Annotations to League Volume III Chapter One, a.k.a. Century 1910
by Jess Nevins
Unless otherwise specified, all figures are identified in a clockwise fashion.
Cover. Rather than give spoilers for various characters here, I’m going to defer identifying them.
Page 1. Panel 1. This is Thomas Carnacki. Carnacki was created by William Hope Hodgson and appeared in six stories in British magazines from 1910 to 1912, beginning with “The Gateway of the Monster” (The Idler, Jan. 1910). Thomas Carnacki was the second major Occult Detective in detective/horror fiction. Carnacki is a “Psychic Investigator” who uses both scientific equipment and the traditional ghost-breaking paraphernalia to combat the psychic forces and the “Outer Monsters” which threaten our world.
The picture on the wall is a reference to the story “The Horse of the Invisible” (The Idler, Apr. 1910).
I’m not sure what the mummified figures are a reference to–none of Carnacki’s stories (that I’m aware of) have him facing off against mummies.
Panel 2. A
“Profess-house” was originally a local shelter for Jesuits who had bound
themselves by the four vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and special
obedience to the Pope. ("Profess" is used in this sense as being
another word for "vow"). Occultist Aleister
had different meanings and purposes for the Profess-house. For
Panel 3. “Oliver” is a reference to Oliver Haddo, who appeared in W. Somerset Maugham’s novel The Magician (1907). Haddo was based on Aleister Crowley, whom Maugham disliked, and The Magician is about an occult attempt to create life. Haddo is mentioned on Pages 25 & 26 of Black Dossier.
As seen in Black Dossier,
a number of historical figures are replaced in the world of League by
their fictional counterparts or models, so that in the world of League
there was no Adolph Hitler, there was Adenoid Hynkel
(from Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator). In the world of League
there was no
is a reference to
a new name, a mystic name, engraved upon a moonstone, set in a silver ring which she put upon her finger. This name was Iliel. It had been chosen on account of its sympathy of number to the moon; for the name is Hebrew, in which language its characters have the value of 81, the square of 9, the sacred number of the moon. But other considerations helped to determine the choice of this name. The letter L in Hebrew refers to Libra, the sign under which she had been born; and it was surrounded with two letters, I, to indicate her envelopment by the force of creation and chastity which the wise men of old hid in that hieroglyph.
The final "EL" signified the divinity of her new being; for this is the Hebrew word for God, and is commonly attached by the sages to divers roots, to imply that these ideas have been manifested in individuals of angelic nature.
Panel 4. The four figures facing the reader are (beginning with the tallest) Cyril Grey, Sister Cybele, Simon Iff, and Iliel.
Cyril Grey, the “Frater Cyril” mentioned in the dialogue, appears in The
Moonchild. In the novel Grey is one of white magicians. Grey is usually
interpreted as being
Sister Cybele, the “Soror Cybele” mentioned the dialogue, appears in The
Moonchild. In the novel she is one of the white magicians. Cybele is
usually interpreted as having been based on Leila Waddell (1880-1932),
Cybele was an Earth Mother goddess among the Phrygians, Greeks, and Romans. (Wikipedia entry).
Simon Iff, the “Frater Simon” mentioned in the dialogue, appears in The Moonchild as well as in twenty short stories appearing in three collections in 1917 and 1918. Iff is a kind of Occult Detective.
Iff’s appearance here is similar to Aleister Crowley when he was in his sixties.
Iliel, in The Moonchild, was modeled on Mary d’Este Sturges, one of
The robes that the cultists wore are similar to those worn by members of the Golden Dawn, the cult Aleister Crowley founded.
Panel 6. “
“A moon-stone. A moon-child.” In The Moonchild the titular child will be a kind of occult messiah, a child who is possessed with the soul of an astral spirit.
Panel 7. This is Oliver Haddo. He has a certain visual similarity to Aleister Crowley:
Page 2. For the identity of the woman, see Page 4, Panel 2.
“What Keeps Mankind Alive” is the title of a song in Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s musical The Threepenny Opera (1928). The Threepenny Opera, about the brutality of modern capitalist life, is the thematic basis for much of Century: 1910, as will be seen, and the lyrics of “What Keeps Mankind Alive” is a direct statement of one of these themes:
You gentlemen who think you have a mission
To purge us of the seven deadly sins
Should first sort out the basic food position
Then start your preaching, that’s where it begins
You lot who preach restraint and watch your waist as well
Should learn, for once, the way the world is run
However much you twist or whatever lies that you tell
Food is the first thing, morals follow on
So first make sure that those who are now starving
Get proper helpings when we all start carving
What keeps mankind alive?
What keeps mankind alive?
The fact that millions are daily tortured
Stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed
Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance
In keeping its humanity repressed
And for once you must try not to shriek the facts
Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts.
