Neonomicon 1

Neonomicon #1 cover by Jacen Burrows
Neonomicon #1 cover by Jacen Burrows

Below are annotations for Neonomicon, #1 “At the Mansions of Madness” (25 pages, July 2010)
Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Jacen Burrows, Based on works of H.P. Lovecraft

>Go to Moore Lovecraft annotations index

Note: Some of this stuff is obvious. If there’s anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.

WARNING: SPOILERS

General: This issue introduces FBI Agents Merril Brears and Gordon Lamper, who are following on Aldo Sax’s investigations from The Courtyard. Brears and Lamper interview Sax, now imprisoned at Quantico. FBI agents then travel to Red Hook, Brooklyn, where they raid Club Zothique, then the Court Street building where Johnny Carcosa lives.

Cover

  • The cover depicts the raid on the Johnny Carcosa’s building on Court Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The raid takes place beginning on Page 20 below.
  • The building is the setting for much of The Courtyard #2.

Page 1

panel 1

  • The bookend for Neonomicon as a whole, this amorphous, red-litten image brings to mind deep sea vents or a photograph of a nebula in deep space; the accompanying text, however, brings to mind Lovecraft’s famous couplet from The Call of Cthulhu: “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
  • The page (artwork and text) is repeated on the last page of Neonomicon #4. This is alluded to in the initial text: “It’s the end and the beginning.”
  • The image is actually the inside of a womb; the womb belongs to Agent Merril Brears who, by the end of Neonomicon is pregnant from the Deep One. In the lower right of the page, the umbilical cord is visible.
  • “He’s beneath the waters” refers to both the waters in which the Deep Ones dwell, and the “water” of the amniotic fluid (as in a pregnant woman’s “water breaking.”)
  • This page utilizes a comics technique called a bleed. A bleed is an image with no panel border; the image extends to the edge of the page. The bleed is often used to establish a setting, though in this case it is employed to make the womb appear expansive, space-like. This may invoke the differences in space perception between humans and Cthulu.
  • The text is broken into four caption boxes, foreshadowing the pattern of each page being broken into four horizontal panels, used throughout Neonomicon, beginning on page 3.

Page 2

panel 1

  • This page introduces the characters Merrill Brears (on right and in rear view mirror) and Gordon Lamper (showing ID at guard booth.)
  • The title of this chapter “At the Mansions of Madness” references the title of Lovecraft’s novel At the Mountains of Madness, as well as the recurring tendency for some of Lovecraft’s characters to end up in sanitariums after witnessing the truths of the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • On the right, you can just make out the cut-off sign for “Haven Secure Psychiatric Institute.”
  • In contrast to Page 1, this page is bordered. The border and the car interior create a more contained, even claustrophobic space. The reader has moved from the expansive Cthulu space of P1 to the cramped limited puny world of humans.
  • Though the panel is a full page, it contains rectangular “panels” similar to the rectangles that will frame most of the story: the windshield, and visible in the rear-view mirror. Overall, the page-size panel is roughly visually divided into four rectangles similar to the panel layout of subsequent pages: car interior ceiling, windshield, car dashboard, and below-dashboard area. Watch AllyourbasicGerard’s videos (which informed these annotations) exploring the framing devices employed by Moore and Burrows.
  • The black panel gutters/borders interact with the black shadowed areas (for example the trees on the middle left) to create areas where the panel border is missing. This creates a situation where the gutters kind of bleed into the panels. More on this below – see P11.
  • The word balloon is broken into four ovals, again foreshadowing the four horizontal panel layout.
  • Lamper’s gaze is intriguing. She is looking to her right, away from Brears, but the reader sees her reflected in the rear-view mirror, effectively pointing to her left, drawing the reader’s gaze toward Brears.

Page 3

panel 1

  • This page introduces the layout scheme of each page containing four horizontal panels stacked on top of each other. With limited exceptions this format is employed throughout Neonomicon. This gives an almost cinematic feel, the eyes – and often the characters – typically drawn toward the center of each panel. It is an effective trick of perspective, framing the reader’s attention. It is a sideways version of the vertical rhythm employed in The Courtyard. The edges of the gutter are hand-drawn, slightly irregular, this helps them to, in some ways interact with the narrative – see for example P17,p4 below.

panel 2

  • “Sax” is the first mention of Aldo Sax, the protagonist from The Courtyard. Aldo Sax was an FBI agent investigating a series of gruesome murders, before becoming a gruesome murderer himself.
  • “Perlman” refers to Carl Perlman, Sax’s handler in The Courtyard.

