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H. P. Lovecraft, Too Much Sex, and Not Enough: Alan Moore's Playfully Repressive Hypothesis.

Shocking readers and sparking online outrage with its graphic portrayal of sexual assault and human-monster intercourse, Alan Moore's Neonomicon (2011) stands out for its controversy-provoking position in the oeuvre of an author who has arguably made a career out of comic book controversy. Neonomicon incorporates elements from H. P. Lovecraft's "The Horror at Red Hook" (1927) and "The Shadow over Innsmouth" (1936) into a graphic Cthulhu Mythos tale roughly set in a dark version of our twenty-first century. Moore's text self-consciously locates sexual repression as its key problematic, going so far as to perform the familiar sort of distilled Freudian reading that perceives a causal link between repression and violence. Moore himself remarks in an interview that, "Lovecraft was sexually squeamish" and, in Neonomicon, the project is to "put sex back in" (Gieben). The idea behind this use of "back in" is that the stories of the Cthulhu Mythos are inherently sexual, but that this is obscured by a repressed author who instead channels his unnamable thoughts into the unnamable things that populate his fictional universe. Moore gives diegetic voice to this theory when one of Neonomicon's characters remarks, "I've read his books ... perhaps it's me, but it seemed it was all sex. You know? The monsters and all that? They're like a lot of cocks and pussies crawling round. White slime everywhere and stuff stinks like dead fish" (Neonomicon ch. 3). (1) Neonomicon proclaims itself to be invested in a project of unveiling that rebels against cultural restrictions on sexuality to show the sex that is "truly" at stake behind the Cthulhu Mythos. Moore as author and Burrows as illustrator replace the authority of the source text with their own emphasis on graphically represented sexuality while positioning sexual repression as the root cause of not only sexual violence but of all sorts of human and supernatural evil.

Arguing in his polemic history of sexuality, 25,000 Years of Sexual Freedom (2012), that "sexually progressive cultures gave us mathematics, literature, philosophy, civilization, and the rest, while sexually restrictive cultures gave us the Dark Ages and the Holocaust," and claiming sex crime rates to be inversely related to the visibility of pornography in a given culture, Moore proposes a cause-and-effect relationship between sexual repression and a constellation of violent behaviors and intolerant attitudes (25,000 Years 39, 69-73). Such reductive logic abounds in 25,000 Years, which tends to present an ongoing conflict between those who would repress and those who would healthily enact sexuality--Moore locates evidence of this opposition by examining artistic, literary, and historical examples from the Venus of Willendorf to twenty-first-century pornography. Neonomicon, published only one year before 25,000 Years, is a playground for these theories, and features parabolic sequences in which characters are made to suffer as a result of what Moore presents as a world of pervasive sexual repression.

Neonomicon in its graphic novel format is a story composed of two distinct pieces that share characters and plotlines but which focus around two very different protagonists. The Courtyard, initially published as a prose piece (1994) and adapted into graphic format by Jacen Burrows and Anthony Johnston (2003), tracks the sexually abstemious and vocally racist federal investigator Aldo Sax as he goes down the path of madness in Brooklyn, much like "The Horror at Red Hook's" detective Malone. The second part, whose title, Neonomicon, is appropriated for the title of the entire graphic novel, features FBI Agent Brears, a slim and blond recovering sex addict who is raped when her cover is blown during the investigation of a "Shadow over Innsmouth"-themed Salem sex cult. Brears and her male colleague, Agent Lamper, infiltrate the cult to the point of stripping naked and entering a dingy underground orgy room equipped with a swimming pool that, unbeknownst to them, has a secret underwater access point. This tunnel is home to a "Deep One," a humanoid, scaly monstrosity with webbed hands and a fish-like face first introduced by Lovecraft in "The Shadow over Innsmouth," but here depicted complete with sexual organs. After one of the cultists discovers Agent Lamper's gun and then kills him, the group performs various sex acts on Agent Brears before leaving her to the Deep One. Though ultimately Brears befriends or at least sympathizes with the creature that rapes her, her violent and nude encounters with it and the cultists fuel at least eleven pages of highly visceral sexual contact. Leading Moore scholar Annalissa di Liddo points to the furious online debate sparked by these extended sequences: "Besides being outraged by the general ferocity of the comic, many believe that Moore proves to be complacent in scripting so many pages of gratuitous sexual violence, and also to be deeply misogynist in 'punishing' his character's sexual addiction with rape" (203). After everything seems to be over, Brears' superior officer and former lover, Carl Perlman, remarks with stupid regret, "I ... I knew the kind of problems you'd been having and I sent you out to cover a sex case, for Christ's sake" (Neonomicon ch. 4). This admission of blame might also apply to the very kinds of plotlines that lead transgressive female characters into scenes of rape and/or confinement. By constructing a story around the arguably misogynistic archetype of a sexually alluring police heroine who happens to be a recovering sex addict and by leading that character through contingencies that result in her graphic rape, Moore and Burrows implicate themselves in a storyline that at heart isn't much different from the kind of rape narrative that leads the over-sexed Lucy Westenra straight into Dracula's arms. While doubtless cashing in on the excitement promised by its own violent sexuality, Neonomicon is likewise a critique of the plotlines that deliver that excitement, and Perlman's shame at having sent a misogynistic cliche into a den of iniquity is meant to be shared by the culture that consistently produces such sordid plotlines.

Di Liddo's defense of Moore is similar: the rape scene, in fact, "challenge[s] common patterns of representation, and by prolonging the reader's exposure to the horrific details of the story, a critique of his/her own voyeurism is also elicited" (203). Whereas I am not entirely convinced that this is the only possible reader response, I am interested in Di Liddo's articulation insofar as it draws attention to Moore's text doing much of its political work by graphically confronting the reader in a way that goes beyond titillation. There is, in other words, an ethical relationship between the kind of sexual investment demanded by the images on the page and the moral implication of having sent Brears into this situation in the first place. This implication, shared by reader and author alike, becomes a political field on which Moore inscribes his positions on misogynistic plotlines, exploitive pornography, and the kinds of "unnatural" sexual and nonsexual behaviors that in his writings arise from circumstances of extreme repression. Moore's sexual politics thus structure Neonomicon as it critiques literature and society, toeing the line between too much and not enough; between the fetishistic perversity of what the cult does to Brears and the "squeamishness" of Aldo Sax and of Lovecraft himself.