Page 3. Panel 5. The stone with the calculations on it appears in Jules Verne’s L'Île Mystérieuse (English translation: The Mysterious Island) (1874). The Mysterious Island is best-known as the sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and describes the post-20,000 Leagues behavior and ultimate fate of Captain Nemo. In The Mysterious Island the castaways have to calculate the height of a high granite wall:
The measurements were made with the pole and resulted in determining the distances from the stake to the foot of the pole and the base of the wall to be 15 and 500 feet respectively. The engineer and Herbert then returned to the Chimneys, where the former, using a flat stone and a bit of shell to figure with, determined the height of the wall to be 333.33 feet.
Panel 6. The older gentleman is Ishmael, originally from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851). As shown in earlier volumes of League, after the events of Moby Dick Ishmael became one of Captain Nemo’s crewmen.
Page 4. Panel 1. The man in the bed is Captain Nemo. In The Mysterious Island Nemo was supposed to have died of exhaustion, but as the events of earlier volumes of League showed he survived until 1910.
The man kneeling by Nemo’s bed is Broad Arrow Jack. Jack was originally created by E. Harcourt Burrage and appeared in the penny dreadful Broad Arrow Jack (1886) but as shown in earlier volumes of League, after the events of Broad Arrow Jack Jack became one of Captain Nemo’s crewmen.
When Nemo first appears in The Mysterious Island it is on his deathbed in The Nautilus. The scene is described in this way:
A vast saloon, a sort of museum, in which were arranged all the treasures of the mineral world, works of art, marvels of industry, appeared before the eyes of the colonists, who seemed to be transported to the land of dreams.
Extended upon a rich divan they saw a man, who seemed unaware of their presence.
This panel, also in The Nautilus, is likely a reference to that particular scene.
Panel 2. The dialogue here and for the rest of this sequence is
in Punjabi. The dialogue here reads “Hello, Father. How are you this evening?”
The speaker, the girl we’ve been following for the past three pages, is Janni Dakkar, the daughter of
Captain Nemo, whose real name is Prince Dakkar. Janni was referred to by
name in League v2 and mentioned in Black Dossier, although she is
According to The
Mysterious Island Captain Nemo, a.k.a. Prince Dakkar, was a prince of “Bundelkund,”
or Bundelkhand, an area in central
Panel 3. Translated dialogue: “I am no better, no worse. I wanted to know if you had reconsidered.”
Panel 4. Translated dialogue: “Don’t be foolish. Of course I haven’t.”
Page 5. Panel 1. Translated dialogue: “You disobey me. You disobey your own father. Do not forget that you are my daughter.”
Panel 2. Translated dialogue: “No. Nor do I forget the years for which you ignored me. You ignored me because you wanted a son.”
Panel 3. Translated dialogue: “Of course I wanted a son, but all I got was you! Who else but you can carry on my work, and my name?”
Panel 4. Translated dialogue: “What kind of name is ‘Nobody’? What kind of work is piracy? I am not like you, a fanatic. You can go to Hell.”
Panel 5. Translated dialogue: “You dare talk to me like that? I should have you whipped! I–“
Page 8. Panel 1. Presumably the painting and the figure (a Grey?) under glass are references to Carnacki stories, but I’m not sure which ones they could be.
Panel 4. The other man is E. W. Hornung’s master thief A.J. Raffles, who set the standard for the English gentleman criminal for a half-century. Raffles appeared in a number of short stories and four short story collections and novels from 1898 to 1909, beginning with “The Ides of March” (Cassell’s Magazine, June 1898). He is a member of Society and steals from his comrades and does so with style.
Page 9. Panel 3. “I was blackmailed into this when they uncovered my burglary career.”
In Raffles’ first seven stories (collected in The Amateur Cracksman (1899)) Raffles’ criminal life is a secret from the world, but in the eighth story (also collected in The Amateur Cracksman) Raffles is exposed. In the later stories Raffles continues to steal but is disgraced, and in the last short story, “The Last Word” (1905), Raffles atones for his crime by dying heroically in the Boer War.
That wasn’t the last Raffles appearance written by Hornung, however. The public demand for Raffles was so great that Hornung brought Raffles back (as Hornung’s brother-in-law Arthur Conan Doyle did with Sherlock Holmes) for one last novel, Mr. Justice Raffles (1909), set before Raffles’ disgrace. Perhaps in the world of League Raffles’ death during the Boer War was a sham? After all, we only know of it because Raffles’ sidekick/toady, the craven lickspittle Bunny Manders, says that Raffles died–and Manders is hardly a reliable narrator.
“How would a drop of the 1736 Amontillado suit you?”
This is a reference to the Edgar Allan Poe story “The Cask of Amontillado,” which if you haven’t read by now, STOP READING THIS AND READ THAT INSTEAD. CLICK ON THE LINK. DO IT NOW. (I’m not sure if the 1736 date is a reference to anything in paritcular).
The skull in the lower left is presumably the skull of a Cyclops. Not sure if it has any significance beyond that.
Page 10. Panel 1. Enter Mina, Allan Jr., and Orlando. The trio, plus Carnacki and Raffles, are the “Second Murray Group” mentioned in Black Dossier.
The mermaid-like creature may be a Water Baby, one of the aquatic faerie types from Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies (1862-1863).
