The long awaited “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier” is on sale now from Wildstorm, and that means Jess Nevins has been busy. Known in far corners of the Internet for his exhaustive annotations on some of American comics’ greatest works, Nevins is a master who has been acknowledged by “League” creators Kevin O’Neil and Alan Moore, who’ve provided him with their own commentaries and remarks about his hugely impressive work.
Nevins has already completed his annotations for "Black Dossier,” and CBR News is proud to re-publish his startlingly prodigious work here for our readers.
To discuss Nevins’ annotations and "Black Dossier" with fellow readers, don’t forget to stop by CBR’s Wildstorm forum.
For more of Nevins’ work, please visit his site, Annotations And Other Pursuits, where you will find annotations for comics including “Kingdome Come,” “Top Ten,” “1602” and more.
For more on “Black Dossier,” check out CBR’s in-depth interview with co-creator Alan Moore.
By Jess Nevins
Warning: There are some Bad Words used in these annotations. If you’re
under 18 or have a delicate disposition, look away.
In order to avoid spoiling some reveals and surprises, some things
will not be explained on their first appearance.
References are explained the first time they appear, and not thereafter.
Moving clockwise unless otherwise noted.
If you have any additions, corrections, or suggestions, please send
them to me at email@example.com. But, as a favor to me, please phrase
your e-mails politely.
Front Cover. If the sword is a reference to anything,
I’m unaware of it.
I believe the quartet of men wearing owl masks and Elizabethan clothing
are from a penny dreadful, but I’ve been unable to place it.
I don’t know what the rocket refers to, if anything. It’s similar
to the one seen on Page 142.
I’m not sure what that thing to the right of the rocket is. Possibly
one of the Martians wearing gasmasks from the first issue of League
The blonde woman is Mina Murray, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). The man running with her is Allan Quatermain, from H. Rider Haggard’s
series of books. He is young because he was rejuvenated in the Fires
of Life as described in the text pages of League v2.
The painting is of the 1898 League, featuring H. Rider Haggard’s
Allan Quatermain, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Edward Hyde, Jules Verne’s
Captain Nemo, and H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man.
Page 2. “Keep Calm and Carry On” was one of the
phrases used by British government during World War Two to encourage the
British people to keep a stiff upper lip, especially during the Battle of
the Blitz, when London was being pounded by nightly bombings. However, the
original poster with “Keep Calm and Carry On” looked like this:
The gate, chains, and jagged lightning bolts replacing the crown
gives another indication about what England has become in the alternate
history of Black Dossier.
Page 4. The Daily Brute is a reference to
Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop (1938). Scoop, routinely voted one
of the best novels of the 20th century, is a scathing savaging of the
English sensationalist press. In Scoop the newspaper for which
the protagonist works is the Daily Beast. Its main rival, even more
base and yellow, is the Daily Brute. (For modern British readers,
think Daily Mail, only even worse).
Page 5. “If found return to MiniLuv.”
“MiniLuv” is an example of newspeak, which appears in George Orwell’s
1984 (1949). 1984, a classic of dystopian fiction, describes
life under the rule of the totalitarian government of “Oceania.” One of
Oceania’s malign innovations is to impose newspeak on its citizens. Newspeak
is an artificially constructed language designed to remove as many words
and meanings as possible from conversation, with the intention being to
leave speakers capable of describing, and conceiving of, concepts in only
simplistic dichotomies: black and white, good and evil, and so on. Toward
this end words are merged together and shortened, so that “English Socialism”
becomes “IngSoc.” “MiniLuv” stands for the “Ministry of Love,” the government
department which uses fear, brainwashing, and torture to enforce loyalty to
and love of Big Brother, the leader of Oceania.
Pages 6-7. This is a parody of that classic of
graphic design, the map of the London Tube.
“If experiencing nausea while in the nether regions, keep hat firmly
on, lay back, and think of England.”
“Lie back and think of England” is the advice supposedly given to
daughters, by mothers, during the Victorian era about how to survive the
wedding night and the loss of virginity, since (supposedly) Victorian women
couldn’t conceive of a proper woman enjoying sex. This is ahistorical nonsense,
of course, and “lie back and think of England” was not standard advice,
or even widely said. The quote attributed to “Lady Hillingdon” is spurious,
and Gathorne-Hardy, the source of the Lady Hillingdon quote, himself says
that the quote is “somewhat suspect.” I repeat: “lie back and think of England”
was not standard advice or even widely said, if at all.
“The Blazing World” is a reference to Observations upon Experimental
Philosophy. To which is added the Description of a New Blazing World. Written
by the Thrice Noble, Illustrious and Excellent Princess, The Duchess of
Newcastle (1666), by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. The
Blazing World is a classic of the Imaginary Voyage genre and was referred
to in League v2.
“Ray Zone” is a reference to Ray
Zone, who did the 3D art for Black Dossier.
Page 8. The two ads on the right side of this page
The cartoon on the lower left is done in the style of New Yorker
cartoons from the 1950s and 1960s. The cartoon’s artist, “Arnie Packer,”
is a reference to the “Winged Avenger” episode of the British tv series
The Avengers. In “The Winged Avenger” an evil cartoonist named “Arnie
Packer” is responsible for a series of murders.
Pádraig Ó Méalóid says,
“the artwork for the comic strip was actually done by UK comics artist Frank
Bellamy,” and points us to this
site, which has samples of the comic art.
Page 9. Panel 1. If the Malibu Hotel is
a reference to something, I’m unaware of it.
The headline in lower center, “Melchester Rovers Scandal,” is a reference
to the British comic Roy of the Rovers (1954-1993), in which the
hero Roy Race plays football for the Melchester Rovers.
The headline on the right, “Knightsbridge Ape-Men,” is a reference
to “Quatermass and the Pit” (1958), the third Professor Quatermass BBC
serial. In it, the bones of ape-men, unearthed in Knightsbridge, lead to
the revelation of the Martian influence on the evolution of humanity.
Panel 3. “Will Wilson return for Olympics?” reference is to
Wilson, the mysterious, superhuman teenaged athlete from the British
comics Wizard, Hotspur, and Hornet (1943-1963).
Wilson, born in 1806, achieved longevity and athletic prowess from special
breathing exercises and a diet of gruel, nuts, berries, and wild roots.
In one episode he breaks the world long jump record while running a three-minute
Damian Gordon notes that Wilson was brought back
as “the Man in Black” in the British comic Spike in 1983.
Panels 4-6. Jack & Annie Walker were characters on the
long-running British soap Coronation Street. The Walkers were landlords
of the Rovers Return Inn. (Hence the comment in Panel 6 that “our rovin’
days are over”).
Panel 5. “Straight after election she ‘ad all cameras took
out, the lot.”
The England of 1984 was of course under constant observation
from the government of Oceania, but I think this is also an allusion by
Moore to England as it is now, with over four million cameras watching the
British at all times.
Panel 6. “Victory Gin is Doubleplus Good For You.”
“Victory Gin” is the only authorized alcohol in Orwell’s 1984.
“Doubleplus” is another use of newspeak (see Page 5). I will refrain from
noting the use of newspeak from this point on—suffice it to say that there’s
a lot of it in here.
The “V” cigarettes that the blonde woman is smoking here are likely
“Victory cigarettes,” also from 1984.
Richardthinks notes that Victory Cigarettes were a real
brand, as seen here.
Panel 7. “I’ll have a vodka martini over ice…and stir that,
if you would. Otherwise it bruises the alcohol.”
“Shaken, not stirred” is the cliched quote from Ian Fleming’s James
Bond (who as will be seen is the speaker here). However, Bond never said,
“shaken, not stirred.” His stated preference for martinis appears in the
first Bond novel, Casino Royale:
“A dry martini,” he said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”
“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a
measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then
add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”
The bruising of the alcohol comes when a martini is shaken. Shaking
a martini during its preparation adds air into the drink and “bruises”
the alcohol, making the drink taste too bitter.
Philip & Emily Graves write, “I’m fairly sure I read somewhere that
the iconic phrase was “Stirred, not shaken” in early film drafts, but that
(Cubby Broccoli?) had it switched more for aesthetic reasons than anything
Page 10. Panel 1. Apparently in the world of League
Britain went to a U.K./U.S. monetary system, with 10 shillings equaling
1 dollar rather than (or in addition to) 20 shillings equalling 1 pound.
Also, the face on the shilling note is Britannia, the personification
of the British Empire. Modern pound notes have the Queen’s face on them,
but the 1948 pound note had Britannia on it.
Panel 4. “I’m Jimmy, by the way.”
Philip & Emily Graves note that “”Jimmy Bond” was also the name used in
the 1954 ‘Climax!’ TVM version of Casino Royale, for its Americanised main
Peter Sanderson writes, “Moore makes his version of James Bond look even
more foolish by giving him the same name as Jimmy Bond, James’s nephew in
the 1967 “Casino Royale” film, played by Woody Allen. Note that in
the 1967 movie, Jimmy turns out to be the villain, albeit an incompetent
“Bash Street,” “Rampaging Yobs,” and the picture are a reference to the
British comic strip “Bash Street Kids,” created by British comics great
Leo Baxendale (originally as “When the Bell Rings”) and appearing in Beano
from 1954 to the present. The Bash Street Kids are a bunch of mischievous
and ill-behaved children at the Bash Street School.
The “Asian Flu” may be a specific literary/cultural reference or
just an allusion to the Asian flu epidemic in Britain during late 1950s.
(And which, appropriately enough, killed Sax Rohmer, the creator of Fu
Panel 8. Captain Morgan is a reference to Jet Morgan, who
starred in the British radio serial Journey Into Space (1953-1958).
Set in the distant future of 1965 (and in later series the early 1970s),
Journey Into Space is about Captain Jet Morgan, “Doc” Matthews,
“Mitch” Mitchell, and Lemmy Barnett, and their trip to the Moon and then
Captain Dare is a reference to Dan Dare, the archetypal British comic
science fiction hero. Created by Frank Hampson, Dan Dare has been appearing
in various media since his debut in the comic Eagle in 1950. In
the 1990s Dan Dare, chief pilot of the Interplanet Space Fleet, has adventures
across the solar system, repeatedly coming into conflict with the Mekon,
the evil ruler of the Treens of northern Venus.
Damian Gordon notes that Dan Dare is a Colonel,
not a Captain, in his original appearances.
Captain Logan is a reference to Jet-Ace Logan, who appeared in the
British comics Comet (1956-1959) and Tiger (1959-1968).
Royal Air Force Space Cadet Jim “Jet-Ace” Logan is a part of the R.A.F.
Space Patrol and cruises about the solar system, fighting iniquitous aliens
and finding adventure.
Presumably the person Bond is shoving aside is a visual reference
of some kind, but I don’t know what it is.
Panel 9. “Fighter ace dies” is presumably a reference to something,
but the accompanying picture could refer to a number of characters. But
see Page 16, Panel 8.
Page 11. Panel 5. Peter Sanderson writes, “Actually,
I’m a secret agent”: the way that Bond lights his cigarette with an
eerie glow reminds me of the Cigarette-Smoking Man in The X-Files.”
Panel 6. Meccania is a reference to Gregory Owen’s Meccania, the
Super-State (1918). Meccania is the ultimate in totalitarian dystopias,
a state completely regimented and controlled by the government. For a
Big Brother-ruled England, Meccania would be a natural enemy.
Panel 7. Kian Ross, Rich Weaver, and Jeff Patterson, among
others, point out what I should have gotten: that the statue is of Mr. Hyde,
as mentioned at the end of League v2.
Page 12. Panel 3. “O’Dette ‘Oodles’ O’Quim” is
a riff on the salacious, single-entendre names Bond women and Bond’s female
enemies usually have.
I’d assumed that “quim” was commonly-known, but obviously
note. Peter Sanderson, among others, writes: “”Oodles O’Quim”: until
I looked it up, I didn’t
know that “quim” is British slang for female genitalia. I suspect I’m
not the only American reader who didn’t know that. So “Oodles O’Quim”
is the equivalent of “Pussy Galore.”
Panel 7. There is a reference to a statue of Big Brother in
1984: “in Victory Square…near the statue of Big Brother on the
tall fluted column with the lions at the foot.” The statue here doesn’t
appear to be it, though.
Peter Sanderson writes, “This indicates that in “1984”
Trafalgar Square was renamed Victory Square, and Nelson’s statue was replaced
by a statue of Big Brother.”
Wow! was a British comic which appeared in 1982 and 1983,
but I don’t believe the bus advert is a reference to that.
Maplins is a holiday camp in the British tv sitcom Hi-de-Hi!
(1980-1988). Maplins is in the coastal town of Crimpton-on-Sea in Essex.
As far as I know there’s no “Bluepool” in Hi-de-Hi!. Damian Gordon
points out that Maplins is based on a real series of camps called Butlin’s
“–is watching you” is the second half of the classic phrase “Big
Brother is Watching You” from 1984.
Page 13. Panel 1. “Airstrip One” is is what the
British Isles are called in 1984. Airstrip One is part of Oceania
(the Americas, Southern Africa, and Australia).
The “Anti-Sex League” is a reference to the government-backed organization,
in 1984, which is devoted to eliminating the pleasurable aspect
of sex. Members of the League are encouraged to have sex, but only once
a week, and “for the good of the party.”
Panel 2. In 1984 O’Brien is a member of the Inner
Party, the ruling class of Oceania. In the novel O’Brien is responsible
for torturing Winston Smith, the protagonist, into accepting Big Brother.
Panel 4. “Freedom is Slavery” is newspeak.
The shell marks on the Ministry of Love may seem unusual, but much
of London was not fully rebuilt, following World War Two, until the mid-
Page 14. Panel 1. The poster in the upper left
is a combination of the “Big Brother Is Watching You” poster from 1956
British film version of 1984, and the mustached Big Brother from
the 1984 American film version of 1984.
The bust in the lower left is of Professor Moriarty (I think), replacing
the bust of Napoleon which Moriarty kept when he was in charge of British
Intelligence in League volume 1.
The symbol above the doors is the Masonic compass and right angle
which was a recurring symbol in earlier League volumes. In Masonic
lore the compass and right angle symbolize the instruments of both the Masons
If the pith helmet and the sheathed sword are references to anything,
I’m unaware of it. Damian Gordon suggests that they may be Quatermain’s.
The bust with the question mark may be the bust of Baron von Münchhausen
seen in the first League series.
I’m unsure what the glass ball might be.
The giant skull is the Brobdingnagian skull, from Jonathan Swift’s
Gulliver’s Travels (1726), seen in League v1.
I’m not sure what the shirt with the “s” emblem is referring to.
I’m not sure who the portrait of the man in the bow-tie is a reference
On the bulletin board, the painting/picture, “Pacific Ocean July
1949,” and “Iron Fish?” are references to “Iron Fish,” from the British
comic Beano from 1949-1968. The Iron Fish’s creator, Jimmy Grey,
appeared in League v2. “The Iron Fish” is about two twins, Danny
and Penny Gray, who pilot two “Iron Fish” submarines, both of which are
built by their father, Professor Gray, who is the subject of the “Professor
Gray Feared Lost” headline on the lower left of the board.
“Bla- Sapp-“ is a reference to the titular character of the comic
strip “The Black Sapper,” who appeared in the British comcs Rover
and Hotspur for decades, beginning with The Rover #384 (Aug.
24, 1929). The Black Sapper is a costumed inventor/thief who uses The Earthworm,
an enormous burrowing machine, to commit crimes. He reforms in the face of
an alien invasion of Earth.
Panel 2. The painting in the upper left is based on this:
This is Sir Francis Walsingham (c. 1532-1590), the spymaster for
Queen Elizabeth I in our world. However, as can be seen on Page 53, Walsingham
has been replaced by someone else in the world of League. For
who, see the notes to Page 53.
Panel 4. In 1984 Room 101 is “the worst thing in the
world,” a torture chamber in the Ministry of Love where prisoners are
subjected to their worst nightmares.
Panel 6. “Special village in Wales” a reference to the British
tv series The Prisoner (1967), in which retired spies who too dangerous
to their former employers are confined in a village. The location of
the village was never specified, but the series was filmed in Portmeirion,
which is in Wales.
Page 15. Panels 1-4. Bond is this hatefully misogynistic
in the Ian Fleming books, if not in the films.
Panel 9. I believe that James Bond was once described as a
“nasty little thug” but I’ve been unable to find the reference. David Alexander
McDonald notes that in the most recent film version of Casino Royale
M uses the word “thug” in describing Bond.
Page 16. Panel 4. “Just like your grandfather.”
This is confirmation that Campion Bond, seen in the previous volumes
of League, is James Bond’s grandfather.
Panel 5. “Is this what it’s come to? The British adventure
While it is logical that a 19th century British adventure hero (Mina)
would find the 20th century British adventure hero (Bond) unsavory and
pathetic, the statement might also be seen as a metatextual comment by Moore
on the way in which 20th century British adventure fiction, certainly of
the first half of the century, overtly displayed biases (see Page 79, Panel
2, for example) which were mostly hidden during the 19th century.
Panel 7. “If he’d been German, he’d have been loyal to Hynkel.”
See Page 47.
Panel 8. “Eurasia” is a reference to 1984. Eurasia,
which is Europe, Russia, northern Africa, and the Middle East, is the enemy
“Social– Nuclea– by Gust–“ is a reference to to H.G. Wells’ The
Shape of Things to Come (1933), a future history of the world in
which a benevolent dictatorship emerges following a deadly plague. In
The Shape of Things to Come a Wellsian stand-in, Gustave de Windt,
writes a book, Social Nucleation, which
was the first exhaustive study of the psychological laws underlying
team play and esprit de corps, disciplines of criminal gangs, spirit
of factory groups, crews, regiments, political parties, churches, professionalisms,
aristocracies, patriotisms, class consciousness, organized research and
constructive cooperation generally. It did for the first time correlate
effectively the increasing understanding of individual psychology, with
new educational methods and new concepts of political life. In spite of
its unattractive title and a certain wearisomeness in the exposition, his
book became a definite backbone for the constructive effort of the new
Titus Cobbet is a reference to Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come.
In The Shape of Things to Come a bicyclist, Titus Cobbett, travels
through a ruined Europe and England observing the desolation. He also
reports on the death of a “European Aviator,” which could be what the
headline on Page 10, Panel 9 is referring to.
I don’t know what “–ipley” might be a reference to. Patricia Highsmith’s
Tom Ripley, possibly?
“The Th– Oligarchial Emm–“ is a reference to The Theory and Practice
of Oligarchial Collectivism, which in 1984 is “a terrible book,
a compendium of all the heresies” and is written by the dissident Emmanuel
Panel 9. “–stasia” is a reference to Eastasia in 1984.
Eastasia, which consists of China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, India, the
Philippines, Indonesia, and the Middle East, is the smallest and newest
of the three superstates.
“Atrocity Pamphlet” may be a reference to the J.G. Ballard novel
The Atrocity Exhibition (1970).
“Manor Farm” is a reference to George Orwell’s Animal Farm
(1945), in which the revolution of the talking animals takes place at Manor
I’m not sure what “Harry Blake” might be a reference to.
I’m not sure what the folder with the stylized letter is a reference
I think the book below that reads “Moreau,” which is a reference
to H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896). Dr. Moreau appeared
in League v2.
“Gustave de Windt” is a reference to H.G. Wells’ The Shape of
Things to Come. (See the note to Panel 8 above).
I’m not sure what “-oy Cars” might be a reference to.
