Below are annotations for Neonomicon, #2 “The Shadow Out of America” (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, but you never know who’s reading this and what their exposure is. If there’s stuff we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.
General: Agents Brears and Lamper review the events of Neonomicon #1, with Brears emphasizing connections to the works of Lovecraft and those among his litererary circles. The agents travel to Salem, following a thread that leads to a bookstore and a group of Lovecraft-sex-cultists. Brears and Lamper infiltrate the cult, and things go downhill.
- The cover appears to be the bed from Johnny Carcosa’s apartment, with his mother’s corpse removed (see Issue 1, Page 22, Panel 2), although with much more blood, the furniture overturned, and an elder-sign drawn on the wall. Gordon, Brears, Perlman and other FBI agents can be seen.
Alan Moore starts off this issue by fudging the lines between fiction and reality. Up until this point, in The Courtyard and Neonomicon, there has been references to the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and his correspondents’ work, with evidence that some of it – like the federal raid on Innsmouth in 1929 from the end of “The Shadow over Innsmouth” – actually happened. Now, it appears that this is a setting where the fictional events happened and Lovecraft and his contemporaries wrote about them.
- The word balloons are Merrill Brears speaking. The scene is the autopsy of Johnny Carcosa’s mother.
- “Carcosa” is Johnny Carcosa, whose dead mother is pictured. For Carcosa references, see Neonomicon #1, P13,p1.
- Ambrose Bierce (1842-c. 1914) was an American writer, journalist, and soldier most known today for his satirical reference work The Devil’s Dictionary (1911) and various works of supernatural horror. He disappeared in 1913-1914 while in Mexico. Bierce is loosely connected with Lovecraft through two mutual acquaintances, Adolphe Danzinger de Castro and Samuel Loveman.
- Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933) was an American writer. He achieved early prominence with his work The King in Yellow (1895), but quickly eschewed weird works in favor of a line of popular romances. Lovecraft was a considerable fan of Chambers’ weird work, particularly the subtle artificial mythology of The King in Yellow.
- Brears’ comments regarding writers who influenced each other’s work is factual. Chambers borrowed “Carcosa,” “Hastur,” and “Hali” from Bierce’s story “An Inhabitant in Carcosa,” which Lovecraft would later refer to in “The Whisperer in Darkness.”
- The four horizontal panels continues the basic page layout established on P3 of Neonomicon #1.
- “Don’t look at me like that.” Brears thinks more expansively, making connections (similar to Aldo Sax’s reputation pre-lifestyle change) that her colleagues Lamper and Perlman don’t grasp.
- “Randolph Carter” is the name (stage name) of the woman pictured. This refers to Lovecraft’s character of the same name from “The Statement of Randolph Carter,” “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” and other stories.
- “Club Zothique. That’s Clark Ashton Smith” is, again factual. Zothique was a setting created by Lovecraft’s contemporary and correspondent Clark Ashton Smith of California.
- “‘Ulthar Cats’, that’s a short story title” refers to Lovecraft’s story “The Cats of Ulthar.”
- “Rats in the Malls” refers to Lovecraft’s story “The Rats in the Walls.”
- “White powder, that’s from a story by Arthur Machen” refers to “The Novel of the White Powder” in Machen’s novel The Three Impostors (1895).
- “Poem mentions people without heads and hands” refers to Lovecraft’s Fungi from Yuggoth sonnet “The Courtyard,” on which Moore based The Courtyard:
Mad, soundless revels of the dragging dead—
And not a corpse had either hands or head!
- The setting is the courtyard mural from The Courtyard #2 and Neonomicon #1.
- The second speech balloon is Brears, but the first and third are another agent (probably Perlman, maybe Lamper?) speaking.
- “Case in the 1920s”, as explained in the second balloon, refers to HPL’s stories “The Horror at Red Hook” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”
- The photograph of J. Edgar Hoover is on P22,p2 of The Courtyard #1 (image here.)
- The setting is Johnny Carcosa’s apartment, from The Courtyard #2 and Neonomicon #1. The chest of drawers contains Cthulu-themed dildos and cock-rings, which were peddled by Carcosa.
- The left photo on the chest of drawers is Elvis, whose look Carcosa emulates.
- From left to right are Gordon Lamper, Carl Perlman, and Merril Brears. All three are FBI agents; Lamper and Brears are still wearing outfits from infiltrating Club Zothique.
- Brears 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.
- The photo of the priest with the cross helps establish Carcosa’s mother as a Catholic immigrant; the picture to the left and below it appears to be St. Peter’s Square in Rome. 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.
- The photo to the right of Brears’ head appears to be Liberace, who famously performed with a candelabra on his piano.
The point of view for this page seems to rotate around the seated figure of Perlman, keeping him framed between Lamper and Brears.
- “Trekkies” refers to fanatical devotees of Star Trek.
