Neonomicon #1

Posted by on September 1st, 2010 at 12:01 AM

©2010 Avatar Press.

Avatar. Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Jacen Burrows, colored by Juanmar; cover by Burrows; $3.99

Eyeroll. Yes, another Moore-engineered crossover entertainment hybrid. He’s done more and more of these things over the years, and fewer and fewer of his comics have been much fun to read, so my impulse is to blame the dullness on the recycling. Hard to prove, of course, but a new idea wouldn’t kill the guy.

Superheroes and Hill Street Blues in Top 10, Bertie Wooster and Cthulhu in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and now Cthulhu as dealt with by federal agents who also sound a lot like the guys on Hill Street or NYPD Blue or a lot of other American crime shows with charged-up dialogue: “Listen, I had problems. I had the sex addiction thing . . .” “Merril, if that was a real illness everybody over thirteen would be in hospital.” Except I guess that would be “in a hospital,” American-style. Odd, because it’s not like Moore to slip up on Americanisms.

Anyway, into this brisk, ballsy dialogue Moore drops strings of what Lovecraft would have described as unholy gibberish or blind drooling or slurping, inhuman parodies of speech. The effect is like this. Federal agent: “There’s a copycat. He’s biting on your shit, man. He’s killing his like you did yours.” Imprisoned serial killer: “Ha ha ha. N’gghai vug’r b’hthu ygolonac!” The serial killer even has a shit-eating smile on his face and both hands resting on the table. He’s relaxed. Maybe the line means “Aw, there’s always some asshole who’s got to try it old school, know what I’m saying?”

I like the effect. The unholy blind gibberish that in a Lovecraft story would have occasioned textual meltdown (attended by an arms-flapping narrator, of course) is represented here by a tidy batch of black letters stationed within some routine crime dialoguing. And, all right, that’s funny. But it doesn’t stay funny. Judging by this test run, standard cop stuff and Lovecraft trappings don’t add up to a bend in expected reality. What you get is two brands of standard being predictable together.

Threshing machine. Only a few crossovers really cry out to exist. Yes, faced with the works of P. G. Wodehouse and H. P. Lovecraft, and with an appropriate juncture in their copyright status, mankind would outrage its essence, mock and frustrate the aesthetic needs knit into the tissue of our soul, if some member of the species didn’t step forward and write a story about Bertie Wooster and an eldritch, glaucous, crawling doom. As so often, Alan Moore took the lead for mankind, and that’s why we have “What Ho, Gods of the Abyss?” from the Black Dossier volume of Gentlemen. But here’s the catch. He acted because the Great Human has also become a bit of a machine, a stopless threshing machine devoted to tossing and combining every last Western entertainment property into every possible conglomeration. So now he has rolled on from the essential, a Lovecraft-Wodehouse crossover, to the redundant, a Lovecraft-Bochco crossover.

I wish he had taken a bit more time and got the Jeeves-Cthulhu story into better shape. The Wooster talk sounds a bit flat to me, and the title seems off. Look in the bibliography and you don’t find anything built around “What Ho.” The pattern would be more like “Jeeves and the Shambling Eyeless Horror.” Still, Moore did the job and a gap in the universe was filled. Whereas a universe that’s missing a Lovecraft-Bochco crossover has no gap. The crossover is just wadding, a lump of gum stuck on the bottom of existence.

Rats in the Malls. Some Weird Tales hat tips: Club Zothique, a bad guy named Johnny Carcosa, a rock song that has “white ape” in the lyrics along with, yikes, “I want you ins muh mouth” as a play on Innsmouth. That last gag is such a groaner that it’s beautiful. Normally, of course, you don’t catch Moore being so cackhanded. His usual problem is an overabundant verbal facility, one that swarms over his powers of reason and sense of proportion like the tropical vines that swallow a trapped animal’s bones. But here his verbal facility falters a bit. Face it, no one says “ins muh mouth.” Lobbing this nonexistent phrase into the song is a cheat, like cramming an extra syllable into a line. Yet the result has grandeur of a sort. We have “One man’s Mede is another man’s Persian,” and now we also have “I want you ins muh mouth” — just as bad, just as strenuous, and it’s about Lovecraft and fellatio. Okay, good for Alan Moore.

And, of course, the name of the band is Rats in the Malls. That’s hard to beat.

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3 Responses to “Neonomicon #1”

  1. Kristy Valenti says:

    My friend just lent me this:

    It’s from 1994, unauthorized, and out of print, so unfortunately, used copies are expensive.

  2. Tom Crippen says:

    Someone already did a Wodehouse-Lovecraft crossover? Well, fuck …

  3. Tom Crippen says:

    I mean, really. Having one such crossover corrects a cosmic imbalance. Having two is clutter.