Kane Caught in Love Nest with “Dinosaur”

league1Panels from Nemo: Heart of Ice, the latest installment of the adventures of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Ignore the terrible movie with which Sean Connery ended his career, the comic is quite good.

In The League’s universe, all the characters from sensational fiction inhabit the same world and interact, thus there’s a superhero team (though Moore denies they’re that) composed of Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain, Mina Murray, the Invisible Man and Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde. The movie throws in Dorian Gray too, which was enough to get them sued by none other than Larry Cohen, who had written a screenplay called CAST OF CHARACTERS which brought Gray together with several of the above characters. Moore, who hates the film business (can’t blame him after FROM HELL) was not pleased at being dragged into a movie lawsuit.

The creators somehow evade copyright law and drag in all sorts of famous fictional figures — the newspaper magnate here is clearly Charles Foster Kane, and his Everglades retreat is decorated with a pic of a nude woman on a sled, referencing both versions of the origin of “Rosebud” (an innocent snow vehicle, or William Randolph Hearst’s nickname for Marion Davies’ genitals), the Maltese Falcon, and a stuffed pterodactyl head mounted on the wall.

The latter strikes me as a singularly witty trope. It refers chiefly to the supposed flying lizards in the scene discussed here, which are in fact cel-animated flamingos, we think, and not off-cuts from KING KONG or SON OF KONG as is all too often claimed. Since the Moore comic is set in 1925, the dino also fits neatly with the first movie of THE LOST WORLD released that year, and one remembers that in the Conan Doyle novel, Professor Challenger and his team bring back from the remote South American plateau an egg, which hatches and provokes consternation.

I always felt this was the inspiration for Max Klinger’s print.

However, in the movie of THE LOST WORLD, Willis O’Brien animates a brontosaurus rampaging through London — how the team brought THAT home is as unexplained as Kong’s trip to New York eight years later. So the Moore reference doesn’t make absolute cross-textual sense, but it ties together a number of disparate things in a pleasing if irrational way. Which is just the kind of thing I like.


Moore & O’Neill’s series is enjoyable for this kind of attention to background detail — every image has some in-joke or reference, which is why one likes to have the Annotations to hand when perusing.

Nemo: Heart of Ice

The Lost World [1925] [DVD]

Citizen Kane [Blu-ray] [1941]


8 Responses to “Kane Caught in Love Nest with “Dinosaur””

  1. League of Extraordinary Gentleman is just a lot of fun. It’s semiotic-heaven. Especially in Nemo : Heart of Ice where the appendix story is a report written by Hildy Johnson, writing exactly as Rosalind Russell speaks in Hawks’ HIS GIRL FRIDAY. Their previous volume also serves as a prequel to Performance, with Turner performing in an alternate universe Hyde Park concert complete with Alternate Universe “Sympathy for the Devil”.

    From Hell ought to have ideally been adapted by Fassbinder or Shohei Imamura or Peter Watkins, or for that matter David Fincher, whose Zodiac is in the same family.

  2. Yes, even though Moore was using a hoary old conspiracy theory, he marshaled his research so that the story could in theory have happened just the way he described it. So as soon as the Hughes brothers cast Depp and Graham, it was over.

  3. Good old Leslie Megahey! I’m glad somebody’s put that doc online. It’s the best there is. Along with Megahey’s The Orson Welles Story.

  4. Alan’s constant use of references and in-jokes in his work is remarkable, and quite enjoyable. There is always historical and cultural context. How I wish we had continued the adventures of Splash Brannigan!

  5. Splash should’ve turned up in the 2009 edition of LoEG!

  6. jiminholland Says:

    Although I normally hate such Robin Woodish-ish statements, I’m going to make this one anyways about The Complete Citizen Kane:

    If you don’t weep when Old William Alland makes his appearance at around 0:04:05 (“News! On the march!), you don’t love cinema.

  7. That’s a lovely moment. And getting him read the Hecht text that Seiderman suggested to Welles… a really terrific production.

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