“St. Merri– Hospital” is a reference to John Wyndham’s The Day
of the Triffids (1953). The Day of the Triffids is a science
fiction, horror, post-apocalyptic novel in which a race of carnivorous
plants, the triffids, cause the downfall of human civilization. The opening
of the novel occurs in St. Merryn’s Hospital.
Page 17. Panel 1. “…how much vipers like Lime
See Page 78, Panel 9 for more on “Lime.”
“Drake” is a reference to John Drake, the protagonist of the BBC
tv series Danger Man (1960-1962). John Drake is an Irish-American
spy for a department of NA.T.O. who carries out missions for his superiors
even though he often disagrees with them. The Prisoner, which starred
Patrick McGoohan (who played John Drake), is unofficially the sequel to
Danger Man. In David McDaniel’s Who is No. 2? (1968) it is
confirmed that Drake is No. 6, The Prisoner.
David Alexander McDonald writes:
David MacDaniel’s novel is ephemeral, and it was repeatedly stated
by McGoohan and various members of the production that The Prisoner is not,
in fact, John Drake (despite the John Drake picture X’d out at the beginning
of the show.) These statements from the production end (most recently
on the 40th Anniversary DVD release) are hobbled a tiny bit, however,
by the appearance of an actor playing a character named Potter in both Danger
Man and The Prisoner, albeit the character being quite different in each
iteration, by the original reference in the story treatments to the Prisoner
as “Drake” (he was referred to as P as pre-production and production went
on) and by the repurposing of an unused Danger Man script, “The Girl Who
Was Death,” in the last four episodes of the series — and there’s that passing
reference there to “Drake.” But the official line is that the Prisoner
wasn’t Drake. More entertainingly, the producers have been known to
speculate that, given the final episode, the series actually took place
with in a virtual reality, or entirely in the Prisoner’s mind while he was
drugged to the gills.
Philp & Emily Graves write:
On the ‘Drake as Prisoner’ suggestion, it should be noted that,
although McGoohan and others denied that they were the same character, George
Markstein, co-creator of (and script editor on) The Prisoner stated on several
occasions that they WERE. One suggestion for the purported confusion is that
the character (and name) of John Drake were created and owned by Ralph Smart,
so overt identification of the two was either impossible for legal reasons,
or undesirable as the rights were not McGoohan’s.
“Meres” is a reference to Toby Meres, who appeared in the British tv series
Callan (1967-1972). David Callan, the protagonist, is a bitter,
aging assassin for the British S.I.S. Meres is Callan’s partner. Lee Barnett
corrects my original description of Toby Meres and writes that Meres is
“not so much less-skilled, as he is a cold blooded psychopath who enjoys
the more violent aspects of the work, whereas Callan hated it, even though
the latter was so bloody good at it.” David Alexander McDonald writes:
I adored Callan — bitterly cynical, wonderful work from
Edward Woodward. Meres wasn’t Callan’s superior, though — he was
his peer (as
was Cross, after Anthony Valentine left for a while.) Meres was an
arrogant, impulsive, and thoroughly sociopathic twat, a former public schoolboy
and Oxford graduate who certainly had ambitions beyond his station; he was,
however, unlikely to assume the position of Hunter, which Callan did for
a while. In the initial story, “A Magnum For Schneider” (based on James
Mitchell’ stage play, and done as an Armchair Theater episode) Meres (played
by Peter Bowles rather than Valentine) is asigned to keep an eye on Callan,
and then set him up for the police to arrest once he’s completed his
mission — Callan promptly turns the tables and leaves Meres for the cops
instead. As a result Callan ends up with his dossier assigned to a
(hence the novel version being called A Red File For Callan; the movie
adaptation, with Peter Egan as Meres, is just called Callan.) The
generally partners Callan and Meres, with Callan as often as not managing
to screw Meres over. All the same, I wouldn’t call Meres less skilled
adept than Callan — Callan’s conscience often gets in the way, although
he can summon a vicious coldness when he needs to. If anything, Meres
sometimes a little exciteable because he enjoys his work. Cross,
on the other hand, was less adept and more vulnerable, which eventually
death. Oh, and after Callan, brainwashed, kills a Hunter at the end
of series two, it’s Meres that shoots Callan — and then proceeds to show
concern and care, which is really rather freaky.
Panel 4. Gadgets and weapons contained in and concealed
by James Bond’s pens are a recurring part of the Bond canon.
“The Me– Police C– George— Died on t– August 1898″
Philp & Emily Graves write, “The deceased Police Constable George D[
] may very well be the one killed by Hawley Griffen back in LoEG V1I5. Furthermore
(or alternatively) George D[ ] may be a reference to George Dixon
of Dock Green, played by Jack Warner from 1955-76.” Jonathan Carter and Christopher
Reynolds wonder if this is a dedication to the policeman killed by the Invisible
Man in League v2.
Panel 7. Philip & Emily Graves write, “In the 1967 (Actually
around 9 years later) film “You Only Live Twice”, Bond has a cigarette with
shoots a jet-powered projectile.”
Page 18. Panel 2. The obelisk is Cleopatra’s Needle,
the celebratory obelisk originally constructed for Pharaoh Tuthmosis
III, ruler of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty from 1504-1450 B.C.E.
Panels 2-4. “Glamcabs” is a reference to the film Carry
On Cabby (1963). Glamcabs is a taxi company in competition with Speedee
Taxis, the service operating by Charlie Hawkins, Carry On Cabby’s protagonist.
It is possible that the driver here is Anthea, from Carry On Cabby,
played in the film by Amanda Barrie.
Panel 7. “He must meet women with names like that all the
time.” As indeed Bond does.
Page 19. Panel 1. “Birnley Fabrics” is a reference
to the film The Man in the White Suit (1951). In the film Sidney
Stratton invents a fabric, later called Birnley Fabrics after the mill
owner who produces them, that never gets dirty or wears out.
I’m assuming that the characters in this panel, as in many others
in Black Dossier, are references to British comics, but I’m unable
to place the references.
Panels 3-5. “Mr. Kiss” is a Michael Moorcock’s Mother
London (1988), a novel about post-WW2 London. One of the main characters
is fading theater performer and professional mind-reader Josef Kiss.
Page 20. Panels 2-8. The landlady stumped
me, but not you lot. Chris Roberson, usedcarsrus, and Ian Warren, among others,
point out that “The landlady is clearly Mrs. Cornelius, from Moorcock’s Jerry
Cornelius stories and elsewhere, and her children the younger versions of
Jerry, Frank, and Catherine Cornelius, who had the same sort of complicated,
incestuous relationship hinted at here.”
Panel 3. “Anyroad” is a northern British variant of “anyway.”
Page 21. Panel 1. The “Holborn Empire,” a.k.a the
Royal Holborn, a.k.a. Weston’s Music Hall, was a major music hall in Holborn,
in central London.
Peter Sanderson notes that “Lewis and Clark” are a reference to “Al Lewis
and Willie Clark, the fictional vaudeville team in Neil Simon’s play 1972
“The Sunshine Boys,” which was made into an MGM film released in 1975. “Lewis
and Clark” were based on the real life vaudeville team of Smith and Dale (Joe
Smith and Charles Dale).”
I’m unable to place the “Professor Donnol” reference.
“Archie Rice” is a reference to the John Osborne play The Entertainer
(1957), later made into the 1960 film The Entertainer. In the play
and film Archie Rice is an aging, hard-luck vaudevillian entertainer.
If “lifting you on wings of song” is a reference rather than just
an entertainment catchphrase, I’m unaware of it. (Alternatively, it might
be a reference to Fevvers, below).
“Fevvers” may be a reference to the protagonist of Angela Carter’s
Nights at the Circus (1984). Fevvers is a Cockney circus aeralist
and showgirl who has wings.
Damian Gordon clears up my confusion: “Mr. J. Stark The Incredible
India Rubber Man” is a reference to Janus Stark, a Victorian superhero
who appeared in the British comics Smash and Valiant (1969-1973).
Stark has very rubbery bones, which gives him superheroic abilities which
he uses to fight crime.
“Comedy of –rthur -e Washboard -tkins with -er Drawers” is
a reference to Paul Whitehouse’s character Arthur Atkinson, played by
Whitehouse on the BBC tv show The Fast Show (1994-2000). Arthur
Atkinson, a parody of real-life radio comedian Arthur Askey, is a nonsensical
comedian, one of whose catchphrases is “Where’s me washboard?” and one of
whose characters is “Chester Drawers.”
Panel 4. “Or perhaps his tie-clip’s really a radio.”
I’m unaware of Bond ever having a radio transmitter in his tie-clip.
However, such a device appeared in the American tv series Search
Page 22. Panel 1. Damian Gordon corrects my confusion
here: “Baz” is a riff on the British laundry detergent Daz.
Panel 2. In 1984 an “unperson” is someone who has been
killed by the government and had his existence officially deleted and
erased from all records.
Panel 5. In 1984 “pornosec” is a section of the Ministry
of Truth that produces pornography.
Panel 6. The “Adventures of Jane” was the movie version of
Norman Pett’s comic strip “Jane,” which appeared in the British Daily
Mirror (1932-1959). Jane is an ingenue who is often inadvertently disrobed.
Also see the Tijuana Bible at the back of the Black Dossier.
Panel 8. I realize that that is probably a tiger on the mug,
but it might also be a reference to Korky the Cat, star of a comic strip
in the British comic The Dandy from 1937 to 2005.
Page 23. Panel 1. The “B.B. Years” is a reference
to “the Big Brother Years.”
“Cavor” is a reference to “Professor Selwyn Cavor,” from H.G. Wells’
The First Men in the Moon (1901). Cavor appeared in League
Panels 3-4. “…he’d been to Jamaica earlier this year…apparently
he was there sparring with some mad scientist. Distant relative of our
old Limehouse adversary, I’m told.”
This is a reference to Ian Fleming’s Dr. No (1958). In the
novel Bond is sent to Jamaica to recover from having been poisoned by Rosa
Klebb in From Russia With Love. In Jamaica Bond comes into conflict
with Dr. Julius No, a Chinese-German scientist and Russian agent.
The implication that Dr. No is related to Fu Manchu
is a new one, although, as Myles Lobdell points out, “Ian Fleming publicly
admitted that Dr. No was directly inspired by his reading Sax Rohmer at Eton.
See John Pearson’s 1966 biography The Life of Ian Fleming.”
Panel 5. “I wonder if he’s still alive? The Devil Doctor?”
“Not in England. The party purged Limehouse in
In The Shadow of Fu Manchu (1948) Fu Manchu has relocated
to New York. He would not be active in Limehouse for a number of years.
Panel 9. “Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.”
“Are you sitting comforably? Then I’ll begin” was the opening phrase
of Listen with Mother (1950-1982), a BBC radio program for children.
Jonathan Carter writes, “Mina and Allan reading the Black Dossier in bed
might be a deliberate parallel to 1984’s Winston and Julia reading Goldstein’s
book in bed.”
Page 24. This is all written in newspeak,
with newspeak logic
Page 25. For more on “H.W.” see Page 83.
“Greyfriars” is a reference to Greyfriars School, from the hundreds
(well over a thousand) of British story paper stories set there and written
by “Frank Richards,” a.k.a. Charles Hamilton. Greyfriars is a British public
school whose students, including Billy Bunter and the Famous Five, have
a wide variety of adventures, from student revolts to attacks by Yellow
Myles Lobdell notes, “Greyfriars School is most famously
and originally from Thackeray’s novels (the Newcomes among others).
It was not original to Charles Hamilton, although Hamilton did move the school
from Surrey to Kent.”
“R.K.C.” See Page 83.
The “Holmes brothers” are a reference to Sherlock Holmes and Mycroft
Holmes. Sherlock appeared in League v1 in flashback. Mycroft has
appeared in both League volumes.
“Bessy.” See the notes to Page 86.
“Gerry O’Brien.” See the notes to Page 13, Panel 2.
“Oliver Haddo” is a reference to W. Somerset Maugham’s novel The
Magician (1907). Haddo was based on Aleister Crowley, and Crowley later
used “Oliver Haddo” as a pseudonym. In The Magician Haddo (a version
of Dr. Moreau) attempts to use magic to create life.
“Trump” See Page 29.
“Prospero” is a reference to William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
(1611). In the play Prospero, a wizard and the deposed Duke of Milan, gets
up to hijinks on an island.
“Fanny Hill” is a reference to John Cleland’s Fanny Hill, Or,
Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1749). Fanny Hill, one of the most
notable early works of English pornography, tells of Mistress Hill’s erotic
I’ve been unable to determine whether “Humphreys” is a reference
to a real-life person or a fictional one, and to who.
“Les Hommes Mysterieux” means “The Mysterious Men” in French. “Der
Zwielichthelden” means “The Twilight Heroes” in German.
“Rt. Hon. Bertram Wooster” is a reference to the immortal Jeeves
& Wooster stories of P.G. Wodehouse. See Page 116 for more.
“Joan Warralson” is a reference to W.E. Johns’ Worrals, who appeared
in a number of stories in Girl’s Own Paper and eleven novels from
1940 to 1950. She is a smart, independent, patriotic, and fearless pilot
for the Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force during World War Two. She is a member
of the 1946-1947 League. (See Page 148 below).
“Sal Paradyse” is a reference to Sal Paradise, the narrator of Jack
Kerouac’s On the Road (1957). On the Road, the major novel of the
Beat movement, is a stream-of-consciousness account of Kerouac and his
friends traveling across America.
“Dr. Sachs” is a reference the titular character of Jack Kerouac’s
Dr. Sax (1959). Dr. Sax is a scientist who travels to Lowell,
Massachusetts, to destroy the Great World Snake, a Jörmungandr-like
Page 26/On the Descent of Gods 1. Myles Lobdell
notes that “On the Descent of Gods’ is taken from Charles Dickens’ paeon to
human evolution, the Descent of Man.”
The “fire at his Staffordshire estate in 1908” is a reference to the
finale of The Magician, in which Skene, Haddo’s mansion, burns to
I believe “The Solstice” is a reference to Aleister Crowley’s magazine
The Equinox (1909-1913, then intermittently). The Equinox
is the official magazine of A:A:, the magic order Crowley established in
“…my own Liber Logos, dictated by an unseen presence in Cairo during
1904.” This is a further reference to things Aleister Crowley-an. “Liber
Logos” means “Book of the Word” and is an analogue for Crowley’s own Liber
Al vel Legis, the “Book of the Law,” which was supposedly dictated
to Crowley by the Egyptian god Horus in Cairo in 1904.
The “Elohim” are, in Genesis 6:2, a kind of angel who take the “daughters
of men” for wives.
The “Great Old Ones” are a reference to the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
In Lovecraft’s “Cthulhu Mythos” stories the Great Old Ones are a group
of alien god-like beings of enormous size and power who transcend our understanding
of time and space. They are currently imprisoned or sleeping but can be
awakened by cultist worshipers.
“Johannes Suttle” is a reference to “Subtle,” from in Ben Jonson’s
play The Alchemist (1610). Subtle is a rogue who poses as an alchemist.
In the fictional literary history of the Necronomicon (see
below) as described by Lovecraft, the only reference to a 16th century
translation is this, in Lovecraft’s “The History and Chronology of the
Necronomicon”: “A still vaguer rumor credits the preservation of a 16th
century Greek text in the Salem family of Pickman; but if it was so preserved,
it vanished with the artist R. U. Pickman , who disappeared early in 1926.”
In the works of Lovecraft “Abdul Alhazred” is the unfortunate 8th
century Arab writer of the Al-Azif, which later became known as
the Necronomicon (see below). Alhazred is known as the “Mad Arab”
in the Lovecraft stories, and for good reason.
“Necronomicon” is a reference to the Necronomicon, which in
the works of Lovecraft is a tome of forbidden knowledge so horrifying
that it drives those who read it mad.
“Yuggoth” is, in the works of Lovecraft, another planet. In “The
Whisperer in Darkness” Lovecraft describes Yuggoth in this way:
Yuggoth… is a strange dark orb at the very rim of our solar
system… There are mighty cities on Yuggoth—great tiers of terraced towers
built of black stone… The sun shines there no brighter than a star, but
the beings need no light. They have other subtler senses, and put no windows
in their great houses and temples… The black rivers of pitch that flow
under those mysterious cyclopean bridges—things built by some elder race
extinct and forgotten before the beings came to Yuggoth from the ultimate
voids—ought to be enough to make any man a Dante or Poe if he can keep
sane long enough to tell what he has seen…
“Kutulu” is a reference to Cthulhu, one of the Lovecraftian Great
Old Ones and a being trapped beneath the Pacific Ocean. “Kutulu” is one
of the variant spellings of Cthulhu.
“A-Tza-Thoth” is a reference to Azathoth, one of the Lovecraftian
Outer Gods (more powerful versions of the Great Old Ones). Azathoth, the
“Blind Idiot God,” is described in “The Whisperer in Darkness” in this
way: “the monstrous nuclear chaos beyond angled space which the Necronomicon
had mercifully cloaked under the name of Azathoth.”
“Shub-Niggurath,” in the works of Lovecraft, is an alien being similar
to the Great Old Ones. Shug-Niggurath is the “Black Goat of the Woods
with a Thousand Young,” a fecund being who gives birth to monstrosities.
“N’Yala-Thoth-Ep” is a reference to Nyarlathotep, one of the Outer
Gods in the Lovecraftian mythos. Nyarlathotep, a.k.a. “The Crawling Chaos”
and “The Three-Lobed Burning Eye,” is an ill-defined and amorphous being
who “had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries.”
“The Haunter of the Dark” is a reference to the Lovecraft story “The
Haunter of the Dark” (Weird Tales, Dec. 1936). In the story a
younger writer, Robert Blake, has an unfortunate encounter with “the Haunter
of the Dark,” an avatar of Nyarlathotep.
“Elder Gods” is a reference to a class of beings in Cthulhu Mythos
stories written after Lovecraft’s death. In Lovecraft’s fiction the Outer
Gods and the Great Old Gods are not deliberately inimical to humanity–rather,
they are simply uncaring, as we are beneath their notice. After Lovecraft’s
death August Derleth, in his story “The Return of Hastur,” proposed that
the Great Old Gods were evil and were opposed by “the Elder Gods, of cosmic
“R’Lyeh” is a reference to the city of R’lyeh, submerged beneath
the Pacific Ocean and home to Cthulhu, who is not dead, only sleeping.
“Qlippothic” is a reference to the qlippoth, the cause of evil and
suffering in Jewish mystical traditions, especially the Kabbalah.
In the Cthulhu Mythos the “‘Tcho-Tcho’ people” are an “abominable”
race of short, hairless Burmese.
“Zara’s Kingdom” appears in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Utopia Limited;
or, The Flowers of Progress (1893).
Page 27/On the Descent of Gods 2. “The Arctic kingdom
of Hyperborea” is a reference to Hyperborea, which in Greek mythology was
the land “beyond the north wind,” far to the North.
“Crom” appears in the fantasies of Robert E. Howard. Crom is the
grim, brooding god worshiped by the barbarian Cimmerians, of whom Conan
The “Melnibonean Empire” is the decadent empire from which came Elric
in the “Elric of Melnibone” books of Michael Moorcock.
“Lords of Order warring endlessly with Lords of Chaos” is a reference
to the Eternal Champion book cycle of Michael Moorcock, in which Law and
Chaos, represented by the Lords of both, are in perpetual metaphysical
Arioch is one of the Lords of Chaos in the Moorcock books. He is
the “Knight of Swords” and is the patron god of Elric.