This distinction between Moore's treatments of the oversexed cult and of undersexed Lovecraft explains what otherwise appears to be a dual diagnosis. Neonomicon hypothesizes both the undersexed writer and the oversexed fan as consequences of culture-wide sexual repression, as is most visible in the cult's link to specifically Cthulhu Mythos fan culture. Neonomicon's rape sequences, perpetrated by a group of Cthulhu Mythos fans who run an occult shop as cover, are presented as the dire consequences of a repressed culture for which Lovecraftian boogeymen have become real. A fan of H.P. Lovecraft who reads Neonomicon too seriously may come away offended, not only by the foregrounding of Lovecraft's asexuality--which, whatever it meant a hundred years ago, is a tough identity to occupy in the century of The 40-Year Old Virgin (Judd Apatow 2005)--but also because of Moore's frequently direct jibes at Lovecraft fans. In Moore, there is a clear link between the virginal nerd and the repressed killer, both of whom exist on a spectrum of exile from a healthy sexuality denied by a culture of repression. Whereas this is doubtless a critique of repressive cultures, it is likewise disturbingly close to the kind of social vision in which the sexually deviant give themselves away and become subject to correction. To be asexual, sexually naive, or invested in a non-generative form of sexuality in a text by Alan Moore is to be a silly failure at best and an evil mastermind at worst, and this reveals what is perhaps a surprisingly conservative politic at work in Moore's project of unveiling: it is precisely that which is deemed sexually unhealthy that is exposed and singled out for correction. Why, in other words, need Lovecraft's sexual abstention and the lack of visible sexuality in his fiction be read as a failing? Michel Houellebecq argues precisely the opposite, suggesting that there is something resistive and subversive about Lovecraft's unwillingness to engage with this fact of human life. Houellebecq, however, is relatively alone in this belief, (2) and most writing on Lovecraft either ignores sexuality altogether or casually mentions Lovecraft's sex life in the terms of inability. Lovecraft critic S.T. Joshi remarks on, "glaring examples of Lovecraft's inability to speak of 'love' or anything remotely connected to it," and Michel Levy, who revels in descriptions of Lovecraft's "gaucherie," "spineless[ness]," and "[preoccupation] solely with chimeras," goes so far as to ask: "But he was too egotistical, too listless to make a suitable husband. Was he, moreover, perhaps incapable of fully assuming the role?" (188, 22). (3) Neonomicon accords with these readings that hinge on the language of inability, but Moore is specifically interested in equating that inability with the repression (and thus, according to him, perversion) of "healthy" sexuality. To a critic like Joshi, this would likely appear to be a stretch: "there is also every reason to believe Lovecraft was simply one of those individuals who have a low sex drive, and for whom the subject is of relatively little interest. It is mere armchair psychoanalysis to say that he somehow sublimated his sex urges into writing or other activities" (202).

Another way of reading Lovecraft's sexuality rejects the critical tendency to ignore sexual content in Lovecraft's stories, considering instead the psychoanalytically informed possibility of a displaced sexuality in which the monstrous precisely comes to stand in for and bear the weight of the repressed sexual. Victoria Nelson explains, "An aura of sexual squeamishness and repulsion hovers like a low and unattended fog around these descriptions; sex is the major unaddressed issue of Lovecraft's work, displaced in an uneasy fusion with the transcendent into monstrosity" (115). Nelson is saying two things in her treatment of Lovecraft and sexuality: First, there exists a mappable channel between Lovecraft's sexual misalignment and his cosmic horrors; second, sexuality is already a key question in Lovecraft: "the monstrous incomprehensibility of their sexual parts--is a key aspect of their horror" (117). Carl Sederholm takes this a step further and points to concrete examples of Lovecraft's preoccupations with dark births, fears of miscegenation, and horrific mothers that spawn demons. The Mythos already abounds with references to sexuality, and the critical community's desire to ignore this is a scholarly blindspot (Sederholm 8). Though Sederholm writes primarily about "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1931), "The Dreams in the Witch House" (1933), and "The Thing on the Doorstep" (1937), his point likewise applies to "Shadow over Innsmouth" with its direct reference to the births of fish-like human beings, while a major episode in "The Horror at Red Hook" describes Robert Sudyam's marriage to a less-than-human bride. From this perspective, there is no need for Moore to put sex "back in." I am not saying that the Cthulhu Mythos has a D. H. Lawrence or a Ulysses-like quality; rather, I am pointing out that Lovecraft mentions sexual unions without going into detailed descriptions of the procreative act. That Moore and most critics read this lack of sexual detail as "squeamishness" reveals what may be a popular psychology-informed bias that holds a healthy, twenty-first-century subject to be one familiar and comfortable with human sexuality. I take ethical issue with such a model: sexual "unhealthiness" is impossibly difficult to define especially in a twenty-first century that sees remarkable political and social advances for members of the GLBTQ community; and to argue that repressed, sexual failure--on the one hand "squeamishness," and on the other what is presented as the cult's threatening fetishism--results in monstrosity is itself a politically monstrous claim.

Though there is every reason to conclude from Moore's other work and from his 25,000 Years that what Joshi calls "armchair psychoanalysis" is exactly what is taking place in Neonomicon, this book's self-reflexivity is a reminder that even Moore's own unveiling project is critiqued and satirized as Sax, Brears, and their colleagues investigate Lovecraft-themed sex crime. This is not to say that Neonomicon is any less of a parable of inherent sexual impulse gone awry; instead, it is to argue that such preachiness is tempered by Moore's tendency to undercut the seriousness both of the most didactic and of the most threatening moments in the text. By rehearsing the effects of repression with a deliberately cliched cast that includes a rape-prone sex addict, a sexually frustrated killer, and Cthulhu Mythos orgy enthusiasts, Neonomicon is a lesson about history and sexuality that ultimately satirizes any attempt to figure these things out. Such self-reflexivity only goes so far, however; the comic's last few panels shift in tone as they reveal Brears' pregnancy, ending with a quasi-religious genesis plot that patronizingly undoes the weakness and insecurity associated with the reformed sex addict. Though Neonomicon is peppered with often self-reflexive humor, its perhaps surprisingly conservative sexual gospel teaches that sexual "mistakes" like abstinence or fetishism are evil while procreative sexuality is good and is presented by Moore as an antidote to the worst consequences of repression.

Sexual Violence and Interspecies Intercourse

Neonomicon is one of those books that I have frequently lent out to various friends and acquaintances, both inside and outside of the academy, and invariably it is not the sexual assault but the interspecies intercourse that sparks the first comment. Readers familiar with Moore's oeuvre, however, would not be so surprised by such couplings--ever since his groundbreaking work on Swamp Thing, Moore has emphasized interspecies sexuality. Famously defying the comics code with the "Love and Death" story arc (1984), Moore as an author built much of his career around showing that which previously could not be depicted. It is unsurprising that unveiling is such an important political operation for Moore: he is ideologically invested in projects that reveal and articulate conditions (like repression) that obscure to be evils. Soon after "Love and Death" comes "Rite of Spring" (1985), the infamous "vegetable sex issue," which, as Neil Gaiman puts it, is "an hallucinogenic consummation between a seven-foot high mound of vegetation and an expatriate Balkan [Abby]" (9). As the series progresses, there are many occasions for its artists to draw the Swamp Thing and Abby holding hands and later kissing--focusing on a massive green body enveloping a delicate white one, these illustrations are at once celebrations of interspecies sexuality and theorizations of how male and female fit together (see Fig. 1).

