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Young Girls

in Horror

by David Carroll

First Appeared in Burnt Toast#7, 1991

Many people to this day have never seen the original and won't go to see it. I don't know why. Maybe because it dealt with a child.
William Peter Blatty
on The Exorcist

It is tempting to say that without Lewis Carroll's Alice books a whole genre of modern literature would not exist, and there is no doubt that his influence has been huge, as can be seen elsewhere in this issue, and later on in this column. However, that argument doesn't hold water, because what Carroll was writing about has such a fundamental strength that it all would have happened anyway. He was simply the first, or at least the first popular one, and it is he that provides all the metaphors for later writers.

One of the eternal themes of fiction is the maturing of character, the loss of innocence, the coming to terms with the vicious, contradictory and often meaningless nature of real life after simple fictions of Good and Evil. One of the more familiar uses of this theme is in war stories, the stories of men who are sent out to learn how to kill. In Good Morning Vietnam Robin William's character goes through such a transformation as he slowly realises that his good friend is a terrorist, responsible for killing Americans not in the jungle, but in civilian pubs. The thing I didn't particularly like about this movie was that I couldn't see why the character was innocent in the first place, why he was so shocked that war could come out of the wilderness and onto the streets.

What then if the protagonist is not a mature man, one who should already be aware of the highs and lows of reality, but a true innocent; and what better symbol of innocence has our culture provided then that of the young girl.

Lewis Carroll wrote it first. The story of a young girl in a strange place, surrounded by unfamiliar beings, distortions of reality. And while the character of Alice did not obviously mature during the books, the symbolism of her slow progression from a pawn into Queen Alice is plain. In the first book, Alice in Wonderland, where there is no such symbolism (all chess references take place in Through the Looking Glass) the theme is still touched upon in the conclusion. Alice's older sister, who reads books without pictures or conversations, is told of Alice's dream after awakening her. And after Alice runs off she too began dreaming, after a fashion. Firstly of 'little Alice', with tiny hands, bright, eager eyes and wandering hair, she moves onto a series of impressions, only sounds really, of Wonderland. And though half-believing herself in that magical place she knew she had but to open her eyes, and all would change to dull reality. And lastly, she pictured to herself Alice as a grown woman, keeping the simple and loving heart of her childhood; gathering around her other little children and telling them tales, perhaps even of Wonderland.

So how did this tale of childhood pleasures become the basis for the infinitely more disturbing genre that came later? Before we answer this, and before your start wondering what genre I'm talking about, lets have a look at some tales of modern fantasy and horror.

First off the rank there is that wonderful movie Aliens (I'm not really a movie orientated person, preferring novels any day, but Aliens is one of my equal-first favourites, the other being Temple of Doom, both for sheer enjoyment. Unfortunately I haven't seen the original Alien under good enough conditions to appreciate). Newt is the young girl in question, the only survivor of an Alien attack on her colony. She has learned to survive on her own, coming to grips with the death of her parents and her world. But Newt is not the star of the movie, and she really exists to bring out the protective, even 'motherly', qualities of Ripley, revealing a different side of her personality above what we saw in the original. This is a Young Girl to be protected. Another example, this time male, is Laddie from Lost Boys, the young boy without whom Star would have long ago succumbed to vampirism (many of the points in this article have been applied to males, and I'll give relevant examples at the time. However it is the females that predominate, for literary reasons and simply because they are more effective, sexist as that undoubtedly is). One last example of this 'indirect' use is from Andrew Cartmel's hugely strange comic Fellow Travellers in DWM#164-166:

Here the girl becomes the crux of the conflict, the lever which turns her mother's defence into attack, and shows Andy's interest in such matter's, an interest we'll later see clearly in both him and the other DW writers of late. There's even an explicit Through the Looking Glass reference with a rather prominent painting of Humpty Dumpty in the background of one frame. However before we look at the implications of such, let's find some better examples.

