Wednesday, 2 January 2013


Alan Moore & Jacen Burrows Neonomicon (2011)

I'm pretty sure that isn't how you spell Jason, but never mind...

Alan Moore takes on the Cthulhu mythos of H.P. Lovecraft and others whilst steering clear of anything too obviously resembling a nostalgic retread, the same dressing-up box most authors tend to dig into when doing their own version of Lovecraft. Thus we have Lovecraft filtered - quite intentionally, according to the bearded one - through The Wire, a contemporary setting with the sharp, visceral focus of a crime drama. It sort of does the job, except you can tell Moore was working through some stuff when he wrote this - notably being immensely pissed off at DC comics turning Watchmen into a film - so it's pretty horrible in places. Being a horror, I guess it's supposed to be horrible, but it at least seems to have some point beyond sticking fingers down the reader's throat, fingers only recently extricated from someone's bum...

The most ruthlessly unpleasant passage of Neonomicon has the main character repeatedly raped in sharper focus than might be deemed necessary. One might argue this works by exposing the repulsive details as curiously banal, presenting uncomfortably plausible violence in place of the usual consequence free cartoon variety. One might also argue that Moore goes too far, and I still have no idea what Agent Brears describing herself as a sex addict really adds to the story - unless it's bait for the sort of reader who turned up in the misguided hope of twisted thrills. I'm undecided, but then I've never quite reached a decision regarding the similarly repulsive music of Whitehouse, Ramleh, Consumer Electronics and the like. If horrible, repellent art provokes questions then that's most likely a good thing by some definition; but on the other hand, maybe it's just cheap shock effects perpetrated by arseholes who'd almost certainly shit themselves were they ever caught up in the sort of situations that seemingly inspire their efforts. Also there's the matter of Lovecraftian horror as repressed sexuality, all those throbbing nocturnal monstrosities summoned up by a writer remembered at best as a Victorian prude, Neonomicon being in some sense a Freudian take on Lovecraft; but aside from our model of the poor bugger's sexuality being based solely on the fact that he considered it his own business, who really still gives a shit?

Alice accesses Wonderland by falling down a great big earthen fanny, and all space rockets are atomic powered hard-ons penetrating a somehow vaginal sky. We get it, now piss off.

Aside from moral issues debated at greater length elsewhere, the other problem with Neonomicon is that it just isn't as good as it could have been. It's beautifully drawn, reasonably intelligent, raises all sorts of interesting points about the nature of storytelling, the medium and language itself - but Lovecraftian horror doesn't work as full frontal nastiness; so the fine balance that should have been struck isn't quite there and it reads in places like the writing of an Alan Moore imitator.

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