In Moore's many representations of relationships in which one party possesses supernatural qualities, the supernatural one is almost always the male. Though Swamp Thing is frequently praised for its progressive representation of gender, (4) it includes moments of crisis--most notably the story arc that sees Abby imprisoned in Gotham City on charges of indecency stemming from her contact with the Swamp Thing and in which Abby is separated from her lover and is made to suffer for his supernatural qualities. Such distances are much more pronounced in Watchmen's (1986-7) love narrative between the increasingly powerful yet decreasingly human Dr. Manhattan and the frail though assertive Laurie Juspeczyk, and in V for Vendetta's (1982-9) growing romance between V, figured as nearly omniscient and omnipotent for the majority of the text, and a particularly human, vulnerable Evey. Zoe Brigley-Thompson identifies these last two as among the "dubious, dominative relationships" that, "occur regularly in Moore's writing," and that provoke their female parties to "seek a relationship in which the scripts of power are more equal" (78). The hints of such politics are even visible in Moore's early work on the Tharg's Future Shocks strips for 2000 A.D., and a particularly memorable strip depicts a housewife desperately escaping from an extraterrestrial monstrosity that turns out to be the hungry husband whom she is rushing to serve. Though the relationship in Swamp Thing is arguably the only one that can ultimately be called "positive" (Abby can't go wrong by marrying the green earth in an eco-friendly diegesis), all four of these examples feature the hardships and privations of the human female trying to hold up her end of a difficult relationship with an impossibly powerful and not always accessible male entity. Whereas on the one hand, these pairings permit Moore to script panels that feature sensational scenes of interspecies contact, on the other they allow for an allegorical level of commentary in which the supernatural male in some tragic way fails to notice the female's humanity.

Though the Deep One featured in Neonomicon shows far fewer signs of sentience than any of the other supernatural males I name, he is nevertheless positioned as a superhuman male body that is made to take advantage of a vulnerable female one. When, after the ordeal, Perlman remarks that the Deep One must have been human, Brears insists, "but it wasn't a guy" (Neonomicon ch. 4). Though Perlman and Brears go on to guess as to the possibility that the Deep One is a "throwback to before we'd [land animals, by extension the human race] ever come out of the sea," the insistence that this supernatural male is not "a guy" has considerable bearing on the gender politics of sexual violence in Neonomicon. Though Brears means that her attacker wasn't human, her deflection of Perlman's gendered word almost for a moment suspends the gender identity of her attacker. "Wasn't a guy," moreover, can be intoned in one of two ways: "wasn't a guy" or "wasn't a guy." There is, in other words, a way of reading Brear's testimony in which she suggests that her violation occurred not at the hands of an individual man, but at the hands of something male that transcends individual particularity. Brears, like many of Moore's vulnerable women who survive encounters with supernatural men, is presented more broadly as the victim of male power, and also of its storylines and archetypes.

The text makes clear that it is not the Deep One, but the cultists--and perhaps the FBI for its negligence--who are responsible for the rape sequence. After she notes that it has spent days having its way with her, Agent Brears finally learns to avert another assault by manually stimulating the creature. Perhaps insane with fear and privation or perhaps struck by the animal quality of the Deep One's unintelligible sounds and vacant expression, as she works she speaks to the creature that may or may not understand her, "There, that good? I guess this isn't your fault, is it? I bet you don't even understand what's going on. I bet you never heard of H.P. Lovecraft. You probably don't know what a book is. Not too many of you guys left, huh? Is that what it is? Can't find your own kind, so creeps like the Beekses can lure you in" (Neonomicon ch. 3). If we take Brears at her word, then this is a statement of victim solidarity with the Deep One, here presented as "lured" by the Beekses, the couple who appear to lead the cult. Able to ejaculate profusely, as the cultists note, four or five times during each visit to the pool, the Deep One is an embodied force of supernatural maleness that unselfconsciously acts out the violation of the female subject at the behest of these degenerates. So the real perpetrators in this story become the cultists who turn out to be profaning even the Cthulhu Mythos. (5) This is underscored when the creature, after helping Agent Brears escape, proceeds viciously to slaughter those cultists not killed by the police raid that is taking place at exactly the same time. It is thus definitely not "a guy" who harms Brears or anyone else in this graphic novel. Instead, Neonomicon quite dramatically demonstrates the inadequacy of individuation when it comes to the allocation of blame, especially in the context of sexual crime in a repressed culture, which Moore argues is itself to blame for the gross violence of its constituents.

The threatening and disturbing quality of the sexual assault featured in Neonomicon is presented as made possible precisely by the kind of repression that this book's narrative world seethes with. This means that though the Deep One as an embodiment of supernatural maleness fits firmly into Moore's lineage of harmfully powerful male entities, it plays out this role in a darker world. There are, for instance, striking parallels between the actual scripting of the panels in Neonomicon's rape scene and that of similar panels in Swamp Thing that depict thoroughly consensual interspecies contact. As Agent Brears turns away in terror from the horrid thing that swims toward her edge of the pool, it reaches out and in a three-panel sequence the reader sees a blue-green, muscular arm at first seizing a bare ankle and then pulling the entire woman into the pool. In the Swamp Thing issue, "The Sleep of Reason" (1984), the second, third, and fourth panels feature an almost identical sequence in which all the reader sees is the Swamp Thing's hand pulling Abby by her ankle into the water (see Fig. 2). Neonomicon's sequence, of course, contains nudity whereas Swamp Thing's does not, but this is in a sense obviated by the earlier text in that only Abby's legs are depicted in the panels that feature her being pulled under, so that in both comics the effect is that of an inhumanly colored, powerful male hand laying hold of an objectified body rendered as feminine by the artist (compare Figs. 2 and 3).

The difference, however, is that while in Neonomicon an extended rape scene follows, the Swamp Thing's "assault" results only in Abby's frustration with her newly soaked hair: "listen, I'm sick of playing 'Creature from the Black Lagoon'. Can we do something else?" ("The Sleep of Reason" 108). Creature from the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold, 1954) is not only itself already a sort of sexual fantasy scenario, it is also a film that borrows heavily from precisely those Lovecraftian aesthetics surrounding "The Shadow over Innsmouth" and its fish-like monstrosities. The referential feedback loop is unsurprising, and Neonomicon's Deep One looks exactly like Creature's title entity. The reader doesn't need the Swamp Thing's sheepish, though characteristically ponderous, "I ... am ... sorry," to conclude that Abby is neither afraid of nor repulsed by the Swamp Thing's monstrosity. She is playing a role in a classic monster fantasy that in this case adds comic relief while providing one of the series' first glimpses of Abby and the Swamp Thing's easy relationship with one another (without a doubt the "healthiest" out of all the relationships depicted in Swamp Thing and perhaps in all the rest of Moore's oeuvre). Comics writer Jamie Delano praises the most sexual issue of Swamp Thing, "Rite of Spring":
   Words unite with pictures in perfect complement. Love unites with
   horror; animal with vegetable; male with female; the natural with
   the supernatural. For a few brief pages we are given a tantalizing
   glimpse of what it might be like if we were big enough to realize
   all the possibilities of our myopic existences; if we were to find
   the way to truly embrace the mystery and begin "loving the alien."

