Linkblogging, linkblogging. It’s like news, but without journalistic integrity or objective events to report on.

February 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm (1, Comic Books)

I direct all my readers (you’re there, right!?!) over to Jog’s review of the latest Alan Moore Epic.

It sounds like a formal ball to untangle more than the blunt thematic push of the first couple volumes, but it doesn’t read as exhaustingly as the Black Dossier, and looks to be a solid addition to the LoEG saga in style if not in ideology, the latter of which Jog discusses at the end of his review, when talking about two characters, Orlando and Raffle.

First is the politics inherent in Moore’s portrayal of Orlando, a person occupying both genders who (in Jog’s words) can only seem to fit in a stereotypical dichotomy of male as combative and female as effete. He makes some pretty serious assertions that Alan Moore is (un?)consciously reductive of homosexual mindsets as found in his representation of Orlando, who is “set up in Black Dossier as torn between the sensuality of his feminine nature and the warlike thrill seeking of his masculine side; a little pat in the dichotomy, but sure. Unfortunately, the Orlando glimpsed in this comic is always male, and little more than a chatty, sashaying fop who — surprise!! — turns out to be hell in a fight at the end.

It’s remarkably close to stereotype, and even then only one part of a generally tee-heeing approach to male homosexuality that chafes against Moore’s oft-voiced yen for social justice and liberated eros. I eventually got to the point where I wondered if Moore deliberately omitted mentioning the averred gay subtext of Raffles’ character (perhaps so the League wouldn’t seem too gay) or just expected us all to know that already, and thus left it unstated amidst complaints of Orlando being a “he-she.’

I’ll get back to Orlando, but Jog pretty much describes Moore’s poor representation right there. I knew nothing of Raffle’s character before this, but the character after whom Raffle was modeled was George Ives, who was a progressive gay rights campaigner in the early 20th century, much before it became a national issue of the United States. Moore, who culls arcane bits of knowledge and tradition of fictional characters, the author whose art requires books of annotations, doesn’t seem to mention anywhere of Raffle’s homosexual sub text, especially when Raffle’s creator went to great lengths to provide it with some?

At least, I’m just going by Wikipedia, that other compendium of another’s interpretations of pop culture. When describing Georges Ives as the role model of Raffles, Wiki mentions that Ives is a discrete gay, even though a lot of Ives’ actual wikipedia page has most of its actual information involving his orientation. Raffle, however, did not read Ives’ histories of sexuality very well: although Hornung “may not have understood this sexual side of Ives’ character”, Raffles “enjoys a remarkably intimate relationship with his sidekick Bunny Manders.” At least if Hornung’s representation of Raffles lacked substance, he did not deny that part of the man. Alan Moore, however, seems to distort this lack of knowledge to a stylistic extreme, not even referencing an intimate relationship with a sidekick. The question on my mind is whether or not Moore is saving the reference for a later issue in the series.

It doesn’t seem too likely. (edit: 7:39 PM: especially since I just remembered that the series takes place over three teams and three time periods! *ulp*)

In an opportunity to demonstrate an advanced (or at least experienced) knowledge of gender, he sees a transvestite as bipolar, as agressively effete and feminine except when manliness is required in a life and death situation? This is an almost insulting paradigm applied to gender, and this comes from the author of Lost Girls, whose book practically begs to have eros unrepressed, cannot bring the same liberation outside of the bedroom? He determines his character’s identities by their deviant sexuality?

With a simple view on gender often comes an even more dangerous view on orientation, but it’s not like Moore does worse than rudely omit here.

I should mention that I’m most looking forward to actually reading the issue, though!

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2 Comments

  1. Jog said,

    Hm, I should elaborate on my Raffles comments… the thing is, Moore doesn’t mention a homosexual aspect to his character at all, but if you grant him the benefit of the doubt that he presumes YOU know, it is possible to read a certain very subtle whisper of that element into Moore’s portrayal, mainly in his attitude toward Orlando, which can (I suppose) be taken as anxiety over such an obviously gender-bending presence… if Moore’s Raffles is homosexual, he’s very private about it! But I daresay you wouldn’t know that at all if you don’t have a passing understanding of the character, which is my point concerning Moore’s leaning on preestablished characteristics of his appropriated folks…

    Concerning Orlando, I probably wasn’t clear in that excerpt! Orlando most certainly IS effete as a male (he’s biologically male for the whole of the issue, while he spends much of Black Dossier switching from being literally male to literally female, anatomically and everything), although the crux of his characterization in Black Dossier (in my opinion) is that he/she can’t entirely overcome a warlike nature that only seems to emerge when he’s male, while his times as a woman see him engaging in more thoughtful (poor term, but it’ll do) pursuits. He/she’s always androgynous, regardless of but Moore seems to suggest something primal to gender that prevents Orlando’s existence as post-gender. That’s the dichotomy I mention. The character’s use in Century (so far; Orlando is set to show up again in at least issue #3, so Moore likely has something planned), however, is pretty much that of an effeminate boast, his handiness with weapons acting essentially as a ‘surprise’ at the end… who’d have guessed such a girly fellow was fine with a weapon? That sort of thing.

  2. xyphap said,

    That’ll learn me to not talk about a comic I haven’t read AND try to interpret someone else’s words.

    Thanks for the extra commentary. Looking back on what I wrote, I was a little rough on what I imagined Moore as writing (oh, blogger’s remorse, it strikes twice!), but Lost Girls read with such empty profundity that I distrust Moore a little when trying to expand genderized and sexual consciousness, and when reading your review I can just imagine that it’s become a moot point instead of one he wants to explore. But that might be for the better so he can focus on well crafted sequential storytelling full of exciting genre moments and careful attention to form.

    Eh, I’ve blathered on long enough. Good review!

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