Panel 3. “An Old Boy from my Cheyne Walk Club”
“Old Boy” in this case is a
British phrase for a male alumni of a school. “Cheyne
Walk” is a reference to the streeet, Cheyne Walk, at which Carnacki
Page 11. Panel 1.
“Did I every tell you about how I helped found
As with all of
Panel 2. “Could it have anything to do with the imminent Coronation?”
In reality, George Frederick Ernest Albert was crowned King-Emperor George V of the United Kingdom on June 22, 1911, following the death of George’s father, King Edward VII. In the world of League a number of historical figures are replaced by figures from fiction, so it is unclear who (or what) was coronated on in 1910 in the world of League.
Panel 3. “Presumably not the dreadful new aeon of George the Fifth?”
As I said, it’s not clear who or what was coronated in 1910 in the world of League. It may have been George Frederick Ernest Albert, or may have been someone else entirely who happened to be named George.
“I know Military Intelligence are worried about some anti-royal plot. Also, Halley’s Comet is passing.”
“Mina, come on. You’re not superstitious, surely?”
Halley’s Comet did indeed pass Earth in April, 1910, and tradition held that its appearance was ominous–it appeared in 1066 and was popularly supposed to have been an omen for the death of King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings–but I’m unaware of any real-life anti-royal plot which took place around the time of the Coronation.
Page 12. Panel 1. In the upper left of this panel are three sailors. I don’t know who the buck-toothed sailor on the left is. The sailor in the middle is E.C. Segar’s Popeye, and I believe the sailor next to him is C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne’s Captain Kettle, who appeared in stories, novels (like A Master of Fortune), and films from 1895 to 1920. Kettle is a short, cigar smoking, red bearded, pugnacious, brutal sailor–a perfect fit for this milieu.
Panel 7. “Miller’s Court to
#13, Miller’s Court,
Page 13. Panel 2.
“Thinking about signing on for Challenger’s expedition down
This is a reference to Arthur Conan Doyle’s abrasive explorer Professor Challenger, who appeared in five novels from 1912 to 1929, beginning with “The Lost World” (The Strand Magazine, Apr. 1912). At the beginning of “The Lost World” Challenger has recently returned from a South American expedition on which he discovered dinosaurs.
Panel 3. “Lucky ‘eather to keep the Comet away!”
In English folklore heather has good luck properties.
“It said old Cuff had died.”
“What, the Copper?”
This is a reference to Sergeant Cuff, who appeared in Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone (1868). The Moonstone was one of the two or three most important detective novels of the 19th century, and Cuff was influential on the development of the Great Detective archeype.
In The Moonstone Cuff is described as a “grizzled, elderly man,” so he would have been ancient by the time of Century: 1910.
Panel 4. “Wotcher, Suki. How’s trade, dear?”
“Brisk. Hardly stood up all night.”
Opera, which is set in
Panel 5. “Building bigger ships means war’s coming.”
From 1906 to 1914
“Remember the Titan”
The Titan appeared in Morgan Robertson’s Futility (1898), a story about a Titanic-like liner, the Titan, which hits an iceberg and sinks in a strange prediction of the Titanic’s sinking.
“Stuttering ‘alf-wit more like”
King George VI, George V’s son, had a stutter.
Panel 6. “About that 14th Earl of Gurney, his speech in the House of Lords?”
This is a reference to the
film The Ruling Class (1972), written by Peter Barnes and directed by
Jules Buck and Jack Hawkins. In the film Jack Gurney, the 14th Earl
of Gurney, is a paranoid schizophrenic who believes that he is God. At one
point in the film Gurney delivers a speech to the House of Lords in which he
suggests bringing back hangings as a way to return law and order to
“It’s them public schools, like Greyfriars”
Greyfriars was the public school created by Charles Hamilton and appearing in hundreds of short stories, novels, and radio and television programs from 1908 to at least 1982. Greyfriars is an English public school whose students include Billy Bunter and the Famous Five.
As seen in Black Dossier,
in the world of League Greyfriars produced
The “Cuttlefish Hotel” is one of the locations in which the events of Threepenny Opera take place.
Panel 7. “Rumor about the Chatterlys”
In D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) Lord Clifford Chatterley is paralyzed and impotent, leading his wife, Lady Constance Chatterley, to seek sexual satisfaction with the gamekeeper.
“Near Quong Lee’s tea-shop in Limehouse”
Quong Lee was created by Thomas Burke and appeared in a
number of short stories and three collections of short stories and poetry from
1916 to 1931, beginning with Limehouse
Nights (1916). Quong Lee is an old, sad, wise
Chinese man living in Limehouse, the Chinese section
Panel 9. “It brought down the Barnes Bridge Martian!”
This event can be seen in League v2.
Page 14. Panel 1. This fun-fair exhibition is the cod-Nautilus which can be seen on page 107 of Black Dossier.