panel 3

  • “You can’t fake these new ID cards” appears to be part of establishing a slightly futuristic alternate present. The Courtyard, published initially in 1994, takes place in 2004 (according to The Courtyard #1, P3,p1.) The 2004 Courtyard setting looks and feels fairly present-day, but that story does feature a few future tech devices including a fax phone booth, nano-cam, and a mention of the “Harlem Dome.” There’s no year stated explicitly in Neonomicon, but the dialogue refers to two years (P8,p2) after 2004 (P7,p3.) Alan Moore script excerpts published in Neonomicon Hornbook state that the story takes place in late summer 2006, two years after Courtyard. Neonomicon also has several allusions to minor technological advances, including a couple of city-cover domes (first shown on P9,p4 below.)
  • “He’s got a nine” refers to a TEC-9 gun.
Victim carved into
Victim carved into “tulip” from The Courtyard #1, P8 detail. Art by Jacen Burrows

panel 4

  • Building “looks 1920s, 1930s” may be a reference to the productive writing years of H.P. Lovecraft.
  • “Carve people into… tulips” refers to the way Sax, and others, carved their victims. See Page 8-9 of The Courtyard for examples.

Page 4

panel 1

  • “[C]onvert more people into tulips” – see P3,p4 above.

panel 2

  • The nurse’s offhand comment “Der Fuhrer” foreshadows  P6,p3 below.

panel 3

  • “Sax, he killed two people” is explained below on P11,p4. In The Courtyard, on P22, Sax first murdered Germaine, the woman in the next door room. He subsequently killed the landlady in the same building.

Page 5

(no specific annotations P5)

Page 6

panel 1-4

  • The page employs a very effective use of the perspective trick, jumping back and forth from different sides of the glass, juxtaposing the two guards on either side of Sax (who is literally the center of attention) with the two agents seated across from him.
  • The panel frames are echoed by the similar rectangle of the glass barrier, creating a contained, claustrophobic feel. The slats of the glass barrier echo comics gutters.
  • In panels 1-4 the point of view zooms inward closer and closer to the glass barrier, which effectively becomes the surface of the comic page.
  • Color-wise, Sax in his orange prison uniform contrasts with the law enforcement personnel, who dress in cool neutral colors that blend into the institutional surrounding.

panel 2

  • Brears is more comfortable looking Sax in the face, while Lamper is uncomfortable, looking away and adjusting his tie.
Criminal Charles Manson in 2014. Image via Wikipedia
Criminal Charles Manson in 2014. Image via Wikipedia

panel 3

  • The swastika carved in Aldo Sax’s forehead is a clear reference to Charles Manson, who has an identical tatoo.
  • There are a handful of references to swastikas in The Courtyard:
    – On #1 P7,p1, Sax mentions that “He [Carl Perlman – the agents’ boss] told Ed Byrne I was a smug little nazi.”
    – Moore’s text for The Courtyard also describes the Club Zothique attendees as “wearing… swastika drag” and including “skinheads with “MANSON” tattooed on their nose.” Though the Manson nose tattoo isn’t shown in The Courtyard comic, there are swastikas shown in the crowd – see P15,p1 (bottom, tatoo below ear) and P19, p1 (lower middle right – patch on brown jacket.)
    – On #2 P14-15 the central figure stands on a swastika.
  • The swastika also recalls one of Lovecraft’s early depictions of the Elder Sign from The Shadow over Innsmouth:

“In some places they was little stones strewed abaout—like charms—with somethin’ on ’em like what ye call a swastika naowadays. Prob’ly them was the Old Ones’ signs.”

Before World War II, the swastika was a traditional good luck symbol in many cultures; its association with the Nazis led to its general abhorrence for most purposes.

  • The language Sax speaks is Aklo, derived from Lovecraft’s transcription of prehuman speech in his stories. Lovecraft borrowed the term “Aklo” from Arthur Machen‘s short story “The White People.” Lovecraft mentions Aklo specifically in “The Dunwich Horror,” where Wilbur Whateley writes “Today learned the Aklo for the Sabaoth.”
  • “Dho-na” is more or less “dho-nha,” one of the Aklo words which Sax learned during The Courtyard – see P15. Lovecraft used “dho-hna” in “The Dunwich Horror,” where Wilbur Whateley writes “Grandfather kept me saying the Dho formula last night, and I think I saw the inner city at the 2 magnetic poles. I shall go to those poles when the earth is cleared off, if I can’t break through with the Dho-Hna formula when I commit it.”
  • “Ia” (more normally spelled “iä”) is an exclamation used by cultists in several of Lovecraft’s works.

panel 4

  • In the folder in Brears’ hand, the reader can just make out a flyer for the Ulthar Cats from The Courtyard, with their version of the Elder Sign, based off August Derleth’s version. The Ulthar Cats take their name from Lovecraft’s story “The Cats of Ulthar.”