- As well as pornography and sex toys, you can make out the baggies of white powder that Johnny Carcosa was dealing in the upper right corner.
- “Cuntes des ghoules” is based on Cultes des Goules, one of the grimoires in the Cthulhu Mythos created by Lovecraft’s young protege Robert Bloch. As with “Pickman’s Necrotica,” it has been sexualized here, somewhat foreshadowing what is to come.
- Brears is incorrect, it should be Arkham, not Innsmouth. Lovecraft’s fictional city of Arkham, Massachusetts was based in part on Salem, Massachusetts, as Lovecraft remarks in a letter to Emil Petaja dated 29 December 1934 (from Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft 5.86):
[…] my “Arkham” is more or less derived from Salem – though Salem has no college.
- Moore mentions his mistake in a 2015 interview in Bleeding Cool #16 stating: “I was relying on my own imperfect memory of Lovecraft’s work and trusting that it would be adequate. Though I’ve very proud of the work we did on Neonomicon, it did present a couple of problems. The first was that I had carelessly identified Lovecraft’s Innsmouth with Salem, whereas Lovecraft himself says that Arkham is Salem.”
- David Copperfield is a popular stage magician.
- “Supplier in Salem… we still know how to handle a witch trial” refers to the 1600s Salem witch trials. Contemporaries generally disparage the hysteria that lead to unjust persecution of women accused of witchcraft. This shows Perlman’s narrow-mindedness in that he is sympathetic to the witch trials’ misguided persecutors.
- Like Brooklyn and Quantico in the first issue, Salem also has a futuristic dome. For an explanation of the domes and their meaning, see Neonomicon #1, P9,p4 annotations.
- Innsmouth was another of Lovecraft’s fictional towns.
- Lamper’s opinion of Lovecraft echoes that of other critics. Edmund Wilson in “Tales of the Marvellous and the Ridiculous” wrote succinctly:
Lovecraft was not a good writer.
- Jorge Luis Borges and William S. Burroughs are authors. Borges did not initially care for Lovecraft, but later re-evaluated his opinion in his favor, dedicating his story “There Are More Things” to Lovecraft. Burroughs was also influenced by Lovecraft, and made references to the Mythos in his Cities of the Red Night books.
- “Donna” is Lamper’s wife or girlfriend (he is never depicted wearing a wedding ring, though a fellow agent says to him “I know you’re married” in Neonomicon #1, P21,p2).
- The double beds – and the space between them – help to emphasize that Lamper and Brears’ relationship is not a sexual one.
- One of Lovecraft’s most famous fictional works is the Necronomicon, a grimoire and history of his artificial mythology. Over a two dozen books featuring the title have been published, the three most prominent being the The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names (1978) edited by George Hay, Simon’s Necronomicon (1977), and H. R. Giger’s art books Necronomicon I (1977) and Necronomicon II (1985).
- The “weird games” may refer to both The Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game and its variations and spin-offs like Arkham Horror, or to the propensity for some fans to practical jokes and hoaxes, such as sticking entries for the Necronomicon into library indices.
- None of the fake Necronomicons has been connected directly to ritual murder (if for no other reason than none of them except the Simon Necronomicon seem to directly advocate ritual human sacrifice in any form). The closest connection to a murder case as far as we are aware is discussed under “The Vampire Clan: White Trash and Black Magick” in The Necronomicon Files (203-206) by Daniel Harms and John Wisdom Gonce III.
- The contrast between Brears open-mindedness and Lamper’s no-nonsense approach is shown in the way they refer to Lovecraft fans as “followers” vs. “customers” respectively.
Page six and seven are mirrored; on page six Brears is on the left hand side, with Lamper on the right; on page seven Lamper is on the right, with Brears on the left.
- “If they didn’t base their rackets on his [Lovecraft’s] story, maybe he based his…” this sentence would finish as the converse: “Lovecraft based his stories on their racket.” As will be revealed, this is what’s happening. Notice that as Brears is thinking “outside the box” her word balloons extend outside the lower panel border into the comics gutter. This spillover happens very rarely in Neonomicon – in issue #1, only twice: P7,p2, and P24,p3. Possibly this represents Brear’s dawning meta-realization that she too is a character in a story.
- “Whispers in Darkness” is a reference to Lovecraft’s short story “The Whisperer in Darkness,” as Brears notes (which would later go on to inspire the Lovecraftian erotic anthology Whisperers in Darkness).
- Brears’ summarizes the typical view of most readers to Lovecraft’s sexuality, use of sex in his stories, use of female characters, and racism. This is not entirely accurate (as discussed at length in Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos), but it captures the gist of the common understanding of Lovecraft.