Pyaray is another of the Lords of Chaos. He is an enormous red octopus
and is the “Tentacled Whisperer of Impossible Secrets.”
Oberon the First is, in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream,
the consort to Titania, Queen of Faerie.
Page 28/On the Descent of Gods 3. “…the distinctly
Faery-blooded Anne Boleyn, with her protruberant eyes and a sixth finger
on each hand…”
In real life Anne Boleyn (c. 1501-1536) was rumored to have six fingers
on her left hand. As Damain Gordon points out, Boleyn had very large, very
dark, very noticeable eyes. I’m unaware of faeries having “protuberant
“…reportedly unearthly monarch, Queen Gloriana the First…”
The world of League is an alternate history, in which certain
elements of our history changed. One of these elements is the identity
of the queen of England in the 16th century. In our world, that person
was Elizabeth I (1533-1603), who ruled from 1558 until her death. In the
world of the League, that person was Gloriana. She is “unearthly” because
she is a true Faerie Queen. (See Page 43).
“…his wife Doll” is a reference to the prostitute Doll Common in
Ben Jonson’s play The Alchemist.
“Edward Face” is a reference to Face, a crafty butler in The Alchemist.
Subtle, Doll Common, and Face team up in The Alchemist to swindle
“John Faust” is a reference to the Faust myth. There was a real Faust,
Georgius Faust, a wandering German mystic of the early 16th century who
claimed to be, variously, an astrologer, an academic, an expert on magic,
and an alchemist. His legend grew after his death because of his claims
to mastery of magic, which the Lutherans took seriously, leading to stories
that he had sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for advanced knowledge.
Anecdotes began to be told about a “Johannes Faustus,” and eventually he
became a figure of folklore, a man who wandered around Europe with two familiars,
a horse and a dog, and was strangled by the Devil when his time was up.
The Book of Enoch is not, I believe, a reference to the various books
which are falsely-attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, but
rather to the book in which Dr. John Dee and his assistant Edward Kelley
took dictation of the angelical language from a set of angels.
Philp & Emily Graves write, “I think the reference
to the Book of Enoch is possibly a double-allusion. Certainly the apocryphal
Enoch talks of various Angelic beings (and is the reference for the Nephilim
and Lilim, which are the offspring referenced on p26). Likely, therefore that
Suttle (Dee) and Face (Kelley) communicate with the creatures from Apocryphal
Enoch, and would then use such contact to write a LoEG version of Dee’s Enoch.”
Greg Strohecker writes,
I think Moore is referencing the actual book “1 Enoch” from
the pseudepigrapha, as well as the writings of John Dee and Edward Kelly.
In 1 Enoch, there is a section where it describes how some of the “Watchers”,
who were fallen angels, took human wives and had children with them. Their
descendents were a race of giants called the Nephillim (not unlike the Titans
of Greek Mythology). Here’s the link and quote from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_enoch#The_Book_of_the_Watchers
. “The first section of the book depicts the interaction of the fallen angels
with mankind; Sêmîazâz compels the other 199 fallen angels
to take human wives to have children.” In the magical Enochian tradition
“aethyrs” are various planes or worlds which surround and mingle with
The “Thessalian witch-goddess Smarra” is a reference to Charles Nodier’s
“Smarra, ou Les Demons de la Nuit” (1821). In the story Lorenzo, an Italian,
has a series of nightmares within nightmares, which culminate with Smarra,
a Thessalian demoness, feeding on the lover of one of Lorenzo’s dream
“…or according to some accounts to have gone into self-imposed
exile on a distant island, with his life prolonged by sorcerous means.”
The implication here is that Johannes Suttle is Prospero.
“Don Alvaro” and “Biondetta” are references to Jacques Cazotte’s
Le Diable Amoureux (1772). In Le Diable Amoureux a young
Spanish nobleman, Alvaro, falls in love with the fetching Biondetta. Biondetta
takes Alvaro to bed, where after his declaration of love for her she reveals
herself to be the Devil. Only Alvaro’s faith and confession save him from
“Count von Ost” and “the Sicilian” are a references to Friedrich
von Schiller’s “Der Geisterseher: Eine Gesichte aus den Memoires des
Graf en von O” (1787-1789). In “Der Geisterseher” Graf von O falls under
the spell of the Sicilian, a swindler.
The “Order of the Golden Twilight” is a reference to the Hermetic
Order of the Golden Dawn, an English magical organization formed in 1888.
The “Ordo Templi Terra (O.T.T.)” is a reference to the Ordo Templi
Orientis, or “O.T.O.,” a magical organization formed by Aleister Crowley
Page 29/Trump 1. Panel 1. The Trump is a
riff on the various British story papers and comics of the 1940s and 1950s,
which were visually similar to this.
Panel 2. “Selwyn Pike and Smiler” is a reference to the 1947
British crime comedy film Hue and Cry, in which a group of street
boys read, in a story paper, about the exploits of English detective Selwyn
Pike and his young sidekick Smiler. Pike and Smiler are spoofs on on the
English detective character Sexton Blake. Blake was created in 1893, and
his exploits appeared on a more or less continuous basis until 1968 (which,
you’ll note, gives him longevity over that gauche arriviste Superman).
Although the Sherlock Holmes stories were generally better written than
the Sexton Blake stories, it was Blake, not Holmes, who was more commonly
copied in the British story papers and comics. (Blake was more action-oriented
and had a much superior Rogues Gallery). Dozens of Sexton Blake knockoffs
appeared in the story papers in comics, nearly all following the name format
of two syllables/one syllable. So: “Sexton Blake,” “Selwyn Pike.” “Smiler,”
Pike’s young assistant, is a version of Tinker, Blake’s sidekick and informal
Panel 3. “Those Hudson Girls” is a reference to the film Whatever
Happened to Baby Jane (1962), about Blanche and Jane Hudson, two
aging sisters and actresses. In this panel Jane is drawn to resemble Bette
Davis, who played Jane in the film, and Blanch is drawn to resemble Joan
Crawford, who played Blanch in the film.
Panel 4. Philip & Emily Graves note that one of the men
in this panel resembles Charlie Chaplin, and “maybe Erich von Stroheim directing
with riding crop?”
“I’ll be jiggered if she hasn’t made a blue movie.” This is a reference
to the pornographic films Joan Crawford is supposed to have made when she
was in her twenties.
Panel 5. “Blanch is up to her coat-hanger japes” is a reference
to Crawford’s alleged thrashing of her daughter, Christina, with wire-hangers.
Panel 7. Peter Sanderson and Jeff Patterson note that “little brother
Rock” is a reference to Rock Hudson, and that his “Ladies scare me” comment
is a reference to Hudson’s homosexuality and to the homophobia of the British
comics and story papers of the 1950s. Peter also wonders, as I do, if “Daddy”
is a reference to anyone in particular.
Panel 8. The two figures in the lower right of the panel are
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
Philip & Emily Graves write, “The words “Comic Cuts” are likely another
piece of clever wordplay – Comic Cuts being the first weekly comic paper (1890),
and this clearly being a ‘cut’ (censored) comic page.”
Page 30/Trump 2. “The Life of Orlando” is done
in the style of the historical stories which appeared in British comics
in the 1950s, down to the summary in the text of the first panel. The Orlando
of the strip is Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, the central character in the Black
Dossier. Orlando appeared in Woolf’s Orlando (1928) and is portrayed
there as an immortal who changes sex over the centuries. The text piece in
League v2 included her as a latter member of the League. The
Dossier greatly expands her personal history.
Panel 1. I’ve been unable to determine who the robot in this
panel is a reference to.
Panel 3. The “Seven Against Thebes” is a Greek myth, most
classically described by Aeschylus in the play Seven Against Thebes
(circa. 467 B.C.E.), about the conflict between Oedipus’ son Polynices
and his supporters (the seven of the title) and Polynices’ brother Eteocles.
Panel 4. In Greek myth Tiresias was the blind prophet of Thebes
and was cursed by Hera to become a woman for seven years.
In Greek myth Manto is the daughter of Tiresias (later, of Hercules)
and became a seer at Delphi.
Page 31/Trump 3. Panel 2. “…the Pharaoh
Usermattra, called by some Ozymandias.” “Ozymandias” was one of the names
of Pharaoh Ramesses II (c. 1303-1213 B.C.E.). “Ozymandias” is a transliteration
of Ramesses’ formal, ruling name, “User-maat-re Setep-en-re.”
Peter Sanderson points out that for most readers of the
Dossier the name “Ozymandias” is likely to remind them of Ozymandias
in Moore’s Watchmen.
Panel 3. This panel is a reference to the Percy Shelley poem,
Who said — “two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert … near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Panel 4. “Punt” was a land in eastern Africa which the ancient
Egyptians conducted trade with. It is not known where exactly Punt was.
Page 32/Trump 4. Panel 3. In the Allan Quatermain
and Ayesha novels of H. Rider Haggard Kôr is the capital of a long-dead
Panel 4. In the Allan Quatermain and Ayesha novels the
Flame of Immortality burns in the caves beneath Kôr. Those who bathe
in them are made immortal.
Panel 5. The “community of others who had bathed within the
pool” is a reference to the City of the Immortals, which appears in Jorge
Luis Borges’ “El Inmortal” (El Aleph, 1949). I’m unsure if the “oldest
[who] had a sullen, troglodyte demeanor” is a reference to anyone in particular.
Panel 6. In Greek mythology Memnon was an Ethopian king who
fought on the side of Troy during the Trojan War.
“Ilium” is one of the alternate names for Troy.
Page 33/Trump 5. Panel 1. The date of 1184 BC given
here for the Trojan War is the one assigned to it by the Greek scholar
Eratosthenes of Cyrene.
The characters described here appeared in the Greek myths and the
Television Without Pity-style recap of the Trojan War that is Homer’s Iliad.
Panel 3. “…loyal, ageless Bion.”
I’m not sure whether there is a specific mythological character (Greek
or otherwise) named Bion who I’ve been unable to find, or if this is
a backformation from “Albion,” one of the traditional names for Britain.
Myles Lobdell corrects me and notes that Bion was the
brother of Melampus, a ruler of Argos in Greek mythology.
“Aeneas’ great-grandson Brutus banished for accidentally killing
In the Historia Brittonium (circa 833 C.E.), the “history”
of Britain from its founding to the 9th century, Brutus, the grandson (or
great-grandson) of Aeneas, is credited with discovering Britain and being
its first king. As a boy Brutus accidentally shot his father in the eye
with an arrow and was banished for it.
Panel 4. This panel is an accurate recap of the events described
in the Historia Brittonium.
Page 34/Trump 6. Panel 2. In Geoffrey of
Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britannia (c. 1136 C.E.) Corin (or Corineus),
the founder of Cornwall, was a companion to Brutus during the founding
of Britain. Corin wrestled with the ogre Gogmagog and threw him off a
I’m unsure what “Gogmageot” is a reference to.
Panel 3. Geoffrey of Monmouth claims that London’s original
name was “Trinovantum.”
Panel 5. King Mu (1001-947 B.C.E.) is reputed to have dined
with Hsi Wang Mu, Queen of the Immortals, on Mount K’un Lun, the home
of the Taoist paradise.
Damian Gordon corrects my initial confusion here: the “human-headed
tiger named Lu Wo” is a reference to Lu Wu, the god who administers Mount
K’un Lun. Lu Wu has a tiger’s body with nine tails, a human face, and tiger’s
Page 35/Trump 7. Panel 1. “She’d gained immortality
by copulating three thousand men to death”
According to the myths, Hsi Wang Mu gained immortality by nurturing
her “yin essence” through the absorption of energy from her sex partners.
“Every time she had had intercourse with a man, he would immediately fall
ill, but her own face would remain smooth and transparent.” And as she had
no husband, she prefered sex with young boys.
Panel 2. I’m not sure what “Vita” is a reference to.
Panel 3. In H. Rider Haggard’s She books–She: A History
of Adventure (1886), Ayesha: The Return of She (1904), She
and Allan (1919), and Wisdom’s Daughter: The Life and Love Story
of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed (1922)–Ayesha, a.k.a. “She Who Must Be Obeyed,”
is a 2000-year-old goddess worshiped in the African city of Kôr. In
Ayesha: The Return of She Ayesha reappears in the Asian country of
Hes, a.k.a. Fire Mountain, appears in Ayesha: The Return of She.
Panel 4. According to Roman myths Romulus and Remus, the twin
sons of the priestess Rhea Silvia and the god Ares, were reared by a
wolf and founded Rome. Legend further states that Romulus slew Remus over
a dispute over which brother was supported by the gods and would give the
city his name.
Panel 5. Semiramis is a legendary queen of Assyria and the
wife of Ninus, the founder of Assyria. According Persica (c. 401 B.C.E.),
the history of Persia written by the Greek historian Ctesias of Cnidus,
Semiramis succeeded Ninus and led an invasion of India.
Page 36/Trump 8. Panel 1. “…since she tended
to execute these the following morning.”
According to some myths Semiramis was particularly lustful. In Inferno
Dante has her on the second level of Hell, among the lustful.
Panel 2. The Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.E.) was a major victory
for the Smurfs over the forces of Gargamel, and prevented him from conquering
Oz and Wonderland.
Panel 4. The Egyptian city of Alexandria was founded by Alexander
of Macedon in 331 B.C.E., but the “sea-monster-plagued” and iron leviathans
are reference to Monsters’ Park, mentioned in Maria Savi-Lopez’s Leggende
del mare (1920), a collection of myths and legends about the sea.
The “bathysphere” mentioned here is a reference to the Problemata
of Aristotle, in which Alexander is lowered into the sea in a “very fine
barrel made entirely of white glass.”
Page 37/Trump 9. Panel 2. Spartacus (c. 120-c.70
B.C.E.) was a gladiator/slave who led an unsuccessful slave uprising
in 73 B.C.E.
“…everyone else apparently being named ‘Spartacus’.”
This is a reference to the 1960 film version of Spartacus.
In the film (Myles Lobdell notes that this scene does not appear in the Howard
Fast novel the film is based on), when the centurions come to punish Spartacus,
who is a prisoner along with his men, all of Spartacus’ men stand up and
claim they are Spartacus. (I’m summarizing: go here and you can see
the scene for yourself).
Panel 3. Caesar’s invasion of Britain was done both as punishment
for the Britons supporting the Gauls against the Romans and as the conquest
of a economically valuable land.
Panels 4-6. The history here is accurate.
Page 38/Trump 10. Panel 1. The Roman historian
Suetonius (c. 69-c.130 C.E.) records, in his De Vita Caesarum,
that Tiberius indulged in a wide range of sexually cruel behavior, but
Suetonius’ credibility as a historian is not great. (As a writer, though,
he’s great fun to read).
The question of Caligula’s sanity is a debated one. He was ruthless,
certainly, but also popular with the Roman people. The stories circulated
about him, during his lifetime and afterward, vary in their depiction,
from simple harshness and brutality to insanity (trying to make his horse
Incitatus a consul, for example).
Panel 2. The history here is as given.
Panel 3. Pliny the Elder’s expedition to Pompeii was to observe
the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius first-hand. Pliny’s nephew, Pliny the Younger,
claims that Pliny was overcome by the poisonous fumes, but of the several
people with Elder, only Elder died, so it is more likely that Elder,
who was fat, had a heart attack.
Appolonius of Tyana (16-97 C.E.) was a wandering philosopher and
teacher in Cappadocia.
Alexander of Abonoteichus claimed to be a student of Appolonius of
Tyana. Alexander, later called “Alexander the False Prophet” by the Roman
satirist Lucian of Samosata, spread the worship of the snake-god Glycon,
which Alan Moore also worships.
Panel 4. “…the sage Lucian, with whom I journeyd accidentally
to the Moon, our ship transported by a monstrous waterspout.”
This is a reference to Lucian of Samosata’s True Story, in
which Lucian and his companions are blown off course by a heavy wind, past
the Pillars of Hercules, and have a series of adventures, one of which
involves being propelled by a water spout to the moon.
The history of the emperors Heliogabalus and Julian given here is
Page 39/Trump 11. Panel 1. In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s
Prophetiae Merlini (c. 1130? C.E.) and Historia Regum Britannia
the wizard Merlin is called “Ambrosius Merlinus,” a combination of the
legendary Welsh mad prophet Myrddin ap Morfryn/Myrddin Wilt and the Roman
war leader Ambrosius Aurelianus.
Panel 2. According to British myth Uther Pendragon, father
of King Arthur, was a king of Britain, although I’m not aware that he was
ever specifically associated with Cornwall except in his liaison with Igraine,
the wife of Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall. From their liaison came King
In the early, Latin versions of the Arthurian mythology King Arthur
is referred to as “Arthurus.”
Panel 3. The events described here are accurate in Arthurian
Panel 4. According to French myth and the Song of Roland,
the unbreakable, magic sword of Roland is Durendal (alternatively Durandal).
Panel 5. King Hrothgar is a figure in Anglo-Saxon, Norse,
and Danish myths and sagas. “Hierot” is a reference to Hrothgar’s hall
Heorot in the epic Beowulf.
Page 40/Trump 12. Panel 1. The events here are
as described in Beowulf, including Beowulf ripping the arm from Grendel’s
Panel 2. Siegfried is a hero of various Scandinavian myths.
In the German peom Niebelungelied (c. 1200?) and in the later operas
of Wagner based on the Germanic myths Siegfried is a dragon-slayer.
Panel 3. In the Norse myth of Ragnarok the world ends after
a final conflict between the giants and the gods. One of those gods,
Thor, can be seen in this panel, striking his hammer against the head
of the serpent Jormungandr. (And for those of you who’ve always wished
that Alan Moore would write Thor for Marvel Comics, this panel is likely
as close as you’ll get).
Panels 3-4. “…a cataclysm mirrored in the Earthly realm
by a collision with a weighty meteoric rock, its dust veiling the heavens
for three years. During this endless Fimbul-Winter, when it seemed the moon
had been devoured….”
In Norse myth the Fimbul-Wiinter was the three years in which there
is no summer, just endless winter and snow. Historically, there were very
cold summers during the years 536-540 C.E., causing widespread crop failures
and starvation. The prevailing theory for the cause of this was that the
impact of a comet hitting the earth spread debris across the atmosphere
and created a version of “nuclear winter.”
Panel 5. There may have been a historical person named Roland
who died at the Battle of Roncevaux (August 15, 778 C.E.), but the reference
here is to the fictional battle as described in the Song of Roland, in
which the Saracens slaughter Roland and all of his men.
Page 41/Trump 13. Panel 1. “Orlando” is the Italian
version of “Roland.”
Hārūn al-Rashīd (763-809 C.E.) was the greatest of the Caliphs of
the Abbasid dynasty, and his rule is generally seen as the height of the
Persian Golden Age.
Scheharezade (alternatively Scheherazade and Shahrazad) is the heroine
of the One Thousand and One Nights (c. 850 C.E.) better known
as The Arabian Nights.
Sindbad the Sailor appears in The Arabian Nights.
Panel 2. “…’til he left on that eighth voyage from
which he never would return.”
In The Arabian Nights Sindbad sails on seven voyages. Various
sequels have been written ever since describing Sindbad’s eighth voyage.
“…Haroun’s grandson Al Wathik Be’llah…”
Al-Wathiq ibn Mutasim, the Abbasid Caliph from 842-847 C.E., was
the grandson of Hārūn al-Rashīd.
