Neonomicon – The ‘Cthulhu Mythos’

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Title: Neonomicon

Publisher: Avatar Press

Year Of Release: 2010-2011

Written By Jake Garner

Neonomicon is a hybrid of sorts. It has many eccentric, exotic and enigmatic qualities that merge together to produce a comic that is both horrific and breath-taking. Honestly though, this s#*t is seriously messed up, but not in a bad or superfluous way, but instead in the totally necessary way in which Alan Moore writes his comics. Neonomicon is considered to be the prequel to Alan Moore’s The Courtyard, a previous story Moore had conjured up in the darkest corners of his mind during the first half of the 1990s. It wasn’t until 2003 that The Courtyard was actually released by Avatar Press, based around the prose Moore had devised during the previous decade. Anyway, back to the point, Neonomicon. The series as a whole is rather abrupt and short; my personal feelings being it could have been extended around the centre somewhat, but it had been predetermined that Neonomicon was only going to run for four issues from the outset, something I will come back to later. The content of the story, both visually and in the text, is really quite graphic, but I mean come on, this is an Alan Moore creation, it’s kind of expected. Sometimes when an artist tries to accomplish images of gore or sexual content they can try too hard and in turn go totally over the top. Jacen Burrows, the chief artist on Neonomicon, manages to achieve scenes of outlandish carnage and bloodshed, but achieves it in a stylish manner. It is not ‘start-to-finish’ in Neonomicon, but instead inserted into the narrative of the overall story where appropriate. Also, the bloodletting Burrows displays, off the back of Moore’s writing of course, is almost indispensable due to the underlying theme of the story, that of H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Cthulhu Mythos’.

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Moore and Burrows’ creepy, murky and nefarious four parter extends the ‘Lovecraftian Mythos’ in a way that gives it a new life. Lovecraft’s stories, though brilliant in their own right, are also quite reserved. It is almost as if Lovecraft was aware that he had to be quite aloof due to the era in which he was writing. Even so, without a doubt, his stuff was still as dark as the deepest black voids, but were restrictive in terms of sexual content and racism. Not to say that racism is a good quality in a story, don’t misunderstand me here, but the problems of such issues such as racism, rape and sex can be directly addressed in a way they couldn’t during Lovecraft’s era. Modern culture is much freer, as it were, than at the turn of the 20th century, in terms freedom of speech in written content, but more especially, in visual imagery. Moore and Burrows take what seems almost like an unfinished Lovecraftian story and pays homage to it by allowing it some kind of ‘closing statement’. Neonomicon has no boundaries, and that’s what makes it so fantastic.

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Beasts, perverts, the possessed and the psychotics, this series has them all and more, then a bit more after that too. The main body of the series follows two FBI agents, Lamper and Brears as they investigate a string of repulsive murders that entail manipulating and folding the flesh of the victim in a way that portrays that a lotus. At this point I would like to mention that its tone is very similar to that of HBO’s True Detective. The detectives have problems of their own despite the very gruesome case on which they are working, which brings with it a sense of realism contained in the characters of which the reader can truly appreciate through Burrows’ superb artistry. As the two detectives delve deeper into the case they start to uncover the weird and dark world of Lovecraft. For any literature lover, this series is impossible not to appreciate, and Moore’s knowledge of the early 20th century writer is extensive. I don’t want to reveal too much about the story in this article, but instead encourage those who are fans of Moore’s more celebrated series, such as V For Vendetta, From Hell and Watchmen, to explore just a little further and really peek into the abyss. Sure there isn’t as much physical content in Neonomicon but what is available is on par with Moore’s big three.

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Finally, back to what I said we would come back to at the start. It’s quite an odd one really; the birth of Neonomicon that is. The reality of it is that Moore had tax bills to pay and received an offer from Avatar Press to write a four part series he quite honestly couldn’t really refuse. He even admits that Neonomicon was a means to an end, but if you pick up the series you can see that it most certainly wasn’t a half arsed attempt to make some fast cash. It is a well thought out concept and also well accomplished. It is evident that Moore really did strive to put in all his writing experience and effort. Being a short series it is hard not to bang it out cover to cover, I certainly did and know others who have. Have a read and let us know your opinions! One last thing, and don’t forget, Cthulhu is now your God!

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