Delano's articulation of the politically progressive beauty of interspecies sexual contact in Moore is clearly not describing the kind of sex sought out by the cultists in Neonomicon. As Moore makes clear in 25,000 Years, there is good pornography and bad pornography: ways of celebrating and venerating the sexual and ways of shaming and repressing it. The cultists take the wrong path, and act out the process by which, "we are subjected to more frequent and disastrous explosions of the sex drive--ugly eruptions into real life by what should have been a harmless fantasy" (25,000 Years 76). Neonomicon might easily have been scripted instead as a celebration of interspecies sexuality, but that possibility is curtailed by the ubiquity of sexual repression in the diegesis. Agent Brears's contact with a supernatural male force is thus presented as a sort of sexual mistake, an encounter in which everything is wrong because of the failures of a repressed culture and the plotlines and archetypes that it has made available.

Language, Fandom, and the Lameness of Asexuality

Moore's previous direct engagement with Lovecraft and graphic sexuality, "Recognition," a segment in his Yuggoth Cultures and Other Growths (2007), is like Neonomicon largely focused on the consequences of repression. (6) Also illustrated by Jacen Burrows, the centerpiece of "Recognition" is a hallucination of H. P. Lovecraft's mother being penetrated by a figure that, with cloven hoofs and horns, is unmistakably the devil. Presented as a two-page spread in which a bound and gagged woman expresses terror during the act, this interspecies encounter is aesthetically much like that depicted in Neonomicon, though "Recognition" is uncolored and its perpetrator shows much more "intent" with his malign expression. Like many of the panels from Neonomicon's rape sequence, this illustration is presented in a manner that brings pornography to mind with its formal particulars: the viewer beholds the act from a perspective that makes not only the penetration, but also the woman's breasts and legs visible to the viewer. As an earlier instance of Moore's pornographic exploration of Lovecraft's mind, "Recognition" plunges into the excavative psychology of the biographical in order to explain why Lovecraft was the way he was and why he wrote what he wrote. Telling the story of a marriage troubled precisely by sexual repression, "Recognition" depicts Winfield Lovecraft, H. P. Lovecraft's father, in a state of sexual frustration: "A wife who sat there at her bedroom mirror working creams into the skin beneath her cheek-blades, face already pallid, clay-like. She refused to touch him" (n.pag.). The next panels show Winfield pursuing loose women, during which time he presumably contracts the syphilis that leads to the hallucinations. (7)

Just as the sexual politics of Moore's "Recognition" present Winfield's descent into madness as a consequence of his wife's refusal of sexual contact, his From Hell (1989-1996) provides a wedding night sequence in which William Gull--soon to be Jack the Ripper--experiences "failure to achieve satisfying union with his wife" (Miettinen 93). Coitus is interrupted by his wife's insistence "oh NO! William, it's too BIG! William, stop it, you're hurting me. Take it out! Take it OUT!" and Moore demonstrates that repressed frustration belongs in the network of causes behind the Ripper slayings. (8) If anyone in Neonomicon inherits the Ripper type, it is Aldo Sax, who spends the last few panels of The Courtyard gruesomely murdering a neighbor, who, unsurprisingly, is a mentally ill and vulnerable woman. Explaining himself to Agent Brears at the end of Neonomicon, Sax reveals the extent of his repression: "I, I, I just never really liked the thought of, you know, dirty stuff, stuff like that. I-I haven't been with a woman, or a man. I mean, I'm not queer or anything. I just ... I mean, genitals, all that. It's all just. horrible" (Neonomicon ch. 4). Though this absolute lack of sexuality is distinct from Winfield Lovecraft and William Gull's disastrously abridged sexualities, all three examples feature men whose inability to achieve sexual satisfaction results in some aberrant behavior that is harmful to others. In V for Vendetta, the sexually naive leader of England's authoritarian regime becomes convinced of a romantic connection between himself and the supercomputer that coordinates surveillance for the dystopia he manages. At one point, he is depicted kissing a monitor and, at another, grunting, sighing, and declaring his love for the computer while the reader only sees the shocked expressions of two nearby guards (V 229, 196). This man's misfiring sexuality would be comical were he not the head of an oppressive state shown to harm countless thousands in V. Moore seems to insist that there exists a link between sexual "unhealthiness" and villainous potential, arguing that the absence of a healthy, generative sexuality equates to a proclivity for evil.

There is also a softer level of repression possible in Moore's theory of sexuality--or, more accurately, sexual repression in Moore exists along a spectrum that ranges from the serial killers and state oppressors to harmless but individually pathetic nerds. In some cases, the consequence of this is a perhaps unfortunate overlap with existing and oppressive modes of describing fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. As early as in Swamp Thing, Moore had crafted a devoted Cthulhu fan as a minor character associated with magical double-dealer John Constantine, and this early exploration/exploitation of the fan archetype on the comics page shows Moore playing with those possible intersections between Lovecraft and sexuality that would later inform "Recognition" and Neonomicon. Benjamin is the caricatured nerd par excellence with his sweater-vest, spectacles, and overweight physique, first appearing in the series as he welcomes Constantine to his bedroom with, "I'm sorry abah abah about all the muh-mess. I duh-don't let muh-mother come in here to cuh-clean" ("Growth Patterns" 55). A stuttering adult who lives in a cluttered, dark room that displays two posters, one of tentacles with "Lovecraft" spelled out on it and the other featuring what appears to be a kneeling, partially nude woman, Benjamin inhabits a position of, if not repressed, then at least limited, sexuality in which his mother and privately enjoyed pinups are the only women in his life. Benjamin soon delivers the information that Constantine has come all of this way for: "He's cuh-coming back. Great Chu-Cthulhu who suh-sleeps at R'lyeh ... just like in the buh-books of H.P. Luh-Lovecraft. Everyone thuh-thinks Lovecraft muh-made Cthulhu up ... Buh-but I know" ("Growth Patterns" 55, original ellipses). This is an articulation of the same notion that Lovecraft "discovered" rather than created the Cthulhu Mythos that comes from Agent Brears in Neonomicon, and Constantine takes Benjamin's information very seriously.

This is not to say that Benjamin is somehow vindicated by the text--a minor character at best, he falls off of the page when the lengthy arc he is part of reaches its climax, causing him to number neither among the dead nor among the victors. In addition to being a caricature of the nerdy, Benjamin's fandom is an early instantiation of Moore's conception of the Cthulhu Mythos as a particular language through which to classify and express the supernatural. When he first meets the Swamp Thing in a 1986 issue, he bursts out excitedly, "It's luh, it's luh, it's like one of the spawn of Shub-Niggurath that Luh Luh Lovecraft mentioned ("Ghost Dance" 71). Since the ultimate solution to the world-threatening crisis that requires Benjamin's expertise actually relates only indirectly to the Cthulhu Mythos, the Lovecraft-language that he speaks is presented as only one among many possible modes of understanding. The Mythos figures in much the same way in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a series exploring an intertextual world that occasionally depicts Lovecraft-inspired creatures or employs Lovecraft-derived terminology. One among many examples occurs in "Allan and the Sundered Veil," the canonical prose piece that concludes the first compiled volume of League. An attacking monster is classifiable according to multiple, literature-derived systems of naming: "They're Morlocks, known to others as Mi-Go, or as abominable snowmen" (n. pag.). (9) Likewise, journeys to Antarctica featured in a recent installment of League, Nemo: Heart of Ice (2013), involve encounters with the ancient structures and mad cultists of At the Mountains of Madness (1936).

