Monday, December 10, 2007

Black Dossier annotations

Jess Nevins has again done indispensable annotations for the new LOEG book Black Dossier. Below are my own suggestions & additions:

P12, panel 3 – Probably coincidence but there’s a 1950 film called Odette about a female spy.

P12, panel 7 – Perhaps the statue being taken down is Churchill? Might be worth noting for some Americans that the guy with the raised fingers isn’t flashing a victory sign but the British equivalent of giving somebody the finger. Perhaps at the Giles Grandmother?

P13, panel 1 – Maybe “anti-sex league” also refers to Amis’ Anti-Death League?

P16, panel 8 – My first thought of “-ipley” was Ripley’s Believe It or Not though that doesn’t seem to have any obvious connection. Maybe Titus Cobbett also refers to Brian Lumley’s Titus Crow? And of course real-world writer William Cobbett (Rural Rides) would be likely to have written on “inland revenue”.

Panel 9 – “Atrocity pamphlet” might also refer to the propaganda practice of creating atrocity stories involving the enemy. My first thought for “Harry Blake” was the character Harry Palmer but can’t see any reason for the name change. It’s a long-shot but “Harry Blake” might refer to a work of what seems to be fanfic by Robert Douglas at It refers to a Harold Blake who discovers a “magical substance”. For the stylized letter on the folder if you turn it upside down it resembles a pound sign. I wondered if the folder at the bottom was supposed to say “spy cars” but “-oy cars” makes more sense since everything else is upper-case. Note that the black dossier Allan is holding is like our real-world book without the dust jacket.

P20 – Is it just me or does the landlady resemble Judy from Punch & fame?

P21 – Not sure about Prof Donnol either but “donnol” is an anagram for London. “Lifting you on wings of song” – On Wings of Song is a Thomas Disch novel.

P23 – Note Mina’s comment that Bond “wasn’t very tanned” for having visited Jamaica.

P24 – Gloriana replaces Elizabeth in LOEG and then Jacob for James I.

P29 – Kevin O’Neill was born in 1953, maybe August 22 is his birthday? I can’t find a reference. Moore was same year but November. // The film director is more likely to be De Mille. See photos at and with Krazy Kat at

P30 – The robot with 1937 is on its chest seems to be taunting us. There was a 1937 Donald Duck cartoon with a robot and that year also a Li’l Abner strip but none resemble this one. There was also a real-world robot called Elektro which also has no resemblence. // It may be important considering Orlando’s history that Tiresias was given the forced sex change because he intervened in an argument between Hera and Zeus about whether men or women have the most pleasure from sex.

P33 – Some of these events are also described in the Aeneid which is also a founding story for Rome.

P35 – That image in your annotations will certainly have some familiarity to viewers of anime. // Romulus supposedly founded Rome in 753 BC and that’s when Romans dated their calendar (or at least part of it anyway).

P37 – The real-world followers of Spartacus were crucified by the thousands along the Appian Way, however not including Spartacus himself who seems to have been killed in battle.

P38 – “charlatan snake cultist” could be a reference to Moore himself. Though it doesn’t mean anything Heliogabalus is mentioned in Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Modern Major General”.

P47, panel 1 – Note the jet plane in the background.

P49 – Faerie’s Fortunes Founded echoes Love’s Labour Lost which had a perhaps apocryphals sequel Love’s Labour Won (scholars disagree over whether it’s a lost play, an alternate title for another play or just a mistake). Don’t know if it means anything but this is dated three years before the actual First Folio (1620 before 1623). I don’t think there were any illustrations in the First Folio or indeed of folio or quarto editions of the time but could be wrong.

P52 top – Lots of puns about maleness (orchid having derived from the Greek word for testicle). Mistaken identities are also common in Shakespeare – The Comedy of Errors is pretty much completely built of that.

P83 panel 3 – Is “Larkin” on the building a reference to Philip Larkin? Can’t think of any reason that would be so.

P88 – Doctor Carrot seems more likely but I couldn’t help but wonder if this may be Flaming Carrot.

P90 – The license plate 0211731 might be the date November 2, 1973 (or in American order February 11) with an extra digit but I can’t connect that to anything. The initial zero might actually be a “D” but that doesn’t help either. You think it must mean something because it’s such an odd thing to have there (unless British cycles are different?).

P93 – Could “Secret of Paris” refer to Sue’s Mysteries of Paris? For “Joycamp Harlots” the band Joy Division took their name from what was supposedly the prostitution section of concentration camps during WW2. I’ve never found any reference to support that and think it’s probably something they saw in passing. Do you think the magazine right in front of Allan is called “Antichrist”? “John Bull” of course is the British equivalent of Uncle Sam.

P93 panel 4 – The door has 23 which is supposedly a mystical number in some forms of magic(k).

P96 – In boxes at bottom left note box on furthest right has a “23” in Roman numerals. 1666 was the date of The Blazing World but also of the Great Fire in London.

P104 – Maybe too obvious to point out but the cutaway of the Nautilus is a tip of the hat to all the similar ones in Silver Age comics where you could see plans for the Batmobile or Fortress of Solitude.

P113 – The figure in top hat probably is Caligari but might also be combined with Svengali from the du Maurier novel Trilby. See for instance but some images of the Barrymore version also show him with white gloves.

P115 – There are similarities to Graveyard of Unwritten Books in the novels of Jasper Fforde and to some degree in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind (though the latter makes little use of it).

P151 – “Vanness Avenue” is Van Ness Ave in SF. “descend into Maya” – Maya is the Buddhist term for this material world (if I have that right).

P155 – Ginsberg recorded an album of Blake poems.

P169 – Did anybody point out that Black Dossier is set in 1958, same year that the novel Dr. No came out?

P179, panel 1 – At the bottom on the ramp is a Cthulhu-looking character. Also a mermaid to the left.