Monday, 28 September 2015

Chapter 9: Snakes and Ladders

Alan Moore is widely recognized as one of the best writers working in the medium of comics. Personally I have mixed feelings about his work, I'm not a fan of his celebrated Wacthmen superhero graphic novel (art by Dave Gibbons) but think From Hell (art by Eddie Campbell), his graphic novel dealing with the Jack the Ripper murders to be one of my favourite works of fiction. I will be covering From Hell at some point in the future but today I want to look at a lesser known work of his that deals with the Pre-Raphaelites: Snakes and Ladders. 

Unlike his more famous works, Snakes & Ladders did not start life as as a comic but rather a spoken word performance. The death and disinterment of model, poet and artist Lizzie Siddal is connected with that of Oliver Cromwell along with the life and writing of Welsh author, Arthur Machen. Along with Siddal, her husband Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his friends William Morris, Edward Brune-Jones and John Ruskin also appear. One of notable and interesting aspects of much of Moore's work is connecting seemingly unconnected events and personalities from history and he succeeds here by creating a wonderfully dark and mysterious work. This is added by Moore's reading (he has the perfect voice) and the music by Tim Perkins       

When the performance was made available on CD in 2003, images of Siddal, Rossetti, Morris, Brune-Jones and Ruskin featured in the liner-notes.

There is also a comics adaptation (published in 2001) of the performance with art by Eddie Campbell that mixes the artist's excellent likenesses of the real life characters and use of existing art.  

You can find both the recording and the comic on (all images taken from the scans found there), however, those wishing to buy copies of the CD can comic can find them at:

CD: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Comic: Amazon US | Amazon UK  

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