In Neonomicon and elsewhere in Moore's oeuvre, it is through engagement in fan practices that characters navigate a Lovecraftian world. Agent Brears, by virtue of acting as mouthpiece for Moore's clarifications of Lovecraftian plot points and conventions, becomes a highly knowledgeable fan in her own right. She needs Lovecraft trivia in order to efficiently combat the sex cult, whose members are rendered as caricatures of fandom, though not the sort of fandom that structures Benjamin's inept sexuality. In a sense, the cultists only hide behind the facade of the nerdy, and Agent Lamper--who incidentally performs a mainstream, heterosexual masculinity--initially falls for it: "Uh ... this isn't a sex boutique. This is some kind of new-age role-playing thing" (Neonomicon ch.2). Working the desk is an overweight, long-haired nerd named Charley who completes the illusion and turns out to be the cult's only member who is not part of a couple. As the investigators access the back room, which is equipped with the kinds of merchandise that later occasion one of the cultists to request that she be passed a "strap-a-thoggua," the material culture of fandom blends with the sublimity of erotic satire. A room full of Lovecraft-themed dildos, in other words, is a joke on two levels, the first of which relies on the simple absurdity of Benjamin-like social invalids who turn out to have such outrageous sex lives, and the second of which I contend is Moore's self-reflexive mimicry of his own, repression-unveiling project. Not only is the text filled with sexual puns, but Johnny Carcosa displays a "cockring from Innsmouth," and a diegetic rock band called the Ulthar Cats sings, "I want my thing on your doorstep, my haunter in your dark" (Neonomicon ch.1). These and many more jokes aimed at readers who are already Lovecraft fans partially offset more threatening but still ridiculous articulations, such as Charley's, "time to get down with Dagon," uttered just prior to the first moment of sexual assault on Brears. This is why I suggest that it is only a "too serious" reader who takes offense at Neonomicon's disparagement of Cthulhu Mythos fan culture, performed as it is with such self-reflexive over-the-topness. The combination of Lovecraft and sexuality is not always linked with sexual violence, and in fact at times makes the reader laugh.

I must clarify that while such moments of humor mitigate the impact of the negative portrayal of fans, they do not lessen the negative consequences of the repression visible everywhere in this diegesis. The room full of Lovecraft-themed dildos is for all of its humor a sad and dangerous site in the story, and Moore uses it to argue that a repressed culture gives rise to misdirected sexual impulses and that such a culture forces the evidence of its fantasies into its back rooms: "just so long as pornographic culture could be kept indoors, a private, addictive, and increasingly expensive vice, it remained a very lucrative commodity" (25,000 Years 61). Whereas H. P. Lovecraft's creations are not particularly visible in the world of mainstream pornography, they are essential foundations for the aesthetics visible in a wide variety of horror and science fiction titles that themselves make use of the exploitive plotlines that lead precisely to the sorts of endings in which loose women are subjected to supernatural harm, frequently rendered as explicitly sexual. On a more minute level, such a critique might apply to the kinds of fantasies that inheritors of the Cthulhu Mythos have put to screen and paper. Take, for instance, Dagon (Stuart Gordon, 2001), a film that, despite its name, is primarily inspired by Lovecraft's "The Shadow over Innsmouth" and features many scenes involving nudity and interspecies sexual violence. Dagon concludes with a spectacular sequence that would be exactly like the ending of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Steven Spielberg, 1984) were it not for the full nudity of the blood-drenched female lead being lowered to her death. Dagon is only one recent example in a well-established trend of B movies that include the Evil Dead trilogy (Sam Raimi, 1981, 1987, 1991), From Beyond (Stuart Gordon, 1986), The Unnamable I & II (Jean-Paul Ouellette, 1988, 1992), the Re-Animator trilogy (Stuart Gordon, 1985, 1991, 2003) and a long line of similar films. The most egregious example must be the animate, disembodied penis that scurries across the screen at the end of Re-Animator III: Beyond Re-Animator (2003) in a way that brings to mind that bit from Neonomicon I began with, about Lovecraft's monsters being like, "a lot of cocks and pussies crawling round" (Neonomicon, ch 3). Don G. Smith attributes sexual infusions into Lovecraft cinema to a general culture in the 1980s and early 90s that involved catering to the baser impulses of audiences: "popular culture at the time accounts for the film [Re-Animator] being so un-Lovecraftian in its reliance on gore and sex.... The incidence of both graphic and suggested sex had grown precipitously throughout this time period as well" (75, ellipses added). Lovecraft himself may not have detailed the sexual, but long before Neonomicon, authors of reworkings, fan texts, and filmic adaptations have been injecting the Cthulhu Mythos with the kinds of sexual plotlines that dominate and arguably define the horror genre or genres. In a sense, it is the production of texts like Dagon or Re-Animator that is being satirized in Neonomicon's absurd but dangerous sex cult--the cultists sully even the Cthulhu Mythos by focusing their fantasies through its lenses, and the obsessive insertion of the sexual into the Lovecraftian becomes the recourse of characters rendered as lunatics and misfits.

