounds patronising (maybe because it is? - ed), but there’s also something useful about the way LoEG Century asks you to try to trace this hopeless arc. It’s definitely beyond me to imagine what it would be like to have lived on this earth for more than one century, but by asking me to try Moore and O’Neill make the task of thinking about all the changes and loss you can encounter over the course of a single human lifetime appear slightly more manageable.

Bearing this in mind, the many flaws that we’ve talked to death in our annocomentations start to seem more forgivable. Like his characters, Moore is not at home in the world of Century 2009, and while there is a certain disconnect between the fictional world he’s describing and that world as it existed (as Andre Whickey has pointed out, Malcolm Tucker is the only contemporary character to get a speaking part in 2009 aside from the aforementioned Antichrist), there’s a level on which this disconnection almost works for the story rather than against it. By the time they get to 2009, Mina and Allan and Orlando are all living on the edges of the main narrative of the time, and halfway through Century 2009 I started to feel like I was living there with them.

“Modern life is rubbish, here’s an 8,000 page novel about my garden.”

Of course, like I said, everything changed for me when this fucker finally broke free from the other side of the page:

The Antichrist ripped his way out of the comic, staring out at me like a dark reflection, an anti-Mindless, an all too Logical sort of Silence, a reminder of all my petty frustrations, of that bloody Kevin the Teenager voice my parents used to echo back at me during my teenage sulks, of the fact that I’m still not any kind of writer, that I’m the first person from my mum’s family to go to University and that no one from that side of the family can work out why I’ve not really “done anything” with that, whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean.

See, I told you there’d be self-indulgence!  Thankfully there’s more to this story than my own tedious insecurities though. You see, way back when we were compiling our first set of LoEG thoughts, Andre Whickey made the following point about Moore’s critique of modern culture:

…the story Moore wants to tell — of the deterioration of culture since the 1960s — is one that could be plausibly made. But to make it work, one has to criticise the 60s counterculture. Most of the problems in the world today stem, ultimately, from the utter self-obsessed infantilism of the generation that were young adults in 1969 — Moore’s generation, the generation that voted in Thatcher, the generation that made up Blair’s cabinet — but rather than admit the link, Moore has instead basically taken a line of “Weren’t the 60s great until Charles Manson and Altamont, but now the world’s full of young people with their hippity-hoppity music and their pinpods, and I wish it would all be like it used to be.”

Like the man says, this argument isn’t explicitly made in the comic itself, but the more I thought about my multi-eyed, strangely oblivious stand-in the more I started to wonder how much significance you could place on the fact that he’s grown up in the world that Moore’s generation made for him.   Any attempt at reading the story this way is almost instantly complicated by the fact that this particular Antichrist grew up in a story that Haddow specifically created, but while this positions our psuedo-Potter as the result of a century long scheme I can’t help but think that there’s got to be something to the fact that Haddow possess Tom Riddle at the height of Century 1969′s bloom:

It’s possible that this is just over-reading/overreaching on my part (on Mindless Ones dot com? say it ain’t so!ed), but even if that is the case then there’s still something to be said for viewing this particular Antichrist as a honking byproduct of The Century of the Self(-obsessed). It’s not just Harry Potter that Moore and O’Neill are skewering here, but all those stories about chosen ones who could only ever grow up to see all of their fantasies made real.  It just so happens that this Antichrist caught a glimpse of the backstage area and decided to let some of his less savory fantasies erupt, Columbine style.

Of course, not all of us bewildered youngsters start shooting lightning bolts from our cocks when we realise that the stories we’ve been sold are bullshit – some of us just write about comics as though they might actually still mean something instead, you know? - so my empathy with the villain of the piece does have its limits, but when Mary “fucking” Poppins descends from the sky and gives the boy a good talking to, she makes it obvious that he’s not the tyger he thought he was, for all his bluster:

Despite their cumulative age and experience, Mina and Orlando end up looking pretty ineffectual at the end of Century 2009.  Of course, regardless of whether they’re Tygers or Lambs, Mary’s impossible power makes it clear that our heroes are bit-players in the world they inhabit, rather than true agents of Moore and O’Neill’s fearful symmetry.  With all of the Antichrist’s ranty, phallically obsessed anger burned off, all that’s left in the comic is a sense of bewildered bereavement:

There’s a delicate sort of love behind this confusion – despite the overpowering sense of shock that clouds the last few pages of the comic, and despite Orlando’s refreshed commitment to the sex end of the “sex and violence” spectrum,  it’s pretty much the only thing that’s keeping our “League”  together at this point. Orlando’s glibness can’t come close to overpowering the memory of that almost unbearably fragile and tender sex scene between Mina and zi on page 50 of this comic, or indeed the memory of Allan, lost forever now but looming over that final page like something out of the ruddy Lion King.  And what does all of this suggest about the makers of this comic, about those grumpy old fuckers Moore and O’Neill?  Well, to me it suggests that for all of their painfully relevant anger, they’re still a pair of clods disguised as a couple of pebbles, and hey – there’s nothing wrong with that! At the very least, it leaves a little bit of room for hope, or rather, for the possibility of hope…

***

17 Responses to “Tygers and Lambs #1 – League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 2009”

  1. Jason Statham Says:

    The thing that never left my head while reading was precisely the lack of mapping out the 60s connection. Moore’s unforgiving narrative of the “spoiled brats” (aside his shitty “Nice Guy” male feminism out to fight for the little delicate dolls who’s pain is so unbearable) is problematic in that it didn’t quite made the point that this self-obsessiveness arises from, ultimately, a self-denying narrative: one that isn’t about our individual desire to help others and to look outside & beyond ourselves. A self-defeating frame that never hits the spot and ends up perpetuating itself endlessly precisely because it isn’t as advertised. That we’ve been sold essentially Ayn Rand’s collectivist selfishness, a story not our own, escaping in misanthropic dread from some uniform collective (but actually being like that old Python scene “we’re all our own selves”).

    it was a disappointment to see that the diagnosis from the old “anarchist” wasn’t that different from some IMF representative introducing austerity to spoiled bratty citizens – even more so when dealing with a story about ancient fuckers decrying what was lost in time’s entropy (instead of Pynchon’s anti-neoliberal take in Against the Day where he propped up ficticious lost generous tenderness of a delicate prewar times).

    thank you for this post, I.V.

  2. Jack Fear Says:

    To be fair, he does look like a girl.

    And quite a pretty girl, too. Positively pore-Raphaelite.

  3. Jack Fear Says:

    PRE-Raphaelite, that should be. Though his complexion is positively glowing, right down to the pores.

  4. Ales Kot Says:

    Funny – Chinese Horoscope always told me I’m a tiger. It’s a beautiful, smart comic, and I agree with your essay.

    The heroes of LOEG: Century 2009 spent their years…well, not exactly improving the world, have they? Sure, they occasionally saved it in bursts of glorious escapism, but what about slow, sustainable improvement? Not really, right? Going crazy, doing heroin, killing, fucking…but also feeling, making mistakes, empathizing. Living. Living through what needed to be lived through, so we can (maybe) do better and learn from their ideas and lives and stories. And then boom, Antichrist happens and he’s an angry disillusioned kid. And they’re actually scared of him. Because of what? Because he reminds them they might have not done enough? Because he reminds them of their (possibly wasted) years? All the “mistakes” of your youth coming back to haunt you much, dear character(s)?

    Three thousand years. I hope you put in the work, Orlando.

  5. Policeman MacCruiskeen Says:

    Long time reader, first time caller.
    Slightly off the above topic, as I wasn’t sure where else to post this info, but has anyone else read about a key scene to be included in tomorrow nights London Olympics opening ceremony that sails full steam into the world of the League?
    Basically, after the cast of thousands re-enacts the last 500 years of British history (I’ve heard they’ll be real time travelled lifestock and peasants) somewhere in the 20th/21st Century scenes Voldemort terrorises a sports arena of bedridden children as a swarth of dementors hover, when suddenly the Danny Boyle heavens open and Mary “”fucking”" Poppins swoops down by brolly to the rescue! Followed by fireworks. All true. It was in the Sunday Times.
    Is this this months ‘Before Watchman’gate?
    Has someone been sniffing Alan’s shirtcuffs?
    If you throw a stone in Ideaspace when the colour of the palate is decidedly English is there really only a finite number of characters waiting to duel?
    Issues of plagarism V coincidence aside, I think, with my conspiracy hat on at a jaunty angle, this Olympic ‘opening’ ceremony sounds much more interesting than previously thought.