Panel 3. The contents of this panel are a reference to William
Beckford’s novel Vathek (1786). Vathek, an Arabesque Gothic
novel, is about the downfall and damnation of Vathek, the grandson of Hārūn
al-Rashīd. The events of the novel are as described here.
Panel 4. “Prester John” was a legendary figure in Europe from
the 12th to the 17th century. He was supposedly the Christian ruler of
a nation somewhere in the East.
Panel 5. “…I helped Blondel and his minstrel underground
free Richard, called the Lionheart, from prison.”
Blondel de Nesle was a 13th century French troubadour who, according
to the Récits d’un Ménestrel de Reims (c. 1250?),
helped rescue Richard the Lionheart, who had been captured and imprisoned
in 1192 by King Leopold V of Austria.
Page 42/Trump 14. Panel 3. The history of Constantinople
is as described here.
Panel 4. “I posed for Leonardo, even though I was becoming
a man at the time. I remember he kept asking me why I was smirking.”
This is a reference to the mysterious smile of the Mona Lisa in Leonardo
da Vinci’s portrait of her.
Myles Lobdell writes, “the mixed gender and sexual ambiguity/androgyny
of the Mona Lisa is sometimes seen as one of the most compelling attributes
of the portrait, hence the importance of Orlando’s changing genders at this
Page 43/Trump 15. Panel 2. “…Gloriana, England’s
Queen, daughter of Henry VIII and faerie half-breed Nan Bullen.”
Queen Gloriana is a literal faery queen. She has six fingers on her
hand, as Queen Elizabeth was rumored to have and as Elizabeth’s mother
Anne Boleyn was rumored to have. One explanation bruited about for Boleyn’s
six fingers was that she was half-faerie. “Nan Bullen” is a reference to
Anne Boleyn, with “Nan” being a traditional nickname for “Anne” and “Bullen”
being the original version of “Boleyn.”
Panel 3. See Page 53.
Panel 5. The group seen here is the first known League
of Extraordinary Gentlemen, referred to in League v2 as “Prospero’s
Men.” They are:
- “beloved Spanish aristocrat Quixote,” a.k.a. Don Quixote, from
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote de La Mancha (1605-1615).
- “impoverished sea-captain Robert Owemuch,” from The Floating
Island (1673), by “Frank Careless.”
- “ravishing courtesan Mistress St. Clair.” I believe this is
a reference to Amber St. Clair, from Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber
(1944). In the novel poor country girl St. Clair goes from being a prisoner
at Newgate to the mistress of King Charles II.
- “Christian,” from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress from
this World to that Which is to Come (1678-1684). In Progress
Christian, an Everyman, travels from the City of Destruction to the Celestial
City, visiting the Slough of Despond, the House of the Interpreter, and
various other locales on the way.
So, from left to right, we see: Quixote, Owemuch, Sprite, Prospero,
Caliban, Christian, St. Clair, and Orlando.
Page 44/Trump 16. Panel 1. “…the spectral Arctic
The Blazing World is from Observations upon Experimental Philosophy.
To which is added the Description of a New Blazing World. Written by the
Thrice Noble, Illustrious and Excellent Princess, The Duchess of Newcastle
(1666), by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. The Blazing World
is an archipelago of island which extends from the North Pole through the
Greenland and Norwegian Seas almost to the British Islands.
Panel 4. This group here is the 18th century League of Extraordinary
Gentlemen, first glimpsed in League v1 and described in more depth
in League v2. They are:
- “unlucky mariner Lemuel Gulliver,” from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s
- “trapper Natty Bumppo,” from from James Fennimore Cooper’s
five Leatherstocking novels, the most famous of which is The Last of
the Mohicans (1826).
- “libertine Mistress Hill,” a.k.a. Fanny Hill.
- “dual-natured clergyman Dr. Syn,” from Russell Thorndike’s
Doctor Syn (1915) and its six prequels. In Doctor Syn
the kindly and genial Reverend Doctor is the vicar of Dymchurch at the
turn of the 19th century. Syn was also the notorious pirate and smuggler
Captain Clegg, who was also known as the Scarecrow.
- “and the resourceful Blakeneys,” a.k.a. Sir Percy Blakeney
and Lady Marguerite Blakeney, from Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s The Scarlet
Pimpernel (1905) and its ten sequels. Sir Percy Blakeney was a foppish
British nobleman during the years of the French Revolution. His alter ego,
the Scarlet Pimpernel, was a daring hero who rescued many innocent members
of the French royalty from Robespierre and the Terror. Lady Marguerite
Blakeney, his wife, was “the cleverest woman in Europe” and an able partner
to the Pimpernel.
For more on “Brobdignag’s giant wars,” see Page 66.
Page 45/Trump 17. Panel 1. For more on “the trio’s
annual sojourns through erotic Europe,” see the text section of League
v2 and the Fanny Hill section (Pages 57-72) of the Dossier.
“Twilit Horselberg” is a reference to Horselberg, a.k.a. Venusberg,
is from Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser (1845). The more erotic/pornographic
elements of Horselberg were added by Aubrey Beardsley in his Under
the Hill (1897).
Panel 2. “…superhuman aesthete Fortunio…”
This is a reference to Theophile Gautier’s Fortunio (1837),
in which the gorgeous, aloof aesthete Fortunio is fruitlessly pursued
by the beautiful courtesan Musidora, who fails to win his love because
Fortunio’s tastes are too refined for drab Europe.
“…or ambiguous Mademoiselle de Maupin…”
This is a reference to Theophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin,
double amour (1835), in which Madeleine de Maupin, always in search
of the perfect love, is always disappointed.
Panel 3. “…at the monastery So Sa Ling, I was captured by
This is a reference to A Tibetan Tale of Love and Magic (1938)
by Alexandra David-Neel. In the book, a travelogue, a Tibetan bandit tells
Neel the story of the monastery of the Bon sorcerers.
Panel 4. “…the azure Mount Karakal and dragon-blazoned Shangri-La….”
Mount Karakal and Shangri-La appear in James Hilton’s Lost Horizon
Panel 5. If the whale in the iceberg is a reference to anything
in particular, I’m unaware of it. (Moby Dick, maybe?)
Page 46/Trump 18. Panel 1. “I strived alongside
her, allan, the thief Raffles, and occultist Carnacki to avert disaster
at King George’s coronation.”
This is a reference to the events of League v3.
“Raffles” is a reference to A.J. Raffles, the creation of E. W. Hornung.
Raffles, who first appeared in Cassell’s Magazine in 1898, is
one of the best known of the gentleman thieves.
“occultist Carnacki” is a reference to William Hope Hodgson’s occult
detective Thomas Carnacki, who appeared in six stories in The Idler
and The New Magazine between 1910 and 1912.
Panel 2. “In 1913, assisting the team against French counterparts
Les Hommes Mysterieux, I nearly died battling the albino, Zenith, in
pounding rain atop the Paris Opera.”
See Pages 114-115.
“…the albino, Zenith” is a reference to Monsieur Zenith,
the Albino, one of the arch-enemies of British storypaper detective Sexton
Blake. Created by George Norman Philips, a.k.a. Anthony Skene, Monsieur
Zenith is a world-weary, opium-addicted, danger-loving Gentleman Thief.
Panel 3. “…penitent bandit A.J. Raffles, who’d lose his
life during the conflict.”
In the original Hornung stories Raffles did eventually become exposed
as a thief and regret his crimes. He volunteered for action in the Boer
War and lost his life in combat. Naturally, every sequelist has refused to
accept that end for Raffles.
“At the Battle of Mons, I was lucky enough to see Agincourt’s phantom
bowmen aiding the English.”
This is a reference to the Angels of Mons. At the Battle of Mons
(Aug. 22-23, 1914) a group of British troops, though grossly outnumbered,
temporarily defeated the attacking Germans. On Sept. 29, 1914, Arthur
Machen published the story “The Bowmen” in the London Evening News.
“The Bowmen” purports to be the first-hand account of a soldier at Mons
who witnessed English archers, from the Battle of Agincourt, driving off
the Germans. This story was taken to be true, and thanks to the foibles
of human psychology many have claimed that it is and that they saw the bowmen.
Panel 4. “Poor Agatha Runcible’s set” is a reference to Evelyn
Waugh’s Vile Bodies (1930), about the smart London set and Agatha
Runcible, who nearly burns herself alive.
For more on the Woosters, see Page 116.
I know I should get “The Claytons” as a reference, but I’m drawing
a blank. Damian Gordon wonders if it’s a reference to Jane Clayton, partner
to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan.
“Jay and Daisy” is a reference to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great
Gatsby (1925) and Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan.
Page 47/Trump 19. Panel 1. “…the dictator Adenoid
Hynkel” is a reference to Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator
(1940), in which Hitler-analogue Adenoid Hynkel becomes dictator of Tomania.
“…aces such as Bigglesworth” is a reference to W.E. Johns’ aviator
James “Biggles” Bigglesworth, who appeared in 102 novels and story collections
from 1932 to 1970. Biggles is Britain’s greatest air ace and a most successful
spy, and begins fighting Britain’s enemies at age seventeen during World
“Hebblethwaite” is a reference to Ginger Hebblethwaite, Biggles’
“Visiting yank G-8″ is a reference to Robert J. Hogan’s G-8, who
appeared in 111 stories in G-8 and His Battle Aces and Dare-Devil
Aces from 1933 to 1944. G-8 was the greatest of the pulp air aces,
although in his pulp appearances he was only ever active during World War
Page 48/Trump 20. Panel 1. There was a children’s
comic strip called “Simon and Sally” in the British comic Robin,
beginning in 1953, and this may be a reference specifically to that, or
to the strips like it that appeared in British comics of the 1950s.
Panel 2. “Blackgang Chine” is an actual park on the Isle of
Panel 3. The “Tralfamadorian” is a reference to the novels
of Kurt Vonnegut, in which an alien race, the Tralfamadorians, experiences
life in four dimensions and can see all points across time. I’m not sure
what the Tralfamadorian waving means, if anything, or why he “smells of
something bad.” (Myles Lobdell writes that he smells of something bad because
“he is an upright toilet plunger (or at least looks like one).”
The alien to the left of the Tralfamadorian is one of the Martians
from the “Mars Attacks” series of trading cards.
Panel 4. The “friendly Lazunes” is a reference to the Lazoons,
from the British tv series Fireball XL5 (1962-1963). The Lazoons
are an alien race, one of whose members, Zoony, becomes a part of the
“The Green Man” is a Green Martian from the John Carter novels of
Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Panel 5. “Gorgo’s mother” is a reference to the film Gorgo
(1961), in which the capture of Gorgo, a Godzilla-sized creature, by British
sailors leads Gorgo’s mother to attack London in an attempt to rescue him.
I’m unable to recognize the big-eared alien or the two humping aliens.
Gabriel Neeb and Jonathan Carter note that he two big-brained aliens are
Metaluna mutants from the film This Island Earth.
The Metaluna mutants are gesturing at the alien from the British sf horror
film Fiend Without a Face (1958).
Panel 5. The Triffid is one of the carnivorous plants in Wyndham’s
The Day of the Triffids.
Page 49/Færie’s Fortunes Founded 1.
“Gloriana” is the titular character of Edmund Spenser’s epic poem “The
Faerie Queen” (1590-1596), which is an allegory written to celebrate Queen
Elizabeth I. “The Faerie Queen” is about Faerieland and its ruler, the Faerie
Queen, called “Gloriana” because she represents Glory.
Guest_Informant, among others, notes that Michael Moorcock
wrote Gloriana (1978), about Queen Elizabeth. I’m not sure I see
any connection between Moorcock’s Gloriana and Moore’s beyond the name,
Page 50/Færie’s Fortunes Founded 2. “Master
Shytte” and “Master Pysse” are very Shakespearean names. (Casual readers
forget that Shakespeare, like his contemporaries, didn’t hestitate to indulge
in scatalogical and sexual humor).
“Dogrose,” “Gorse,” and “Love-Lies-Bleeding” are all common names
for flowers. Faeries, in Shakespeare, have flowers’ names.
Page 51/Færie’s Fortunes Founded 3. “Our
right Queen Mary sickened to her crypt”
Queen Mary I (1516-1558) died of what was likely ovarian cancer.
“Speak not/Her cog, lest like her kin she come when hailed.”
English folklore had it that it was unwise to name elves, lest you
summon them, so alternative names, like “The Fair Folk,” were used.
“A will-gill or a child of Herm–“
A “will-gill” is, per the Oxford English Dictionary, “a hermaphrodite;
an effeminate man.” In the Greek myths the god Hermaphroditus was the
son of Hermes.
“They jest with me.”
Which is, of course, what Shakespearean doormen do.
Page 52/Færie’s Fortunes Founded 4. “Enter
Sir John Wilton and Sir Basildon Bond, right.”
“Sir John Wilton” is a reference to Thomas Nashe’s The Unfortunate
Traveller or the life of Jack Wilton (1594), a picaresque novel about
a wandering English rogue, Jack Wilton. “Basildon Bond” is a brand of British
stationery–but more importantly, as Paul Cornell notes, “Basildon Bond”
is a character, created by British musician and comedian Russ Abbot, as a
spoof of James Bond.
Although James Bond’s ancestry has been described in, among others, John
Pearson’s James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007, Bond’ Elizabethan
forebears have never been mentioned.
“Sheathe thy stilletos and restrain thy boot.”
Philip & Emily Graves see this line as being inspired by Romeo &
Juliet‘s “Deny thy family, renounce thy Name.”
Page 53/Færie’s Fortunes Founded 5. “Thus
should it please me that you now remain/By London here, at Mortlake to
Mortlake is a borough of London on the southern half of the Thames.
Its most famous resident is Dr. John Dee (1527-1609), the occultist, alchemist,
and advisor to Queen Elizabeth. As he did with Elizabeth and Gloriana,
Moore seems to be replacing Dee with Prospero.
“As one John Suttle…”
See the note to Page 26.
“…its master my Lord Wilton here: Its ‘M,’ for em’s but double-U
In the James Bond books and films “M” is the code name for the head
of MI6, the British Intelligence Service. The tradition of the heads of
the British Secret Service calling themselves by a single initial dates
back at least a century. Although there are persistent stories within the
intelligence community that Sir Francis Walsingham, a member of Queen Elizabeth’s
Privy Council and the head of her intelligence agency, referred to himself
as “M,” the first documented example of a head of the British Secret Service
being known by a single initial was Captain Sir Mansfield Cumming, who
was appointed director of the British Secret Intelligence Service, then
known as MI1c, in 1909. Captain Sir Cumming’s name was never officially
made public, and he was generally known by the initial “C.”
Gloriana replaces Elizabeth. Prospero replaces John
Dee. And Jack Wilton replaces Sir Francis Walsingham.
“It seems like bosoms, or a brace of noughts. Two ‘0’s, within a
And so we see the origin of the double-zero designation for those
agents licensed to kill in the James Bond novels. (More prosaically, Fleming
reportedly got the idea of the double-zero designation from Rudyard Kipling’s
Chris Roberson notes that “And supposedly the historical
John Dee used the code “007” as his signature in secret communications to
Queen Elizabeth, as well. (Incidentally, just as Prospero/Suttle is a fictional
stand in for Dee, Edward Face is a stand-in for the historical Edward Kelley,
who assisted Dee in his angelic scrying.)”
Jonathan Carter writes that this line “might refer to
the fact that the Masonic square and compass symbol looks like a W over an
“Hang I as in a saddle-wire, a dee.”
Again quoting the Oxford English Dictionary, a saddle-wire
is “Bookbinding: a wire staple passed through the back fold of a single
gathering.” A dee is “applied to a D-shaped iron or steel loop used for
connecting parts of harness, or for fastening articles to the saddle.” The
connection between Prospero and John Dee is made more solid here.
“When not employed you may, for all I care, Hack at a dangled Tartar’s head
As Philip & Emily Graves point out, Orlando was doing exactly that on
Page 43, Panel 3.
Page 54/Færie’s Fortunes Founded 6. “Why,
should I like a cunny-hare to pet,
They are both soft and warm, and likewise quick.
How might I set its velvet ear a-prick
Or make its nose to twitch, so pink and wet?
Then should I have about me, by my troth,
That which is cunny and a-prick the both.”
No, I’m not going to explain this.
Page 56/Færie’s Fortunes Founded 8. “…Gloriana’s
deeply Christian and deeply resentful nephew and successor, King Jacob
In our world, Queen Elizabeth was succeeded by King James I (1566-1625),
who was careful to maintain a good relationship with Elizabeth, despite
her involvement in the death of Mary, James’ mother. James was deeply
Christian and would have hated faeries as much as his analogue, King
Jacob, does here.
“…as Jacob himself put it at the time in his book Dæmonologie,
‘That kinde of devils conversing in the earth may be devided in four
different kinds…The fourth is these kinde of spirites that are called
vulgarlie the Fayrie.’ (III,i)”
King James wrote a book, Dæmonologie (1597), in which
he described the various kinds of demons, in which he writes, in Chapter
5, “The description of the fourth kinde of Spirites called the Phairie.”
Page 58/Fanny Hill 2. At the end of Fanny Hill
Fanny does give up her pleasure-loving ways to marry Charles, but it’s
entirely in keeping with the tone of Fanny Hill for Charles to stray.
Page 59/Fanny Hill 3. “Mistress Flanders” is Moll
Flanders, from Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders (1772). Moll rises from
poverty to become an American plantation-owner, having various adventures,
romances, and becoming an “Artist” among thieves.
Page 60/Fanny Hill 4. Although there are a variety
of English taverns and inns called “Admiral Benbow,” undoubtedly the reference
here is to the Admiral Benbow of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island
(1883). The Admiral Benbow is the inn in Briston in which Jim Hawkins
“…the miniature-made garden of the Zipangese kind…”
“Zipang” was one of the early English names for Japan, after Marco
Polo recorded the Chinese word for Japan as “Cipangu.”
“Laputa” appears in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726).
Laputa is a flying island whose culture is preoccupied with music, mathematics,
Paul Cornell notes, and I really should have gotten
this one, that “Laputa,” Spanish for “The Whore,” is fittingly mentioned
in the Fanny Hill section.
Page 61/Fanny Hill 5. “…pirates, captained by
In Russell Thorndike’s Doctor Syn one of the alternate identities
of Dr. Syn is the infamous pirate and smuggler Captain Clegg.
“Imogene” is indeed the name of Syn’s/Clegg’s ship, after his faithless
Page 62/Fanny Hill 6. “I came at last to Micromona…”
Micromona was created by Karl Immerman and appears in the verse satire
Tulifäntchen, Ein Heldengedicht in drei Gesängen (1830).
Page 64/Fanny Hill 8. “…an illustrator, a Marquis
This one is a bit of a puzzler. It may be a reference to the French
poet and dramatist Claude-Joseph Dorat, who wrote two erotic/”libertine”
novels, Les Egarements de Julie (1755) and Les Malheurs de l’Inconstance,
as well as an illustrated collection of erotic poetry, Les Baisers
(1770). But as far as I’ve been able to discover, Dorat wasn’t an artist,
and the mention of the puddle-hound/poodle Franz and the resulting painting
is clearly a reference to something, but I’ve been unable to discover what.
Page 66/Fanny Hill 10. Brobdignag is from Swift’s
Gulliver’s Travels. Pantagruel is from the anonymously written Le
Voyage de navigation que fist Panurge, disciple de Pantagruel (1538),
and François Rabelais’ Le cinquiesme et dernier livre des faicts
et dicts du bon Pantagruel (1564). Utopia is from Sir Thomas More’s
Utopia (1516), with Pantagruel’s time in Utopia portrayed in François
Rabelais’ Pantagruel roi des Dipsodes (1532).