Page 7

panel 1

  • “Y’golonac” is a creation of British horror writer Ramsey Campbell, first mentioned in his short story “Cold Print.” Sax mentions Y’golonac in The Courtyard #2, on Page 23, panels 1 and 2.

panel 2

  • “Lloigor” may refer to two different entities in the Cthulhu Mythos. One in “The Return of the Lloigor” by Colin Wilson they were a race of energy beings (and were typically used as such by Grant Morrison, and suggested as such in Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier.) The second Lloigor was originally used by August Derleth and Mark Schorer in “The Lair of the Star Spawn.” Lloigor was a singular entity, twin to Zhar.
  • “R’lyeh,” of course, is where Cthulhu lies dreaming. In HPL’s “The Call of Cthulhu” R’lyeh is a lost city – but in the context of the Neonomicon, it’s Agent Brear’s womb.
  • “Red Hook” is a neighborhood in Brooklyn. It’s where The Courtyard took place, and it references the HPL story “The Horror At Red Hook.”
  • It may signify something (or may be an error, or just be what was needed to fit everything in the panel clearly) that the Sax’s and Brear’s word balloons extend outside the panel and into the gutter above. This doesn’t occur very often – see P24,p3 below, then again in issue #2 P6,p4 and #4, P17,p4. It’s the exchange between Sax and Brears, who become, let’s say, allies by the end of issue #4. Compare Brear’s somewhat respectful “Yeah, that’s great.” with Lamper’s mocking tone in p1 above.

panel 2-4

  • Panels 2-4 are a fixed-camera sequence, a comics vocabulary tool that AM uses frequently, in Watchmen, and elsewhere. AM and JB use this sequence to show the contrast in Sax’s body language.

panel 3

  • “Rhan-Tegath” should probably have been “Rhan-Tegoth,” the Mythos entity in “The Horror in the Museum” by H. P. Lovecraft (ghostwritten for Hazel Heald).
  • “Club Zothique” is the club that Sax visited in The Courtyard #1 P14-21. The name “Zothique” comes from the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, a far-future continent where many of his fantasies are set.
  • “Fhtagn” is the last word of The Courtyard, deriving from Lovecraft “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” from “The Call of Cthulhu.”

Page 8

panel 1-4

  • This page largely mirrors Page 3 (including Brears calling Perlman.) This palindrome repetition is reminiscent of some of the layout tricks that AM and Dave Gibbons did in Watchmen.
  • “That went pretty good” is grammatically incorrect, properly it should be “went pretty well.” This is part of establishing Agent Lamper as a sort of mainstream, no-nonsense, linear-thinking foil contrasting with Brears who is slightly more articulate, well-read, and broader-thinking.

panel 2

  • “CI” refers to Criminal Informant.
  • Gordon’s “octopus in his mouth” joke is reminiscent of the popular depiction of Cthulhu as humanoid with tentacles covering his mouth.

panel 4

  • Hannibal Lecter is the cannibalistic serial killer in the novels of Thomas Harris, made famous by Anthony Hopkins’ performance in the film adaptation Silence of the Lambs.

Page 9

panel 1-4

  • Panels 1-4 are a zoom sequence; they depict the same scene as the “camera” moves back away from the subject. AM uses these sequences frequently, including on P1 of Watchmen. What is a little disconcerting about this zoom sequence is that the vantage point and scale change so quickly (especially from p2 to p3, and p3 to p4) that the reader can not quite be sure of where the subject is in the panel.

panel 2

  • Quantico, VA is the home of Marine Corps Base Quantico, which houses a number of military and intelligence agency apparatus, including the FBI Academy and FBI Laboratory.

panel 3

  • 169 Clinton Street is in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is the actual address where Lovecraft lived briefly in the 1920s. It is later revealed (P11,p3-4 below) that this is the building where much of The Courtyard took place.

panel 4

  • This panel depicts the futuristic dome that covers various cities. The “Harlem dome” is mentioned in The Courtyard #1 P5,p2. In Neonomicon, domes are depicted at three sites: Quantico, VA, Brooklyn, NY, and Salem, MA. The domes are never actually explained, but they help create a somewhat claustrophobic setting. The domes form a grid, similar to comics panel borders; like panel borders, the dome-grids enclose the space in which the characters operate.
    • In AM’s script (excerpt printed in Neonomicon Hornbook) he mentions “anti-pollution domes covering the major urban areas.” These may be inspired by the writings of David Goodman Croley, who is cited in the Appendix of Alan Moore’s From Hell as a 19th century journalist who made many startlingly correct predictions about the future, as well as some that hadn’t (yet) come true, such as anti-pollution domes. (Thanks to commenter Ttilly for pointing this out.)
    • For an explanation of Neonomicon’s semi-futuristic timeline, see P3,p3 above.