  6. wreade1872 Says:

    O my God! I am so going to watch the olympics now. Hadn’t planned on it but i have to see if Mary Poppins turns up. Thanks for the heads up Policeman MacCruiskeen.

  7. Vertvad Says:

    Heh!

    It was an army of Poppins and a very tall Voldemort.
    Made me grin like a loon.
    He gave a pretty good show I thought but Poppins is a remarkable ‘coincidence’(as is me finding this to read right after it..).
    You can see the whole thing with No Commentary At All (bliss) here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/2012/live-video
    the 3 hrs flew by…

  8. Vertvad Says:

    Having checked – Poppins army is in section 6 (about 43 min mark), also worth checking is the J6 Bond & Queen segment in section 4 (starts at 29 mins – well worth watching until the end of the helicopter ride). The whole show surprised me with how much I enjoyed it.
    Sorry for the derail (unless Mr Moore does have a finger in this, can’t see how it could be a borrowing, must be Mary Poppins time..) :)

  9. Policeman MacCruiskeen Says:

    I think everyone’s pretty surprised about how much the whole ceremony was thoroughly enjoyable throughout – funny, poignant, eccentric and quite moving in places.

    Again, apologies for any derailment from the original article, but there seemed absolutely loads of mr Moore and LOEG type behaviour going on. Not complaining, mind! Not least the transition from one epoch to another within the same location, and of course, as Vertvad mentions, the J6 Bond cameo. Also, the time travel of the star-crossed texting lovers chasing another from one generation of music to the next struck me as very Moore, or perhaps more of the Moore we’d have liked to see in ’2009′.
    The NHS/Great Ormand St Hospital / classic children’s literature section which originally pricked my interest was pure League: all the great children’s book nightmares coming to life and working together on their terror-ist attack (has Ian Fleming’s Chitty-Chitty child-catcher every surfaced in LOEG?).
    And then the army of Poppins swooping down through the smoke to vanquish the demons. I found it quite chilling the inclusion of Mike Oakfield’s Tubular Bells: soundtrack for ‘The Exorcist’, but sernominous, certainly in my mind, with that other 70s horror classic ‘The Omen’, with, as Mindless One’s ‘Century’ commentary quite rightly pointed out has it’s very own Mary Poppin’s nanny figure willing and able to take one for Team Damien.
    And also, much to my delight, so much Bowie (who else spotted the brief clip of Roeg’s ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’? Hands up who else would like to see some incarnation of Thomas Jerome Newton appear in future League books!).
    Thinking about it doesn’t Mr Bean make a cameo in 2009?

    Maybe Mindless Ones should do a breakdown analysis of the whole shebang ;)

    As much as we’d love several million quid given over to an Alan Moore penned opening ceremony (imagine the sheer madness! Think of the blood!) I agree that any overlaps with ‘Century’ was purely coincidental (I mean, it must have been, right?). Agree with you Vertvad – it’s just Mary Poppins time (the 40th anniversary of the film has just been acknowledged with the dvd re-release so there’s that to)

  10. Vertvad Says:

    /OT
    The link I posted for no commentary opening ceremony has been superseded by;

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00w2r5c/Olympic_Ceremonies_London_2012_Online_Opening_Ceremony_no_comm/

    and it’s there until January!
    /OT

  11. John Larrey Says:

    I just wanted to add my own two cents here. I thought the opening ceremony was a delightful change up…The druidic, tree of knowledge, tree of Gondor, serpent trapping tree motif (and so on)was a nice touch. The ceremony was unforgettable, in a good way, which is what you want (and kind of expect) from these world-wide spectacles… And I’ve enjoyed watching the sights around London (broadcasted in between event coverages).

    Now, back to your originally posting (where you think you are the Anti-Christ etc). Okay, let me throw this angle of light on your assessment:

    Years ago, when the Harry Potter series was just coming out, JK Rowlings (the struggling single mom who never got a break) said she did not want her books to be reduced to extended commercials for Harry Potter mechandise. And, apparently, wasn’t keen on the idea of turning any of them into movies, because movies based on books are (at worst) terrible, and (at best) an empty shadow of the book. In the beginning, there were stories of her turning down large sums of cash from Hollywood, but then…

    Now, flash forward a dozen years and she has more money than most countries in the world, and,(if I’m reading my Alan Moore correctly),needed to be taken down a peg or two. Yes, I’m sure he’s got problems with the magic- system she’s promoting, but I suspect he’s main trouble with the books may have been the whole philosophical turn around on her part.