I’m not going to explain the joke in this panel.
Page 67/Fanny Hill 11. “…the legionnaires of
Roman State ‘neath northern England…”
The Roman State is from Joseph O’Neill’s Land Under England
(1935). The Roman State is a fascistic subterranean nation underneath
England, reachable via a trapdoor at the base of Hadrian’s Wall.
“…the strange, stygian civilization of the Vril people or ‘Vril-ya’
as they called themselves…”
The Vril-ya are from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race
(1871). The Vril-ya are a race which has constructed a utopia in a ravine
deep beneath Newcastle.
Page 69/Fanny Hill 13. “…the delightful kingdom
Tryphême appears in Pierre Louÿs’s Les Aventures du
Roi Pausole (1900).
Page 70/Fanny Hill 14. “Cockaigne, often called
Cocaigne or Cuccagna…”
Cockaigne/Cocaigne/Cuccagna is from the Le Dit de cocagne
(13th century C.E.) and then Marc-Antoine Le Grand’s Le Roi de Cocagne
(1719). Cocagne, or Cockaigne, is the French equivalent of Utopia. In the
Middle Ages numerous Cocagne myths were told about “a land of fabled abundance,
with food and drink for the asking.”
“…such classic writings as The Thirty-Two Gratifications.”
The Thirty-Two Gratifications is mentioned as one of the manuals
of love in James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice (1919).
Page 73. This panel is drawn in the crude and vigorous
style of 18th century political cartoons.
If “Billy the Bursar” is a reference, I’m unaware of it.
“…mentally-weak King George III…”
Later in life George III suffered from mental illness which may have
been porphyria and/or arsenic poisoning.
The history mentioned in this panel is accurate as given. Peter Sanderson
notes that the historical George was given to saying “what what.”
Page 76. Panel 7. “They’ve made you look a bit
of a cunt, haven’t they, old man?”
To quote Warren Ellis, in Crécy: “Cunt. This is a word
that many people do not like. But you have to understand the English.
In England, the word cunt is punctuation.”
Page 77. Panel 2. I’m guessing that “Dr. Bre–“
is a reference to Dr. Geoffrey Brent, star of the British tv series Police
Surgeon (1960). Dr. Brent is a medical doctor working with the police
in Bayswater in London.
“Dr. D. Keel” is a reference to Dr. David Keel, who appeared in the
first season of the British tv series The Avengers in 1961. Keel
was originally the protagonist of The Avengers, but John Steed,
originally a secondary character, stole the show. Actor Ian Hendry played
both Dr. Geoffrey Brent and Dr. David Keel, although there was no textual
link between Police Surgeon and The Avengers.
I believe “One Ten” is a reference to “One Ten,” Steed’s superior
in the second season of The Avengers.
Panel 3. I believe “George” is George Smiley, from the John
Le Carré novels. In the novels Smiley is a melancholy spy master.
The “George” seen here has the eyeglasses of which Sir Alec Guinness wore
when he portrayed Smiley, and Smiley drinks a great deal of tea (hence
the “cuppa” reference).
Panel 4. Presumably the woman carrying the file is Moneypenny,
the long-suffering secretary to M in the James Bond novels and books.
“Drake” is a reference to John Drake–the Page 17 above.
Panel 7. I believe the squat man on the left holding a cigar
is intended to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond’s greatest foe.
The man on the right in the lab coat is Q, head of the Q Branch (research
and development) of the British Secret Service in the James Bond novels.
Page 78. Panel 6. “Hugo Drummond” is a reference
to Captain Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond, from the seventeen novels of “Sapper,”
a.k.a. Herman Cyril McNeile. Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond is a massive World
War One veteran who killed any number of Germans in one-man commando raids
into the enemy trenches. After the war he finds peace tedious and begins
fighting against those who would do England dirty. This list includes Jews,
Germans, Russians, non-whites, anarchists, and Communists.
For more on “John Night’s daughter,” see Page 80 below.
Panel 8. In the final season of The Avengers Steed
& Tara King receive their orders from “Mother,” a man in a wheelchair.
Panel 9. “But Harry…Harry died a long time ago, in the sewers
Harry, in this case, is Harry Lime, from the film The Third Man
(1949). At the end of the film Lime is shot in the sewers of Vienna.
I believe that Kevin O’Neill drew “Harry Lime” to look like Orson
Welles, who played Lime in The Third Man.
Page 79. Panel 2. Bulldog Drummond was a reactionary
who would glory in strike-breaking.
Panel 4. “Jimmy, you did very well against our Yellow Peril
This is another reference to Dr. No.
Panel 5. “Sidney Reilly” is a reference to Lt. Sidney Reilly
(c. 1873-1925), a spy-for-hire used by the British government, among others,
and known as the “Ace of Spies.” He was one of the models Fleming used for
Panel 6. The illustration in the background is of one of H.G.
Wells’ Martians, from War of the Worlds, as imagined by Kevin
Page 80. Panel 1. “Miss Night” is better
known as Emma Peel, the best of John Steed’s partners on The Avengers.
Although in The Avengers she is Mrs. Peel, her birth name is Emma
Knight, as her father is Sir John Knight, which explains the “John Night’s
daughter” reference on Page 78. Peter Sanderson adds “Mrs. Emma Peel’s maiden
name and the name of her father were established in the 1966 “Avengers” episode
“The House That Jack Built” (The fake newspaper
from the episode should interest you: see http://theavengers.tv/forever/peel1-23.htm).
If we presume that Mrs. Peel is the same age as Diana Rigg, who played her,
she would have been 20 years old in 1958.”
Panel 3. The bronze bust, with the letters “-os” visible,
may be a reference to Talbot Munday’s Tros of Samothrace (various stories
and novels, 1925-1935). Tros is the son of Perseus and a native of Samothrace
during the reign of Julius Caesar, who is portrayed as a villain and who
Tros fights against.
Panel 6. The car under construction here is Chitty Chitty
Bang Bang, the flying car from Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:
The Magical Car (1964).
Page 81. Panel 3. I believe that “Brookgate”
is a reference to Michael Moorcock’s King of the City (2000). In
the novel Brookgate is a section of London which “under the power of the
Hugenot Leases” is fully autonomous and controlled by its citizens until
a vile Rupert Murdoch-like figure buys up Brookgate and ruins it.
Panel 5. If the statue is a reference to anything in particular
I’m unaware of it.
Page 82. Panel 1. “Num Yum” candies appear
in the British film I’m All Right Jack (1959).
Panel 2. For more on “our coloured chum and his Dutch girls”
see Page 166, Panel 1.
For more on “a public school that I know in Kent,” see the note on
Greyfriars on Page 25.
Panel 5. I’ve drawn a blank on “Whiter Frisko,” “d’etto,”
“Dreem,” and “Frim.” Anyone? (They may be Jack Trevor Story references–see
Panel 7 below).
Panel 7. “Mr. Callendar” is a reference to Jack Trevor
Story’s Live Now, Pay Later (1962).
Page 83. Panel 1. “Albert” is Albert Argyle, from
Jack Trevor Story’s Live Now, Pay Later, Something For Nothing
(1963), and The Urban District Lover (1964). Argyle is a traveling
salesman and ho.
I don’t believe the “Frampton Overcoat” is a reference to anything
Panel 4. “…if you like tally-boys, getting people into debt
for a living.”
A “tally-boy” was a wandering salesman who sold things to people
on installment and then picked up the weekly payments. Mina doesn’t think
much of them, and Jack Trevor Story didn’t either, as can be seen in Live
Now, Pay Later.
Panel 6. “General Sir Harold Wharton” is a reference Harry
Wharton, from the hundreds of short stories, novels, radio and television
programs written by “Frank Richards,” the pseudonym of Charles Hamilton.
Harry Wharton is a spirited schoolboy at the English public (private) school
of Greyfriars. Wharton is the leader of the “Famous Five,” Frank Nugent,
Bob Cherry, Johnny Bull, and Hurree Jamset Ram Singh, the Nabob of Bhanipur.
(Billy Bunter attends Greyfriars but is not a member of the Five). Together
they get into a wide range of adventures.
The “R.K.C.” mentioned here and on Page 25 is “Bob Cherry.”
Page 84. Panel 1. This is the Tradesman’s Entrance
of Greyfriars, as seen on a map here.
Panel 2. Richard Hannay was created by John Buchan and appeared
in six novels from 1915 to 1936. He is a wealthy Scottish mining engineer
who gets involved in a series of espionage adventures.
Panel 3. “Decent sort of chap, I always thought.” “Absolutely.”
Although Hannay and Buchan are usually grouped together with Bulldog
Drummond and Sapper, and Richard Chandos/Berry Pleydell/Jonah Mansel
and Dornford Yates in the Clubmen Heroes category, Hannay and Buchan are
much different. Buchan was a far better writer than Sapper or Yates (I
particularly recommend Buchan’s supernatural fiction), and Hannay was
much less bigoted and jingoistic than Drummond et al. Too, there’s a humanistic
and even compassionate streak running through the Hannay novels which is
quite missing from the work of Sapper and Yates. In one of the Hannay novels
there is a conscientious objector to the war, and where Sapper would have
mocked the character or humiliated him, or shown him to be a spy, Buchan
treats the objector fairly.
“…that ‘Thirty-Nine Steps’ Business he investigated.”
Buchan’s first Richard Hannay novel, The Thirty -Nine Steps,
involves a German spy ring, the Black Stone, which is active in England.
The “Thirty-Nine Steps” lead to a spot on a beach from which a spy with
crucial information is going to leave England.
Panel 4. “What are the thirty-nine steps?” is a cryptic message
given to Hannay by an American who is killed not long afterward.
Page 85. Panel 2. As it happens, “Spick” magazine
is not a hint by Moore about the kind of pornography which would develop
in the world of League, but rather a real pin-up magazine which lasted from
Panel 7. The “-ocke” statue is of Dr. Locke, the Headmaster
Page 86. Panel 1. This sad, grotesque figure is
Billy Bunter, the portly Greyfriars schoolboy. Created by “Frank Richards,”
Bunter appeared in over a thousand short stories, 105 novels, and various
radio and television programs from 1908 to 1982. Bunter is not one of the
“Famous Five,” but he is greedy, cowardly, cunning, foolish, and gluttonous
enough to get into a large number of adventures on his own.
“Six on the bags,” also known as “six of the best,” is six strokes
on the butt with a cane.
Panel 2. “…you chaps wouldn’t have any buns on you, by any
Billy Bunter is a glutton and loves sweet buns above all things.
Panel 6. “In fact, I’m expecting a postal order from my mother…”
In the Greyfriars stories Bunter is forever poor and forever borrowing
money from the other students. He always promises to pay them back soon,
as he is always expecting, imminently, a postal order from his mother.
The postal order never comes. (It’s the English schoolboy version of Waiting
for Godot, really). But see the notes to Page 121.
Panel 7. “Do you know, the bounder married my sister?”
Billy Bunter’s sister is Bessie Bunter, who after being mentioned
a few times in the Billy Bunter stories appeared in a long series of her
own stories, set at Cliff House School, the girls’ school equivalent of
The relationship between Bessie Bunter and Harry Wharton is Moore’s
invention, and explains the mention of “Bessy” on Page 25.
Page 87. Panel 1. “Always a bit of a black
In the Greyfriars stories Wharton is a hothead who is forever getting
into trouble with “light-hearted” pranks. (Wharton was beloved by readers
in his era. Modern readers are likely to see Wharton as more deserving
of a lobotomy, or perhaps transportation to the gulag archipelago).
“Orphan, you know. Brought up by some beastly Colonel.”
Wharton’s parents died, forcing Colonel Wharton, newly returned from
India, to raise Wharton.
“Born leader, though.”
Wharton is the leader of the Famous Five.
Panel 2. “He got mixed up with communists, an oik named Skinpole
from St. Jim’s.”
St. James College, called “St. Jim’s” by the residents, was another
of Charles Hamilton’s creations, a school much like Greyfriars. It appeared
in The Gem from 1907-1939.
Herbert Skimpole is one of the students at St. Jim’s students. He
is a socialist, and of course a bad guy in the stories.
Panel 3. I’m not sure what the “Kra–“ on the bulletin board
might be a reference to.
Panel 4. Presumably the portraits in this panel are of various
Famous Five characters. The picture in the lower right is of Bessie Bunter.
Page 88. Panel 2. Henry Quelch is one of the masters
at Greyfriars. As Bunter says, he is a “gimlet-eyed old devil.”
Panel 3. “He was watching Wharton from the start, along with
Knight and Cherry and Waverly and the rest.”
This was one of the traditional methods by which British Intelligence
recruited spies–watch them from when they are young, and then recruit them
before or during college.
“Knight” is presumably a reference to Sir John Knight, Emma Peel’s
father. (See Page 80 above). “Cherry” is a reference to Bob Cherry.
“Waverly” is a reference to Alexander Waverly, an agent of Department
Z, the counterespionage arm of British Intelligence in 29 novels by John
Creasey from 1932 to 1957. Peter Sanderson, Brian Joines, and Ian Warren,
among many others, note that “Alexander Waverly” was the head of U.N.C.L.E.
in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and “that might explain the statement
“He runs some spy ring for the United Nations these days.” Although the “UN”
in “UNCLE ” stood for “United Network,” not “United Nations,” it was an international
Panel 4. I don’t know what that carrot-headed creature in
the glass case is. (I’m sure it’s not Flaming Carrot, though).
I don’t know what the animal skull in the background is, or the…mouse?
Paul Cornell and David Alexander McDonald rescue me from a swamp of ignorance
and note that the straw-stuffed skeletons in flower pots are a reference
to the British tv puppet show Flower Pot Men (1952-1954). The “flob”
on the plaque is a reference to the Flower Pot Men’s inability to say “flower
pot,” which they pronounced as “flobalob.”
“The rum-looking fellow behind her, that’s Sir Jack Wilton. He was
Gloriana’s big chief I-Spy, so I’m told.”
Sir Jack Wilton was mentioned in Faerie’s Fortunes Founded–see
Page 52 above. “Big chief I-Spy” is a reference to the British “I-Spy”
books, a series of books written for children in the 1950s and 1960s. The
idea behind the books was for children to make note of the planes, trains,
fire engines, and so on, and send their lists into “Big Chief I-Spy” in London.
Panel 5. I’m not sure what the horse in the upper right is.
But the horse on the left is Steve, created by Roland Davies and appearing
in the comic strip “Come on Steve” (1932-1949) and six cartoons in 1936
and 1937. Steve is a young horse who is exuberant, cheerful, and full
of energy (if not always particularly bright) and is always eager to investigate
(and often imitate) what humans are doing and to help them out.
I don’t know what the–monkey in a hat?–is.
Panel 6. Oh, for heaven’s sake. I should have gotten this
one. Jonathan Carter and Kelly Doran notes that this is the Psammead, from
E. Nesbit’s short stories and novels.
Panel 7. “…designing kit for some Welsh set-up. D-dream
inducers. Killer balloons.”
This is a reference to The Prisoner, which had both dream
inducers and killer balloons.
“Yarooh” was one of Bunter’s most typical exclamations.
Page 89. Panel 7. “Quelchy’s son, Quentin,
worked there before he joined MI5’s technical chappies. Like everybody
there, he’s known by an initial.”
This is all Moore’s invention, of course–there was no “Quentin Quelch”
in the Greyfriars stories. Peter Sanderson adds, “The “Q” character in
the James Bond movies is based on a character in Ian Fleming’s Bond novels
called Major Boothroyd. Fleming does refer to a “Q Branch” in British
intelligence. The character played by Desmond Llewelyn in the Bond movies
is originally called Major Boothroyd but later gets dubbed “Q.”” Peter Sanderson
adds, “The closing credits for the movie “From Russia with Love” list Desmond
Llewelyn as playing Boothroyd, but his character is renamed Q in the next
Bond movie, “Goldfinger.” Wikipedia states that Q is called “Boothroyd”
in dialogue in the movie “The Spy Who Loved Me.””
Page 90. Panel 1. I’m not sure exactly why
there’d be a statue of Judah Ben-Hur at Greyfriars. Judah Ben-Hur appears
in Lewis Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880) and is
about Judah Ben-Hur, a Jew alive at the time of Christ who is enslaved,
freed, wins a chariot race against his Roman childhood friend Messala, and
eventually converts to Christianity.
I’m not sure what the motorcycle with the 0211731 plate is a reference
to, if anything.
Panel 3. “His father named him Kim after the famous spy who
worked in Afghanistan.”
This is a reference to Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (1901), with
its orphaned Indian child and his work spywork for the British. Peter
Sanderson adds that “”Kim” may also be an allusion to British agent H. A.
R. “Kim” Philby, who was likewise nicknamed after Kipling’s character. So
Moore may be linking the amoral Lime with the traitorous Philby.”
Page 91. Panel 3. “Conamur Tenues Grandia” is from
the Odes (23-13 B.C.E.) of Horace.
Page 92. Panel 4. If “Mum’s Plaice” is a reference
to anything in particular, I’m unaware of it.
Panel 5. The “William Brown Captured…Outlaws” headline is
a reference to Richmal Crompton’s “Just William” stories, novels, radio
shows, television shows, and films about an eleven-year-old English mischief-maker.
His gang of friends is the “Outlaws.”
Page 93. Panel 1. A number of these magazines are
made up. (I think). The references that aren’t:
- “New B.B. Bardot Talks!” is a reference to the actress Brigitte
Bardot and “Garbo Talks!” The silent film actress Greta Garbot was famous
for her taciturnity and carefully cultivated mystique, and the film Anna
Christie, which contained Garbo’s first onscreen words, was billed with
the words “Garbo Talks!”
- Presumably that is the 1950s Invisible Man (see Page 148 below)
on the cover of The Naked Truth.
- “Hank Janson” is a reference to “Hank Janson,” the pseudonym
of Stephen D. Frances, a British writer who adopted the pseudonym in order
to write hardboiled novels. (“Hank Janson” sounded suitably American).
- Presumably “–nton –llion” is a reference to someone or something,
but it’s eluding me.
Weird Date is very much in the style of the 1940s spicy
pulps, but there wasn’t one by that name. Michael Norwitz points out that
Weird Date was the name of a comic in Michael Chabon’s The Amazing
Adventures of Kavalier and Klay.
- “Bat” is in all likelihood not a reference to Batman to but
to one of the many pulp and British storypaper characters by that name.
- Regarding “Nick Stacy,” Michael Norwitz writes, “Nick Stacy
was the ultra-violent detective starring in his own newspaper strip created
by Hector Ghoul, which appeared in the July 20, 1947 Spirit newspaper
- “Phallos,” similar to “phallus” (look it up, kids–education
is fun! I particularly recommend doing a Google Image search), is a likely
title for a 1950s porn mag.
- I’m not sure what “Secret of Paris” might be a reference to.
Jelly Result is a reference to the novel of the same
name by eccentric author Jeff Lint.
- “Blackshirt” is a reference to the cracksman and Gentleman
Thief of that name, created by “Bruce Graeme” (a.k.a. Graham Jeffries)
and appearing in dozens of novels and short story collections from 1924
- “Castle Hill Labs VD Scare” is, as Damian Gordon points out,
a reference to the first episode of the Invisible Man tv series (see
Page 148 below), in which there is an explosion at Castle Hill Labs,
where Peter Brady is working.