Page 10

panel 1

  • From this point on, the pacing changes slightly. A large establishing shot is used for scene changes, followed by a return to the 4-panel pages to follow the action. The larger panel draws attention to specific locales and events more effectively without decreasing the pace.
  • The Brooklyn dome is visible in the upper left. See P9,p4 above for some explanation of the domes.
  • The graffiti might have some significance. There’s a star-shaped graffiti, near Lamper’s head.

panel 2

  • The NY football logo on the shirt of the agent on the right is similar the 2-dimensional postitive/negative space play seen in the way black elements interact with comic gutters, for example on the next panel.

Page 11

panel 1

  • This panel is the first time we see Carl Perlman, who was on the phone with Brears earlier.
  • The solid black elements in each panel (mentioned on P2 above) begin to play even more with the panel outlines, starting on this page. The black line of the pipe (?) running across the top of the panel appears almost exactly like the black gutters separating the panels. It’s only interrupted (and thereby anchored to the rest of the panel) by Brear’s speech bubble.
Neonomicon #2 New York Comic Con variant cover, by Jacen Burrows
Neonomicon #2 New York Comic Con variant cover, by Jacen Burrows

panel 2

  • Perlman’s right hand has been replaced with an artificial limb. The murders that Sax investigated – and later committed – involved the amputation of the victims’ hands. The implication is that (between The Courtyard and Neonomicon) Sax tried to kill Perlman, but was stopped partway, as is confirmed in panel 4.
    Sax’s attack on Perlman is depicted on the NYC Comic Con variant cover (right – also see all convention variants here.)
  • “Secret Crips handshake” refers to the street gang Crips, usually started with the left hand. Probably prompted by Lamper’s awkward handshake attempts due to Perlman’s prosthetic. “Crip” is also short for “cripple”, another word brought to mind by Perlman’s prosthetic.
  • The solid black of back side of the bulletin board again merges with the black gutter to push the edge of the panel inward. Again Brear’s word balloon interrupts the blackness, bringing it into the panel. The black spaces merging with the panel borders have the effect of lowering the ceiling, restricting the space in which the agents operate.

panel 3

  • “Joey Face” was a minor character from The Courtyard; Sax’s informant.
  • On the bulletin board, from left to right are the characters from The Courtyard:
    – The poster for the Ulthar Cats at Club Zothique – appeared above on P6,p4.
    – Joey Face
    – Ulthar Cats lead singer Randolph Carter from The Courtyard. Carter borrows her name from Lovecraft’s character of the same name.
    – Johnny Carcosa
    – Aldo Sax
  • The bulletin board forms a sort of panel within a panel. It tells the story of The Courtyard with text and pictures, essentially a comics narrative within a comic narrative.
  • AllyourbasicGerrard (watch his video) points out that the 2-dimensional arrows sort of invade the 3-dimensional space here, in essence, spearing Lamper. This recurrs below on P12, panels 1 and 3.

panel 4

  • A summary of the events that took place immediately after The Courtyard; this is all handy exposition narration, like you’d see in a crime drama.
  • The “anti-Semitic” perception of Sax was possibly enhanced by the swastika Sax carved into his forehead, but is likely also a reference to H. P. Lovecraft’s anti-Semiticism. Some critics have argued for autobiographical elements in Lovecraft’s works, with the typical Lovecraftian protagonist being white, male, educated, intelligent, often asexual – just as Lovecraft was. Aldo Sax seems to have been created by Moore as a typical Lovecraftian protagonist, an image that is enhanced when we see Sax again in issue 4.

Page 12

J. Edgar Hoover photo, detail from The Courtyard #1, P22,p2, art by Jacen Burrows
J. Edgar Hoover photo, detail from The Courtyard #1, P22,p2, art by Jacen Burrows

panel 2

  • The case in the 1920s refers to The Courtyard, where Sax accessed a classified file on the FBI raid on Innsmouth that occurred at the end of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”
  • The “picture of… J. Edgar [Hoover] …with that circus freak” is shown on P22,p2 of The Courtyard #1.
  • Robert Suydam was the primary antagonist of Lovecraft’s story “The Horror at Red Hook.”
  • The black spaces within the panel, pipe and post shadows above Brears’ head, again merge with the black comic gutters, enclosing the space.

panel 3

  • Thomas F. Malone was the police detective in Lovecraft’s story “The Horror at Red Hook.”
  • Lovecraft did not draw any direct connections between “The Horror at Red Hook” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” the two stories being written far apart; the connection here is somewhat contrived.

panel 4

  • The black triangle of the lamp directs the reader’s attention toward the black gutter above. Similar to P11,p2, the black back of the bulletin board causes the black of the gutter to encroach on the panel.