Panel 4. The poster, referring to “Mr. J Stark” and “Lewis,” is similar to the theatrical posters seen on Page 21 of Black Dossier. “Mr. J. Stark” is a reference to Janus Stark, who appeared in the British comics Smash and Valiant (1969–1975). Stark is a Victorian superhero with very rubbery bones, which gives him abilities he uses to fight crime. “Lewis” is a reference to Al Lewis, of Lewis and Clark, a pair of vaudevillian comedians in Neil Simon’s play The Sunshine Boys (1972).
Page 15. Panel 8. “Military coup in Ruritania” is a reference to Ruritania, the small Eastern European kingdom which appeared in Anthony Hope Hawkins’ The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) and Rupert of Hentzau (1898).
I’m not sure what the headline below it, of which only “–rinian -ssa” is visible, might be a reference to. Someone being assassinated?
Page 16. Panel 1. The tentacle at the bottom center of the panel is a nice touch.
Panel 2. “The Merlin Society” is
Panel 5. This outfit–evening-wear and domino mask–was standard attire for Gentleman Thieves of the 1900s, 1910s, and 1920s, many of whom were Raffles imitations.
Page 17. Panel 1. Presumably most if not everyone here are figures out of Victorian & Edwardian occult fiction. Several are named in Panels 2 and 3, so I’ll refrain from naming them here. Those which aren’t:
• the Asian figure peering over the shoulder of one of the card-players. Perhaps he is J.U. Giesy’s Semi-Dual, an occult detective who appeared in thirty-two stories in various pulps from 1912 to 1934.
• the dwarf/Little Person using canes. That might be Victor Rousseau’s Ivan Brodsky, an occult detective who appeared in eleven stories in Weird Tales in 1926 & 1927.
• the nude male with the horns leaning against the pillar. Pan, possibly, a reference to Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan”?
• the man in formal wear playing the drums.
• the skull-faced figure. Death Itself?
• the figure on the far right, wearing a fur coat.
Panel 2. “That’s Dyson and Phillips” is a reference to Arthur Machen’s Dyson and Charles Phillips, who appeared in a number of stories and novels, beginning with “The Inmost Light” (The Great God Pan, 1894). Dyson and Phillips are a pair of Occult Detectives, although they usually explain the occult crimes which have occurred rather than prevent them from occuring.
Presumably Dyson & Phillips are the pair playing cards in Panel 1.
“Dear Old Johnny Silence” is a reference to Algernon Blackwood’s Doctor Silence, who appeared in a number of stories which were collected in John Silence (1908). Doctor Silence was the first significant Occult Detective of occult/detective fiction. Silence uses his psychic abilities to fight various occult evils, including astral werewolves and fire elementals.
I would guess that Silence is the cigar-smoking figure, center-right, in Panel 1.
“Dr. Taverner” is a reference to Dion Fortune’s Dr. Taverner, who appeared in twelve stories and one short story collection from 1922 to 1926, beginning with “Blood-Lust” (The Royal Magazine, May 1922). Dr. Taverner is a Theosophist Occult Detective who uses his ability to tap the “Akashic Records…the subconscious mind of the human race” to help balance individuals’ karmic debts and to fight against the evil “Black Lodge.”
“Prince Zaleski” is a reference to M.P. Shiel’s Prince Zaleski, who appeared in three stories in Prince Zaleski (1895). Zaleski is a kind of Armchair Detective whose Decadent langour and belief in his own superiority lead him to rarely leave his home. He also solves crimes.
Zaleski, and Dr. Taverner, can be seen in the center of Panel 1.
Panel 4. The painting on the right is of the Golliwog, who appeared in Black Dossier.
Page 18. Panel 3. “I think a former doctor of mine used to come here”
probably a reference to Doctor van Helsing, from the
Stephen Sommers film Van Helsing
(2004). Doctor van Helsing is a monster hunter who
fights Edward Hyde and vampires in
Panel 5. “Mr. Zanoni, isn’t it?” is a reference to Bulwer-Lytton’s Zanoni (1842). Zanoni is an immortal, nasty Chaldean sorcerer who is the last of the Rosicrucians.
“Fortunio’s entourage” is a reference to Theophile
Gautier’s Fortunio (1837), in which the
gorgeous, aloof, amoral, and deadly aesthete Fortunio
is fruitlessly pursued by the beautiful courtesan Musidora,
who fails to win his love because Fortunio’s tastes
are too refined for drab
“Rite of Smarra” is a reference to Charles Nodier’s “Smarra, ou Les Démons de la Nuit” (English translation: “Smarra, or the Demons of the Night”) (1821). “Smarra” is a concentric series of nightmares within nightmares about, among other things, the demon Smarra. (“Smarra” is a great early horror story and well worth searching out).
Panel 7. “The Sicilian, the Count von Ost” is a reference to Friedrich von Schiller and appeared in “Der Geisterseher”(English translation: “The Ghost-Seer” (1787-1789). “The Ghost-Seer” is about a German prince, the Graf von O, who is threatened by, among others, an occult Sicilian swindler modeled on Cagliostro.
Panel 9. The “magical war” Zanoni is referring to takes place in The Moonchild. Presumably Zanoni was on the side of the white magicians who Haddo and Iff warred on.