- I think “Clint” is a reference to the 1960s injunction, in
American comics, against characters having “Clint” as a first name, on
the grounds that, when drawn as “CLINT,” it might appear as quite a different
word to the casual viewer.
- “The Winged Avenger,” mentioned above on Page 8, is, in an
episode of The Avengers, a killer vigilante superhero who appears
to make the leap from comic books to real life.
- “Me Con?” is a reference to the Mekon, Dan Dare’s opponent.
The figure is drawn like the Mekon.
- “J. Arthur” is British slang for “masturbation.” (“J. Arthur”
from British film producer “J. Arthur Rank,” “rank” to “wank”).
- “Hand Shandy” is British slang for “masturbation.”
Panel 2. Mildly dirty postcards like this were common in the
1950s, though never sold in respectable establishments. Damian Gordon points
out that in the U.K. they are known as “French postcards.”
Panel 4. If the “Seaview” is a reference to anything in particular,
I’m unaware of it. Paul Cornell and David Alexander McDonald note that
the Seaview was the name of the submarine in the American tv show Voyage
to the Bottom of the Sea.
Page 95. Panel 1. Robtmsnow points out that the
condom wrapper in the bottom right corner reads “Heros the Spartan,” which
is the name of another strip by Frank Bellamy. (“Spartan” rather than “Trojan”).
Page 96. The “Iron Mountains” around the North
Pole are a reference to the Iron Mountains in the anonymously-written
Voyage au Centre de la Terre (1821).
If those animals in the upper right are a reference to anything,
I’m unaware of it.
The eye-in-the-pyramid, which also appears on the American dollar
bill, represents the All-Seeing Eye of God and of the Freemasons.
I should know the box-with-parachute below the eye-in-the-pyramid,
but I don’t. (Cyrano’s vehicle to the moon?)
The blinking phone box is the Tardis time machine from the BBC tv
series Doctor Who.
“…is found the Streaming Kingdoms, wherein transformed spirits
of drowned mariners are ruled by an intelligence called only ‘His Imperial
The Streaming Kingdom is from Jules Supervielle’s L’Enfant de
la Haute Mer (1931). The Streaming Kingdom is an aquatic kingdom under
the English Channel, near the mouth of the Seine. It is inhabited by water-breathing
humans who must drown before they can enter the Kingdom. The Kingdom
is ruled by a creature called His Royal Wetness.
“…the much talked of ‘water-babies.’”
The “water-babies” appeared in Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies
(1863). The Water-Babies is about Tom, a chimney sweep, who accidentally
falls in a river. His body dies, but his soul goes is changed into a “water
baby” by a group of faeries.
I believe the man in the glass ball is a reference to H.G. Wells’
The Time Machine (1895).
“The Radiance in these climes is of two partes,
One Red like Mars, the other Venus-green,
With variously glass’d pince-nez required
comprised of ruby and of em’rald both.
Thus furnished, we may fill our eyes and ears
With lights and musics come from higher spheres.”
In other words, these extradimensional places are only visible through
the use of 3D glasses.
I don’t know what the symbols in the lower left mean. “1666″ is the
date when Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World was published,
but I don’t know what 1695 might be an allusion to. Damian Gordon speculates
that it might be a reference to the 1695 Treason Act, which specified the
rules for British treason trials.
Page 97/Shadows in the Steam 1. “Meesons
and Co. Limited” is a reference to H. Rider Haggard’s Mr. Meeson’s
Will (1888), a crime novel about Mr. Meeson, an unscrupulous publisher.
Page 98/Shadows in the Steam 2. “…universally
acclaimed professor of mathematics, the esteemed James Moriarty, since
Professor Moriarty is the arch-enemy of Sherlock Holmes.
“…the Hunnish ‘Luftpiraten,’ Captain Mors…”
“Captain Mors” is the lead character of Der Luftpirat und Sein
Lenkbares Luftschiff, a German dime novel published from 1908-1911.
Captain Mors, the “Man with the Mask,” is a Captain Nemo-like character,
fleeing from mankind with a crew of Indians and involved in a prolonged fight
against tyranny and evil, both on Earth and on Venus, Mars, and the rest of
the solar system.
“…his French rival, the repulsive Monsieur Robur.”
“Robur” is the creation of Jules Verne and appeared in two books:
Robur le Conquerant (1886) and Maître du Monde (1904).
In Robur the Conqueror Robur, a brilliant engineer and vehement
proponent of heavier-than-air travel, invents a technologically advanced
“flying machine,” the Albatross, and uses it to kidnap several partisans
of lighter-than-air travel and take them around the world. In Master
of the World Robur returns, now a dangerous megalomaniac intent on conquering
Jean-Marc Lofficier notes that Verne is ambiguous about
Robur’s nationality, and that he might well be British or even American.
“…the purchase of heliotropes, imported from the remote nation
Bengodi appears in Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (1353),
a very influential collection of Italian stories, some of which were later
used by Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales. The notion of heliotropes
as a source for the Invisible Man’s invisibility was raised by Moore in
“…the probably-invened ‘horla’ creature that the French claimed
to have captured in the later 1880s.”
The Horla, an invisible monster, was created by Guy de Maupassant
and appeared in “The Horla” (1885).
Page 99/Shadows in the Steam 3. “…the group of
islands called the Riallaro Archipelago…
The Riallaro Archipelago appears in John Macmillan Brown’s Riallaro,
the Archipelago of Exiles (1901) and Limanora, the Island of Progress
(1903), both about island utopias near the Antarctic.
Page 100/Shadows in the Steam 4. “One, I
think, was a Malay, another being a tall Negro with the elegant bone-structure
and near-indigo complexion that I most associate with Africa’s Ivory Coast.”
Shame on me for not getting these. I mean, honestly, how did I miss
this? Robert Todd Bruce writes,
I wondered if these might not be two of the three harpooners
from the Pequod.
Queequeg was Ishmael’s close companion and a prince from the South Seas.
Tashtego was an Gay Head Indian from Martha’s Vineyard, and Daggoo is an
extremely tall, imposing African. All three are supposed to have died
when Moby Dick destroys the Pequod at the end of the novel (after all, Ishmael
says that he was the only survivor and was picked up by another whaler, the
Rachel, which was cruising the area searching for one her whaleboats.
The lost whaleboat had the youngest son of the Rachel’s captain on board),
but who knows, right?
“There was an older man that I assumed to be an American whose voice
had a New England twang about it…”
As seen in League v1 & v2, Ishmael, from Herman Melville’s
Moby Dick (1851), is one of Captain Nemo’s crewmen.
“…and a fellow similarly aged, dressed up in what appeared to be
an ancient, threadbare uniform such as were common during the Sepoy Rebellion.”
Perhaps this is Nemo himself?
“…a young and rather well-built Englishman whose name, I later
learned, was Jack.”
As seen in League v1 & v2, Broad Arrow Jack, from the
E. Harcourt Burrage 1886 serial of the same name, is a member of Nemo’s
“…a lovely Indian woman in a kind of turquoise skirt or wrapping…”
Presumably this is Nemo’s wife.
Page 101/Shadows in the Steam 5. Panel 1.
The writing on the paper is Hindi. If you want to translate it, feel free.
Panel 2. “Captain Kettle” is a reference to the short, cigar-smoking,
red-bearded, pugnacious, brutal seaman Captain Kettle, created by C.J.
Cutcliffe Hyne and appearin in stories, a novel, and several films from
1895 to the 1920s.
Page 102/Shadows in the Steam 6. “…a disastrous
circumnavigation of Antarctica attempted three years previously…”
This was described at some length in League v2.
Page 104. The “Golden Rivet” is a bit of naval
folklore. Supposedly every ship has one rivet made of gold, and old sailors
like to send young sailors on snipe hunts to find the golden rivet. Sometimes
the search for the golden rivet is meant to get a young and attractive
sailor alone so as to have sex with him. (British naval tradition being,
per Churchill, nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash).
Pages 106-107. (I’m combining panels and the text
from the Key here)
Panel 1. “…the late eccentric visionary Selwyn Cavor, driving
force behind 1901’s lunar expection and the subsequent annexation of
the moon as part of the British Empire.”
In H.G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon (1901) Professor
Selwyn Cavor is the inventor of “cavorite,” a gravity-canceling alloy
(“this possible substance opaque to gravitation”) which Cavor and his
friend Mr. Bedford, the narrator of the novel, use to travel to the moon.
In the novel the moon is inhabited by malign Selenties. The novel ends
with the Cavor trapped on the moon and the revelation that the Selenites’
ruler, the Grand Lunar, is malign. The “subsequent annexation” answers
the question about what Great Britain’s response to this revelation would
Panel 2. “…Napoleonic naval hero Horatio Hornblower…”
Horatio Hornblower is the hero of eleven novels, from 1937-1967,
by C.S. Forester. Hornblower is an officer in the Royal Navy and performs
various heroics in the Napoleonic Wars.
Peter Sanderson points out that this is another of Moore’s
substitutions, with the statue of Hornblower taking the place of the statue
of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square, “possibly implying that in “League’s”
world it was Hornblower who won the Battle of Trafalgar.”
Panel 3. “The Diogenes Club”
The Diogenes Club is a gentleman’s club in the Sherlock Holmes stories.
Quoting Sherlock Holmes, in “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter:”
There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness,
some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows.
Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals.
It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started,
and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No member
is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger’s
Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences,
if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to
expulsion. My brother was one of the founders, and I have myself found
it a very soothing atmosphere.
Panel 7: Anyone want to have a go at translating the writing?
“…neighborhood’s good fortune to a local philanthropist, a doctor
who protects the area.”
This is a reference to Fu Manchu, from Sax Rohmer’s novels. In the
novels Limehouse is under his rule.
“Here be South Londoners” is a reference to medieval maps which would
write “Here be Dragons” on unknown areas of the map. Its use in reference
to Londoners south of the Thames is a jibe at the way those north of the
Thames have always regarded those south of the Thames.
Page 108. “…the matriarchal ladies’ commune
Coradine is in W.H. Hudson’s A Crystal Age (1887) and is a
kind of utopia set in northern Scotland.
“…unsettling reports concerning the New England town of Arkham,
In H.P. Lovecraft’s stories Arkham is a city, located on the North
Shore of Massachusetts, which is the home to Miskatonic University. Arkham
is a fictional city based on Salem, Mass.
“Returning during the September of that same year after some unpleasant
Those exploits were described in League v2.
“…the communitarian Phalanstery movement, then but recently established
in the western English county Avondale.”
A “phalanstery” is a self-sustaining commune. Avondale is from Grant
Allen’s “The Child of the Phalanstery” (1884) and is a well-managed
phalanstery with the unfortunate habit of killing all crippled or deformed
“…in the lost land of Zuvendis…”
Zuvendis appears in H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain.
“…the incarcerated lunatic Dr. Eric Bellman…”
Dr. Eric Bellman appears in Lewis Carroll’s poem The Hunting of
the Snark (1876). In the poem Bellman and the Bellman Expedition goes
hunting for a snark, only to find that the gentle snark is in fact the
“…the recently-resurfaced brother of Mycroft Holmes at his home
The brother of Mycroft Holmes is of course Sherlock Holmes and the
recent resurfacing is Holmes’ return from apparent death, chronicled
in “The Adventure of the Empty House.”
“…the Anglo-Russian Convention…”
The Anglo-Russian Convention took place from October 1905 to August
1907, at which time an entente was reached essentially ending the Great
Game of espionage, addressing Afghanistan and Tibet, and and dividing Persia,
the cause of much Russian-British antagonism, into three spheres
“…a dockside hotel worker and sometime prostitute named Diver…”
This is a reference to Jenny Diver, from John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera
(1728), Polly (1728), and Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera
(1928). In Three Penny Opera Jenny Diver sings “Pirate Jenny,” about
“the Black Freighter” which is coming to punish the guilty and rescue her.
Page 109. “Zebed Marsh & Sons, of Innsmouth.”
In H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” Captain Marsh was
the man who in the 1830s brought the worship of the Deep Ones back to the
Massachusetts town of Innsmouth. His family remained a power in Innsmouth
until the 1930s.
The fish-like appearance on the faces of the fish-mongers
is the “Innsmouth Look,” a facial malformation indicative of their genetic
descent from the Deep Ones.
“Curwen Street, Market Square”
Curwen Street was introduced in August Derleth’s “The House on Curwen
Street,” a Cthulhu Mythos story.
“Celebrate Wicker Rapist Day in Coradine”
In Julius Caesar’s Commentary on the Gallic Wars he says that
the Druids made a wicker statue, put human beings inside it, and set it
on fire as human sacrifice. The modern world is more familiar with the
burning of the Wicker Man from the 1973 British and 2006 American films
of that name.
“Milosis Cemetery, Zuvendis”
This is the supposed grave of Allan Quatermain.
“The Fantippo Daily Mail. Hut Prices Plummet. Us Foreigners to Blame”
“Fantippo” appears in Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle’s Post Office
(1924) and Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake (1949). Fantippo
is a kingdom in West Africa which adopted the English postal system after
Fantippo’s ruler, King Koko, heard about the system and was impressed by
it. The “Daily Mail” is a jibe at the reactionary British tabloid Daily
Mail, which is racist in its treatment of immigration issues.
Page 110. Lorimer E. Brackett was a publisher of
picture postcards of Monhegan, Maine. The stylized font of “Post Card,
Lorimer E. Brackett, Arkham Mass.” is in the style of Brackett.
“Met one R. Carter who took us to a ruin near Dunwich – beastly business.
Mina almost abducted by something ghastly…”
“R. Carter” is Randolph Carter, who appeared in five of Lovecraft’s
stories. Carter, who Lovecraft partially based on himself, is a morose
man who has adventures in various dreamlands. The near-abduction is described
in League v1.
Page 111. “Octavia”
Octavia appears in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (1972),
in which Marco Polo tells Kublai Khan about several fabulous cities in
the Khan’s empire.
“Greetings from Sussex”
See the notes to Page 112.
“L’Opera de Paris”
This is a reference to Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera
(1911), with the unmasked, grotesque Phantom appearing in the upper right
corner of the photo. If anyone else in this painting is a reference I’m
unaware of it.
“A Royal Occasion”
This is a reference, I’m sure of it–it was homaged recently in Nicholas
Gurewitch’s very good web comic “Perry
Bible Fellowship” on the cover of his collection The
Trial of Colonel Sweeto, which you should all buy right now–but
I don’t know what the original is.
Page 112. “Sussex is dreadful, but I’ve met
the gentleman I came here to visit. Yes, it’s really him.”
In Doyle’s “The Second Stain” Sherlock Holmes has retired to the
Sussex Downs to raise bees.
“Dear Tom, well, it’s over, though in truth they very nearly finished
us. Fantomas was a horror, and the albino almost as bad.”
See Page 113.
Page 113. The characters in the image are Dr. Mabuse,
Dr. Caligari?, Dr. Rotwang, and Maria.
Dr. Mabuse was created by Norbert Jacques and appeared in three novels
and eight films from 1921 to 1964. Mabuse is a German criminal mastermind
intent on world domination; worse still, he is a psychiatrist who uses
his psychiatric knowledge and abilities at hypnotism for his own nefarious
I’m unsure who the figure in top hat and white gloves is, but Rick Lai notes,
“I suspect that he is meant o be Caligari even though he doesn’t resemble
the silent film version (or far that matter the later remake from 1962). However,
the white-gloved character has prominent eyes of a hypnotic nature.” Dr.
Caligari was created by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer and appeared in the
film Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920). Dr. Caligari is the head
of an insane asylum in a rural village in the mountains of Germany.
Peter Sanderson adds, “It should also be noted that
in “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” the Caligari who is an evil hypnotist only
appears in the mad narrator’s imagination. The real “Caligari” is a
benevolent doctor at the asylum in which the narrator is confined. In “League’s”
world the narrator’s imaginary Caligari actially exists.”
A.J. Ramirez adds, “The second character is clearly intended
to be Dr. Caligari, albeit without his trademark hair. Note the German
Expressionist background and what appears to be Caesar on the staircase.”
Dr. Rotwang was created by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou and appeared
in the film Metropolis (1927). Dr. Rotwang is a mad scientist
in the city of Metropolis.
Peter Sanderson adds, “It should be pointed out that
“Metropolis” and the various “Mabuse” movies (from 1922 to 1960!) were directed
by the same man, Fritz Lang. Mabuse and Rotwang were played by the
same actor, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, although O’Neill’s illustration makes them
look quite different.”
Maria was created by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou and appeared
in Metropolis. She is an android created by Rotwang to foment rebellion
among the workers of Metropolis.
“…it is indeed possible that this Teutonic group played some part
in the sinister activities that plagued the corontation of King George
VI in 1910.”
For more on this, see League v3, due out next year.
“…including a mesmerised assassin…”
In Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari the good doctor uses his hypnosis
to manipulate one of his patients, Cesare, into carrying out murders while
“…the ingenious criminal mastermind Arsene Lupin…”
Arsène Lupin was created by Maurice Leblanc and appeared in
a number of stories and twenty novels and short story collections from
1905 to 1939. Lupin is the “Prince of Thieves,” the archetypal Gentleman
Thief of popular culture.
“The international arch-villain Monsieur Zenith, for example, was
a pure albino who used drugs that overcame the weaknesses of his condition
and indeed allowed him physical abilities beyond the ordinary.”
In the Sexton Blake stories Zenith uses opium to relieve himself
of the boredom of life. Michael Moorcock, who early in his career wrote
some Sexton Blake stories and edited the Sexton Blake Library,
has always stated that his character Elric of Melnibone (who takes drugs
to fortify himself) was based on Monsieur Zenith. In recent stories, such
as those in his Metatemporal
Detective (with gorgeous cover art by the brilliant John Picacio),
Monsieur Zenith is shown to be a dream that Elric once had.
“…the unnerving Nyctalope. This creature, more some new, sophisticated
breed of animal than man, had beating his his breast a manmade heart
superior to the human model. He could breathe with equal ease in both
our normal atmosphere and also underwater, and his eyes were such that
the most stygian, impenetrable darkness seemed to him as brightly lit
as if in the full glare of noon.”
The Nyctalope was created by Jean de La Hire and appeared in sixteen
novels from 1908 to 1954. He is the adventurer Léo Sainte-Claire
(Jean de Sainclair in some novels), who fights a wide variety of exotic
evils with the help of a stalwart band of assistants. (In some ways the
Nyctalope is Doc Savage avant la lettre). As stated in the narration
above, the Nyctalope has an artificial heart and can see in the dark.
Damian Gordon wonders if the phrase “new, sophisticated
breed of animal” might be a Moorean reference to the superhero, of which
the Nyctalope is, arguably, the first.
Jean-Marc Lofficier (who knows whereof he writes) writes
that the Nyctalope can’t breathe underwather. “The underwater breathing
comes from an understandable confusion between the water-breather character
from the first volume and the Nyctalope, hence the mistake.”
“…the horror Fantomas.”
Fantômas was created by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain
and appeared in forty-three novels from 1911 to 1963. He is “the Lord
of Terror” and “the Genius of Evil,” a Parisian crime boss with who murders
with abandon and aplomb.
“It also seems he was precocious in the guarding of his true identity,
in that those few early acquaintances of Fantomas who lived to tell the
tale could not between them give an accurate description of the man.”
Fantomas is a master of disguise and no one ever knows what he looks
Page 114. “…something in the voice and movements
of this quite demonic being seemed to indicate that Fantomas might be
Fantomas is on occasion impersonated by his daughter Hélène.
