I’m quite a fan of Alan Moore’s work, being more literary in my upbringing I’ve taken more to his stories and characters than their artistic representation, whether in comic and graphic novel or in their film translations.
Neonomicon is one of Moore’s most recent works, going hand in hand with it’s prequel, The Courtyard.
Both stories are included in the Avatar Press publication that my Father gave me.
It seems not only an understatement to say that Neonomicon is heavily influenced by the mythos and works of H. P. Lovecraft but more of a case of seeming to have missed the point of the work all together.
For one, the title itself (Neonomicon, the Book of New Names) is a reversal in concept of the Necronomicon (The Book of Dead Names) that is so frequently referenced in Mythos works.
As Neonomicon self-references:
…it’s almost like some big literary in-joke…
Pushing Lovecraft to one side for a moment, the base story is sound enough.
The F.B.I. are investigating serial homicides that share identical methods but unrelated perpetrators. The initial investigation of the prequel is picked up later by younger, fresher investigators (always a vulnerable breed in classic Mythos tales) who carry the story from investigation to investigation, right through to the story’s conclusion – and the reason for the graphic novel’s titular pun on the fictional Necronomicon of Lovecraft’s work.
There are equally good references to the contemporary occult scene, with mention of the works of Kenneth Grant.
Without becoming too wrapped up in over-analysing Neonomicon, the use of real world occult references is particularly gratifying for me.
Lovecraft himself fabricated many occult references within his work, as do many who work with Lovecraftian themes: Di Vermiss Mysteris, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Cthaat Aquadingen, the Necronomicon are just some that have been used by Mythos authors over the years.
Even films like Ghostbusters had their “Tobin’s Spirit Guide” to add a sense of academic relevance within the story.
Moore has turned this round by citing an actual British magician with methods and beliefs close to those of the Cthulhu Mythos.
He could just as easily have referenced Phil Hine‘s Pseudonomicon, Dave Evans’ work on magic throughout the 20th century (The History of British Magic After Crowley) or any number of other modern occult texts.
Alan Moore is considered something of a star of the contemporary occult scene himself.
This integration between the fictional medium of the graphic novel and the real world existence of actual magical practice just adds to the atmosphere arising from the overall theme of awakening and enlightenment evoked by the early sections of the work.
This ability to reach out and grab the reader has been well commented on in an analysis I discovered in YouTube:
The book might not be for everybody though; in the latter third of the story, things become a little more shocking.
Lovecraft taught that horror is in the mind of the reader or viewer; Jacen Burrows artwork depicts what lies in the mind of the protagonist early on but later allows us to share the more mundane horror of murder and rape before the story transcends both to achieve an almost numbing sense of indifference to humanity.
All that being said, I really enjoyed Neonomicon and look forward to reading it again and again, finding something new with each re-visit.
I also have high hopes for its future, most of the works I could cite for Moore have been translated to the big screen; he is responsible for the creation of the John Constantine of Constantine, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta as well as Watchmen and From Hell that I mentioned earlier.
I think I would like to see a transition of Neonomicon to film but I think it would probably be too short.
My first reading of Neonomicon must have taken around 90 minutes at best.
All in all I wouldn’t recommend Neonomicon to everybody; if you’re not a fan of the comic book style or you’re easily offended by sex and nudity then you may find it a little much.
However, if you’re already a fan of comics, Alan Moore or Lovecraft then I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.