Page 13

panel 1

  • “Carcosa” is a fictional city from Ambrose Bierce’s short story “An Inhabitant of Carcosa,” later borrowed by Robert W. Chambers stories in The King in Yellow. Lovecraft later referenced Carcosa, Hastur, and other elements from Chambers’ stories in his own fiction, as did other writers in the Cthulhu Mythos. Johnny Carcosa is a character from The Courtyard.
  • Again the black strips of pipe echo the black gutter. The panel is effectively broken into four panels, restricting the space in which the characters operate.

panel 2

  • Still in exposition mode, the agents explain that The Courtyard‘s Club Zothique is the same abandoned church that was the focus of Suydam’s cult in “The Horror at Red Hook.”

panel 3

  • “Want to go back to how things were” shows Perlman’s lack of clue about the nature of Sex Addiction in general, and Brears’ needs in particular. This attitude is pervasive, as shown at more length with Lamper. Perlman was sleeping with Brears during her earlier sex addiction spells.
  • AllyourbasicGerard draws attention to this panel as an example of how Neonomicon blurs the 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional depiction of space. Typically comics (a 2-D medium) develops 3-D space using perspective. In this panel, there’s basically no perspective (other than figure sizes, and the board need the foreground agents’ shoulders.) All the lines are vertical. These vertical lines are reinforced by Perlman’s tie and suspenders, and by the football logo on central agent’s shirt.

Page 14

panel 1

  • Club Zothique as depicted in The Courtyard and Neonomicon appears to be the same as the building depicted on the cover of Providence #2, suggesting a connection between the three series.
The church on the cover of Providence #2 appears in Courtyard and Neonomicon as Club Zothique. Art by Jacen Burrows
The church on the cover of Providence #2 appears in Courtyard and Neonomicon as Club Zothique. Art by Jacen Burrows
  • Posters on the wall promote the Ulthar Cats, explained above on P6,p4.
  • Graffiti in the lower left corner, just past the telephone pole, seems to read “zoogs.” Zoogs were small furry animals in Lovecraft’s The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

panel 2

  • “The Cats” refers to the band “the Ulthar Cats” (see P6,p4 above.)
  • “The Rats” refers to the band “Rats in the Malls” which is a play on Lovecraft’s story “The Rats in the Walls”.
  • The Yellow Sign is a sigil associated with the eponymous play and character in Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow; in the Cthulhu Mythos, the Sign is associated with Hastur.
  • The word bubble on the left (with the four zigzags and no speech triangle – beginning “Okay”) is the FBI agents outside in the van communicating directly with Agent Brears.

Page 15

panel 1

  • The word bubbles here (with the four zigzags and no speech triangle, and in italics) are the vocals from the band.
  • “Eldritch” is one of Lovecraft’s more infamous adjectives.
  • “White Ape” refers to Lovecraft’s story “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family,” originally published as “The White Ape”; a parody in some respects of the Tarzan stories, “Arthur Jermyn” is about a family whose ancestor, a British explorer in Africa, comes across a lost city of “white apes” and marries their queen.
  • The singer shifts to Aklo – see P6,p3 above for explanation.
  • “Iog Sotot” is a variation of “Yog-Sothoth,” one of Lovecraft’s entities. Notably, it resembles Clark Ashton Smith’s version “Iog-Sotôt” from The Holiness of Azaderac.
  • “Nyarlathotep” is another of Lovecraft’s entities.
  • The interior space of the club shows no interior walls (all panels on Pages 15 and 16.) While this may just be a convenient way to depict a dark interior, it also (again thanks AllyourbasicGerrard) serves to undermine the 3-D space, flattening it into 2-D. This may be hinting at expansive space-perception of the Cthulu Mythos, touched on on P1 above and explicity depicted on P22,p4 and P23,p1 of Neonomicon #4.

panel 2

  • “Rats in the Malls” is a reference to Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls.”
  • “CI” stands for “Confidential Informant” – in this case, Joey Face, who can be seen off to the right.
  • The lyrics recall Lovecraft’s story “The Strange High House in the Mist.”

panel 3

  • More Lovecraft references in the lyrics – his stories “The Thing on the Doorstep” and “The Haunter in the Dark.” ‘Squamous’ was another of Lovecraft’s famous adjectives.

panel 4

  • This panel introduces Johnny Carcosa (see P13,p1 above for Carcosa references.)
  • Carcosa’s veiled face recalls a character from Lovecraft’s The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath:

In all this arrangement there was nothing human, and Carter surmised from old tales that he was indeed come to that most dreadful and legendary of all places, the remote and prehistoric monastery wherein dwells uncompanioned the high-priest not to be described, which wears a yellow silken mask over its face and prays to the Other Gods and their crawling chaos Nyarlathotep.