During the police raid that, along with the Deep One's retributive violence, leaves all of them dead, the cultists perhaps gratuitously reveal previously unmentioned racist attitudes as if to reconfirm their own rottenness. There is, I think, an overly deliberate attempt to link these cultists back to Aldo Sax; when the first cultist met by the SWAT team shouts, "Aaaa! You fucking Zionists, you fucking Jews" (Neonomicon ch. 4), Moore is not only generally associating his cultists with extremist groups the world around, he is also briefly reentering the space already explored in Sax's murderous breakdown. Racism, in Moore, comes before a fall and, in Neonomicon, it is explicitly linked to the kind of sexual repression that results in sexual violence. This link is made even more explicit when Agent Brears describes Lovecraft's oeuvre: "plenty of racism, no fucking" (Neonomicon ch. 2). Recall that this story begins with Sax undercover in Red Hook, and is recounted in a narration meant to evoke the racialism that pervaded the Lovecraft story set in that same Brooklyn neighborhood. Sax's offensive narration is in the first person, however, meaning that unlike in "The Horror in Red Hook," the racism is localized on a troubled character rather than being a fact of the diegesis. After a combination of a fictitious variant of the hallucinogenic substance DMT and the whispered speech of the Old Ones, Sax experiences a psychedelic break from reality and embarks upon his serial killing career. A useful model for understanding Sax's insanity is provided in an issue of Swamp Thing titled "Windfall" (1985), in which Chester, a drug dealer, discovers a Swamp Thinggrown tuber that possesses hallucinogenic properties. It is cut into more than one piece, and a two-part parable ensues: a dying woman with a pure conscience has a self-actualizing experience whereas an uncouth bully is driven to his death by horrifying visions. After learning of both incidents, Chester remarks, "maybe that stuff just brings out what's in a person already.... You eat it, an' it tells you whether you're a bad person or a good person" ("Windfall" 25). Sax's madness, then, might be precisely the kind of bad trip that in Moore is triggered by the intolerance already present in the mind, and it is as if the dual exposure to drug and Mythos breaks down Sax's ability to keep repressed urges in check. Again, the axiom here is, "plenty of racism, no fucking," and Sax lives out this characterization of Lovecraft's oeuvre, making him the character in Neonomicon who is arguably closest to being a depiction of Lovecraft himself. Sax is also in a way like Benjamin from Swamp Thing: for different reasons each is shut off from the kind of sexual contact that in Moore's politics is natural and beneficial. Though neither a fan nor a killer, Lovecraft, as Moore presents him nevertheless shares in this network of labels denoting social awkwardness, and like the virginal nerd or non-desiring detective, finds himself displacing what otherwise would be sexual energy into what Moore identifies as less healthy channels.

Conclusion: A Playfully Repressive Hypothesis

Because of its rape sequence, interspecies contact, and general reliance on shocking imagery, Neonomicon tends to be characterized as the "darkest" of Moore's works to date--quite a label considering the gruesome sexuality of From Hell. Though Moore himself calls Neonomicon the "most unpleasant thing that I have ever written" (Thill), there is a sense in which his investment in such denouncements of the text--identified by Comer and Sommers as instances of the "typically Moore-ian fashion [in which] he undercuts his own work almost immediately" (8)--have less to do with actual opprobrium than they do with an authorial metacommentary on shock value. In his introduction to a 2006 edition of John Coulthart's work, The Haunter of the Dark and other Grotesque Visions (1995), Moore begins by hyperbolically describing Coulthart's Lovecraft fandom and then phrases the importance of Haunter in as negative terms as possible:

Out on midnight walks, standing in one spot for too long, ends up with constellations printed on his cheeks and forehead. Pallor, though, is not enough. He needed some externalized display of illness, some tuberculotic flourish. Finally, he siphons off the inner toxins using a rapidograph as catheter, blots up the nightmare seepage onto Bristol board, septic chromatograms that are at first inchoate, without form. Lovecraft provides an alphabet, a hideous vocabulary within which the artist can contain these gorgeous, sinister transmissions.... All he needs now is the showpiece, the black seal on his career thus far, the grimoire, the black book, this juju totem-stake erected in the slopsands at the century's edge. ("Introduction" 1)

Though these dark metaphors predate the publication of Neonomicon by five years, they praise Haunter in a way that might as well apply to Neonomicon. This connection does not require us to accept Moore's nonlinear view of time--doing Lovecraft "right" in Moore's estimation has always been contingent on grimy content. The creative process of rewriting Lovecraft, in other words, is one in which something foul that is dredged up from the deepest recesses of the repressed consciousness can actually figure as a crowning achievement on a literary register. The lesson is that we must read Moore according to this self-aware double-speak that is otherwise too readily taken at face value by those unfamiliar either with Moore's sexual philosophy or with his history of adapting and responding to Lovecraft.

This kind of reading casts important light on the at best bizarre and at worst insensitive play of comedic one-liners and sexual puns surrounding what otherwise are horrific depictions of nonconsensual sex. These jokes do not somehow lessen the enormity of what is going on, but they make clear to the reader that Neonomicon's politics are aware of their own limitations. There is, in other words, a self-reflexive calling into question of the project of unveiling repression, and this occurs on the level of humor and hyperbole. As the Deep One penetrates Brears, the ensuing scene of an FBI planning session begins in a way that at first superimposes text from the session over illustrations of the rape. Various investigative voices buzz,

"When he was a child, his mentally unstable mother dressed him as a little girl, by all accounts."

"Raised by two prudish aunts, his marriage didn't last long."

"Scurrilous rumors indicated that he didn't take his clothes off when his wife and him made love. It all stayed on, even the gloves."

"Mind you, who knows what making love meant to a man like that?"

"Apparently, the strongest gesture of affection he could manage was in touching his own fingertip to hers and grunting softly, once." (Neonomicon ch. 3)

Though these bits of evidence in the trial to prove Lovecraft asexual doubtless do just that, there is also a sense of humor and hyperbole to this list, which builds to an absurd crescendo with the gesture of affection. Is this scene, as appears to be the case at first glance, explaining what Lovecraft's work was really about? Even though some of these statements contain information derived from actual research into Lovecraft's letters and biography, their building cacophony makes this sound more like gossip than scholarship or journalism. There are no literary critics, no psychologists, and no writers in the room when these facts are presented, and this moment takes the unveiling of sexual repression to such a level that this very unveiling process is itself satirized. Are we, as readers, really to believe that the FBI agents act as direct mouthpieces for Moore's sexual politics in this scene? Or are we more inclined to consider the absurdity of these serious investigators, crammed into a basement deliberately drawn to appear like the makeshift headquarters of HBO's The Wire (10) as they pore over documents to find out exactly who did or didn't fuck whom?

It is thus unsurprising that the final scenes of the graphic novel feature only Sax and Brears, the former a mental patient who is naturally no longer an agent and the latter on a lengthy leave of absence underscored by her lack of response to an enquiring message from Perlman. No longer investigators, the two can communicate in the language of the Old Ones and have found common ground in their adherence to a model of creation built upon the Cthulhu Mythos: "It's a different view of time, isn't it? It doesn't distinguish between past, present and future ... Maybe Lovecraft's whole Mythos refers to events in our future ... Human beings aren't where they think they are, they aren't even what they think they are" (Neonomicon ch. 4). It is precisely when she comes upon what Moore presents as a true understanding of the Mythos that the sexual cliche--the rape-prone sex addict--is freed from the plotlines that bound her to punishment. Declaring that, "for the first time I've got no problems with my self-esteem," Brears is actualized by Neonomicon's ending as she reveals herself to have been impregnated by the Deep One, or more generally by the Cthulhu Mythos itself. On one level, this is a disturbing endorsement of the positive long-term effects of the displacing shock occasioned by rape, but on another, it is unsurprising coming from such a venerator of the mother goddess. (11) Sax, in fact, refers to Brears as a "goddess" upon hearing of her pregnancy, and Moore uses the pun, "A nun see Asian merry"--Annunciation Mary--to point out the new type that Brears takes on by the end of the text. Stating that the "Great Old Ones are not even born yet," and that, "the strange aeons start flowing from between my thighs," before suggesting that it is in fact Cthulhu himself that she will give birth to, Brears ends this graphic novel as the force that perhaps paradoxically spawns the very monstrosity that violates her (Neonomicon ch. 4). (12)