Labyrinth is a good start. In it a teenage girl wishes for her baby brother to be taken away by goblins, an event that actually happens. She chases after him, only to enter the Labyrinth, a world with apparently no identifiable logic, containing only its own warped consistency. Racing against time she meets many friends, and faces many horrors, at one point by the complete loss of identity, a fairy-tale princess caught dancing in a bubble. Later she finds her back to her own room, only to discover it is a façade against a ne'er-ending rubbish dump, another personally directed attack. Yet later on the Goblin King reveals the whole thing was for her benefit, at her request. He was scary because she demanded it. She doesn't listen to him, doesn't see the validity of his argument, but banishes him, saves the baby and returns to reality. She's missed the point, because the Labyrinth was her own fantasy made real. The dance in the bubble in particular was her own desire to be a 'fairy princess' away from the cares of reality and baby brothers made into a trap. Even the final encounter takes place in the Escher print on her bedroom wall. In many ways this movie is anti-fantasy at the same time as revelling in its own, very clever, concepts of a fantasy world.

Another movie with this theme is A Company of Wolves, less well known but a visual delight, if occasionally rather disjointed. Our heroine is once again at odds with her family, in particular her sister, with whom there seems no love lost. She soon enters a fantasy/dream world of dark fable, where almost immediately her sister is killed by one of the wolves that haunt the forest. Much of the rest of the movie examines her relationships with others, boys in particular, and the traps that await in the forest, finally culminating in a walk to her grand-mother's house, dressed in red. On the way she meets up with a handsome man with whom she starts falling in love, fully aware that he is probably one of the wolves.

The references to Little Red Riding Hood are, of course, deliberate and none-to-subtle, introducing over-tones of sex not in the children's tale [1] and entirely consistent with the movie as teenage girl's fantasy. It is the end sequence which really brings the message across, however: the wolves chase the girl through a forest that starts containing items of 1980s familiarity, giant toys among the trees, until they break through into reality, running rampage through the house. Once again fantasy has become a trap, wish-fulfilment has turned upon the dreamer, a variation of the old story about the three wishes that accomplished what you asked, but not what you wanted.

A lot of the time the message isn't so obvious. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller is one of the most popular comics around, chronicling the return of the Batman from retirement. Batman's partner also returns, but neither of the two previous male characters is used. A new Robin is introduced: Carrie Kelley, a thirteen year old girl. As usual Miller is well aware of his imagery, and deliberate, if seldom-noticed, Alice references are made, starting with Bruce Wayne as a six years old boy chasing a rabbit. The rabbit runs for its burrow and Bruce follows it, falling through, down, not into Wonderland but into a large cave filled with bats. And something that is more then a bat, and that claims him as its own. A fantasy that would only make sense years later, when his parents lay dying on the sidewalk.

The second reference occurs when we see Carrie in her costume for the first time, shown top left. Notice she is on the wrong side of the mirror. Not only that but the speech over the picture is the reverse of what actually occurred: back in reality the reporter corrects himself, saying that Gordon shot and killed... A Carrollian inversion. Far more important however is the message later on in the novel, as the two heroes track the Joker to a fair-ground. A fair-ground that has become a scene of carnage as the madman hands out poisonous Fairy Floss. Most of Carrie's friends are at this carnival, and suddenly being Robin isn't so fun any more.

This is the vital moment, the fantasy of fighting crime becomes real. She no longer is simply acting out heroics but must come to terms with the fact that this is the real world, not some magical place that caters to our every whim [2]. This is the point that is the genre's most important, and where the Lewis Carroll references achieve full strength. Basically Wonderland is not a nice place to be.

In the original books Alice is confronted with many strange creatures, all of which treat her with disdain, arguing, patronising, confusing or ignoring her. It is really only the White Knight, a fairly obvious representation of Carroll himself, who treats her kindly, showing genuine interest in what she has to say. And it is he, whom Alice met in the seventh rank of the giant chess game, who asks her to wave to him as he leaves in his unsteady fashion, letting her bound forward into the eighth, and final square.

It is this general unpleasantness of Alice's fantasy land that has been recognised by many and, shall we say, expanded upon. Frank Miller recognised it, as did the writers of Nightmare on Elm Street IV ('Welcome to Wonderland, Alice' says Freddy Krueger to the young heroine) and Poltergeist -- the third movie contains the most blatant symbolism with its use of mirrors as the gateway to the 'other-side' (and if it wasn't for the wimp-out ending it would have actually been a good movie). It's also something that the owners of Australia's Wonderland, Sydney's biggest fun-park, didn't recognise, which I've always found most amusing. No, it would not be wonderful if the world was Wonderland. Whether it is or not, is another matter.

