Alan Moore's (American McGee's ((Lewis Carroll's))) Alice

I think a couple of you here are League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fans, but for the rest of you who aren’t, the following is an excerpt from the latest issue in a section detailing supernatural hot spots within the British Isles. I just wanted to point out that this is the creepiest take on the Alice stories I’ve ever read, and the reason it succeeds is because, far from missing the point and trying to make the stories redundantly-surreal or edgy, it is just a rational, straight-forward telling and linking of the events of the Alice stories with “The Hunting of the Snark”. With a smattering of Martin Gardener enantiomorphic pondering thown in. Neato keen.

It is in nearby Oxford, though, that middle England’s mysteries take on a darker hue. It was here, on the River Thames’s banks somewhere between Godstow and Folly Bridge in 1865 that the presumed abduction of a little girl took place, plunging the Nation’s newspapers into a morbid speculative frenzy and immersing OXford in a pall of fearful gloom unrivalled till the much more frequent child abductions, rapes and murders of the twentieth century. The girl in question, sensitively known as “Miss A.L.” to the contemporary press so as to spare the feelings of her relatives, had last been seen at play upon the river banks, where she was being minded by an elder sister. To her subsequent unending guilt and shame, the older girl drifted off to sleep, lulled by the warm and pleasant afternoon, awakening soon after to discover her young sister gone.

During the next four months, the riverbank and its surrounding area were searched with an increasing sense of hopelessness by the police and members of the public. Finally, in mid-October when the abductee’s despairing family had begun funeral arrangements for their missing child, the girl was found alive, discovered soaking wet and barely conscious, suffering from exposure in the very meadow she had vanished from the previous summer. Questioned after her recovery, the girl recounted how she’d fallen down a puzzling “hole” that she’d found in the riverbank, onlu to find herself in a disorienting realm where many laws of physics, even laws of logic, were entirely different from those laws in our own world. Miss A.L. was most astonished to learn that some months had passed since she had vanished, having up until that point believed that her adventures had taken place during a single timeless afternoon.

Although the child recovered, there were two less happily-concluded sequels to her exploits, the first taking place in 1871 when Miss A.L. was once more taken into the bewildering territory that she had discovered, this time during the occasion of a family visit to the Deanery of Christ Church College, Oxford. If were are to believe Miss A.L.'s account, the mirror set above the mantle in the Deanery began displaying properties not utterly dissimilar from those of the peculiar hole she’d stumbled into six years previous, allowing her to pass once more into the contra-raional underworld that she’d described This time, although the time spent in the other world seemed to the child much longer in duration, little more than seven minutes had elapsed before she re-emerged from the strange portal flickering above the mantelpiece, which closed not long thereafter. However, in this instance there were complications. The child’s hair-parting was now worn on the other side, and on examination it appeared that the positions of the organs in her body had been quite reversed. Apparently, in consequence of this, Miss A.L. could no longer keep down or digest her normal food, and in late November of that year was weakened unto death by this disorder.

There was still, however, one more tragedy to come. In the fiver years that followed Miss A.L.'s demised, there was much shocked and disapproving talk in Oxford of the possibility that the original “hole” that claimed the luckless child might still be yawning open somewhere on the river’s banks, waiting to waylay some other hapless infant. Finally, it was resolved by a committee of the town’s professionals that this strange, fatal aperture should be located and explored, with the intention of then sealing it forever to protect the area’s young. An Oxford clergyman named Dr. Eric Bellman let the group, accompanied by an assortment of locals including a banker, a lawyer, various shopkeepers (a butcher, and a lacemaker, Miss Beaver, the expedition’s only female member) and a shoe-shine vendor who, while from the working classes, hd some military experience and was thus considered useful to the team.

It was in April, 1876, that Bellman’s group located the peculiar hole, perhaps a mile from Godstow, where the small girl had initially vanished from our world of rationality almost eleven years before. The “hole”, described by Bellman in his notes and in the ink-and-pencil drawings of Miss Beever, was a “darkly luminescent disk some five feet in diameter. It leads not down into the earth as one might readily suppose, but is a type of well-like space in which, much further down, it would seem various objects float suspended.” Bellman further notes that this bewildering aperture seemed to sometimes vanish for irregular periods of time, then reappear for stretches just as random and as unpredicatble On April 23rd,all roped together in the style of mountaineers, the party made their long-prepared descent into the chasm. Three hours after the commencement of the expedition, the strange portal vanished, leaving an unnaturally clean-cut end of rope that Bellman’s group had fastened to a nearby cedar as an anchor. The explorers were not seen again for seven months, all save for one who was not seen again at all.

In October of that same year, most of Bellman’s group were discovered semi-conscious, soaking wet and suffering from exposure in the same place that the missing child had been discovered, more than a decade before. All of them were hopelessly insane. One of them, more horribly, had suddered an incomprehensible metamorphosis, so that he seemed to be almost a photographic negative, relative to his previous appearance. His skin was now an eerie, unreflective black, while his formerly black hair and even the black fabric of his waistcoat had been turned a ghastly white. (Like Miss A.L., this individual could no longer digest our world’s food, and died within a week of his return.) It seemed the group had kept a journal of their travels, but upon inspection this turned out to have been written in the form of cryptic nonsense poetry. Only infrequent references within this text suggest that the group had visited the same world as the twice-transported child, such as the mention of a form of local fauna that is mentioned in both the accounts of Miss A.L. and Eric Bellman’s hopelessly deranged adventure.