- AM has said of Neonomicon that one of his aims was to bring sex and race to the forefront of Lovecraftian fiction. From Alan Moore: Unearthed and Uncut: [quoted in Robert Derie’s Sex and the Cthulu Mythos]
[…] actually put back some of the objectionable elements that Lovecraft himself censored, or that people since Lovecraft, who have been writing pastiches, have decided to leave out. Like the racism, the anti-Semitism, the sexism, the sexual phobias that are kind of apparent in all of Lovecraft’s slimy, phallic or vaginal monsters.
- Lovecraft rarely put racist language into his stories, but in his private letters evinced many popular views of the day regarding racial prejudice and “Aryan” supremacy. As Brears notes, as he grew older Lovecraft re-evaluated many of these views, although some remained with him until the day he died. Similarly, Lovecraft’s prejudices regarding sex shifted somewhat during his lifetime as well. As Moore would later write in his introduction to The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft (xiii):
Far from outlandish eccentricities, the fears that generated Lovecraft’s stories and opinions were precisely those of the white, middle-class, heterosexual, Protestant-descended males who were most threatened by the shifting power relationships and values of the modern world.
- The Aryan Brotherhood is a white supremacist criminal organization. This may be a further reference to Aldo Sax’s nickname “der Fuhrer” in Neonomicon #1, page 4, panel 2, highlighting the subtle skein of relationships between Lovecraft’s racial beliefs, Nazi racial beliefs, and modern racial beliefs.
- “Unnameable” is another of Lovecraft’s notable adjectives, most particularly in his story “The Unnameable,” regarding the monstrous byproduct of an incident of bestiality.
- Brears is exchanging her glasses for brown contacts, setting up events for later.
- The quip about reading her diaries, along with Brears’ familiarity with Lovecraft and her sex addiction, suggest her potential connection to the cultists.
- The trick of showing a figure without a head is often seen in advertising; as one’s eyes are often drawn toward facial characteristics, removing or obscuring the face forces attention onto other aspects – in this case, probably the “Whispers in Darkness” shop framed by Brears and Lamper.
- “New Age” refers to spiritual or occult practices of the New Age movement during the 1970s, which popularized (and commercialized) authentic and bogus spiritual, magical, and pseudoscientific theories and practices.
- “Role-Playing” refers to tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons or the Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game.
- Metallica is an American heavy metal band; bassist Cliff Burton of the band was a Lovecraft enthusiast and included references to his works in several of their songs.
- This is the first appearance of Charley and Leonard Beeks. Charley in particular has the overweight, bespectacled, unkempt appearance of a stereotypical nerd or geek.
- The shop contains a mixture of New Age, nautical, and Mythos commercial gear, including a Cthulhu idol and a Santa Cthulhu plush; various dreamcatchers, one of which bears the Elder Sign.
- Ulthar Cats are the band that appeared in The Courtyard, whose singer Randolph Carter appeared beginning on P17 of Neonomicon #1, and on P1,p2 above. The Ulthar Cats take their name from Lovecraft’s story “The Cats of Ulthar.”
- “Vinyl” is an older analog recording format, considered by connoisseurs to have higher fidelity than compact discs; 12-inch refers to the diameter, and indicates an album rather than an 7-inch single.
- “Zann Variations” – also mentioned in The Courtyard 1, page 17, panel 2; it is a reference to Lovecraft’s short story “The Music of Erich Zann.”
- “MiskaSonic (live)” is a reference to Lovecraft’s fictional Miskatonic River, which flows through Arkham.
- “J.C.” revealed shortly to stand for Johnny Carcosa.
- “AKLO” – This center kiosk apparently contains music (on page 8, panel 3 you can make out labels for “Omni” and “New Age”), so this would be the section for bands that use Aklo lyrics, such as the Ulthar Cats. Aklo is explained a bit more in Neonomicon #1, P6,p3 annotations, and is, of course, a central plot element of The Courtyard.
- A sign on the far right says “Order of Dagon” – this is a reference to the Esoteric Order of Dagon in Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” or possibly one of the occult groups based on the same.
- The flags above Charley’s head appear to be international maritime signal flags, but the colors don’t match.
- The poster on the left appears to be a reference to the chakras of Indian tantric practice.
- The beaded-curtain back room seen past the cashier’s desk was a formerly more-common feature of head shops, comic book stores, and small independent book and video stores, where adult materials were kept and children were not permitted.
- Alien as some of these sex toys seem, most of them are based on actual products (although we’ve never yet run into an inflatable rubber doll with a tentacle-lined facial hole). For example the “tentacle” dildo on the second-shelf from the top to the left of Beeks appears inspired by Whipspider Rubberworks very similar sex toy, and the leather masks resemble those available on Etsy.
- On the left appear to be bongs or sex toys, including “Azathoth’s Pipe”, a reference to the pipers of Azathoth in “The Dreams in the Witch House”; as well as “The Crawling Chaos” (an epithet of Nyarlathotep) and “The Great Old One (one of Lovecraft’s races of elder beings).