Another example of fantasy turned sour: Tanith Lee's glorious short novel Sabella. Lee's manipulation of her symbolism herein approaches Orwell's in Nineteen Eighty-Four but it's a far more human tale of a young woman who must come to terms with the fact that she must drink blood to survive. Pursued by an avenging angel after the accidental death of one Sand Vincent she enters a nightmare world of sex and blood and self-abuse, waiting only for her angel to come and end it all. Perhaps the parallels aren't so pronounced here, though the quote at the beginning of this issue certainly shows Lee was aware of them.

But Sabella leads us, by concept, to a far more serious aspect then simple literary themes. Go Ask Alice is a book that uses the metaphor of Alice and her dream world in the same way as the others I have mentioned, but the difference is that it is all true, it being the actual diary of a girl named Alice. Judging from her writing the author is an intelligent, perceptive and likable fifteen year old, who discovers drugs and is drawn into her own nightmare world. The most frightening thing about the book is the abrupt highs and lows she goes through, she's often exuberant about her latest hit, but when she hits bottom her depression and guilt and despair is harrowing. Running away from home twice she is raped and abused, whilst the saddest quote is probably 'Another day, another blow job', as she exchanges her only remaining asset for the drugs she so desperately needs. A very disturbing book, but one I recommend heartily [3].

However, tempting as it might be, a literary essay isn't the place to preach the evils of drug abuse, so lets get back to the literature.

We've seen one of the themes of horror being the journey of a young girl through some strange realm, usually with allusions to maturing. Horror because the nature of the realm travelled through is usually horrific, and young girls because of their representation of innocence. And yes, this is where Doctor Who, Season 25-26, fits in. But first, lets take a quick look at the other, related, use horror makes of immature females.

Horror is about contradiction, and what could be more disconcerting then if our representations of innocence didn't have to travel to find the horror, but had it contained within them. The motif of Young Girl With Power.

The most famous example is probably Stephen King's first published novel, Carrie [4]. In it Carrie White, long picked on at school, goes on a rampage of telekinetic destruction as her latent powers become apparent on the on-set of puberty. It's King's usual theme of the underdog fighting back, and indeed another prime example is Charlie McGee, the little girl of Firestarter whose talents tend not towards tele- but pyrokinesis [5]. Yet again King returns to this specific motif in The Langoliers, the first and perhaps best of the stories in Four Past Midnight. This time it's not a destructive power, but little blind Dinah provides the inspiration and guidance for the other members of her group of stranded travellers (though if she uses any more explicit powers I'm going to let you discover them. It's far too recent a publication for me to reveal plot details). And, oh yes, Dinah is the name of Alice's cat, but this is of course a coincidence, isn't it? In the same book King talks briefly of his use of children in fiction and 'the wide perceptions which light their interior lives', especially in It.

Other examples abound, my favourite being Claudia from Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire. Converted to vampirism at the tender age of eight or so, she matures in mind if not in body, becoming something truly frightening, the descriptions of her hunting particularly so. A similar, if far less threatening (she hates the word 'cute') character is Anna from that great little TV show The Little Vampire. She was always ready to induct our lonely mortal hero into the world of vampirism with 'only a little bite', but only when he was willing. My two favourite vampire short stories, Dress of White Silk by Richard Matheson and Red as Blood by Tanith Lee both contain this theme as their central idea whereas, on a less bloodsucking bent, both Halloween IV and Robert McCammon's novel Stinger are good examples. In more familiar territory there is the young girl from Remembrance of the Daleks [6] and the smallest of the Gods of Ragnarok from Greatest Show. Males are also used in this way, the contradiction of apparent innocence and power working almost as well. Examples include Will Stanton, the Youngest of the Old Ones, from Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series, both Damien from The Omen and Adam from Good Omens (funny, that) and the young gangster from RoboCop II, one of the bits of the movie I actually liked.