  • Colorwise, Carcosa is dressed in muted orange, similar to Sax’s prison uniform.
  • This panel frames Brears’ ear prominently as she is hearing both the FBI communications and the band vocals.
  • The Aklo references here are explained in P15, p1 above

Page 16

panel 1

  • “Ins Muh Mouth” is a pun on “Innsmouth” and fellatio.
  • The cut-off lyrics “against the wall of…” could be a reference to Lovecraft’s collaboration “In the Walls of Eryx” with Kenneth Sterling, or Lovecraft’s solo story “Beyond the Wall of Sleep”.
  • The singer’s vocals mention the walls, which as noted in P15,p1 above, are not shown. The club’s interior space appears near-infinite, similar to P1 above. (Again thanks AllyourbasicGerard.)

panel 2

  • “Shub-Nigger” is a reference to Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young; the etymology of Shub-Niggurath is disputed, though it obviously derives in part from Lord Dunsany’s “Sheol-Nugganoth” from his story “Idle Days on the Yann.”
  • Carcosa “booking” is, of course, slang referring to him fleeing, running, though “book” has a double meaning. It may be an allusion to the “literary in-joke” – see P19,p4 below.

Page 17

panel 1

  • This panel introduces Randolph Carter, lead singer of the Ulthar Cats. She appeared in The Courtyard #1, P17,p2.
  • Carter’s shirt says “dozer” which probably refers to the Swedish band Dozer, though it’s also the name of a character in The Matrix.
  • Carter’s orange pants (more visible in p3 below) give her similar color as Sax and Carcosa. All of the Cthulu-involved characters share this orange coloration.

panel 2

  • “Fhtagn” is a popular phoneme in the Cthulhu Mythos, deriving from Lovecraft “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” from “The Call of Cthulhu.”

panel 3

  • “That rock chick, the dyke that was in People” refers to People magazine. This shows a sort of different level of relating to reality through text: agents relate to shallow popular journalism, where Carter, Carcosa, Sax relate to Lovecraftian literature.
  • Using dyke (and chick) points out some homophobia (and sexism) in Agent Lamper.

panel 4

  • “There was some noise from under those gratings” along with (next panel) “he [Carcosa] must have gone out through the drainage ducts.” could simply refer to tunnels (see P19,p1 below.) But, as AllyourbasicGerard speculates, they seem to be a reference to Carcosa escaping through the comics’ gutters – the black area that outlines each panel. This is a pretty meta concept, perhaps only hinted at by AM, but fascinating. It seems that Carcosa is not constrained by the reality that the humans around him are. In some sense panel borders – gutters – are diegetic. The comics frame is analogous to diegetic music in movies. The viewer hears the movie soundtrack, but the characters in the movie do not. Similarly the comics reader sees panels, gutters, word balloons, etc., but the characters in a comics story do not see them. AllyourbasicGerard calls this “diegetic panelization.” Carcosa apparently navigates a higher Cthulu Mythos meta-plane, while the rest of the humans around him operate in a more constrained reality.
    This is somewhat reminiscent of another set of fictional FBI agents Lucille Ball and Karen Breughel from AM’s Promethea. In Promethea #28, Agent Breughel is pulled from the comics panel reality into a meta-reality where comics panels, gutters, and pages form a sloped-roof surface.
  • Pointed out by commenter Carson, a black cat appears in issues #1, #3 (P14,p1), and #4 (P14,p2). The recurring black cat may recall Lovecraft’s black cat from “The Rats in the Walls,” based on an actual black cat he used to have as a pet as a child. Can anyone spot one in #2?

Page 18

panel 1

  • “Pnuth” may be based on “The Vale of Pnath” from The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
  • “Out through the drainage ducts” – see P17,p4 above.

panel 2-3

  • Agents use of “lez” and “faggot” indicate their homophobia.

panel 4

  • Court Street is the address of the eponymous courtyard in The Courtyard.