    Plus, as you know, he has no love for Hollywood…So, her movies get the all the A-list actors and directors, and his movies…meh…Not so much…then you add in the time wasting lawsuits and stuff he had to deal with… And you start to think … It’s not so much about professional jealousy…It’s more likely that Alan was probaly thinking, (I’m guessing here, so bear with me), “Rowlings has them eating out her hands, because they don’t want to go through all of the rigmarole that they went through with him, but she couldn’t have gotten that far in the first place, without having him trail-blaze the downside of independantly-owned books-to-movie negotations.”

    Hollywood didn’t want to have her hate them too, so I imagine that they were agreeable, compliant and perfectly aware that this series would be a success if they worked with the writer, instead of against him/her. That’s what they learned from Alan. But, she got all of the rewards (and maybe, just to spite him abit too-Nobody likes to be told they are a cesspool of humanity and what not).

    So, no, you are not the young anti-christ that is hell bent on destroying / ruling the world…with your cock, no less… You (and every other Alan Moore reader of LoEG) are Wilma. She’s the focus of the series, and as our stand-in, she is a strong, fearless woman willing to stand up to everything from MI-5 big wigs to HP Lovecraft monsters. Even when your on the brink of insanity, you still know what’s what. You still, technically, give a damn even when the odds are obviously not in your favor…or when your being used by a self-appointed puppet master etc.

    Alan has been taking a knock for not including more 2000-2009 references in the book…but I have to say, after reading about his experiences with lawsuits and ‘public use’ issues, I can see why he kept it rather slim…Some of these corporations have a group of 30+ lawyers who do nothing but ‘troll around’ for copyright infringement issues…Who wants to deal with that?

    Anyway, (feeling that I’m babbling) I’ll close this out by saying…I wish I could grow my hair out like that too, but I’d end up losing my job if I didn’t cut it off (after getting ‘written up’ and so forth). And, calm down everybody, I like Harry Potter too (I even stood around at the midnight openings they threw for the books, so my son could get the free pins, cards and badges that went with them at the time). And, yes, we saw the movies…In other words, she got my money too…Alright, I gotta go…The Olympics are
    on…Stay strong…Troglodyte OUT!

    I could be wrong…

  12. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Flex Mentallo: “The New Adventures of the Mentallium Man” & other stories Says:

    [...] what’s that? You were waiting for the second part of my Tygers and Lambs series? Well hey, thanks for checking in mum, glad you still read the site -  that post should go [...]

  13. ruud boer Says:

    This was my favorite comic series and I was very anticipating 2009. But Harry Potter as the antichrist and Marry Popkins as some sort of angel Gabriel made me flipping through the roof. Nice was Purdy (the absolutely fabulous one) and Lando in Afghanistan. thank god for small favours he reached the present so he has to stop.

  14. Adam Says:

    You think?

  15. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Tygers and Lambs #2 – Wild Children Says:

    [...] Bearing in mind the fact that I’m a rotting hunk of meat, I think now’s as good a time as ever to announce that, like the characters in Wild Children, I “don’t have time to create false dichotomies”.   And so it occurs to me that the two sets of questions I posed above don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and that the fact that Wild Children wasn’t enough to do anything big for me was in itself enough to do something big for me.  As the bodies started to fall and the pages started to burn up in front of me, I find myself longing for a more drawn-out trajectory, for an escape from this cycle of youthful burnout, for a suggestion of something beyond my own experience, however tragic or fragile that suggestion might be… [...]

  16. Ales Kot » TYGERS AND LAMBS Says:

    [...] ‘Tygers and Lambs’, part one (on LoeG). ‘Tygers and Lambs, part two (on Wild Children). If you want to buy a copy of Wild Children and you live in the US, go here. If you live in the UK (or Europe in general), go here. If you live in Canada, here. Subscribe to comments Comment | Trackback | Post Tags: [...]

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