Considering Donald Burleson's notion of the possible "cosmic rape" that takes place in Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" (1929), Sederholm makes clear that Lavinia Whateley is "a mother, the (presumably) willing participant of a terrible union meant to trigger broad human destruction" (13). There is a sense in which Moore is using precisely this trope when Brears announces her pregnancy, but the implication is instead a positive one: the world to be replaced is a world currently dominated by people like the cultists or the investigators, all trapped by sexual repression. If this "darkest" of Moore's works disgusts us with the reality of repression, then the unreal remaking of the world promised by Brears becomes a sort of social change vision underscored by moments in Chapter 1 in which rioters mix references to the Mythos with calls for racial and class equality. Neonomicon's ending becomes a commentary about the Cthulhu Mythos' beginning. In Moore's universe, Lovecraft's oeuvre is of woman born, and it is the sexually generative that is made to triumph over the sexual abstinence or fetishistic impotence he suggests issue from the world of repression.

This is, in a sense, a refinement of the ending of "Recognition" in which the screams of the sexually frustrated Winfield Lovecraft both give birth to a starry sky, rendered by Jacen Burrows with constellations made to appear like Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones, and confirm the sexual limitations that Moore contends he imparted upon his son. The last panels of "Recognition" wonder, had Lovecraft, "managed to decrypt the bas-reliefs raised in the R'lyeh of his mind ... would he have screamed his father's name?" ("Recognition" n. pag.) and argue for an Oedipal Lovecraft: a Lovecraft whose inherited sexual confusion is transmitted through the Cthulhu Mythos. Again, Moore seems to echo Nelson's reading for which Lovecraft's sexual confusion begins with the death of his father and, together with early childhood reading on the natures of sexually transmitted diseases, provides a psychological foundation for the sort of monstrosity that later in Lovecraft's fiction would contain or in another sense displace the sexual (117). Violated in a hallucinatory sequence by the devil, Lovecraft's mother gives birth to the writer of Weird Tales in "Recognition" just as Neonomicon's Brears promises to usher in a new age of the Old Ones with her divine, motherly potential. Neonomicon's ending is wrested away from the FBI's crude investigation and is placed firmly in the hands of a temporally nonlinear genesis plot for which the answer to sexual repression is precisely sexual reproduction. Moore's politics aren't about reveling in rape sequences or mocking of virginal fat men. Neonomicon critiques the sexual investigation that it features, and in the process indicts a series of misogynistic plotlines and archetypes that both give rise to and arise from cultures of repression. Despite their oppressive qualities, such plotlines and archetypes turn out to be fertile in Moore's imagination, and Neonomicon shows them giving birth to a set of new possibilities that are meant to actualize Lovecraft by moving beyond his repression. The fetishism of the cult and the abstention of the misfit are consequences of repression in Neonomicon and elsewhere in Moore's work, and it is precisely the sexually generative that is presented as the ultimate solution to both these problems and to the harmful prying of the FBI. Such a conclusion holds remarkably traditional gender politics as its core: a non-reproductive sexuality has something wrong with it in Moore's estimation, and Neonomicon corrects these "flaws" by finding fertile ground even in the most exploitively misogynistic plotlines available in the western world. That such rape-induced, compulsory motherhood might itself be a greater threat to sexual freedom than what Moore presents as the sexually limited, dangerously male misfit, does not appear of relevance in Neonomicon. There is thus an essentialist gender politic that courses through Neonomicon, which satirizes sexual perversion and the investigation thereof only to conclude that both past and future are guaranteed by the heterosexual act of reproduction.


(1.) Neonomicon lacks page numbers.

(2.) Houellebecq's well-titled H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life makes a set of claims broadly recognizable as poststructural in which Lovecraft's failure to dwell on sex and money like nearly all other authors is in fact a form of resistance to a society governed by those two pursuits. The only other text that I am aware of that "defends" Lovecraft's sexuality is "Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Sex: Or the Sex Life of a Gentleman" by R. Alain Everts. This peculiar essay takes as its occasion the defense of Lovecraft from accusations of asexuality and goes so far as to draw on unpublished documents written by Lovecraft's wife in order to prove that at least for the brief duration of their marriage, the Lovecrafts "were able to sustain satisfying sexual relations" (Everts). Everts attributes Lovecraft's avoidance of the topic to gentlemanly modesty. S.T. Joshi, acting as Lovecraft's biographer, draws on other writings of Everts to consider the possibility of a love affair prior to Lovecraft's marriage to Sonia Greene (128-30).

(3.) I do not mean to suggest that Joshi and Levy are in any way to "blame" for this emphasis on inability, or perhaps more fairly lack of interest, which is supported by biographical details often gleaned from Lovecraft's own letters. I mean instead to indicate a critical commonplace that has even the most accomplished readers of Lovecraft considering his sexuality in terms of failure. The repressed Lovecraft as visible in Moore is in fact just one among many such impressions of the author of the Cthulhu tales.

(4.) Brian Johnson, for instance, calls it an "eco-feminist love story," built upon "a narrative framework that is profoundly shaped by Moore's feminism" (17). Zoe Bridgley-Thompson praises the series on the level of its refusal to enter into the conventions of pornography (80). Swamp Thing, moreover, presents a non-penetrative sexual relationship.

(5.) It may be possible to read this as a sort of exonerating displacement that suggests that the rape is perpetrated for supernatural or delusional reasons; in other words, anything but misogyny. Such a reading would keep with what Christine Ferguson has done with From Hell (1989-96), in which, she argues, the text's privileged place for partly supernatural and partly psychological explanations of the killings allows for some of the blame to be removed from systems of male power (91).

(6.) Since I began writing this article, Moore has come out with two issues of a new series entitled Providence (2015) that is set in Lovecraft's early twentieth century and features characters drawn directly from the pages of canonical Cthulhu Mythos stories and from those of authors--like R. W. Chambers or Robert Bloch--linked to Lovecraft either as predecessors or inheritors. Though there is relatively little on human-monster sexuality in these first two issues aside from a somewhat suggestive discussion of Jungian theory and depiction of a feminine monstrosity tentatively identified as Lilith, one of the alternate covers of the as-yet-unreleased third issue features an Innsmouth-style fish/woman hybrid and is actually listed on the Avatar Press release schedule as "Women of HPL." This discussion, in other words, is an ongoing one, and in the coming months Moore's readers may be exposed to the next chapter in his treatment of Lovecraft and sexuality.

(7.) Steven J. Mariconda attributes Winfield Lovecraft's presence in Lovecraft criticism to Kenneth W. Faig, and also notes a piece discussing him by Joseph McInnis. Mariconda himself asks questions in his H.P. Lovecraft: Art, Artifact, and Reality that are very similar to the ones asked by Moore in "Recognition." Mariconda writes "was the son--as we have been conditioned to believe--completely insulated from his father's madness? Or did Lovecraft witness his father's terrible outbursts? The latter now appears to be possible--a conclusion which has a profound effect upon our understanding of Howard Phillips Lovecraft" (138).