Page 19. Panel 1. “Didn’t he die in Staffordshire a couple of years ago?”
In the finale of The Magician, the novel Haddo originally appeared in, Haddo dies in a fire at his Staffordshire estate, which Black Magician dates to 1908.
“Reportedly, Haddo was attempting to make homunculi.”
the traditional occult/magical definition of a homunculus (plural: homunculi)
was a small, artificial man. The Wikipedia
entry gives a number of early examples of it. In
"They started in paraphysical ways; that is, they repudiated natural generation altogether. They made figures of brass, and tried to induce souls to indwell them. In some accounts we read that they succeeded; Friar Bacon was credited with one such Homunculus; so was Albertus Magnus, and, I think, Paracelsus.
"He had, at least, a devil in his long sword 'which taught him all the cunning pranks of past and future mountebanks,' or Samuel Butler, first of that dynasty, has lied.
"But other magicians sought to make this Homunculus in a way closer to nature. In all these cases they had held that environment could be modified at will by the application of telesmata or sympathetic figures. For example, a nine-pointed star would attract the influence which they called Luna -- not meaning the actual moon, but an idea similar to the poets' ideas of her. By surrounding an object with such stars, with similarly-disposed herbs, perfumes, metals, talismans, and so on, and by carefully keeping off all other influences by parallel methods, they hoped to invest the original object so treated with the Lunar qualities, and no others. (I am giving the briefest outline of an immense subject.) Now then they proceeded to try to make the Homunculus on very curious lines.
"Man, said they, is merely a fertilized ovum properly incubated. Heredity is there even at first, of course, but in a feeble degree. Anyhow, they could arrange any desired environment from the beginning, if they could only manage to nourish the embryo in some artificial way -- incubate it, in fact, as is done with chickens to-day. Furthermore, and this is the crucial point, they thought that by performing this  experiment in a specially prepared place, a place protected magically against all incompatible forces, and by invoking into that place some one force which they desired, some tremendously powerful being, angel or archangel -- and they had conjurations which they thought capable of doing this -- that they would be able to cause the incarnation of beings of infinite knowledge and power, who would be able to bring the whole world into Light and Truth.
"I may conclude this little sketch by saying that
the idea has been almost universal in one form or another; the wish has always
been for a Messiah or Superman, and the method some attempt to produce man by
artificial or at least abnormal means. Greek and Roman legend is full of
stories in which this mystery is thinly veiled; they seem mostly to derive from
Asia Minor and
Page 20. Panel 1. As can be seen on page 105 of Black Dossier, the “Kraken” section of the Nautilus II separates from the “Whale Hull.” The Kraken section is what is shown here.
Page 21. Panel 1. Translated dialogue: “Ishmael...”
painting is of the original, 1865 Nautilus (of 20,000 Leagues Under
the Sea) not the more technologically-advanced Nautilus II of 1878
Panel 2. Translated dialogue: “Paint my ship black. Nail my skull to its forecastle. Give it to my daughter.”
Panel 5. Presumably the painting in the upper right is of Nemo’s wife, not his daughter.
Page 22. Panel 1. I’m guessing that Kevin O’Neill snuck in a few references here, but they elude me.
Page 23. Panel 1. “There were Cathys...there were Marys...left for constables to find.”
“Cathys” being Catherine Eddowes and “Marys” being Mary Ann Nichols and Mary Jane Kelly, three of the five victims of Jack the Ripper.
2. “While I sailed for
Some Ripperologists do believe that there is a link between Jack
the Ripper and
The stylish woman is Lulu. Lulu was created by Frank Wedekind and appeared in the plays Earth Spirit (1895) and Pandora’s Box (1904). Lulu is a beautiful German woman who uses sex to rise in German society but is later reduced to prostitution and is eventually killed by Jack the Ripper. Lulu here is modeled on Louise Brooks’ portrayal of Lulu in the 1929 film of Pandora’s Box. The scene in the film in which Lulu meets Jack is similar in composition to this panel.
Panel 3. The fact that the man continues to sing while talking with Lulu is a tradition of musical theater: when a character sings to the audience, none of the other characters notice it.
Panel 6. The woman weeping over the photo of Lulu is the Countess Geschwitz, who in Pandora’s Box is in love with Lulu but is rejected by her.
24. Panel 7. Threepenny Opera
is loosely based on John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera (1728). In Beggar’s
Opera the male lead is Macheath, a famous
highwayman. In Threepenny Opera Macheath is now a brutal anti-hero known as “Mack the
Knife.” Brecht made the association between Macheath
and Jack the Ripper, but giving Macheath the first
name “Jack” is
“Jack Macheath is back in town” is a reference to the lyrics of Macheath’s song “Mack the Knife,” later made famous by Frank Sinatra & Bobby Darin, which has a similar line.
Page 25. Panel 1. “The Daily Brute,” mentioned in Black Dossier, is a reference to Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop (1938). In the novel The Daily Beast is a Daily Mail-like sensationlist newspaper.