But back to the fairer sex, the most important, or at least most powerful, example of the genre is surely The Exorcist. The story, both novel and screenplay, by William Peter Blatty is his study of faith and evil. Blatty, a devout Jesuit and, up to that point, a writer of comedy screen-plays (including a Pink Panther film) has created an intelligent look at a young girl possessed by a demon. The movie (inferior to the book, but remaining fairly true to its source, basically a greatly watered down version and, typically, far more popular) pulled in both the audiences and the awards (six nominations plus two actual Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay, in 1973) but shocked the world. And it is shocking. I'm not sure how old Linda Blair was whilst they were making it but her character, Regan MacNeil, is twelve and looks it. It is the demon who screams the blasphemies and the filth, writhing on, and above, the bed, but we only see the girl. It's a direct attack against our sensibilities, religious and otherwise, and it doesn't hold back. A friend of mine, after mentioning that scene, the one with the crucifix (most people seem to be under the impression that The Exorcist is a one scene movie, a tendency I dislike intensely, but can understand), said that it just goes too far and shouldn't be allowed. I disagree, but sympathise with those who have no desire to see it. I do recommend the movie, it's both well made and worth watching, praise even more applicable to the book; even Blatty sees his movie as 'a pure entertainment' [7] as opposed to the novel, which is somewhat more.

But perhaps there is another factor in play here then the simple contradiction of an evil child. In Danse Macabre Stephen King theorises that the success of the movie was based on an adult revolt against Woodstock and the whole prevalent youth culture, while Saul Laski, the psychologist from Carrion Comfort, has similar ideas:

Saul had seen the rash of demonic-children entertainments as a symptom of deeper underlying fears and hatreds; the 'me-generation's' inability to shift into the role of responsible parenthood at the cost of losing their own interminable childhood, the transference of guilt from divorce -- the child is not really a child, but an older, evil thing, capable of deserving any abuse resulting from the adult's selfish actions -- and the anger of an entire society revolting after two decades of a culture dominated by and devoted to youthful looks, youth-orientated music, juvenile movies, and the television and movie myth of the adult-child inevitably wiser, calmer, and more 'with-it' than the childish adults in the household [8].
Uh, yeah. My point exactly.

OK, so where does Doctor Who fit into all this? I'm glad you asked.

As I said last issue the parallels between Ace and Dorothy are obvious, though perhaps obvious when pointed out is a better way of putting it. The Wizard of Oz is in much the same situation as Alice, a famous Children's novel of a young girl's journey, and it's quote 'I don't think we're in Kansas any more, Toto' has become a catch-phrase of the genre. Dragonfire used elements of L. Frank Baum's book (just how many elements is debatable, maybe Mel, Glitz, the Doctor and Kane are the Scarecrow, the Lion, an inverted Wizard of Oz and the Wicked Witch (he even melts) respectively, but don't quote me) as metaphor for, yet again, a story of maturing youth. However to see this properly we're going to have to cheat and look at the novelisation. On screen the story lost a lot of its reasons for being in the editing stage, leaving it a rather bad Aliens rip-off [9]. In the novel we see Ian Brigg's original intentions, and it becomes far less a credibility jump to realise this is the guy who wrote Curse of Fenric.

The first thing to remember is that Ace was a character written only for Dragonfire. It was later, in the famous scene-written-on-a-napkin, that she was introduced into the TARDIS crew, once Bonnie Langford announced she was leaving. This fact leads us to some interesting insights into the story, especially Ace's relationship with Glitz.

Ace was a girl who wanted to see the world, or rather, the twelve galaxies, and Glitz would be her ticket. This despite the initial 'unfriendliness' between the two, an animosity which faded, especially in the last third of the story (or at least their bickering got friendlier). But first their was a little matter of Kane to contend with:

'Come with me. Let me show you things you have only seen in the shadow of your dreams. Let me open you to experiences so beautiful that your tears will flow like liquid crystals. Let me take you home...' Slowly, Kane removed a glove. Inside, he was holding a golden sovereign. 'Join me. Take my golden sovereign...'
Kane is the quick and easy way to destruction, someone who offers much but takes everything. But he's more then that, and once again lets look at an expanded view.