- All of the pornographic titles appear to be references to or plays on Mythos works (following a tradition of pornographic film titles being bowdlerized versions of popular culture, such as films.) Among the titles we can make out:
- “The Necro Sutra” – a reference to the Necronomicon and the famous Indian sex manual the Kama Sutra
- “Assathoth” – a reference to Lovecraft’s creation Azathoth and anal sex
- “C’Th’Orgy” – a reference to Cthulhu and group sex
- “Yog-Suckoth” – a reference to Yog-Sothoth and oral sex
- “Arseters (?) of R’lyeh” – a reference to R’lyeh
- “Madness Gasm” (?) – a reference to madness and orgasm
- “Herbert West: Dead Pimp” – a reference to “Herbert West–Reanimator”
- “Slaves of Cthulhu” – a reference to Cthulhu
- “Sex Rites” and “The Fuck Cult” – both references to orgiastic rites in “The Call of Cthulhu” and “The Dunwich Horror”
- “The Crank of Charles Dexter Ward” – a reference to Charles Dexter Ward and masturbation
- “The Dunwich Whorer” and “The Dunwich Whorer II” – a reference to “The Dunwich Horror” and prostitution
- “Blood Paraphilia” – a reference to blood-play fetish
- “Asylum Nights” 1, 2, & 3 – a reference to the asylums like Arkham Sanitarium in Lovecraft’s fiction
- “Ghouls Gone Wild” – a reference to ghouls from “Pickman’s Model” and the popular Girls Gone Wild series
- “Mustaches of Madness” – a reference to At the Mountains of Madness and oral sex (“mustache rides”)
- “Cumming Innsmouth” and “Deep Ones Going Deep” – references to “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and Deep Ones from the same story
- “Shoggoth Glory Holes” – reference to Shoggoths from “At the Mountains of Madness” and the popular public sex venue
- “Dirty Dreams” – a reference to the dreamlands, such as The Quest for Unknown Kadath
- “Freak Fuckers” – possibly a reference to Castle Freak, a film loosely based on Lovecraft’s “The Outsider,” or just to teratophilia in general
- “Squid Puss” – a reference to Cthulhu’s squid-like tentacles and the vagina
- “Deep Old Ones” – either a reference to the Deep Ones and ageplay (“granny porn”) or a pun based on Lovecraft’s Deep Ones and Old Ones
- “Mounds of Tindalos” – a reference to Frank Belknap Long’s “The Hounds of Tindalos” and breasts
- “Yitho Philia” – a reference to the Yithians from The Shadow Out of Time and paraphilias
- “Wet Nethers (?)” – possibly a reference to Deep Ones, also nethers is slang for a woman’s vagina, so wet nethers would be a sexually-aroused woman.
- “The Fun Guys of Yuggoth” – a reference to the Fungi of Yuggoth from “The Whisper in Darkness”
- “The Orgy in the Witch House” – a reference to “The Dreams in the Witch House”
- “Dreamer (?)” – probably a dreamlands reference
- “Tentacle Fucker” – a reference to tentacle erotica
- “Balls of Eryx” – a reference to “The Walls of Eryx”
- “Gaythins (?)” – possibly a reference to the Yithians from The Shadow Out of Time and homosexuality
- “Plaything (?)” – a reference to Playboy and Playgirl; cover features a veiled model
- “Ooze (?)” – a reference to tentacle erotica
- “Dream Raper” – cover features what might be Cthulhu, who interacts with sleeping humanity through dreams
- “From Behind” – a reference to “From Beyond”, also referring to anal sex
- “Barely Describable” – a reference to the indescribable nature of “The Unnameable”, also a play on porn’s “Barely Legal” genre.
- “The Haunter in the Penis (?)” – a reference to “The Haunter of the Dark”
(thanks commenter Alexxkay on a few of these.)
- Brears intimation of “other couples” suggests that “the Franklins” are swingers, into partner-swapping
- “If the stars are right.” is a reference to “When the stars are right” from “The Call of Cthulhu“:
They all died vast epochs of time before men came, but there were arts which could revive Them when the stars had come round again to the right positions in the cycle of eternity.
- “Cthulhu fhtagn R’lyeh,” with Brears parroting Aklo, is taken from the famous phrase in “The Call of Cthulhu.”
- Behind and to the left of Brears you can make out the titles “Deep Dagon” (a reference to Dagon from “The Shadow over Innsmouth”) and “The Fuck Retards of Shub Niggurath” (a reference to Shub-Niggurath from “The Whisperer in Darkness” and other stories).
- The DVD under Charley’s arm “IN THE M…” – Commenters Katie and Victor Rodriguez IDed this as In the Mouth of Madness, a John Carpenter film heavily influenced by Lovecraft.