“Come–“ is a reference to Halley’s Comet, mentioned on Page 11, Panel 3 above.
Page 26. Panel 2. That’s Macheath, shaking down prostitutes.
Panels 4-7. “And the ship, the black raider, with a skull on its masthead, moves in from the sea.”
In Threepenny Opera Polly Peachum sings “Pirate Jenny,” a wistful, gentle song:
You people can watch while I’m scrubbing these floors
And I’m scrubbin’ the floors while you’re gawking
Maybe once ya tip me and it makes ya feel swell
In this crummy southern town
In this crummy old hotel
But you’ll never guess to who you’re talkin’.
No, you couldn’t ever guess to who you’re talkin’.
Then one night there’s a scream in the night
And you’ll wonder who could that have been
And you see me kinda grinnin’ while I’m scrubbin’
And you say, what’s she got to grin?
I’ll tell you.
There’s a ship
The black freighter
With a skull on its masthead
Will be coming in
You gentlemen can say, hey gal, finish them floors!
Get upstairs! What’s wrong with you? Earn your keep here!
You toss me your tips
And look out to the ships
But I’m counting your heads
As I’m making the beds
Cuz there’s nobody gonna sleep here, honey
Then one night there’s a scream in the night
And you say, who’s that kicking up a row?
And ya see me kinda starin’ out the winda’
And you say, what’s she got to stare at now?
I’ll tell ya.
There’s a ship
The black freighter
Turns around in the harbor
Shootin’ guns from her bow
You gentlemen can wipe off that smile off your face
Cause every building in town is a flat one
This whole frickin’ place will be down to the ground
Only this cheap hotel standing up safe and sound
And you yell, why do they spare that one?
That’s what you say.
Why do they spare that one?
All the night through, through the noise and to-do
You wonder who is that person that lives up there?
And you see me stepping out in the morning
Looking nice with a ribbon in my hair
And the ship
The black freighter
Runs a flag up its masthead
And a cheer rings the air
By noontime the dock
Is a-swarmin’ with men
Comin’ out from the ghostly freighter
They move in the shadows
Where no one can see
And they’re chainin’ up people
And they’re bringin’ em to me
Kill them now, or later?
Kill them now, or later?
Noon by the clock
And so still by the dock
You can hear a foghorn miles away
And in that quiet of death
I’ll say, right now.
Then they’ll pile up the bodies
And I’ll say,
That’ll learn ya!
And the ship
The black freighter
Disappears out to sea
I’d recommend reading the rest of Century 1910, then returning here and reading these lyrics again to see how they relate to the events of the story.
Suki’s staring at us while she sings is in line with Bertholt Brecht’s verfremdungseffekt, or “distancing effect,” which in Brechtian theater is a way to prevent the audience from becoming passive spectators of a play. The theory is that emotional identification in a play leads to the audience losing its critical faculties, so the Brechtian verfremdungseffekt involves things like having characters speak directly to the audience, as Suki is doing here.
28. Panel 1. Back at the
• the statue, I think, is of Gulliver.
• I’m not sure what the giant skull is.
• The elephant-headed figure may be a reference to Joseph Merrick (1862-1890), popularly known as “The Elephant Man,” or it may be the stuffed and mounted body of Babar, from the de Brunhoff’s children’s books. Babar was mentioned in League v2n4.
• On the far right of the panel is a face-hugging Alien, from the Alien franchise. Not sure what it is attached to, though.
In the coffin is a staked vampire, which might be
Page 29. Panel 1. I know I’ve seen the globe before, but I’m drawing a blank on it.
Panel 3. The jar in the left contains, I would hazard, a Martian. The jar on the right contains, alas, poor Mr. Frog, originally from Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows (1908) but latterly seen in League v2, as one of Moreau’s menagerie.
Panel 4. The painting is of Moby Dick, the great white whale from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851).
Page 29. Panel 1. “It’s a scrying glass, a black mirror made of obsidian. It’s from the Museum’s collection. It used to belong to Gloriana’s alchemist, John Subtle.”
“Oh, honestly! Subtle was just a
code-name that Queen Glory gave to Duke Prospero of
Dee (1527-1608/9), alchemist and advistor to Queen
Elizabeth I, legendarily had a scrying glass, made of
either quartz or obsidian, which he used to gain visions. (Said scrying glass is, or at least was until recently, on
display in the
I don’t know what the circular plaques are. Occult pogs of some sort.
I’m not sure who the black cat under glass might be–Poe’s Black Cat is an obvious guess.
5. “King’s Cross” is major railway
Ouija boards were introduced in the early 1890s, but most Ouija boards have the star to the right of the crescent moon, not to the left, as this one does. (There’s a very interesting gallery of Ouija boards. Gads, I love the Web).
Page 33. Panel 2. Campion Bond would seem to have come down in the world.
Panel 5. “Robin Yaldwyn” is a ne’er-do-well painter in the book Wistons (1902), written by “Miles Amber.” “Miles Amber” was the pseudonym of Ellen Cobden Sickert, wife of the painter Walter Sickert, and Wistons is a roman-à-clef about how bad Walter Sickert, who Robin Yaldwyn is an analogue of, treated his wife.
of course, was a part of the Jack the Ripper investigation, something
Panel 6. “A police inspector, ‘Tiger’ Brown, is currently looking into it.”
