Decoding Alan Moore’s Crossed Plus One Hundred 2108-Speak

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Alan Moore portrait in Promethea No. 30 - art by J.H. Williams III

Alan Moore portrait in Promethea No. 30 – art by J.H. Williams III

I am a huge Alan Moore fan. In case readers are unfamiliar with him, Moore is a comic book author who has been basically re-inventing what comics can be.

I wrote about my Moore fandom here in 2011. Basically I think he has one foot in the superhero comics I grew up reading and one foot in a much more sophisticated comic book literature that interests me today. Moore more-or-less got fed up with the comic book industry and pretty much retired from comics around 2006. This left hardcore fans like me to re-read his old stuff… which is rewarding, because, like a lot of great artwork, it holds up well to repeated readings. I often notice subtler details and references that I missed in earlier readings.

This month, Alan Moore’s work returned to the new comic book shelves with the first issue of Crossed Plus One Hundred. Judging just the first of six planned issues, I will say that it looks like CPOH is not Moore’s greatest work. It’s basically a zombie story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max future.

So far, what’s most fun about CPOH is Alan Moore’s playful take on what language will sound like in 2108. Moore has played with future speak before. Here’s some dialogue from Moore’s sci-fi The Ballad of Halo Jones which began publication in 1984:

You’ll both wind up crumped in a side-artery! (Page 3, panel 3 from the first Halo Jones episode)

And, from a Spawn/WildC.A.T.S. team-up published in 1996, here’s dialogue from a future version of a character named Zealot who has traveled back to the present day:

Wow! I can’t boot this. We’re really in the Halo Building and it’s all in one piece. It’s wholly ineffable! (Page 21 panel 1 from the collection Wild Worlds)

Back to Crossed Plus One Hundred, Moore posits that human language in 2108 will be about as different from contemporary English as contemporary English is from Shakespeare’s English. Yes, you can still make out what people are saying, but it’s sometimes confusing and disorienting. Some reviewers, including my wife Carrie, found some of the future-speak difficult to understand. Some reviewers praised it. Some of it is kind of impenetrable on first read. Here’s one opaque example:  (Sorry even more confusing out of context)

And you’re rashed at me, so I don’t opsy Jackson. Crunk caspers you, maybe.

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.1 Page x panel x. Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gabriel Andrade.

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.1 Page 14 panel 4. Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gabriel Andrade.

I am just going to leave that one for a bit (maybe use my glossary if you want to decipher.)

Here’s another CPOH example — an exchange between two characters named Cautious and Future: (Yes – the younger characters have non-traditional names, reminiscent of the way early American protestants would name their kids Silence and Prudence.)

Cautious: No. The logic’s oh-eight. We lossed all our information. What kind of mother does that?

Future: Cautious, you’re petrol.

What does it all mean? Translation after the jump.

Here’s my de-coding of that exchange between Cautious and Fewch:

  • The Crossed world was devastated by a zombie outbreak that started in 2008. That’s the year Garth Ennis’ first Crossed comic book came out. So anything that’s ’08 (“oh-eight“) is really bad, basically “screwed up” or “wrong.”
  • In CPOH’s post industrial world, petroleum is pretty hard to come by (coal locomotion makes a comeback), so finding “petrol” would be pretty awesome.
  • On top of that Moore has a lot of conflation of similar sounding words – “lost” becomes “lossed.”

I started to make some notes about 2108-speak words, and this grew into a full-on blog page featuring my glossary of Alan Moore’s Crossed Plus One Hundred language.

Alan Moore’s works are very referential to other comics, stories, books, art, etc. There are entire websites dedicated to annotating Alan Moore comics. Being the Alan Moore fan that I am, I already posted my annotations for Moore’s Splash Brannigan stories. So, I jumped in and started annotations for Crossed Plus One Hundred. The issue-by-issue annotations will be available from this index page. I’ve completed annotations for Crossed Plus One Hundred No.1, the glossary page, and I’ve started a background page that explains themes, influences and characters.

These won’t be all that exciting unless you have the comic to read alongside the annotations (and unless you’re into this comics stuff like I am.)

At the time of this writing only one issue of six has come out, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep up, adding to all these pages as the series develops. These CPOH pages are works in progress right now. There are lots of things I couldn’t figure out that I’d love for readers to comment on.

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