(8.) The quotation is drawn from From Hell, Chapter 2 (1). Suggesting that the Ripper was sexually frustrated is not, of course, an original claim. Between this sequence and that between Winfield and his wife in "Recognition," there is a disturbing sense in which it is the female who indirectly instigates sexual violence, though I would argue that Moore's politics refuse this conclusion by making clear that the missteps of these marriages exist in relation to a repressed culture that poisons all.

(9.) This line is in fact spoken by Randolph Carter in a diegesis that freely mixes existing literary characters as it generates plotlines (Carter, in this case, is stated to be Allan Quartermain's American descendent, and the two meet while time travelling).

(10.) Drawing on the interview with Gieben, Murray and Corstorphine first note Moore's desire to emulate aspects of the show, and then explain the similarities between the show's sense of suspense and the "claustrophobic" qualities of Neonomicon's page composition (185). The comparison is particularly relevant for the present discussion in light of The Wire's emphasis on the corruption and dishonesty that goes into investigative police work.

(11.) I am pointing to claims about early pornography as veneration of the maternal in 25,000 Years, to the goddess-superheroine Promethea (1999-2005) who is the major exception to Moore's male entity to female human archetypal match, to the enshrinement of the maternal in The Birth Caul (1995, 1999), and to the kinds of storylines that even in Swamp Thing occasionally feature superhuman feminine forces fighting back against masculine invasion.

(12.) Such claims, of course, avoid a series of perhaps unkind readings in which Brears is to varying degrees insane and unreliable. Nelson makes clear that the Lovecraftian protagonist ends "either mad (and, conventionally, writing from an asylum) or is engulfed and metamorphosing into an alien creature himself' (105). Could it be that Brears is by the end of Neonomicon just as unreliable as Sax is after The Courtyard? One or two details might allow for an argument in which Brears--though indeed violated--is violated not by a supernatural being but by a person and that the text reflects her descent into madness finally confirmed by her sympathetic encounter with Sax in which the two are able to communicate in the Lovecraftian language of insanity. That said, the text's politics, in such a reading, remain very much the same insofar as Brears and even Sax become the tragically misled victims of a repressive culture's pervasive sexual crime.

Works Cited

Brigley-Thompson, Zoe. "Theorizing Sexual Domination in From Hell and Lost Girls: Jack the Ripper versus Wonderlands of Desire." Sexual Ideology in the Works of Alan Moore. Ed. Todd A. Comer and Joseph Michael Sommers. Jefferson, MO: McFarland, 2012.

Comer, Todd A. and Joseph Michael Sommers. "Introduction: The Polarizing of Alan Moore's Sexual Politics." Sexual Ideology in the Works of Alan Moore. Ed. Todd A. Comer and Joseph Michael Sommers. Jefferson, MO: McFarland, 2012.

Delano, Jamie. "Introduction." Swamp Thing: Love and Death. Alan Moore and Stephen Bissette. New York: DC Comics, 1990.

Di Liddo, Annalisa. "Afterword: Disgust with the Revolution." Sexual Ideology in the Works of Alan Moore. Ed. Todd A. Comer and Joseph Michael Sommers. Jefferson, MO: McFarland, 2012.

Everts, R. Alain. "Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Sex: or The Sex Life of a Gentleman." Nyctalops, 2:2 (1974), 19.

Gaiman, Neil. "Love and Death: Overture." Swamp Thing: Love and Death. Alan Moore and Stephen Bissette. New York: DC Comics, 1990.

Houellebecq, Michel. H.P. Lovecraft, Against the World, Against Life. Trans. Dorna Khazeni. San Francisco: Believer Books, 2005.

Johnson, Brian. "Libidinal Ecologies: Eroticism and Environmentalism in Swamp Thing." Sexual Ideology in the Works of Alan Moore. Ed. Todd A. Comer and Joseph Michael Sommers. Jefferson, MO: McFarland, 2012.

Joshi, S.T. A Dreamer and a Visionary: H. P. Lovecraft in his Time. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2001.

Levy, Maurice. Lovecraft: A Study in the Fantastic. Trans. S. T. Joshi. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1988.

Mariconda, Steven. H.P. Lovecraft: Art, Artifact, and Reality. New York: Hippocampus Press, 2013.

Miettinen, Mervi. "'Do you understand how I have loved you?' Terrible Loves and Divine Visions in From Hell." Sexual Ideology in the Works of Alan Moore. Ed. Todd A. Comer and Joseph Michael Sommers. Jefferson, MO: McFarland, 2012.

Moore, Alan. 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom. New York: Abrams, 2012.

--. "Introduction." The Haunter of the Dark and other Grotesque Visions. John Coulthart. Telford, UK: Creation Oneiros, 2006.

Moore, Alan, and David Lloyd. V for Vendetta. New York: DC Comics, 1989.

Moore, Alan and Eddie Campbell. From Hell. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf, 1999.

Moore, Alan and Jacen Burrows. Neonomicon. Rantoul, IL: Avatar, 2011. n. pag.

--. "Recognition." Yuggoth Cultures and other Strange Growths. Rantoul, IL: Avatar, 2007.

Moore, Alan and Kevin O'Neill. Nemo: Heart of Ice. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf, 2013.

--. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. La Jolla, CA: America's Best Comics, 1999. Inclues "Allan and the Sundered Veil."

Moore, Alan, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben. Saga of the Swamp Thing. Vol. 1. New York: DC Comics, 1987. Includes "The Sleep of Reason" (1984).

--. Saga of the Swamp Thing. Vol. 2. New York: DC Comics, 1990. Includes "Love and Death" (1984) and "Rite of Spring" (1985).

--. Saga of the Swamp Thing. Vol. 3. New York: DC Comics, 2000. Includes "Growth Patterns" (1985).

--. Saga of the Swamp Thing. Vol. 4. New York: DC Comics, 2001. Includes "Windfall" (1985) and "Ghost Dance" (1986).

Murray, Chris and Kevin Corstorphine. "Co(s)mic Horror." New Critical Essays on H.P. Lovecraft. Ed. David Simmons. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013.

Nelson, Victoria. The Secret Life of Puppets. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2001.

Smith, Don G. H.P. Lovecraft in Popular Culture. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

Caption: Fig 1. The Swamp Thing and Abby kiss and embrace in "Rite of Spring's" (1985) final panel. Illustrated by Steve Bisette and John Totleben. Image used courtesy of DC

Caption: Figs. 2 and 3. Swamp Thing Grabs Abby / The Deep One Takes Hold of Agent Brears. Fig 2. Illustrated by Steve Bisette and John Totleben. Courtesy of DC Comics. Fig 3. Illustrated by Jacen Burrows. Images used courtesy of Avatar.
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Author:Kozaczka, Adam
Publication:Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 22, 2015
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