In Threepenny Opera Jackie “Tiger” Brown is the
Chief of Police in
The photograph on the left is of the peaked cap man who was seen at the scene of Elizabeth Stride’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Stride murder. The photograph on the right is of Elizabeth Stride, the Ripper’s third victim.
Panel 7. I don’t know what the straight razors dated to 1802 are a reference to.
34. Panel 1. I’m unaware of a “Lewis Seymour” who had anything to
do with the Jack the Ripper murders, but “Lewis Seymour” is the protagonist of
George Moore’s A Modern Lover (1883). In the novel
4. “Andrew Norton, the Prisoner of
London” is a reference to Iain Sinclair’s Slow Chocolate Autopsy (1997),
about Norton, who can travel in time but is stuck within the physical confines
Panel 5. “Incidentally, how was my brother when you visited him last?”
As seen in Black Dossier, in 1904 (and judging from Mycroft’s words, more recently than that) Mina visited Sherlock Holmes, who in 1910 has retired to Sussex Downs to raise bees.
Page 38. Panel 2. The figure on the left, Norton, has a not-coincidental visual similarity to Iain Sinclair.
striking figure in the middle is Boudica (?-60/1 C.E.). Boudica
was a Queen of the Iceni tribe of
In stature she was very tall, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh; a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips; around her neck was a large golden necklace; and she wore a tunic of divers colours over which a thick mantle was fastened with a brooch.
(Not that it should surprise anyone that Kevin O’Neill gets things like this right, of course)
Page 39. Panel 2. The “George M. Plummer” mentioned on the wanted poster is a reference to George Marsden Plummer, Scotland Yard inspector gone wrong and one of Sexton Blake’s arch-enemies.
Panel 4. “...since Allan and I were in Arkham.”
This event was described in Black Dossier.
The “Great Nort–“ is a reference to the Great Northern Railway, a major British railway company whose London hub was King’s Cross.
Page 40. Panel 2. “Gaslight understudies.”
I confess to being a little mystified by this. I can see Raffles being described as an understudy to Arsene Lupin–Lupin was, after all, the better Gentleman Thief, as a character, as a thief, and in story terms. (Maurice Leblanc, Lupin’s creator, was a better writer than E.W. Hornung, Raffles’ creator). But who would Mina be an understudy to? Van Helsing? Or perhaps to late 20th century popculture characters like Buffy?
Panel 3. “Coffins at Carfax.”
This is a reference to the events of Dracula.
“Blood for oil.”
“Blood for oil” was the charge leveled at the American government for its involvement in both wars with Iraq. (Not sure how it applies here).
“Patrick Keiller mapping the Martians’ crater.”
is a British filmmaker and author best known for his film Robinson in Space
(1997), in which the unseen Robinson tours
“Dead trails. Abandoned panics.”
I have no idea.
Panel 5. “July Seventh. Paradise backpackers. A constellation of cigarette burns on Archer’s back. The stars are right.”
“July Seventh” and “Paradise backpackers” are references to the Islamic suicide bombers who killed 52 people on July 7, 2005. Each of the three attacked trains had recently left King’s Cross St. Pancras railway station. I’m not sure what “a constellation of cigarette burns on Archer’s back” is a reference to–the constellation of Sagittarius is “the Archer,” and “the stars are right” might be a reference to Sagittarius’ alignment on 7/7/2005. Of course, “the stars are right” is a cliche in cosmic horror fiction.
Panel 6. “Misplaced memorials.”
I trust one of my British readers can fill me in on what Moore is referring to. Is there a misplaced memorial at King’s Cross? There are memorials to veterans of World Wars One and Two–anything else?
I’m assuming this is a reference to the King’s Cross fire on 18 November 1987, which killed 31 people in the King’s Cross St. Pancras station. I’m not particularly sure why this counts as “forgotten”–even I, American that I am, knew about it. (Is the King’s Cross fire memorial plaque in the station misplaced somehow?)
“Rimbaud, Verlaine, lyric grease.”
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) and Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) were two of the major French poets of the fin de siècle. Rimbaud & Verlaine lived for several months in 1872 and 1873 at 8 Royal College Street, which is less than a mile from King’s Cross.
“Boadicea’s urban legend under platform ten.”
Boadicea (a.k.a. Boudica) is, according to urban legend, buried under platform ten of King’s Cross railway station. It was formerly believed that Boudica’s final battle was fought at the village of Battle Bridge, on whose site King’s Cross was later built. Boudica’s final battle was elsewhere, but in the world of League the final battle was at the eventual location of King’s Cross, which is why Norton sees her on Page 38, Panel 2.
“A quarter platform over, the franchise express, gathering steam.”
In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, the students embark for Hogwarts School of Wizardry at Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross.