Page 19

panel 1

  • Tunnels under the church were a major factor in “The Horror at Red Hook”:

Suydam was evidently a leader in extensive man-smuggling operations, for the canal to his house was but one of several subterranean channels and tunnels in the neighbourhood. There was a tunnel from this house to a crypt beneath the dance-hall church; a crypt accessible from the church only through a narrow secret passage in the north wall, and in whose chambers some singular and terrible things were discovered.

Eraserhead movie poster via Wikipedia
Eraserhead movie poster via Wikipedia

panel 3

  • Eraserhead” was a famous surrealist horror film by director David Lynch. Carcosa’s hair remotely resembles Eraserhead’s.
    • Commenter Matt Miller points out that Eraserhead also foreshadows the image of Carcosa on the wall.

panel 4

  • Brear’s talk of “some big literary in-joke” foreshadows how Neonomicon blends fact and fiction, with Lovecraft’s fictional creations taking on a horrifying reality – and perhaps paving the way for Providence to explore the line between fiction and metafiction further.

Page 20

panel 1

  • The courtyard is from The Courtyard; notice the art-deco nautilus shell on the gates.
  • The Brooklyn dome is in the background, see explanation on P9,p4 above.

panel 2

  • The mural on the wall is also from The Courtyard. AllyourbasicGerard notes that the 2-D mural depicts 3-D space similar to the 2-D comic panel depicting 3-D space. They share a similar horizontal rectangular shape.
  • The orange colored creature in the mural (never explained) shares a similar orange color with Sax, Carcosa, and Carter (see P17,p1 above.)
  • The smell recalls the complaints of a fishy smell in Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”

Page 21

panel 2

  • As mentioned above (beginning P2), the black area below the stairs joins with the black gutter to make the panel feel more claustrophobic. The vertical rectangles in the negative space in the railing form elongated rectangles similar to panel borders, enclosing the characters’ space the way the panel borders do.

panel 3

  • The graffiti here is possibly written Aklo, see P6,p3 above for explanation.

panel 4

  • The portfolio the agent is holding is “Pickman’s Necrotica.” Richard Upton Pickman was a character from Lovecraft’s story “Pickman’s Model,” a macabre artist that drew images of ghouls and cannibalism from life.  Here, in keeping with Johnny Carcosa’s offerings in The Courtyard, he apparently also dabbled in erotica depicting necrophilia.

Page 22

panel 1

  • The panel on the nightstand appears to be of Elvis; hints of a preoccupation with Elvis were apparent in the apartment decor in The Courtyard as well, and likely helped inspire Johnny Carcosa’s look.

panel 2

  • “Only bed in the apartment” could refer to the incest and inbreeding that is a characteristic theme in some of Lovecraft’s families, though usually in degenerate rural communities such as in “The Lurking Fear,” “The Dunwich Horror,” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” Alternately it could indicate that Carcosa doesn’t sleep, perhaps not really operating in the human plane of existence, but in a higher Cthulu Mythos space.
  • “in the wind” is common police slang, dating back to at least 2008 (http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/crime/blog/2008/10/even_more_police_jargon.html). Moore being Moore, it is being used with multiple levels of meaning, naturally.

panel 3

  • No indication of where “the old country” is, but it’s worth noting that the cult in “The Horror at Red Hook” largely consisted of foreign immigrants, a product of Lovecraft’s xenophobia reaching a boil in the melting pot of New York. If she is one of the hybrids from “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, then the old country could actually be underwater.

Page 23

panel 1-4

  • Panels 1-4 are a zoom sequence, mentioned above on P9. These panels depict the same scene as the “camera” moves toward the subject. What’s creepy here is the comics panel frame becomes subsumed by the frame of the mural, effectively drawing the reader into the frame of reference of the mural by panel 4 (and in the two subsequent panels on P24.)

Page 24

panel 1

  • Carcosa has fled from 3-D space into 2-D space, slightly reminiscent of his escape describe on P17,p4 above.

panel 2

  • Commenter Al notes: “…just as the speech bubble extends into the gutter [see note to panel 3, below], the tree in the mural extends below the turf, or invades the story reality. The artist has made several efforts to show disturbed ground similar to roots pushing the earth upwards close to the ‘roots’ of the tree in the mural.”

panel 3

  • Similar to P7,p2 above, Brear’s speech bubble extends into the gutter below. This may indicate that she’s on the verge of a realization that she’s a character in a story (suggested by AllyourbasicGerrard.) Brear’s speech, previously articulate, has become sputtering.

Page 25

panel 1-3

  • Panels 1-3 are a zoom sequence, somewhat similar to P9 above. These panels depict the same scene as the “camera” moves away from the subject. The vantage point changes greatly between panels 2 and 3.