The Oxford baker who’d accompanied the expedition was not found with the group when they were found, nor was his body subsequently recoverd. Reverend Bellman could not give a clear account of what had happened to the man,nor could his team’s other surviving members. For some weeks there was hot debate as to whether the Reverend and his fellows should be tried for murder, but at last it was decided that their mental states made them unfit to plead and they were quietly incarcerated in a nearby mental institution. In 1901, Miss Wilhelmina Murray visited the institution, interviewing Eric Bellman who by then was the sole member of the expedition twenty-five years earlier that still remained alive, a frail man in his early eighties. Her recorded comments are as follows:

"Visited the Reverend Dr. Bellman at the hospital this evening. Most distressing. The poor man cannot complete a sentence without wandering off into disjointed wordplay or delirious flights of fancy. As I had been instructed by our chubby taskmaster, I questioned Bellman closely on his expedition to the place that his demented journal notes refer to as “Snark Island”. It was useless. Asked how one might find this place, Bellman grew agitated and snatched up a page out of my notebook, claiming that it was a perfect map of how the island might be reached. The page in question, I should note, was yet unused and thus entirely blank.

When I brought up the subject of the missing baker, Mr Eric Bellman grew sombre and, it seemed to me, evasive. He would only say, “The last word that he spoke was ‘boo’”. I left the hospital a little under two hours later having managed to elicit no more information from this tragic, tortured individual. For reasons that are presently obscure to me, I kept the featureless blank ‘map’ that Bellman had torn from my notebook, and I find that I keep staring at it as I write these words. Why does it fill me with… unease? No. That is not the word. Dread. Why does this blank leaf fill me with dread?"

In closing, any League fans here object to Mr. Hyde being cast as the Incredible Hulk in the superteam?

Not really. Moore has enough respect for his sources to let me jump along for the ride without thinking about it too much. My only problem with the Hyde character is really more of a problem with the artist he’s using. But I really like what he’s done with Nemo and The Invisible Man and was dead impressed with how he effortlessly he incorporated John Carter of Mars into Wells in this new series.

Why hasn’t Moore written a novel?

The John Carter of Barsoom, Mars versus the Tripod stuff in the latest issue is great. Also a big fan of the way Alan Moore made Myron Holmes into “M”. I’m a bit confused as to what Gullivar from Gulliver’s Travels fame is doing on Mars in the latest issue, though.

(Oh wait. I guess that isn’t the Gullivar at all, but someone called Gullivar Jones. I found this page: http://hometown.aol.com/kickaha23/gas.html . It looks like he is a Marvel Comics character, which might explain the vagueness of the reference. Anybody know anything about this guy? It sounds like he might have been a Marvel knock-off of John Carter when they couldn’t get the rights or something)

I doubt it’s a Marvel character, how would Moore get the rights for the imprint he’s using? More likely it is Gulliver (and this is some odd unreported “travel”) or this Gullivar Jones was an obscure literary character before Marvel used him in their thing? The spelling indicates the latter… I really doubt Moore would use a Marvel created character… I haven’t read those Barsoom books but maybe Gullivar is actually from Burroughs?

Did you notice that the movie has added Dorian Gray, Dante Allighieri (um… wrong era and also not a fictional character), and er… Tom Sawyer?

Spoiler?
Oh, I hear this series will involve Dr. Moreau somehow. Keen!

It has to be Gullivar Jones… the spelling is the same when John Carter meets them and in the text section of the last issue, Alan Moore writes about Lemuel Gulliver as being a member of the first incarnation of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. So he means two different people. Either he got the rights, or Gullivar Jones has a literary antecedent I’m not familiar with and can’t find a link to on-line. Or possibly the reference is vague enough and the character profitless enough not to risk Marvel’s wrath.

Ha, looks like Marvel got it from an author named Edwin Arnold in 1905. Moore researches far too heavily to steal from The House of Ideas. I knew it had to be a literary reference, however obscure.

From Amazon:
This rare and seminal science fiction novel (originally published in 1905 as LIEUT. GULLIVER JONES: HIS VACATION, predating Burroughs’s Barsoom books by several years) has been unavailable in hardcover for years. It’s a book necessary to any scholarly study of the history of science fiction; it’s also a heck of a fun novel. Highly recommended. (This jacketless hardcover is intended for the library trade.) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Moore’s “history” in the back of League #1 is pretty impressive. And rather insane, when you consider it must be taking more time to write than each issue. Great stuff, though. As was the comic itself. I can’t wait until my trade copy of the original series shows up.

Did you see his annotations for From Hell? Each issue had about 5 pages of notes, explanations, revelations, etc., I’m only asking because I’m not sure if that errata was included in the bound edition.

The most interesting part is toward the end of the series when he reveals that he no longer believes his own original theory that Gull done it.

Check out this link of annotations on the first issue of the second volume. Moore is drawing on an enormous number of sources. The same guy did the same thing with the entire first volume as well. I can’t wait for the next issue.

“Why hasn’t Moore written a novel?”

Voice Of The Fire.

Is it any good Thierry?

Yes, the trade of From Hell is packed with end annotations and an additional short comic about chasing the Ripper. Presume it’s all the same stuff from the original comics.

Never read Voice Of The Fire, though I hear good things about it.

Also, the trade of From Hell has part of issue 11, but not the whole thing. Namely, not the editorial by Eddie Campbell about the process, nor Moore’s sly “I made it all up, and it came true anyways!” comment.

A lot of good new Alan Moore material in the hopper:

http://www.alanmoorefansite.com/previews/upcoming.html