- Kenneth Grant was an English occultist and successor to Aleister Crowley; his books the Typhonian Trilogies, starting with The Magical Revival (1972) incorporated elements of Lovecraft’s mythos into his magickal practice, which included sex magick. (An overview of Lovecraftian sex magick can be read here.) Moore had written an appreciation for Kenneth Grant entitled “Beyond Our Ken.”
- The book Brears is pulling out has a caduceus on the cover. The caduceus figures prominently in AM’s Promethea.
The arches of the Salem dome are just visible along the skyline for the first three panels, a subtle reminder this isn’t the world we know.
- “What’s with the occult books? I thought we were running down the sex angle” shows Lamper to very compartmentalized (narrow-minded) in his thinking. This contrasts with Brears (and Sax) who make more connections between disparate things.
- “This Grant guy” is Kenneth Grant – see P11,p3 above.
- Kenneth Grant passed away in 2011, but was alive when Neonomicon first went to print, and would have definitely been alive during the 2006 timeframe of the story.
- “Aleister Crowley” was a British occult writer.
- “666” is one interpretation for the number of the beast in the Biblical Book of Revelations; Crowley assumed the title “The Great Beast.”
- Brears is fairly accurately portraying Grant’s beliefs. From The Magical Revival (114):
Lovecraft was unacquainted both with the name and the work of Crowley, yet some of his fantasies reflect, however, distortedly, the salient themes of Crowley’s Cult.
- Endicott Hotel – suggest?
- One of the largely off-panel elements of Lovecraft’s cults includes “orgiastic rites,” such as in “The Call of Cthulhu”:
It was inside this circle that the ring of worshippers jumped and roared, the general direction of the mass motion being from left to right in endless Bacchanal between the ring of bodies and the ring of fire.
- “Jacques Cousteau” was a famous television oceanographer. The refers to the similarity between Cthulhu anatomy and undersea creature anatomy.
- “Nothing’s going to happen. Perlman’s going to know where we are” sounds too much like Aldo Sax’s situation in The Courtyard, which didn’t end well.
- The Magical Revival is an actual book by Kenneth Grant; the cover is a fairly accurate reproduction.
- The arches of the Salem dome are partially lit up at night.
- This is the first appearance of Joanie Beeks.
- “You’re our first black boy” is AM overtly showing these cultists’ racism (related to Lovecraft’s own racism.) The stereotypes are jarringly clear to the reader, but not to the Beeks, who think they’re complimenting Lamper. Lamper is stunned, responding somewhat incoherently.
- A direct reference to Lovecraft’s “The Festival,” where a protagonist returns to his ancestral home to partake of an ancient pagan celebration, carried out in a grotto beneath the Earth. Here we see a further blurring between reality and fiction – the celebrants, like Brears, know of Lovecraft’s fiction, but also some of the truth behind it.
- Beeks’ word bubble extends into the gutter below the panel, perhaps sending the action below the floorboards and outside the agents comfort zone.
- Commenter A Regina Cantatis notes “Leonard carrying the candelabra is reminiscent of the picture of Liberace with candelabra in Chapter 2, page 1, panel 4 – perhaps foreshadowing of his bisexuality?”
- “Jack Boggs’ tunnels” – Lovecraft included several tunnels in his work, most notably those in “Pickman’s Model,” based on the old smuggler’s tunnels of Boston’s north end.
- “Ech-Pi-El” is phonetically “H.P.L.” – Lovecraft’s initials, and how he would sign some of his letters and be addressed by friends.
- “Obed Marsh” was the sea-captain who founded the Esoteric Order of Dagon in “The Shadow over Innsmouth”
- The panel borders become the roof, floor, and walls of the passage.
- The crude images on the wall depict human and alien/monster entities with oversized genitalia engaging in various acts of group sex. These, of course, foreshadow the coming scene with the Deep One.
- “Show us some of that black power, huh” is again AM showing the racism of the cultists – similar to P14,p3 above.
- “The old gold refinery” refers to the Marsh refinery in “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” where Marsh would melt down the Deep Ones’ gold to disguise the source.
- “Orgone” was an invention of Wilhelm Reich, who believed it to be a cosmic energy related to love and orgasm, and enjoyed a brief respectability before being rejected as pseudoscience and adopted by occultists. Reich invented “orgone accumulators” to store and concentrate this energy. Orgone featured in the works of Kenneth Grant as well as Grant Morrison’s series The Invisibles, among others.
- Made clear in panel 3, this panel is the first appearance of four minor recurring characters. The panel portrays (left to right foreground) Barb Hendrik, Pete Hendrik, Charley (the store clerk introduced in P8,p3 above), Duk Trinh, and Mai Trinh.
- It’s worth noting that while Lovecraft held prejudiced views against black people in particular (based in part on the scientific racialism of the day); he did not hold such views regarding Asians in the same way. To some extent, Moore and Burrows may be playing with Asians being perceived as a model minority.