“…the tomb of Launcelot up in Northumberland…”
Bamburgh Castle, in Northumberland, stands on the site of an earlier
fort, built in the middle of the fifth century. The original fort’s name
was “Din Guayrdi.” This name was taken by the Arthurian romancers, including
Malory, and given to Lancelot as his home. Launcelot’s tomb being there
is referred to in League v2.
“…the kingdom of Evarchia.”
Evarchia appears in Brigid Brophy’s Palace Without Chairs
(1978), a modern day fairy tale set in an imaginary Eastern European socialist
“…the monstrously disfigured madman Erik had resided while he carried
out his terror campaign as the Opera’s so-called ‘Phantom.’”
Erik is the Phantom of the Opera.
Page 115. “…a subterranean Graveyard of Unwritten
The Graveyard of Unwritten Books was created by Nedim Gürsel
and appeared in Son Tramway (1900). The Graveyard, also known as
the “Well of Locks,” is the home of all books forbidden by authorities across
“…or an underground land lit up by luminous balloons…”
I believe this is a reference to Coal City and New Aberfoyle, in
Jules Verne’s Les Indes Noires (1877). Coal City, a subterranean
city located beneath central Scotland, is a very productive mine and tourist
“Jean Robur’s airshop shot down at the battle of the Somme…”
At the end of Maître du Monde Robur’s ship crashes into
the sea, but his body is never found, although he is presumed dead.
The figures in the image are: the Nyctalope, Arsene Lupin, Robur, Zenith
the Albino, and Fantomas.
Page 116. “What Ho, Gods of the Abyss” is
written in the inimitable style of P.G. Wodehouse, and is a loving pastiche
of Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories. The idea of combining Wodehouse
and Lovecraft has been done before, by Yr. Humble Annotator in “Cthulhu
Fhtagn, Eh Wot, Ha Ha!” and by Peter Cannon in “Scream for Jeeves,” among
“…that same Augustus, he of the Fink-Nottles…”
Augustus “Gussie” Fink-Nottle is a friend and schoolmate of Bertie
Wooster. Gussie is described as a “teetotal bachelor with a face like
a fish” which may be the Innsmouth Look (see Page 109) and would explain
why he was chosen by the Old Ones in this sotry.
“…my Aunt Dahlia…”
Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia Travers is rough but affectionate toward Bertie.
“…cross-country runs at dear old Malvern House, when I was younger.”
Bertie and Gussie attended Malvern House Preparatory School.
“…my regrettable Aunt Agatha who uses battery-acid as a gargle
and shaves with a lathe…”
Bertie’s Aunt Agatha Gregson is quite fearsome: “When Aunt Agatha
wants you to do a thing you do it, or else you find yourself wondering
why those fellows in the olden days made such a fuss when they had trouble
with the Spanish Inquisition.”
“…I may write a piece on for Milady’s Boudoir”
Milady’s Boudoir is a weekly woman’s newspaper which Aunt
Page 117. “…its blossoms shall certainly attract
the Shambler in Darkness.”
This very Lovecraftian-sounding creature is Moore’s invention.
“…sleepying and dreaming at a place called Riley…”
“…some old goat who had misspent his youth so badly that he had
a thousand young…”
Shug-Niggurath is the “Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young.”
“…the three-lobed burning eye…”
The three-lobed burning eye is one of the avatars of Nyarlathotep.
“…the town of Goatswood, close to Brichester, for the occasion.”
Goatswood and Brichester are in the Severn Valley, which in the stories
of Ramsey Campbell are a location for many Lovecraftian activities.
“…three or four feet long and roughly barrel shaped, its head resembling
an elaborately ugly starfish and some ghastly tattered things that jutted
from what we assumed to be its torso, these resembling fins or wings…”
This is a Lovecraftian Elder Thing.
Page 121. Panel 3. If “Courtfield 106″ means anything,
I’m unaware of it.
Panel 6. And so we finally have the explanation of the “Mother”
Bunter got his postal orders from.
Page 122. Panel 1. “Roy Carson Horror”
Roy Carson is a British hardboiled detective created by Denis McLoughln
and appearing in Roy Carson #1-44 (1948-1954).
“‘Splash Kirby’ Exclusive”
Arthur “Splash” Kirby is a reporter for the Daily Post in
the Sexton Blake stories written by Michael Moorcock.
Greyfriars School is just to the north of the village of Friardale.
If the mother and children seen here are a reference to anyone I’m
unaware of it.
Page 123. Panel 3. “Norma Desmond” is a reference
to the aging actress in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950).
Panel 4. Borchester is a town in the BBC radio soap The
Pages 124-125. Any help any of you can give me
on identifying these rockets would be most helpful. Likely they’re all
Damian Gordon speculates that the ship on the lefthand side of the
page, above the man with the pipe, is from Things to Come (1936),
the film version of Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come.
Paul Cornell identifies the blue ship on the long track in upper
center of Page 124 as the Fireball XL5, from the British tv series Fireball
XL5 (1962-1963), a Gerry and Sylvia Anderson flying-marionettes-in-the-future
Paul Cornell and Damian Gordon note that the red ship in the lower
right hand corner of Page 124 is the titular vehicle from Gerry Anderson’s
tv show Supercar (1961-1962). Paul Cornell further notes that the
thing in front of the ship, raising its two arms, is Mitch, the pet monkey
of Jimmy Gibson, a ten-year-old member of the Supercar team.
Paul Cornell further writes, “he space technology looks to be a combination
of Frank Hampson Dan Dare design (the glass nose cones and bubbles) and
Gerry Anderson design (the little vehicle leading the spacecraft along
the ground has design features from a Captain Scarlet SPV, but definitely
isn’t one. Some of these designs may be, dare I say it…generic?”
Damian Gordon wonders if the bald-headed man in the lower right of
this panel is Leo Baxendale’s Grimly Feendish from various British comics.
The “Kingfisher-8″ is a reference to Dan Dare. The Kingfisher was
the first manned rocket sent to Venus, but it was mysteriously destroyed,
leading to Dan Dare’s trip to Venus and encounter with the Mekon.
Page 125. Panel 4. “Ordinary airplane pilot Gary
Haliday at your service.”
This is a reference to the BBC tv series Garry Halliday (1959),
about two pilots, Garry Halliday and Bill Dodds, in pursuit of the criminal
mastermind The Voice.
Paul Cornell corrects my mistake about the “I-Spy Rockets” pamphlet
which Haliday is holding:
“Halliday is holding a fictitious entry in the ‘I Spy Books’ series.
I had several of these when I was a kid. The idea was that the
books listed a collection of things (birds, cars, etc) and the observant
child ticked off where and when they’d seen each thing, then sent the
book in to Big Chief I-Spy (who lived in a wigwam in London) and get some
sort of certificate in return. They’ve become comedy shorthand for
a reference book only for the very young.”
Page 126. Panel 1. “Well, I’m only a rocket-spotter,
really, but I know a bit.”
Damian Gordon notes that this is a riff on the U.K. tradition of
trainspotting and planespotting: ordinary citizens keeping notes on the
various types of trains and planes they have spotted.
Panels 1-2. “That’s the Pancake Extra-Large Series Four…there
was the Mushroom Cloud X-L 2, the Shrapnel X-L 3…it’s a tradition.”
This is a reference to the Fireball XL5 (see Page 124). Paul Cornell
writes that the back end of the ship with the “L4″ visible is quite similar
to the back end of the XL5.
Panel 3. “We read about that when we were in the states. See-through
robots made out of perspex or something, all with names like Ronald,
In Fireball XL5 transparent robot Robert is the Fireball’s
“Him Name Eddie” writes, “It seems to me that this could
be a reference to Robby the Robot from the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet, who
had a clear ‘bubble head’ (which I believe was indeed made from perspex) from
which his inner workings could be observed.”
Damian Gordon notes that the boys in the lower left are Danny and
Plug of the Bash Street Boys. (See Page 10, Panel 4).
The hockey-stick-wielding girl is Petunia, from the comic strip “The
Dolls of St. Dominic’s,” which appeared in the British comic Pow
Panel 5. “…somebody famous, like Morgan or Hawke or someone.”
Morgan is Captain Morgan, mentioned on Page 10, Panel 8. Hawke is
Jeff Hawke, from the comic strip “Jeff Hawke, Space Rider” (1954-1975).
Jeff Hawke, in the XP5 rocket, goes 3000 miles beyond the Moon and meets
the Lords of the Universe, and then embarks on even wider-ranging adventures.
Page 127. Panel 2. Is the mask on the right a reference
Panel 3. The seated alien is the Mekon.
Panel 4. “Interplan– Police Patrol” is a reference to the
Interplanetary Police Patrol, which Captain Vic Valiant was the “Ace”
of in Space Comics (1953-1955).
“Kemlo” is a reference to the fifteen Kemlo books by “E.C. Eliot,”
a.k.a Reginald Alec Martin. Kemlo and his friends live on Satellite Belt
K, orbiting around the Earth.
Paul Cornell clears up my confusion by noting that the alien brain-with-antenna
is one of the creatures from the British sf horror film Fiend Without
a Face (1958).
Panel 5. “…the Westminster Abbey Fungus-Astronaut…”
This is a reference to Nigel Kneale’s The Quatermass Experiment
(1953), in which a British spaceship thought to be lost crashes in Wimbledon.
One of the astronauts turns out to be infected with a dangerous fungus
alien and is eventually cornered in Westminster Abbey.
Page 129. Panel 1. “He probably misses Goldstein
and the Four-Minute Hate…”
In 1984 the “Two Minute Hate” is a daily ritual in which Party
members must watch a film showing Emmanuel Goldstein (see Page 16, Panel
8) and other enemies of the Party, and express their hatred for them.
Panel 5. Peter Sanderson writes, “I wonder if the sexual attraction
between Bond and Miss Night was inspired by the film of Ian Fleming’s
“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” in which Diana Rigg (who played Mrs. Peel)
played Tracy, the woman who marries James Bond.”
Page 130. Panel 8. “Don’t fancy a wager on Melchester
hammering those Fulchester scoundrels, I suppose?”
The British tv series Crown Court (1972-1984) was set in Fulchester.
Damian Gordon points out that most of the characters in the adult comic
Viz live in Fulchester.
Phil Smith writes, “Fulchester Rovers is the football team used in Viz’s
great strip Billy the Fish, whose line-up included busty Native
American Brown Fox, 81-year-old blind peanut seller Rex Findlayson and not-a-Nazi-Rocket-Scientist
Professor Wölfgang Schnell BSc PhD, and fish-bodied goalkeeper Billy
the Fish. It’s hardly surprising that they’d face off against the team they
Page 131. Panel 1. Paul Cornell notes that these
are the Lazoons, from Fireball XL5. (They are mentioned on Page
48, Panel 40). Presumably the one which “talked with a lisp” was Zoony,
who apparently was very irritating to viewers.
Panel 3. Presumably the fat man is a reference to something,
but I don’t know what it is.
Page 133. Panel 1. Peter Sanderson writes,
“”S-so you know Indian wrestling, do you?” This is an obvious
reference to Mrs. Peel’s renowned martial arts skills. But why does
Moore refer to them as Indian? Assuming he is referring to India, and
not to Native American combat skills, Moore may possibly be alluding
to the fact that Diana Rigg spent her early childhood (age 2 to 8) in India.”
Panel 4. “Anzia New Famine”
I’m unable to find this reference. It might be referring to the Azanian
Empire, in Evelyn Waugh’s Black Mischief (1932).
Page 134. Panel 3. “Dixie Coll– Lesbian Expose.”
I’m not sure what this is a reference to.
Page 136. Panel 1. I’m pretty sure the spaceships
seen here are more references, but I don’t know what they are.
Page 137. Panel 1. “…these oversized Dinky toys.”
Dinky Toys are a British brand of toy cars.
Panel 2. I don’t recognize the car, if it’s a reference.
Page 138. Panel 1. I don’t recognize the spaceships,
if they are references.
Panel 2. I don’t recognize the spaceships, if they are references.
Page 139. Panel 4. “I read it in that dirty magazine
you bought in America. Stagman, wasn’t it?”
Stagman appears in John Sladek’s The Müller-Fokker Effect
(1973). In the novel Stagman is a Playboy analogue which
is only successful because of its owner’s frustrated libido.
Papa Joe Mambo notes that the original title for Playboy
was Stag Party.
Panel 5. “…stories by Kennaston…”
In James Branch Cabell’s The Cream of the Jest (1917) writer
Felix Kennaston’s work begins to infect his reality.
In the novels of Kurt Vonnegut Kilgore Trout is a hack writer of
“You just ogled that ‘Montana Wildhack’ floozy in the fold-out bit.”
In Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five (1969) Montana Wildhack
is a porn actress who is kidnaped by the Tralfamadoreans and forced to
mate with Billy Pilgrim.
Panel 6. “…you weren’t much on the Stagman Club, all those
girls with deer antlers…”
The Playboy Club makes its waitresses wear bunny ears, so it’s logical
that in the Stagman Club the waitresses would wear deer antlers.
Page 140. Panel 1. “Roger the Robot”’s visual appearance
may be a reference.
Page 141. Panel 1. “I’ve seen brainier-looking
Airfix is a British manufacturer of scale model kits of planes.
Pages 142-143. Again, more spaceships I’m not recognizing.
Damian Gordon wonders if the ship in the upper left with two domes is
a version of Dan Dare’s Anastasia. Paul Cornell agrees but notes the fins,
which the Anastasia is missing.
That may be Dan Dare himself in the bottom right corner.
Page 144. Panel 1. “Jona- Curs- on Brit–“ is not
a reference I recognize.
“Spider Man From Mars”
Not a reference to the Bowie song, surely?
Page 145. Panel 1. I don’t recognize the uniform.
Page 146. “…a self-styled ‘surrealist sportsman’
who suffered from chronic dwarfism and whose first or last name was apparently
This is a reference to Maurice Richardson’s The Exploits of Engelbrecht
(1950), in which the surrealist sportsman dwarf Engelbrecht boxes with
a grandfather clock, goes on a witch hunt, and has various wonderful surrealist
“…a stocky, unkempt Negro with a very deep voice…”
See Page 166 below.
“…a Mr. Norton, an intelligence gatherer sometimes referred to
as ‘the prisoner of London.’”
This is a reference to Iain Sinclair’s Slow Chocolate Autopsy
(1997), about Norton, who can travel in time but is stuck within the physical
confines of London.
“…the apparent dynasty of black-clad burrowing bandits…”
This is a reference to Terry Patrick’s The Black Sapper, who appeared
in Rover and Hotspur for decades beginning in 1929. The Black
Sapper is an inventor/thief, dressed all in black, who uses an enormous
burrowing machine, the Earthworm, to commit crime. There being a dynasty
of Sappers would explain the Sapper’s longevity.
“…or an early manifestation of elusive international criminal mastermind
I believe this is a reference to Garry Halliday, in which
The Voice is Garry Halliday’s arch-enemy.
Damian Gordon corrects my mistake and notes that during World War
Two there were a series of precautionary posters entitled “Be Like Dad
and Keep Mum.”
Page 147. The “Watch out–Adenoid’s about!” cartoon
is typical of WW2 precautionary posters.
Paul Cornell notes that this poster might also be a
reference to Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, set during WW2 and
featuring a giant adenoid. (Pynchon was likely referring back to The
Great Dictator, but I’d bet that Moore intended this to be a double
“…the architect Nicholas Dyer’s creepy church…”
This is a reference to Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor (1985), in
which British architect Nicholas Hawksmoor is reimagined as Nicholas Dyer.
Page 148. The four figures here are Worrals, William
Samson Jr., the Iron Warrior, and the Invisible Man, with the Iron Fish
in the background.
William Samson Jr is the son of William Samson, seen in League
v2. William Samson Jr is the “Wolf of Kabul,” who appeared in over 100
stories in various story papers from 1922 to 1972. The Wolf of Kabul, whose
real name was Bill Sampson (often shown as “Samson”), is an agent for the
British Intelligence Corps operating on the Northwest frontier of India.
The Iron Warrior appeared in Thrill Comics (1940-1945) and
New Funnies (1948). The Iron Warrior is a giant robot, controlled
by Rodney Dearth (who is presumably the man behind Samson) and used to
find treasure in Africa.
This Invisible Man is Peter Brady, from the American tv series The
Invisible Man (1958-1960). In the show Peter Brady, a British scientist,
is turned invisible in an accident.
The Iron Fish is mentioned on Page 14, Panel 1.
“…Miss Warralson’s previously unsuspected tribadism…”
Although W.E. Johns never said that Worrals was a lesbian, she was
pursued by handsome, accomplished fellow pilot Bill Ashton, who is in
love with her. She never reciprocated his feelings and liked him only as
a friend. Suspicions of being gay have been raised with less evidence than
“…a pairing of pirate-slave James Soames and Italian master-criminal
Count Zero clashed with Harry Wharton and the Greyfriars crew in Magnet
#1452-1455. Paul Cornell notes that James Soames was an adversary of Harry
Wharton. In the Magnet Soames was indeed a pirate and a slaver.
Page 149. “…her companion ‘Frecks’, apparently
an old school chum.”
In the Worrals stories Worrals’ sidekick is her best friend and fellow
pilot Betty “Frecks” Lovell.
“…his deadly cricket-bat wielding colleague Chung…”
In the Wolf of Kabul stories Samson’s sidekick is the Pathan Chung,
whose weapon of choice is his “clicky-ba,” or cricket bat. After killing
men Chung would remark, his eyes tearing, “Lord, I am full of humble sorrow
– I did not mean to knock down these men – ‘Clicky-ba’ merely turned
in my hand.”
Page 150. “The Crazy Wide Forever, by Sal
In Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) Sal Paradise (Kerouac’s
fictional stand-in) and friend Dean Moriarty travel around America, having
Beat adventures. The Crazy Wide Forever is written in a similar
style to On the Road.
I find this style of prose almost unreadable, and so I’m refusing
to annotate it except for the crucial ones. You can send in the annotations
if you like–I’ll certainly list them here. I just can’t bring myself
to do it.
Page 151. “O little did we know but Dr. Sachs
was settin fer us…”
“Dr. Sachs” is a reference to the titular character of Jack Kerouac’s
Dr. Sax (1959). Dr. Sax is a scientist who travels to Lowell, Massachusetts,
to destroy the Great World Snake, a Jörmungandr-like monster.
“…his olde grandad’s foe no reglar Joe but the Napoleon o crime n craft
this mad perfesser Moriarty his own grandson…”
Which is to say, Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty is the grandson of Conan Doyle’s
Peter Sanderson braves The Crazy Wide Forever and comes up with more
- “she’s Minnie but never mooched”: reference to the 1931
song “Minnie the Moocher,” co-written and originally performed by Cab Calloway
. Calloway also performed the song in the Betty Boop animated cartoon
“Minnie the Moocher.”
- “Captain Easy: adventure hero created by cartoonist Roy Crane
for his pioneering early 20th century adventure comic strip “Wash Tubbs,”
which was later renamed after the captain.”
- “The Lone Ranger: masked western hero who was created by George
W. Trendle and has appeared in radio, television and film.”
Page 152. Peter Sanderson writes, “”Thin
Man” “William Powell n Myrna Loy”: Allan and Mina are being compared
to Nick and Nora Charles, the witty, sophisticated couple whom Dashiell Hammett
created in his 1934 detective novel “The Thin Man” and who were played by
William powell and Myrna Loy in a series of MGM “Thin Man” films.”
