Page 45 Review by Stephen and Ryz
The following review was originally written by my mate Ryz - occasionally known as Bettie Page 45 - when there was a certain degree of fuss in the UK delaying LOST GIRLS' availability here.
I've enormous admiration for her getting into the true spirit of the work by enjoying it precisely in the manner for which it was intended. If you want something more erudite
you're kidding yourselves. However, I can add that the graphic novel is also a lacerating tract on a war during which hundreds of thousands of young, virile men were sent to end each others' lives, rather than expending that same potent sexual energy lovingly creating new ones.
I also adore that it was created by a couple who were - and remain - lovers.
It's no longer a boxed set but a single all-in-one hardcover.
Here we go! - Stephen
OK, let's get the gloating out of the way first.
I actually got my grubby little mitts on this beautiful boxed set when it was first published in America, past the international comics Gestapo before there was a complete ban on getting the thing through customs. I was very impressed at my cloak and daggeryness, and was very excited to read it.
And after reading some of it, I was very, very excited indeed.
I have to say, it took a while, what with the several unscheduled visits to lock myself in the bathroom, so I didn't respect myself in the morning and could barely look myself in the eye in the restroom mirror.
Yep, it really is pretty filthy stuff - proper adult comic porno. Actually, my copy isn't so much just filthy as sporting a rather large fag burn, after a drunken houseguest passed out on the sofa with a lit ciggie dangling over my lovely pristine boxed set. So book one, 'Older Children', is slightly battle-scarred, but I believe you can purchase lovely shiny new sets from Page 45 now that the threat of legal action in the UK from the Barrie estate has subsided.
The books themselves tell the various stories of Alice (of 'Looking Glass' fame), Wendy (from 'Peter Pan') & Dorothy (visitor to Oz) through flashbacks and now as grown women, who have all met each other in an Austrian hotel, pre-WWII. The flashback stories really cleverly and imaginatively (and did I mention, filthily?) re-tell and explain how Wonderland, Neverland, Oz and their well-known characters played a part in their youth / puberty, not always in completely pleasant circumstances, either. Oh it's all here - incest, male rape, boarding-school shenanigans, non-consensual drugged up party games, bestiality - something for everyone, I'd have thought.
The stories are beautifully crafted and wonderfully erotic at times - just downright dirty at others and often told with great wit and comic timing. The majority of the work is illustrated in an innocent, almost child-like manner (presumably to increase the illusion of reading children's fairy story books), however there are some really beautiful art deco frames, some fantastically detailed, delicate, black and white pen and ink frames, and some highly stylised art throughout, making these books gorgeously sumptuous to look at.
Yes, definitely picture-books for adults to 'look at' rather than 'read' I think. I mean, I've owned them for over 18 months and still haven't managed to get past the second half of the second volume ('Neverlands'). It's been exhausting, if you know what I mean. So I can't review what actually happens in the books, how the stories end, or what it's all about, as I've never errm, lasted that long. I mean, I only even saw what the insides of book three (The Great & Terrible') looked like for the purpose of this review. There are a lot of Nazis at the end.
If you are planning on buying a set of LOST GIRLS - and speaking to the female populous of Page 45's customers here, I really do think you should - take it from me: buy yourself a couple of drinks and a nice dinner first, then maybe you'll feel a little classier about the whole affair than I've managed to thus far...