- Beeks’ speech bubble sticks out into the panel gutter above. In this case, it doesn’t seem significant, but just a way to get all the words onto the page.
- Nyarlathotep is an entity from Lovecraft’s fiction, notably “Nyarlathotep” and The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. In “The Dreams in the Witch House,” the entity is described as “the Black Man” of the medieval witch cult – who was not intended to be African, but a representation of the devil, or in the context of Margaret Murray’s The God of the Witches, a pagan deity.
- In “Nyarlathotep,” it is written: “The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why” and “The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed”. The fellahin being the native Arabic peasant-class of Egypt and the Middle East.
- The Trinhs, presumably Vietnamese, are having a bit of fun by conflating the “Black Man” of Lovecraft’s writings African-American Lamper, similar to P14,p3 above.
- Duk Trinh’s speech bubble extends above the panel into the gutter. In this case, it doesn’t seem significant, but just a way to get all the words onto the page.
- Lamper says “I’m cool” but he looks uncomfortable.
- River water suggests a connection to the sea, a nice foreshadowing of the horror to come.
- First appearance of full frontal male nudity, which is typically frowned on by most comic publishers. The freedom of depiction is part of the attraction for creators like Alan Moore and Garth Ennis in working with Avatar Press.
- Despite claiming they would be armed, neither Brears or Lamper carried their weapons holstered on them, possibly to avoid suspicion.
- The outer black panel frame frames the doorway frame.
- The doorframe is covered in scratches which on closer inspection appear to be symbols; the easiest to see is a pentagram-like Elder Sign above the door frame, possible to ensure nothing gets through the door from the other side.
- The bisexuality of the cultists is first displayed by the kissing and fondling of Mai and Barb.
- Brear’s loss of vision symbolizes and exacerbates her lack of control of the situation. Already forced to remove her clothing and weapons as part of the charade, her helplessness and reliance on Lamper are increased. In a symbolic sense, Brears literally cannot see what is coming.
- The blurry visual is from Brear’s point of view. She can barely see without her contacts or glasses.
- “Orgone energy” – see P16,p1 above.
- The orgone energy is “built up” be sexual acts, with the differing layers of materials acting to trap it – hence the “orgone accumulator.”
- Lamper, uncomfortable at the orgy starting, presumably leaves to get his weapon.
- The homosexual and bisexual acts taking place recalls Aleister Crowley’s “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” and a line from “The Call of Cthulhu”:
The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.
- Once again, the symbols are visible carved into the door frame.
panel 2 and 4
- Again, the blurry visual is from Brear’s point of view.
- The gunshot’s “PUM” is the only sound effect in Neonomicon (or The Courtyard.)
- While possibly not intentional on Moore’s part, sadly the black guy did die first in this issue, conforming to the old trope. We say unintentional because obviously in the context of the story, Lampton had to be removed from protecting Brear for events to progress along the lines laid out, and his death demonstrates the seriousness of Brear’s situation and the threat the cult poses, but it’s unfortunate that one of the few minority characters in the story is killed offhand.
- “You fool. Warren is dead.” is taken verbatim from the final line of Lovecraft’s “The Testament of Randolph Carter” – literally a meta-joke. Moore points this out by having Leonard Beeks recognize the reference, responding “Ha ha ha. Good one.” Commenter ehollon2014 elaborates: “This precise quote is also used in this same way, to blur the line between fiction and reality, in Bloch’s novel Strange Eons (1979).”
- This is only the beginning of the infamous rape sequence. It should be noted however, that whether or not he was conscious of it, Moore was following general guidelines that Lovecraft himself used. While Lovecraft rarely mentioned or intimate rape in any of his stories, when he did do so it was for the explicit purpose of conception, normally a conception between a human woman and a Mythos entity.
It is also, possibly, something of an initiation for Brears. She is stripped of all her protections, friends, weapons, even her contact lenses. Her confidence is eroded, and she is faced back into the kind of sexually-exploitative situation beyond her control. Her sex addiction in many ways would make the situation even worse; she is being forced into being the victim of behavior she was seeking to escape from, this time against her will.
Read a more extensive exploration of rape in Neonomicon on this page.
- “Vril energy” is another occult term, arising from the fiction novel The Coming Race (1871) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton; Moore here connects the idea of vril with orgone energy.
- “Dagon” – the god of the Deep Ones from “The Shadow over Innsmouth”; also echoes some of the porn titles from page 11, panel 1.
- “The nigger” – with Lamper dead, the racism goes from stereotypes to overt profanity.
- As shown by Pickman’s Necrotica, necrophilia might not be entirely off the table for these cultists.
- “Strap-a-thoggua” – a reference to Clark Ashton Smith’s entity Tsathoggua and a strap-on; from what we can see in the next panel, it appears to simply be a two-pronged strap-on for double penetrations.
