Monday, November 19, 2012


Written by Alan Moore
Art by Jacen Burrows

Having never read any HP Lovecraft, I'm left wondering just why he has such a lasting influence on comics writers and artists.  I'd rank him up there with Nikola Tesla as having almost become a comic book genre unto himself.

Neonomicon is Alan Moore's love letter to Lovecraft.  This edition contains two separate stories - the comics adaptation of Moore's prose story The Courtyard (adapted by Antony Johnston), and the four-issue Neonomicon sequel mini-series that Moore wrote for Avatar.  Both stories are illustrated by Jacen Burrows.

In The Courtyard, a racist FBI agent with a rare ability to find connections between disparate threads of cases, becomes interested in a new drug called Aklo.  Users of this drug exhibit the use of a strange language similar to speaking in tongues, and have a tendency to chop up people around them.  The Courtyard is a little trippy, but also kind of grounded in things.  It introduces the character of Johnny Carcosa, a dealer who keeps the lower half of his face hidden behind a silk handkerchief, and who hangs out in a nightclub called the Club Zothique.

In Neonomicon, some time has passed since the events of The Courtyard.  It's not clear how much time, but things feel very different.  Cities are protected by large domes, but there is no explanation for it.  Two new FBI agents, Brears and Lamper, begin to look in to murders that appear to be connected to the same club.  They try to apprehend Carcosa, but he escapes (the second time, in a very cool, very Alan Moore scene).  The two agents catch on to the recurring HP Lovecraft theme in everything that is going on, and travel to Salem to continue their investigation.

This is where things start to get really weird, as the two agents are inducted into a cult that uses sex and orgone energy to attract a merman creature.  This part of the story is pretty explicit, and I can understand why there was some controversy surrounding this book when it got its start.

I enjoyed reading both stories in this book.  I know that Moore has his detractors, and personally, I don't see the appeal of Lovecraft, but I did enjoy the way this story was structured.  He plays around a little with people's perceptions of the world, and the scene where Carcosa makes his escape is incredible.  Burrows is a talented artist who has a good handle on the range of human expressions, but can also graft those same emotions onto a merman creature thing.  This is a good read, but it's not a book you'd leave lying around the house.

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