Plans for Lost Girls

Did you see where Publishers Weekly covered the upcoming Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie? Nice article. (Disclaimer: I write graphic novel reviews for the magazine.)

Lost Girls cover
Lost Girls
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Douglas Wolk doesn’t shy away from the book’s focus on sex scenes, referring to it bluntly as pornography, apparently in accordance with Moore’s wishes. That may be problematic for sales — libraries (an ever-growing graphic novel market) may not order it, Borders apparently won’t carry it, and conservative comic stores are shying away.

Although Moore proudly terms it porn, it’s interesting to note that Top Shelf’s current catalog listing doesn’t use the word, instead preferring terms like “sexual awakening and fulfillment… intimate revelations of desire… the rich heritage of erotica… erotic fiction at its finest.”

Another mismatched message: PW quotes one retailer as saying “Every store owner has to be careful to make sure that they’re making it available to the intended audience, and not to people thinking that it’s a perfect follow-up to Watchmen or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” while Top Shelf’s listing describes the format as “similar to DC’s Absolute editions of Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen“. Given the approach and some of the incidents in LEG, I’m not sure it’s a bad comparison.

Since it uses other people’s characters — Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan‘s Wendy, The Wizard of Oz‘s Dorothy — in ways that the authors likely never intended, I wonder if its publication is going to raise again the questions of ever-expanding intellectual property protection and what exactly differentiates fanfiction from corporate comic creation. However, the book’s success isn’t important only on a cultural or philosophical level, but financially.

[T]he book has the potential to elevate [Top Shelf] to a whole new level–or financially cripple it. “This is the single most expensive publishing project Top Shelf has ever done by a factor of almost 10,” says co-publisher Chris Staros. “We’re putting the whole company on the line, but it’s the book I personally want to be remembered for as a publisher. It’s one of those books that’s going to challenge our system to live up to itself.”

The three-volume slipcased hardcover is set to debut at this year’s San Diego Con, priced at $75. I hope it does well, because I enjoy Top Shelf’s publications and want to see them continue to flourish.

Update: There’s also a web exclusive, a signed and numbered edition of only 500 copies at twice the price, $150. But how else are you going to get an Alan Moore signature?


9 Responses to “Plans for Lost Girls”

  1. jingyang Says:

    I’ve been looking forward to Lost Girls ever since I picked up the the two initial issues that were published years ago. I reread them again last week, and will be ordering the HC.
    As a history major, I particularly enjoyed the evocation of time and place in Lost Girls too, and the implicit comparision with the present that every reader will make.
    From the issues I have seen, even if the completed story turns out to be a ‘glorious failure’ it will still be worth having.

  2. jingyang Says:

    Oops. I realised I sounded rather crassly materialistic there. I meant having in the sense that it is thus avaliable to be reread at anytime. I think it will be one of those books that one reads across one’s life, and that will have different meanings as one ages.
    Rereading V for Vendetta recently also had that same feeling.
    Also, as a sidenote, since I am 39 it will be nice to read a comicbook that assumes that all its readers are intelligent literate responsible adults.

  3. Sarah Says:

    God forbid the readers drawn in by the graphic violence and mass murder of WATCHMEN be misled into reading sex!

    *rolls eyes*

  4. Johanna Says:

    But Watchmen has MALE nudity throughout — it’s completely different!

  5. Phil Says:

    three-volume slipcased hardcover […] priced at $75

    Damn, I was looking forward to this. Is there likely to be a more sanely-priced edition, or is this a situation like James Joyce’s Ulysses, where the extreme price proves that this is Serious Art and not porn for lower-class people to get off on?

  6. Johanna Says:

    I suspect it’s too early to speculate on additional versions. $25 for an original hardcover graphic novel isn’t an outrageous price, judging by other products on the market, and this has 3. Top Shelf also has experience with $75 hardcovers, since that’s where the hardbound edition of Blankets was priced. They’re comparing it to Absolute Watchmen, which was also $75.

    For mostly brand-new work by an acclaimed genius on a project that’s been talked about for decades, it doesn’t seem a suprising price point. As release gets closer, there should be discounts available from the usual suspects.

  7. Matthew Craig Says:

    Okay, nobody told me that Wendy Darling was going to be called “Mrs. Harold Potter.”

    I’d better start saving.

    //\Oo/\\

  8. John Says:

    Regarding intellectual property protection, two of the three characters are no longer protected, and the third depends on where the book is published. They could have some issues publishing it prior to the end of 2007 in the European Union due to Wendy.

    Most fan fiction involves characters who are quite a distance from the public domain.

  9. Dan Coyle Says:

    “But how else are you going to get an Alan Moore signature?”

    Why, by breaking into his house in the middle of the night, putting a gun to his head, and making him sign my copies of Promethea and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, of course.




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