Page 41. Panel 1. “Magic revivals, Hyde Park happenings”
Got me. A reference to the next issue of Century, possibly.
“David Litvinov’s ventriloquism”
David Litvinoff was a prominent personality in the late-1960s London scene. I don’t know what his ventriloquism is a reference to–his advising Nicholas Roeg on Performance, maybe?
“Jack the Hat”
a.k.a. “Jack the Hat,” was a notorious
Panel 2. I’m going to guess that this scene, of 1969 London, or something much like it shows up in the next volume of Century, which is set in late 1960s London.
I’m sure that a number of these characters are references. 1960s British popculture not being my forte, I’m clueless on almost all of them, with the exception of Reg Smythe’s Andy Capp.
Page 42. Panel 3. In case it’s unclear: that is Jack Macheath being arrested. The man on the left is Tiger Brown, mentioned above on Page 33, Panel 6.
Page 45. Panel 1. “...I was once very close to Sinbad.”
As was seen in Black Dossier.
Panel 3. If the statue is of anything in particular, I’m unaware of it.
Page 46. Panel 3. Perhaps someone can explain the symbols on Sister Cybele’s arm?
Page 49. Panel 3. If P.C. 57 is a reference to anyone in particular, I’m unaware of it.
Page 50. Panel 3. “Oh...the Whistling Room caper?”
Which is a reference to “The Whistling Room” (The Idler, Mar. 1910), Carnacki’s third case.
Panel 4. “I’m Dr. Karswell Trelawney, variously of Stonedene, and Lufford in Warwickshire.”
“Karswell” comes from Karswell, the man who buys Lufford Abbey in Warwickshire in M.R. James’ “Casting the Runes.” “Trelawney” is a reference to Dr. Trelawney, the Aleister Crowley analogue in Anthony Powell’s twelve-book “A Dance to the Music of Time” series. “Stonedene” is a reference to one “Dr. Oyler,” the other real-life model for Dr. Trelawney. Dr. Oyler lived in Stonedene at the same time that Anthony Powell had.
Panel 5. “Iliel, though...the name adds up to eighty-one. A lunar number.”
This is occult numerology, of which I know nothing.
Page 51. Panel 1. “We’re rather like the Rosicrucians.”
More than you want to know about them:
In the early 17th century a group of European individuals began espousing certain esoteric beliefs through their scientific writings. These individuals, most of whom were moral and religious reformers, later became known as the Rosenkreuzer, or the Society of Rosicrucians, although there is no evidence that they ever met as a group. Their beliefs, which combined mysticism, alchemy, and the sciences, were heavily influenced by 16th century Neoplatonists, including the German doctor Philippus Paracelsus and the Italian scholar Franciscus Patritius. These men and women claimed to be followers of a Christian Rosencreutz (1378-1484), supposedly a German writer who was credited with having gone to Asia and been initiated into an occult society, the members of which are bearers of secret, magical knowledge. His books excited many European intellectuals when they were published, and led to many individuals calling themselves “Rosicrucians” and advocating mystic and Hermetic beliefs. Legend has it that the Rosicrucians were instrumental in the modernizing of Freemasonry early in the 18th century.
During the 18th century various European groups and societies began to claim possession of Rosicrucian secrets and knowledge and/or descent from the Society of Rosicrucians. The two most important of these societies were founded in the 19th century: the Societas Rosicruciana, founded in 1865, and the Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in 1888. The Golden Dawn was the more influential of the two, with several 20th century writers, including Aleister Crowley, Arthur Machen, W.B. Yeats, Algernon Blackwood, involved with the Golden Dawn as members.
Page 55. Panels 2-4. For proper Hindu women, hair–especially in public–should always be bound up and pinned. Letting loose the hair is an erotic act. Doing so in public is an act of shamelessness and something a prostitute would do–or someone beyond caring about social norms. The symbolism of Janni’s act here is potent.
Page 56. Panels 5-6. “The last murder happened on Boxing Day.”
“M-MacHeath didn’t do the last one? So who...?
“The prostitute’s name was Grace. We believe she was disemboweled by the 14th Earl of Gurney.”
As mentioned above on Page 13, Panel 6, the 14th Earl of Gurney is a reference to the film The Ruling Class. In the film Jack Gurney believes himself to be Jack the Ripper. But there is no prostitute named Grace in the film, and I’ve been unable to discover what this is a reference to.
Page 57. Panel 3. “Madam, there are certain senile lunatics at the House of Lords who might do anything.”
A political reference on Moore’s part, but to what?
Pages 64-65. Compare the events and lyrics here to the lyrics of “Pirate Jenny,” given above on the notes to Page 26, Panels 4-7.
Page 68. Panels 3-4. Mina’s trip to Lincoln Island was described in Black Dossier.
Page 70. Panel 3. “Me? I’m no one.”
Which was the answer, in both Verne and League v1, of Captain Nemo to inquiries about his identity.
Pages 71-72. The parallelism between these pages, and the end of Black
Dossier, is not coincidental on
If you’ve got any suggestions, additions, or corrections, please send them along to me. However, please do phrase them politely.