- The “Three lobed burning eye” is a reference to Lovecraft’s “The Haunter in the Dark“, and was probably borrowed from A. Merritt’s The Moon Pool. In this context, it appears to refer to a triple penetration sex act.
panels 3 & 4
- The sexual excitement caused by the death of Lamper recalls the necrophiliac character in Lovecraft & Eddy’s “The Loved Dead.”
- “You gotta use a rubber” – Brears asks for a condom to be used to prevent the possibility of pregnancy or catching a sexually transmitted disease, this leads into panel 4, and a foreshadowing of Brear’s copulation with – and impregnation by – the Deep One. Brears has been hidden behind things – contacts, clothing disguise, wig – her first impulse is to ask for something to shield her here.
- Brear’s mascara is running from her tears.
- “Air is blue” – possibly a reference to the orgone build up.
- “Open the gate” is typically a reference in the Mythos to opening a magical or extradimensional gate to let a Mythos entity in; but here it refers to opening a physical gate to the river.
- “It’s the big one” is the first of several references to the Deep One, a gargouille de la mer, which first appears on P24-25, but is not entirely revealed to the reader until Neonomicon #3.
- Brears’ point of view again, still blurry
panels 2 & 4
- Brears’ point of view again, still blurry.
- The view from the Deep One’s perspective, of Brears.
- Brears’ point of view again. The Deep One is so close to Brears (about to rape her) that he’s nearly in focus.
>Go to Neonomicon #3 annotations
>Go to Moore Lovecraft annotations index
24 thoughts on “Neonomicon 2”
In addition to the mention of Cthulhu in Cities of the Red Night, Burroughs cites Lovecraft in several of his public lectures of the ’70s/’80s, wrote a blurb for the Simon Necronomicon, and in his final book Last Words, mentions the Great Old Ones once or twice.
It turns out that HPL was familiar with both Aleister Crowley’s name, and fictional versions of him in the supernatural fiction he’d read. Writing to his colleague Emil Petaja, he describes the occultists of the Golden Dawn and the ‘somewhat over-advertised Aleister Crowley’ and how he was ‘the original’ of Oscar Clinton from H.R. Wakefield’s He Cometh and He Passeth By. He had also read Leonard Cline’s The Dark Chamber, included in Supernatural Horror in Literature, wherein the anti-hero Richard Pride was heavily based on Crowley.
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rrrright… why did i think you guys had email addresses published on here? (mixing you up with someone else perhaps – !)
bottom panel of page 21 in this ish is (unfortunately enough) a perfect place to start – and once you see it, you will see it all throughout the text, it “unlocks” it from the unconscious (which is of course taking it in anyway)
the emblem for *neonomicon* is the jellyfish – the whole reason those city-domes are there is so AM can get JB to do lots of jellyfish-trickery… usually appending themselves to brears in backgrounds etc. (when reading the text that way it also becomes clear that there are adumbrations of lamper getting shot.)
but anyway… back to p21… charley’s long hair becomes tentacular appendages as brears’ gang rape grimly foreshadows her birth tableau. look at it… i know it’s not pretty. [but that’s ok cos it’s not meant to be pretty or pleasant – it’s meant to be (deeply) *disturbing* not pretty.]
it’s possible to do the entire comic, page by page and panel by panel analyzing the (meta)text in this way – and the thing is, in AM’s case absolutely all of it will be explicitly written into the script. (quite apart from anything else, he’s been studying tarot for so long now that his understanding of how to convey meaning with shape and line and perspective is just unbelievably highly evolved at this point.) page 1 is absolutely fascinating when viewed in this light – and don’t forget to include the linked speech bubbles in that viewing, cos AM didn’t…
Interesting – I’ll look back through it… fyi – my email is linton.joe at gmail.
P5,p4: “whoever’s behind all this” that likes to blur the lines between fiction and reality seems to me that it could be Alan Moore referencing himself.
In the category of “let’s explain the obvious”: Real world pornography found in a store like this would very often have similar punning titles, only based on well-known works of mainstream pop culture, rather than Lovecraftian stories.
“nethers” is mildly antiquated slang for female genitalia, so “Wet Nethers” can refer to an aroused woman.
“From Behind” is a phrase which actually does appear as part of many mainstream porn titles, usually as a reference to anal sex. (Possibly worded that way to avoid overly-zealous anti-sodomy laws in some states?)
“Barely Describable” plays on another common porn phrase “Barely Legal”, i.e., porn featuring models who are (or are at least portrayed to be) just over the age of consent.
Typo: “without here” should be “her”
P19.p4 and P20.p3
Typo: “Lampton” for “Lamper”
Typo: “forced into the being the”; shouldn’t have the first “the”
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Thank you – corrections, additions made – crediting you. Pretty soon we’ll need to list you as a co-author. Thanks for all your helpful comments
You’re quite welcome!