Dragonfire is not the adventure of one girl, but three, in many ways the same character at three different stages of life. Stellar, Ace and Belázs. Stellar, the Starchild, has it all in front of her, but even now we can see the seeds of discontent, a mother that practically ignores her:

Stellar's mother had decided to treat Stellar to a meal in the restaurant. Well, actually, it wasn't that she wanted to treat the little girl -- more, she wanted to treat herself, after her traumatic experience with the hooligan waitress and a milkshake -- and there wasn't much she could do with Stellar apart from take her along. and a father now living with another woman. Stellar's mother does love her daughter, as shown by her braving the mercenaries to find the missing child, but the relationship is hardly ideal, and it is easy to see how it may deteriorate rapidly in a couple of years.

Belázs, on the other hand, has seen it all before, once a 'fresh, young teenager', running away from home to seek her fortune in the big bad world. She did fall into Kane's trap, took his golden sovereign, and it destroyed her. Finally realising the extent of her trap she rebels, firstly trying to steal Glitz's ship, the Nosferatu [10], only to have a sympathetic but harsh Doctor say that if she runs away she will belong to Kane forever. Then, plotting against her employer/owner's life, she is discarded, the trap closes all the way, and she is left dead, a tired old woman who's life has amounted to exactly nothing [11].

And finally Ace, the one who can choose, not still under the thrall of her mother or past the point of no return. My guess is that in the original she was to have joined Glitz and seen the galaxies together, on equal footing. Kane is the beautiful fantasy that deceives, Glitz the reality that doesn't promise anything, but is still able to provide a 'happy ending'.

For this to work, however, Glitz himself would have to change, and change he does. In a story about power plays where Mother/Daughter and Kane/Belázs are the two most obvious, Glitz with his crew make an interesting comparison. Certainly his selling of them is heartless, but the difference between him and Kane is that he simply did not realise the consequences of his actions. A situation that changes through-out the story as he is brought face to face with his crew's hatred of him and the other destructive relationships in the story. It's hardly a transformation to sainthood, but it gives him something to think about.

Of course, things didn't happen this way, Ace goes with the Doctor, poor Glitz ended up with Mel, and while this is theoretically a structural weakness in the story, I don't mind in the least.

What does happen is that Ace's 'decision' to travel with the Doctor, even here something that is out of her hands despite her natural willingness to come along, lets us take a far more intimate look at her life then originally planned. Incorporating Alice and related imagery all the way.

But a final note about Dragonfire. Yes, what much of what I've mentioned here does occur in the televised version, and indeed provide the only really effective scenes, but the whole emphasis is wrong. Ian Brigg's described the story as a comedy, surely part of, but by no means the whole of, its original conception. And finally, what about Stellar? Has her adventures underground and her temporary separation from her mother changed anything enough to stop her falling into the traps Ace and Belázs have already encountered. It's impossible to say, and hers is a different, and perhaps happier, story.

Season 26 is not what you would call a happy story. It's a journey of self-discovery of unpleasant truths and is quite, quite scary. But you know all this, or don't (after all, if you don't find it scary I'm hardly going to convince you), so let's have a look at the literary references and see if we can't find something you don't know about.

In Ghostlight Ace is called Alice by Gwendoline, and indeed the two names are remarkably similar. In the same story the Doctor refers to the lift shaft to the cellar as 'down the rabbit hole' while the appropriate chapter in the (rather disappointing) novel is called 'Ace's Adventures Underground', a reference to the original name of Carroll's work. Ace is also called Eliza in the story, a reference to Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion, another tale of a girl maturing, this time into society, and recently remade as Pretty Woman. (Since I was asked, I consider this movie ideologically unsound in its trivialisation of the prostitution trade.) And since we have mentioned names, what about Ace's own name for the Doctor? If it is a reference to anything (and knowing Ian Briggs it's a fair bet) the most likely candidate is a character from Lewis Carroll's other set of novels, Sylvie and Bruno. This elderly scientist befriends our two young heros and shows them many strange inventions, surely the strangest of which is a pocket-watch that can control time itself. He is known only as the Professor. But these, with the exception of the last point, are all fairly well known, so lets go a little deeper.

