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Her husband Alan Moore introduced her into his novel Voice Of The Fire as an “underground cartoonist late of Sausalito, California; former bondage model turned quarkweight boxer.” Melinda Gebbie flowered as an artist and writer during the San Francisco Seventies hippy comix explosion in Young Lust, Wimmen’s Comix, Wet Satin and her surreal 1977 solo Fresca Zizis (Italian for ‘fresh cocks’). Her masterpiece Lost Girls, a three-volume porno-graphic novel, was finally published in 2008 after sixteen years in the making with Moore, in which they imagine the erotic destinies of children’s book heroines Alice, Wendy and Dorothy. Here, Gebbie’s exquisite hand-painted artistry shines referencing classic erotica from Schiele to Beardsley. “We just liked the idea of making everything as intricately sexual as possible, even the finest details. We were really influenced by things like the Yellow Book, by the grand old periods of illustration where there were beautiful designs on every page.”

Essential Reading:

Lost Girls
with Alan Moore
Top Shelf, 2006

For more than a century, Alice, Wendy and Dorothy have been our guides through the Wonderland, Neverland and Land of Oz of our childhoods. Now like us, these three lost girls have grown up and are ready to guide us again, this time through the realms of our sexual awakening and fulfillment. Through their familiar fairytales they share with us their most intimate revelations of desire in its many forms, revelations that shine out radiantly through the dark clouds of war gathering around a luxury Austrian hotel. Drawing on the rich heritage of erotica, Lost Girls is the rediscovery of the power of ecstatic writing and art in a sublime union that only the medium of comics can achieve. Exquisite, thoughtful, and human, Lost Girls is a work of breathtaking scope that challenges the very notion of art fettered by convention.

Paul Gravett says:
Lost Girls shows a ‘pornotopia’ of assorted and strong sexual activity, and yet Gebbie’s luscious art, harking back to past masters and mistresses of erotica, has a quality that, in Moore’s view, “seems able to imbue even the most potentially grotesque scene with a kind of charm, beauty, warmth and a sensual, human atmosphere. We tried to find something personally arousing in every scene, otherwise that would have been faking it, but we didn’t want it just to be a mirror of our sexual tastes. We wanted to create something potentially appealing to people of every gender and sexuality.”

Neil Gaiman says:
As an exercise in the formal bounds of pure comics, Lost Girls is remarkable, as good as anything Moore has done in his career… Whatever you call it, there has never been anything quite like this in the world before, and I find myself extraordinarily pleased that someone of Moore’s ability actually has written that sort of comics for adults.

Steve Bissette says:
In Lost Girls, the blend of Alan’s European heritage and Melinda’s countercultural Americana, fueled by the artistic merger of a female and male creator, is ripe with promise and potential.

Alan Moore says:
If you are trying to say something to a wide audience about the onset of adolescence, what better characters to use than Alice, Wendy and Dorothy, universal symbols of different types of children.

The Cobweb in
Tomorrow Stories #1-8, 1999-2001 &
Top Shelf Asks The Big Questions, 2003
with Alan Moore

Melinda Gebbie says:
Cobweb hit the stand about a year ago. Her most arresting feature is that beneath her transparent lilac frock there seems to be no visible means of protection from wither the passing zephyr or the goggling eyeball. Cobweb’s MO is more elastic than Plastic Man. She has appeared in many guises: a crime-fighter, a child-detective, a space explorer, jungle girl and even a surrealist woman formed purely in collage a la Max Ernst. In each eight-page story, Cobweb enters a different style, era and idiom. Out of nine stories so far produced, seven have not been censored. The most extreme case resulted in Cobweb’s being thrown out of Tomorrow Stories #8. The story, Brighter Than You Think…, was based on biographical material partially reprinted in Fortean Times concerning the life of Jack Whiteside Parsons. Parsons, in his short and breathtaking life as a rocket scientist and practising occultist, had a brief but dramatic friendship with the then science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who famously went on to found Scientology - a favourite cult of Hollywood folk. It is an organisation fond of litigation. The reference in our story dealt with ‘an alleged’ liaison between Hubbard and Parsons’ then wife, Betty. In order to avoid court costs, DC Comics sold Brighter Than You Think… to Top Shelf Comics for a dollar. They later discovered their company had previously published their own version of Parsons’ life anyway. Cobweb‘s more laughable censure concerned the display of nude steel engravings in naughty poses which, in the end, got covered in butterflies. And all because the lady loves to draw smut.

Fresca Zizis
Last Gasp, 1977

Melinda Gebbie’s solo comic book Fresca Zizis (Italian for ‘fresh cocks’) mixes a woman’s hallucinatory experiences with real life trauma. In 1985, mere months after moving to the UK, Fresca Zizis was seized in a vice raid and Melinda was hauled up before a judge on obscenity charges to defend depicting three women astride a giant green penis. His verdict was that all the comics should be confiscated and destroyed. They burned all 400 copies of the comic and made them illegal to possess in Britain.

Melinda Gebbie says:
I was unexpectedly asked to participate in the proceedings by taking the stand to defend my work. I began somewhat shakily. ‘You honour, this comic contains autobiographical material. The stories are about real people and relationships. The themes are adult. They deal with the cruelty of lovers, the excesses of youth, the states of depression and dreams in documentary form. They are meant as a form of communication about my life: a warning and a comfort to those who venture out too deep; that although my life has often been out of control, I have survived and so can others. If you find my work obscene then you must also judge the people within it be obscene,  for it is a chronicle of a life lived, not a work of the imagination.’



Lost Girls (2006) with Alan Moore
Tomorrow Stories Vol 2 (2004) with Alan Moore
Tomorrow Stories Vol 1 (2002) with Alan Moore
Fresca Zizis (1977)

The Cobweb Stories:
Tomorrow Stories Special #1 (2006)
Brighter Than You Think… in Top Shelf Asks The Big Questions (2003)
Tomorrow Stories #1-8 (1999-2001)

Short Stories:
This Is Information in 9-11 Artists Respond (2002)
The Origin Of Glory in Glory #1 (2001)
Suprema, Sister Of Supreme in Supreme #54 (1997)
Camp Tamalpais in Seven Ages Of Women (1990)
Strip AIDS
Heartbreak Hotel
My Three Swans in Young Lust #6 (1980)
Anarchy Comics (1978)
The Cockpit in Wet Satin #1 (1976)
Wimmen’s Comix #4-7 (1974-1976)
Tits ‘n’ Clits

The Comics Journal #281


Online Resources:
Paul Gravett’s Articles
Melinda Gebbie: Lost Girls & Zizis

DC Comics
Last Gasp
Top Shelf


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