Tuesday, July 26, 2011

'Snakes and Ladders'

     “We write fine words and think we play the Master Game. And all the time it's only Snakes and Ladders; one wrong throw and down we go …"
                                       – Alan Moore, "Snakes and Ladders - A Diversion for Wet Afternoons”

     Fans of the graphic novels and comics of Alan Moore – upon which the films “From Hell,” “Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta” and “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” were based – might also like some of his other, noncomic book art.
     Top Shelf, a comics publisher, has for years offered CDs of multimedia stage shows written by and  narrated by Alan Moore, with music by Tim Perkins. Eddie Campbell (who illustrated “From Hell”) has even turned a couple of them into comic books (handy if you find Moore’s accent a bit hard to understand at times).
     “Snakes and Ladders” is currently available as a CD and comic. What’s it about? Well, it’s about Oliver Cromwell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the dawn of time and the information explosion, magic , the DNA double helix, and author Arthur Machen’s breakdown after the death of his wife, all in or around the Red Lion Square area of London.
     Snakes and Ladders is a board game, here usually called Chutes and Ladders, where you can advance if you land on a ladder, or fall back if you land on a snake/chute. Moore uses the game as a metaphor for how life can be random. He also explores snakes in creation myths and as a metaphor for DNA.
     It’s not for everybody, and you may have to listen to it several times to follow and enjoy, but if you have  an appreciation of Alan Moore’s language and an interest in sometimes obscure English history, give it a try.



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