Page 153. Peter Sanderson writes, “Plastic Man: classic
superhero with stretching powers created by Jack Cole.”
Page 154. Peter Sanderson writes, “Schopenhauer:
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German philosopher. Monet: Claude
Monet (1840-1926), the great Impressionist painter.”
Page 155. Peter Sanderson writes, “Willyum Blake”
(William Blake, 1757-1827): visionary poet and illustrator who devised
his own personal mythology of gods. Hoagy Carmichael (1899-1991): songwriter
and musician who wrote the music for the song “Stardust” and appeared in
such films as “To Have and Have Not.” Tom Mix (1880-1940), Bill Boyd (William
Boyd, 1895-1972): Stars of early film Westerns. Floyd Patterson (1935-2006):
American heavyweight boxing champion “
Pornsec SexJane. This is Moore & O’Neill’s
version of what a Tijuana Bible would be like in the England of 1984.
Tijuana Bibles were crudely produced pornographic comic books about celebrities
and comic strip characters produced from the 1920s through the 1960s.
The Jane who stars in “Workbelt Crimepoke” is the same mentioned
on Page 22, Panel 6.
Pornsec SexJane Pages 3-4. Bumstead, Syme, Withers
and Jones are all characters in 1984.
Pornsec SexJane Page 6. “We are the dead” is what
Winston and Julia tell each other the morning after their tryst, right
before they are caught by the Thought Police in 1984.
Pornsec SexJane Page 8. The cage is full of rats.
The prospect of having a cage of rats placed on his face is what finally
breaks Winston in 1984.
“Imagine a patent leather boot grinding on a human tongue, forever.”
This is a sadomasochistic riff on the famous line from 1984,
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human
Page 156. “…small towns dotted about the country
such as Maybury…”
Mayberry, North Carolina, is the site of the tv shows The Andy
Griffith Show (1960-1968) and Mayberry R.F.D. (1968-1971), and
also appeared in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show (1953-1964).
There are various real Riverdales, but in all likelihood the Riverdale
mentioned here is the Riverdale which is the setting for the numerous
stories in Archie Comics.
“…metropolitan environments like Central City…”
In DC Comics Central City is the home city of the Flash.
In DC Comics Gotham City is the home city of Batman, among others.
Perhaps coincidentally, each of these cities has been the site of
various interdimensional/inter-fictional universe crossover. A resident
of Mayberry appeared on the It’s Gary Shandling Show (and Mayberry is a
part of the vast web of tv crossovers–to see how dozens of tv shows tie
in to each other, go to the Crossovers Spin Offs Master
List). Marvel’s The Punisher appeared in Riverdale. Central City was
the site of the first crossover between DC’s Golden Age and Silver Age characters.
And Gotham has seen, among others, characters from Wildstorm Comics visit
Myles Lobdell, Peter Sanderson, and Neale Barnholden
note that “Central City is also the name of the city in which the Fantastic
Four debuted way back in 1961. Thus, the three
cities, Riverdale, Central City, and Gotham, may represent the three ‘big’
long running comic companies: Archie, Marvel, and DC.” Peter Sanderson further
notes that Central City was the home of Will Eisner’s The Spirit.
“…that most startling and deplorable of post war U.S. trends, the
‘mystery man’ or costumed vigilante set.”
It’s tempting to read this and the following as Moorean commentary
on the effect of superhero comics on…well, take your pick. Comic books
in general? Popular fiction? Popular culture?
Peter Sanderson comments: “Since Moore puts this remark
in the mouth of Robert Cherry/Harry Lime, that probably means that Moore
does NOT agree with it. “
“…the supposed goddess of love called Venus…”
The Greek goddess Venus appeared as a superhero in the Atlas Comics
Venus #1-19 (1948-1952) and Marvel Mystery Comics #91 (1949).
(She has appeared in other Marvel comics in recent years).
“…Gotham’s by then elderly Crimson Avenger.”
The Crimson Avenger was possibly created by Jim Chambers and appeared
in a number of DC comics beginning with Detective Comics #20 (Oct.
1938). Newspaper reporter Lee Travis puts on the costume of “The Crimson”
to fight crime, aided by his Asian valet Wing. The Crimson Avenger predated
the Batman and was arguably the first costumed crimefighter in DC Comics.
Page 157. “…film star Linda Turner’s close associate
the Black Cat…”
Linda Turner, a.k.a. the Black Cat, was created by Alfred Harvey
and appeared in a number of comics beginning with Pocket Comics
#1 (Aug. 1941). Linda Turner, the daughter of a movie star and a stunt man,
became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars but got bored with the make-believe
life of Hollywood and decided to fight crime instead as the Black Cat.
“…mental marvel Brain Boy…”
Brain Boy was created by Herb Castle and appeared in six comics in
1962 and 1963, beginning with Four Color #1330 (Apr/June 1962).
When Matt Price was still only a fetus in his mother’s womb she was struck
by a electricity in a car accident. This gave Price various psychic powers,
and when he turns eighteen he is recruited by the government to go to work
for them, fighting evil.
“…and a thirteen-year-old orphan said to draw fantastic powers
and abilites from an adjoining extra spatial region or dimension ruled
by techologically advanced fly people.”
This is a reference to the Fly, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
and appearing in a number of comics from 1959 to 1966 (and again in later
iterations), beginning with The Double Life of Private Strong #1
(June 1959). Orphan Tommy Troy is hired to do odd jobs by Ben and Abigail
March. Troy finds a ring in their attic, for the Marches are wizards, and
the ring summons Turan, one of the Fly People, former rulers of the Earth.
The Fly People were eventually reduced to common houseflies in a magical
war, although a few, including Turan, escaped to another dimension. The ring
can be used by Tommy to switch bodies with one of the Fly People, who has
magical powers. Tommy uses the ring to fight crime.
“Seemingly, a Negro man from out of town had been held in the Maybury
jail on morals charges, including an accusation of procuring, with his
two white skinned female accomplices who were apparently twin sisters from
See the notes to Page 166.
“…one sheriff’s deputy’s account was ‘exactly like one of them
there hot air balloons, ‘ceptin it weren’t.’”
It was, after all, only a matter of time before Moore quoted Barney
“…there was a frankly stupid rumour that for a brief period the
self styled legendary adventurer evaded notice by the novel means of having
been against his or her will transformed into an animal by sorcery.”
I’m guessing that this is a reference to Kathleen Hale’s 19 “Orlando
the Marmalade Cat” novels (1938-1972), although I know nothing about
them and don’t know if “transformed into an animal by sorcery” is a part
of the Hale novels or Moore’s invention.
“…our projects at Port Merion…”
The Prisoner was filmed at the Welsh village of Portmeirion.
“One of their Central Intelligence lot, F. Gordon Leiter…”
Felix Leiter appears in various James Bond novels as a C.I.A. agent
who works with Bond on various cases.
Leiter’s real name is “Felix.” The “Gordon” comes from a conflation
of Leiter with Watergate rogue G. Gordon Liddy.
“My best to you and Julia…”
The love interest of Orwell’s 1984 is Julia, a mechanic. At
the end of the novel Julia, like Winston, has betrayed her lover and
been brainwashed to love Big Brother. Presumably she took up with her
The first image is Mina and Allan with the Crimson Avenger’s costume.
I believe the second image is of Mina and Allan with Tommy Troy.
But Chris Roberson disagrees: “I have to disagree. I think it’s Billy Batson.
He’s certainly the right age, with the same hair and what is conceivably
Batson’s yellow-collared red sweater. But the telling bit is the way that
everyone in the background is opening their umbrellas and looking up for
rain, apparently not finding any. Obviously he’s just said his magic word
and transformed back from Captain Marvel, and on hearing the thunder everyone
thinks it’s about to rain.” (I think Chris is right).
Perhaps the third image is of Mina and Allan with Linda Turner?
Page 161. Panel 9. “Oh, for crying out loud. It
just never bloody stops, does it?”
With Moore’s departure from mainstream comics now a reality, there
is a great temptation to see even minor things as a commentary by him
on superhero comics. I have to admit that I found this line to be possibly
indicative of his feelings about the endless, serial nature of comics.
Page 162. Panel 1. “Gordon Bennett” is a British
expression indicative of shock or surprise. It may be based on James
Gordon Bennett Jr. (1841-1918), a playboy famous for his extravagant behavior
Panel 5. Presumably the initials “SF” on a helicopter of that
shape is a reference to something. But I’m not catching it.
Page 164. Panel 1. See the note to Page 166.
Panel 2. “Wij zullen het dadelijk voor u doen, onze dappere
held. Wij zijn verzot op u.”
“Waar gaat u heen, trotse kampioen der liefde?”
A rough translation from the Dutch: “We will do that immediately
for you, our brave hero. We are moved by you.”
“Where are you going, champion of love?”
Panel 3. “Hij heeft een slecht humeur. Laten wij ons maar
“He is in a bad mood. Let us get dressed.”
Page 166. Panel 1. This is the Golliwog. He was
created by Florence Kate Upton in The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls
and a Golliwogg (1895), and appeared in a number of sequels by Upton
and by Enid Blyton, among others. The Golliwog (as it later became spelled)
was a beloved children’s character in Britain for several generations,
although it is substantially less popular today. The Golliwog was originally
a rag doll drawn like a blackface minstrel doll, and although the behavior
of the Golliwog in the novels was not usually portrayed in a racist fashion,
and although the Golliwog was usually portrayed as a doll rather than a black
child, the term “Golliwog” became a racist epithet, and the Golliwog is
currently seen by some or many as a racist character.
Panel 4. The fact that Drummond is still on his feet while
Bond and Peel are knocked off theirs may be indicative of how Moore feels
about the old-style action heroes versus the newer generation. (I.e., they
made them tough back then).
Panels 5-6. “B-bread and tits to you, flashing Monsignor.”
“Bread and tits to you, gilded wasp of Elysium. Let the Thrup of
us entender withdoors, what cheer?”
This dialogue, and the Golliwog’s dialogue on Page 164 and following,
is a mystery to me. It’s understandable, of course, but I’m unaware of
its origin. Did the Golliwog speak like this in the Blyton books, or in
some other work? Is this Moore’s creation?
Page 167. Panel 4. Peter Sanderson writes, “The sight of
Bond bending over the injured, bleeding Emma Night may be a visual echo of
the end of the “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” movie, in which Bond’s
new bride Tracy (played by Diana Rigg), is assassinated.”
Page 168. Panel 1. The Golliwog as a balloonist
is a reference to Florence Upton’s The Golliwog’s Air-Ship (1902),
in which the Golliwog and the wooden dolls Sarah Jane, Peg, Meg, and Midget
go on a balloon trip together. If the design of the balloon is a reference
to anything in particular, I’m unaware of it, although the shark face on
the front is a very Kevin O’Neill-like touch.
And now I can reveal that the “bold, fearless black balloonist” mentioned
in League v2 is in fact the Golliwog.
Page 169. Panel 2. It is typical of Bulldog Drummond
that, though hateful and bigoted in many ways, his reaction to meeting
two traditional English heroes is to believe them rather than what the
government has told him.
Page 170. Panel 1. This is clearly the ruins of
a castle, and it’s been identified as in Dunbayne, which means this must
be Dunbayne Castle, from Ann Radcliffe’s The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne
(1789), one of Radcliffe’s first Gothic novels.
Panel 4. “Is that linseed oil?”
Paul Cornell notes that linseed oil is used to keep a cricket bat supple
during the winter. Which means, obviously, that Sarah Jane and Peg
were using linseed oil to keep the Golliwog’s membrum virile supple.
Page 171. Panel 6. “Sodium morphate in his
Sodium morphate is a drug which slows the heart and smells like apples,
and so putting it into an apple pie is an efficient method of assassination.
Who it has been used on depends on which conspiracy theory you read.
Panel 7. “Trick cars, trick pens, trick cigarette lighters…why
can’t you just fight?”
Drummond never was one for gadgets, preferring more straightforward
brutality. It is typical of his mindset to look down on newer heroes like
Bond who rely on gadgets rather than fists.
Page 173. Panel 2. “I’m going to need sturdier
clothing if I stay in this business.”
Many men of a certain age fondly remember Emma Peel’s sturdy leather
catsuit in The Avengers.
Page 176. Panel 5. “Heer Orlando is momenteel een
“Mr. Orlando is momentarily a woman.”
“And is that Peg or Sarah Jane?”
Peg and Sarah Jane were the names of the two dolls in The Adventures
of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg.
Page 177. Panel 1. “So Queen Olympia presented
you with the dolls?”
As we learned in League v2, Olympia, the doll from E.T.A.
Hoffman’s “The Sand-Man” (1817), became queen of Toyland.
Panel 2. “Wij hebben ons vrijwillig aangeboden. Zijn geslacht
“We volunteered to go. His masculine organ of reproduction is enormous.”
Panel 4. “Belted ‘Rose o’ Nowhere’ all on me jingle, did I.”
The “Rose of Nowhere” is a phrase found in the mystical writings
of Golden Dawn followers.
Panel 5. “Ik denk dat die grote wolk daar de weg naar huis
“I think that big cloud is the way to home.”
Page 176-177. And here begins the 3D section of
the Dossier. There are obviously some visual tricks of the M.C.
Escher variety, but I think there are some visual references as well–the
clown, for example–but I’m not getting them.
One I did get is the the Little Prince, standing on his asteroid
next to the Golliwog et al. The Little Prince was created by Antoine Saint-Exupéry
and appeared in Le Petit Prince (1943). The image here is very
similar to the original cover of Le Petit Prince.
Don Murphy points out that the clown is Max Fleischer’s Koko the Clown.
Page 178. Panel 1. If the characters at the
bottom of this panel are a reference, I’m not getting them.
Panel 2. “Er is nog zo’n plek, in de buurt van de zuidpool
van der aarde.”
“There is another place, in the South Pole.”
If the characters at the bottom of this panel are a reference, I’m
not getting them.
Page 179. Panel 1. “…this South Pole location,
Metapatagonia, is actually the same place as the Blazing World?”
Megapatagonia was created of Nicolas Edme Restif de la Bretonne and
appeared in La Découverte australe Par un Homme-volant (1781).
It is an archipelago which is exactly opposite France and so its culture
is an inverse of the French, down to its capital “Sirap.” Megapatagonia being
the same as the Blazing World explains certain reversals, as mentioned on
If the characters in this panel are a reference, I’m not getting
Panel 2. If the characters in this panel are a reference,
I’m not getting them.
Page 180. Panel 1. “Meteen, admiraal van genoegen.”
“At once, admiral of pleasure.”
Panel 2. “Zusters! Het is zo prachtig om jullie te zien!”
“Sisters! It is so lovely to see you.”
Panel 3. “Welkom, vurige piraat van het hart! We zullen sterven
“Welcome, fiery pirate of the heart! We will die from happiness!”
(Thanks to Martin Wisse for correcting my bad translation here).
Page 181. Panels 1-4. Perhaps the giant walking
by is Gulliver, as large in the Blazing World as he was on Lilliput?
Page 182. Panel 1. The wrestling dwarf is Maurie
Richardson’s Engelbrecht, mentioned on Page 146. As mentioned on Page
183, Engelbrecht’s opponent is Poetry. The words on his left arm are from
Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud,” and the words on his right
arm are from Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans’ “Casablanca.”
Panel 2. The character at the top of the page is P.L. Travers’
I can’t make out what the image in the portal is of–Lewis Carroll’s
“…the swine-things’ Borderland…”
This is a reference to W.H. Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland
(1908). The House on the Borderland, inhabited by an old man and his sister,
is the gateway to a world of evil swine monsters.
“…the various realms of that peculiar tree in Buckinghamshire.”
The tree is mentioned in League v2.
The words on Poetry’s right and left arm are from Felicia Dorothea
Browne Hemans’ “Casablanca.”
Panel 3. Is one of the images in the portal Hodgson’s Borderland?
The words on Poetry are from Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans’ “Casablanca.”
Page 183. Panel 1. The words on Poetry are from
John Keats’ “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer.”
Philip & Emily Graves note that the children on the chair are Mollie
and Peter from Enid Blyton’s “Wishing Chair” books.
Panel 2. Philip and Emily Graves write, “It’s possible that the man
with pots and pans on him is Saucepan from The Magic Faraway Tree,
also by Enid Blyton.”
Page 184. Panel 1. The flying character is
Ace Hart, who appeared in the British comic Super Thriller #6
(1948). “Ace Hart, a young scientist, has been able harness atomic energy
to his own body, which gives him the strength of twenty men, and enables
him to fly faster than a jet.”
Either the character on the flying carpet in this panel, or the one
in panel 2, is Baggy Pants, from the British comic Dandy (1956-1959).
Baggy Pants is a genie-like magician.
Panel 2. Jonathan Carter notes that the flying man is Commander
Cody from various 1950s film serials.
Page 185. I don’t know who the figure at the bottom
of the page is.
Page 186. Panel 1. Got me on any of these characters.
Perhaps the toad is Mr. Toad, from The Wind in the Willows?
Gabriel Neeb writes that the fly-headed man is from the film The Fly
Panel 3. “Do give the Duke Toyland’s regards. Truly, he is
a philosopher of the heart’s sorrows.” The “Duke” in this case is Prospero,
and the “heart’s sorrows” phrase is from The Tempest.
Page 187. Panel 1. “I pray thee, do not rise.”
This child, who is incapable of saying anything else, appears in
from Marco Denevi’s “La niña rosa” (1966).
Panel 2. Myles Lobdell, Matt Knicl, and Jonathan Carter note the
presence here of Zorro, Charlie Brown, Linus, the Lone Ranger, Captain Marvel
and Shazam the Wizard. Speaking to Charlie Brown might be the Disney version
of Snow White.
Panel 3. Jonathan Carter notes the presence of Robin Hood and possibly
Alfred E. Neuman.
Page 188. Panel 4. If the stampeding animals is
a reference to something, I’m unaware of it. (Oh good grief. Chris Roberson
notes that they are Kipling’s Just So Animals,” and he’s clearly right).
Page 189. Panel 1. Nyarlathotep says, “The three-lobed
burning eye cares not.” See the notes to Page 26 and 117.
Panel 2. Nyarlathotep says, “The Lloigor are offended.” In
the Cthulhu Mythos the Lloigor are a race of malign energy beings.
Pages 190-192. I don’t recognize anything here.
Page 192. It’s fitting that Puck breaks the frame
The book version of these annotations will be Impossible
Territories and will be published by MonkeyBrain Books in July, 2008.
The book will have expanded annotations, interviews with Alan Moore and Kevin
O’Neill, and whatever other goodies and extras I can manage to put in to it.
Thanks to: Alicia; Lee Barnett, Neale Barnholden, Robert Todd Bruce,
Jonathan Carter, Paul Cornell, Sean Gaffney, Damian Gordon, Philip &
Emily Graves, Guest_Informant, “Him Name Eddie,” Brian Joines, Elliott Kalan,
Matt Knicl, Rick Lai, Myles Lobdell, Jean-Marc Lofficier, Papa Joe Mambo,
Mario/mdg1, David Alexander McDonald, Pádraig Ó Méalóid,
Brad Mengel, Don Murphy, Gabriel Neeb, Jeff Newberry, Michael Norwitz, Kevin
Pasquino, Jeff Patterson, A.J. Ramirez, Christopher Reynolds, Richardthinks,
Chris Roberson, Robtmsnow, Kian Ross, Peter Sanderson, Phil Smith, Greg Strohecker,
usedcarsrus, Ian Warren, Rich Weaver, Martin Wisse.