Anyone mildly familiar with comics has at least heard the name Alan Moore. If not, they’ve definitely heard of his best known works League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, Batman: The Killing Joke, his work on Saga of the Swamp Thing, and the seminal work that almost single-handedly (along with Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and other works) changed the face of comic books in the 1980’s: Watchmen.
But Moore has works whose names are only whispered quietly in soft circles around the comics community. Among these are Promethea, Tom Strong, and The Ballad of Halo Jones. The most recent addition to this list (one that I hope will make the transition to the list of well-known works) is Avatar Press’s Fashion Beast.
Fashion Beast is an adaptation of a screenplay Moore was working on in the mid-1980’s, around the same time he was working on Watchmen. It is said to be an extremely loose adaptation of the classic story of the Beauty and the Beast.
In this version, The Beauty is Doll Sequin, a male transvestite who is fired from her (yes… “her”. She identifies as a female, going so far as to call another girl a “goddamned dyke” when she attempts to touch Doll. It’s strange, I know, but that’s how Alan Moore rolls. You should know that) job as a coat check girl at a famous fashion club. In the wake of losing her job, Doll turns to the mannequin try-outs at Celestine, a fashion company that is literally one of the few things keeping the surrounding city running. One of the horrible old hags that helps run the place even states that the Celestine lights atop the building must be lit at precisely 7 o’clock because “the city sets their clocks according to Celestine.”
The Beast, in Moore’s version, is mysterious Le Patron, a man who has only been seen in shadows up to this point in the series. I’d like to like that he’ll look similar to Anti-Monitor when he’s revealed, since both remained concealed in shadows for the first portion of their times as comic book characters.
Le Patron is rumored to be disfigured, having large pus-filled sacks smattering his face. I’ll let you decide if he has 8-inch nails and have been peeing into Mason jars. All that’s really know about Le Patron at this point in the story is that he has a penchant for tarot and enjoys the looks of Doll enough to tap on the glass of his darkened, enclosed balcony to signify that he wants her as a mannequin.
The series itself takes its time, causing a tiny amount of pacing issue. But it’s the same as with most all of Moore’s work. He takes his time to meticulously craft each character and plot point, introducing dozens of important ideas and finally weaving them all together by the end of the series. And being only two issues into a ten issue series, it’s pretty hard to tell how all the components will fit together, especially the tarot aspect. It’s no secret that Moore was into various aspects of the occult, tarot included, and he loved to weave these into his stories.
I missed the release of BOTH the first and second issues of this one, and just so happened to find it on the back-issue rack at my comic book store of choice, Comic Paradise Plus. That’s why I’m covering two at once almost two months after the premiere. C’est la vie d’un nerd, I say. Such is the life of a nerd.
Regardless, I’ve enjoyed the odd spin that Moore has put on almost every facet of this story, and I’m excited to see where this is going. I generally reserve judgments on comics until the plot starts rolling along, and Moore’s Fashion Beast is no exception. It’s got the early markings of a great series, and it’s not too late to get completely caught up. I highly suggest you do, that is… unless you did it 35 minutes ago.