The XX Factor

A Sexy, Subversive Take on “The Wizard of Oz”

If all this talk about the 70th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz has you thinking, “Gee, I wonder what would happen if Dorothy Gale were a corn-fed nymphomaniac with deviant tendencies,” have I got the graphic novel for you.

The mammoth, landmark Lost Girls -first published as a pricey three-volume set in 2006 and finally released in an affordable single volume this summer-is the product of 16 years of collaboration between comics legend Alan Moore (writer of Watchmen ) and artist Melinda Gebbie.

The setup: Dorothy, Alice in Wonderland , and Wendy Darling from Peter Pan are all adults now, and they all happen to be staying in the same charming Swiss hotel. With World War I looming in the distance, the three women become fast friends, largely by sharing stories of their childhoods. But the stories the women tell aren’t the ones you and I know- Lost Girls’ primary conceit is that those familiar, beloved tales are actually fantastical metaphors for three very real girls’ very real sexual awakenings.

Oh, and then all the women sleep with one another. And with a lot of other people. And we see all of it. Because Lost Girls isn’t just a Freudian exploration of Golden Era kiddie lit-it’s also a bountiful cornucopia of Grade-A smut. The book contains just about every shocking kind of sex act you can imagine, and often treads highly taboo territory . That’s all part of Moore and Gebbie’s plan: In an interview with the Onion A.V. Club, Moore said, “I think if you were to sever that connection between arousal and shame , you might actually come up with something liberating and socially useful.”

I’ve been mulling over this book for weeks, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. Sometimes I’m on board with the project, and sometimes I’m just, well, bored. Any DoubleX - ers who’ve read Lost Girls , please weigh in with your verdict: Fancy-pants Tijuana bible , or profound meditation on the connection between art, arousal, and innocence?