The two Alice books are both about games, the pieces of each personified. The first concerns itself with the random chaos of cards (among other things), with a court made up of the court cards, and their underlings being the 'spot' cards with their job based on their suit (spades are gardeners, clubs are soldiers, etc). There is no direct representation of an Ace in the story (though, arguably, they are there by inference), and it would be interesting to see what Carroll would have made of them, it can be the highest, and the lowest, of cards. The second and, in many's opinion, superior book concerns itself with a chess match, and once again Alice is caught up in the game. Here she is a pawn, replacing the White Queen's Daughter, Lily, who's too young to play. She moves from square to square, meeting the residents of each and moving on till she reaches the last square, and is made a queen. In this game all the moves made are legal, but not necessarily sensible (several checks and possible check-mates are ignored), and not in any strict order of alternating black and white.

Now there have been, shall we say, several chess references in DW lately. Apart from Silver Nemesis/Curse of Fenric the two most interesting ones are Glitz in Dragonfire and Morgaine in Battlefield. Interesting because in both cases chess is not the actual subject under discussion, but cards.

Then, however, we come to Silver Nemesis/Curse of Fenric, and they are about chess. In Lady Peinforte's study the Doctor considers a chess board, and Ace asks how the game is going. He replies that black is losing, then makes a move. Looking surprised he says black wins. Later on, whilst completing the Nemesis Statue the Doctor and Ace go through a complicated set of manoeuvres round the Cybermen, the Doctor narrating with chess notation. He finishes by plunging the bow in the Statue: 'Illegal move, but check-mate'. Neither of these scenes are in the novel, and thus not part of Kevin Clarke's original concept. So why were they there? No-one knew till a year later.

A year later was, of course, Curse of Fenric, and guess what happens. A chess puzzle set by the Doctor sees Black losing, until -- in one move -- illegal move but check-mate. There are two things to note here, firstly the chess-boards in SN and CoF do not contain the same puzzle (SN has far more pieces on the board), and what's all this stuff about an illegal move anyway? It's not made explicit what the move is, but I believe what is meant is that, as we are told, the black and white pawns work together, perhaps one of them moving onto the other's square, to effect the mate.

This is made credible by the fact that it's talking not so much about a chess-match, but about reality, the conflict between the Doctor and Fenric and, shall we say, Fenric has stacked the deck (actually, lets not, the puns involved would be horrendous). For each pawn on the chess-board there is a remaining human in the base, the Doctor and Fenric as kings completing the analogy, the relationship of the character's as pieces being mentioned explicitly several times.

Yes, Ace is a white pawn, though in this case she is what is known as in chess terminology as a 'poison pawn', a piece used by the opposition to trap her own king.

The world as chessboard (or is that cheeseboard?) is another oft used device of fiction to represent free will and manipulation, concepts looked at closely in Fenric and Ghostlight. And while Ghostlight didn't mention the game explicitly, Ace says of the people in the house 'they're just Josiah's toys'. It's been pointed out to me that Ace wears white whilst Gwendoline wears black in their struggle. Pawn threatens Pawn? Just as Alice wonders if she is dreaming, or if she is simply part of the Red King's own dream, Ace must ask who is controlling who?

The difference between Ace in Dragonfire and Survival is profound. She is no longer the same headstrong but vulnerable girl, but a young woman, still street-smart, but far more sensible. She's been through her hell, and while the journey may not yet be over, she has found the strength to continue unafraid through the slings and arrows.

As the Doctor says in the Fenric novel, 'she'll be leaving me soon' and, perhaps reluctantly, I have to agree. He is the eternal traveller on a journey without end, she has come along for part of the ride, and the rapport between the two is strong. But his is a fantasy world, of excitement and danger and death and pain, and Ace will outgrow the fantasy, like Tegan before her, though the parting of ways will be, perhaps, less abrupt. She says in Fenric 'I used to think I'd never get married, but now I'm not so sure.' Perhaps this will be her fate, possibly even with one of Sorin's ancestors in France. Or she may reunite with her parents for a while, though Survival showed (through lack of mention) that the scar between mother and daughter is great, and even if she is at peace with her mother's memory, we cannot begrudge her this last hurdle, for she is human. Or perhaps she'll lose herself in the fantasy, die, as many fans (at times myself included) have though inevitable, heroically of course, for this is fiction.

We cannot tell, it may be something else entirely, and the story may already be over.