Tech correction: in the automated emails generated by new comments, the link to “Comment URL” never seems to work.
There’s something first visible in this panel that continues throughout the rest of this issue and issue 3. The tiles on the walls are of inconsistent size — or perhaps space within the room is being subtly warped. It’s barely possible the artist was being lazy, but that’s not my first assumption in this collaboration.
We noted some inconsistencies (see Nenomicon 4, P11,p4) but, at least to me, it didn’t seem clear enough to rise to the level of deliberate “subtle warping” (a la Providence 5’s witch house.)
to the right of the Elvis picture, it looks like there is another picture of the he similarly coifed Liberace, with a trademark candelabra.
I thought the same thing, pg. 2, panel 4, on the right. His second picture appears on pg. 3.
To be clear, Lovecraft never wrote anything called The Necronomicon. The N.con is a fictional book, (not a book of fiction) that functions as a plot point in many of his stories. It is supposedly translated from arcane sources by the ‘mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred’ (“all has read?”) and of which, only a few copies in the Lovecraft-iverse are supposed to exist, including one at MIskatonic U.
Lovecraft wrote a brief psuedo history of the N.con called ‘ History of the Necronomicon” and many publishers over the years have found it too tempting an idea to pass up and have published various titles with the name Necrominicon. Reading the real (fictitious) book,would of course, drive you irreversibly insane.
Lots of characters in HPL stories have read the Necronomicon without being driven insane. One might argue that *understanding* and/or *believing* it would always drive a human insane, but that most readers don’t fully do either..
Fair enough. It’s a quibble, I admit, but my point is that a real Necronomicon existing in our world, would be pretty significant and, unless you are a ravenous fish-person, not good.
I was reacting to the paragraph above, ‘One of Lovecraft’s most famous fictional works,’
I see that it can be called a fictional work, but maybe more accurately a fictional creation?
i.e. Moby Dick is work of fiction, The Pequod is a fictional ship that is part of Moby Dick. There is not a fictional work, ‘The Pequod’, by Herman Melville that I am aware of.
LIke I said, it’s a quibble and I am no doubt reacting to memories I have of naive potheads who had copies of the Simon Necronomicon next to The Anarchist Cookbook and Anton LeVey and the folks that haunt these comments sections are too sophisticated for the kind of categorical mistake I am pointing out.
Enjoying your website as I binge read these comics. Good work. Just as a bit of amusing trivia, the New Wave band DEVO (who have a sort of loose, pseudo mythology about the band) would say in interviews that their red ‘flower pot’ headgear were orgone accumulators.
“You probably know this very well, but your orgone energy goes out the top of your head and it dissipates out the top, but if you wear an energy dome it recycles that energy.” -Mark Mothersbaugh.
Page 1, panel 3: Notice how Brear’s words don’t break out of the gutter, but they do break out of the secondary gutter formed by the top of the wall.
Page 15, panels 1-4: Leonard carrying the candelabra is reminiscent of the picture of Liberace with candelabra in Chapter 2, page 1, panel 4 – perhaps foreshadowing of his bisexuality?
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P17.p1: There’s another appropriate quote from Nyarlothotep here: “The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;”
Thank you for making these annotations, they’ve been great. I know a lot of time has passed now but the DVD under Charley’s arm page 11, panel 2 is probably ‘In the Mouth of Madness’, a John Carpenter film that deals heavily with memetic language and HP Lovecraft in particular, obviously, as the title indicates. It’s an awesome movie, highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.
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Regarding page 20 panel 4, Lovecraft blurs the line between fiction and reality when he quotes the last line from Lovecraft’s The Statement of Randolph Carter “You fool. Warren is dead.” This precise quote is also used in this same way, to blur the line between fiction and reality, in Bloch’s novel “Strange Eons” (1979). It seems that Moore is borrowing from Bloch here. It would be a coincidence otherwise, but it doesn’t really seem like one since not only are Bloch and Moore quoting the same text, they are also using it in the exact same way. This makes is even more likely that Moore is giving a wink to Bloch. This may be corroborated by the fact that Moore’s character Robert Black, in his prequel Providence, is named for a literary counterpart of Robert Bloch named Robert Blake in Lovecraft’s The Haunter of the Dark. If you really like the way Moore is using the Lovecraft mythos in the storyline and the way he blurs the lines between reality and fiction, I highly recommend Bloch’s novel.
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Page 9, Panel 1: “Vinyl… 12-inch refers to the diameter, and indicates an album rather than an 8-inch single”
vinyl singles are typically 7-inch in diameter – assuming this was a typo?
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In regards to the missing heads and hands. this is from Samuel 5 of the NIV Bible.
After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.
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I agree with Katie, the DVD under Charley’s arm can easily be “In the Mouth of Madness” full of Lovecraftian themes, and overally very relevant to the plot of Neonomicon, about bringing to earth a devilish alternate reality