Panel 2

  • The chunk of wall missing is somewhat similar to speech bubble invading the gutter in P24,p3 above. AllyourbasicGerrard suggests that this could represent Brear’s coming to an awareness that she’s part of the literary in-joke, that she’s a character in a story.

Panel 3

  • The Brooklyn dome (see P9,p4) has a grid-like pattern, echoing the comics panel, enclosing the characters’ actions. From this vantage point, the grid of the city sort of echoes these grids. The comic panel grid, dome grid, and city grid perhaps represent layered higher and lower planes of existence (see Neonomicon #4 for further exploration/depiction of this.) The shimmering lights bear some resemblance to the points of light on P1 above.
  • Not clear what “SB35” means, nor the indistinct writing just right of it “WEST Son??” – perhaps SB stands for South Brooklyn.

THE END

>Go to Moore Lovecraft annotations index
>Go to Neonomicon #2 annotations

14 thoughts on “Neonomicon 1

  1. Great set of annotations, although I feel I must make a couple of suggestions.

    p7. The use of ‘Lloigor’ as a term to refer to energy beings (presumably an alternative interpretation of the various Lovecraftian gods) was also used by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea in the Illuminatus! trilogy, which influenced both Grant Morrison and Alan Moore. I suspect this is the chief source from which Moore drew the term.
    p16. The cut-off lyric “against the wall of…” is more likely to rhyme with the lyric “go down deep”. Thus, I suggest the lyric is a reference not to ‘In the Walls of Eryx’ but Lovecraft’s earlier work ‘Beyond the Wall of Sleep’ (1919).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Neat reading! One thing, I believe the character’s last names might be reversed on the page 2 notes. I think it is Merril Brears and Gordon Lamper.

    Like

  3. P10.p2
    “Secret Crips handshake”: Probably prompted by Lamper’s awkward handshake attempts due to Perlman’s prosthetic. The Crips did have “secret handshakes”, and their name is often said to be short for “cripple”, another word brought to mind by Perlman’s prosthetic.

    P13.p3
    I don’t think “sexism” is the right word to describe Perlman here. What he’s showing is is a lack of clue about the nature of Sex Addiction in general, and Brears’ needs in particular. This attitude is pervasive, as shown at more length with Lamper.

    P16.p1
    As Phil Smith already mentioned, given the rhyme, the cut off word here is more likely “sleep”, as in “Beyond the Wall of Sleep”.

    P22.p2
    Actually, “in the wind” is common police slang, dating back to at least 2008 (http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/crime/blog/2008/10/even_more_police_jargon.html). Moore being Moore, it is being used with multiple levels of meaning, naturally.

    P22.p3
    It seemed to me that “mom” had The Innsmouth Look; if so, “the old country” would be underwater.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Noticed on page 24 particularly, just as the speech bubble extends into the gutter, the tree in the mural extends below the turf, or invades the story reality. The artist has made several efforts to show disturbed ground similar to roots pushing the earth upwards close to the ‘roots’ of the tree in the mural.

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  5. In Alan Moore’s From Hell comic an American journalists/writer called David Goodman Croley is mentioned. He predicted many things that later came true, he also mentioned that in the future there would be anti-pollution domes over cities. It is possible that Moore got the whole dome-thingy from this. Corley is mentioned in the appendix to the paperback edition of From Hell which is where I learnt the dome detail, it’s on page 23 of the appendix in case anyone wants to check for themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David Goodman Croley has a plaza in Top 10 I think. Perhaps it’s in Forty-Niners. Wait a minute…

      Yup! On about page 4 or 5, as they’re in the train station. DGP Plaza, named after the former president.

      Never knew he was a real guy. I think the anti-pollution domes are going to be a bit pointless unless they’re airtight. The ones in Neo are only going to be any good against acid rain that’s so severe it burns flesh. At which point the atmosphere’s fucked anyway cos you wouldn’t be able to breathe, everything and everyone would be long dead.

      If they’re airtight you may as well build them on the Moon, same reason, because if the atmosphere isn’t breathable, the world’s dead anyway.

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  6. Hi guys. I want to point out the the four-panel technique forshadowed by the text boxes on the nebula/placenta page actually begins on page 2. The panels are just not divided by gutters.

    Regards

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  7. The panel on Page 2 is viewed from the position of someone who would have to be seated just to the left of center in the back seat of Lamper and Brears’ car. From that position, it ought to be impossible to see Brears in the rearview mirror at all, given that rearview mirrors are virtually always aimed toward the driver’s side.

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