It may even be for the best. The Aliens series has already shown us the two sides of Ripley, both the tough survivor and the caring protector, and the need for character development means that the story will move on without her, a grown up Newt (and an alcoholic Hicks) being the stars of the third movie according to advance publicity. In the same way Doctor Who should move on, as it has done in the past with respect to the companions and the hero himself. Find other characters, play on their weaknesses and feelings. And as a friend said in a letter recently, the unprecedented continuity of characterisation makes Ace becoming a 'normal' companion logical, but a bit disappointing to us who preferred the looney [pre-Fenric] version.

Ace has come full circle, she has had her own little lady to love and protect, if only briefly: young Audrey; and perhaps it's simply time for her to have a happy ending.

And that's it really, my little summary of the uses of Young Girls in horror fiction, which grew in the telling. As I said in the beginning I believe all this would have happened without Lewis Carroll and his wonderful books, the idea is far too strong to revolve around one source, but it is he that defined the form.

I suppose I must ask, and answer, the question about how much sex has to do with all this, after all an obsession with young girls hardly seems healthy. Naturally, and inevitably given the nature of the topic, sex does play an important part in some of the examples, but in a great many of them, sex plays no part at all, and none of it is pornography.

What it is is a powerful literary motif, one that has been used much lately, and one that has given me some of my favourite characters in fiction, Ace being only one.


Illustrations and research for this issue have been taken from The Complete Illustrated Works of Lewis Carroll, Chancellor Press, London, 1982, The Annotated Alice, edited by Martin Gardner, Penguin, Middlesex, 1970, The Curious Case of Lewis Carroll, by Morton N. Cohen, The Australian, 9/1/1982 and the program guide for Boojum! by Peter and Martin Wesley-Smith, 1988.


[1] Well, sort of. The sort of things people are reading into children's tales, sex in particular, seem to have always been there, but taken out by the Brothers Grimm who gave them a far wider audience. It's been said that the colour of Little Red Riding Hood's cape is representative of menstrual blood, signifying the maturing into woman-hood, whilst Neil Gaiman's Doll's House (probably the single best comic I've ever read) has another telling of the 'old' story.

[2] Batman used the same theme of loss of innocence in their 'comic-in-a-comic' issues of Detective Comics (#622-624), but in a delightfully (and deliberately) unsubtle way. A young boy is pulled through a mirror to become Robin, but is captured by the Joker and has his innocence extracted with a machine. And on the subject of these issues, is the fictional comic's publisher, Tod Nathan Taylor, a DW reference or what? For completism I should probably mention that the recent Batman/Superman World's Finest graphic novel contained plenty of Alice references, but I'm afraid sheer boredom wins out in that case. (Some time later.) Five minutes ago I read the latest Batman and Demon comics, and they both have Alice references, one quite explicitly. This is getting ridiculous.

[3] And not the sort of thing to read on Christmas Day. Believe me, I know. For those interested in the sequencing of the sources quoted on page 2 of this issue, Go Ask Alice's name is a reference to White Rabbit, while I believe White Limbo was based on the book (and presumably it's name is a reference to the original song). Aussie Crawl have several other songs of similar theme, notably Runaway Girl.

[4] And one which, I must admit, I didn't find a particularly scintillating read. However it's far to popular, along with the movie, for me to exclude from this discussion.

[5] And while this isn't my favourite King, it's one I'm very fond of because it was the first I read, and boy, did it make an impression.

[6] Remember how I mentioned her in issue 1 and said more of this later. Well, here it is, just a little delayed.

[7] See his interview in FEAR#18.

[8] Don't let this put you off the novel by the way, it's not all like this.

[9] I suppose it is debatable what the difference is between a 'rip-off' and the literary referencing we've been talking about in this essay. The answer is, I belive, that one hopes the reader has read the original source whilst the other hopes he hasn't.

[10] A name that is another example of the continuing walking dead/vampire theme I forgot to mention last issue.

[11] This relationship between Kane and Belázs is not unique; Star Trek:The New Generation explores the same idea with great success in an episode called The Most Toys (3rd season, which is why it's not in the video-shops) as does, believe it or not, The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Frank's relationship with Columbia.


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