Below are annotations for “The Fatal Officers in ‘Hushed Up!’ ” 8 pages in Cinema Purgatorio #1.
Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Kevin O’Neill
Note: Some of this is obvious, but you never know who’s reading and what their exposure is. If there is anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.
General: An unnamed narrator enters a decrepit movie theater. The narrative film-comic within a comic depicts the movie “Hushed Up” wherein the Fatal Officers foil a bank robbery, then kill and loot before departing. In an unpublished interview, Moore has described what he and O’Neill did in this issue as “transpose the gleeful anarchy of the Keystone Kops onto something with the amoral values of Bad Lieutenant or The Shield.”
- The Fatal Officers are un-cinematically breaking out of the film frame, similar to the way that comics break out of panels. As portrayed, the lower three characters seem to have diegetic awareness; they can see the officers in the frame above them.
- Panelwise, the curvy uneven comics gutters suggest a dream state. The introductory sequence is in gray tones, contrasting with the movie beginning on P2, which utilizes a more rigid 4 by 2 panel structure, with only black and white.
- “BE? HI?” might be BEN HIM – a take on the 1959 film Ben Hur.
- “Fiona Kew,” “Barry Lea,” and “Judy Dors” do not seem to be real-world actors names.
- “Saw Parts” is a bawdy pun expressing that the viewer will see sexualized body parts.
- “The Fatal Officers” are reminiscent of early cinema’s Keystone Kops.
- “Jack Sunday Studios” could perhaps refer to the 1950s TV police detective Joe Friday. It is also reminiscent of real-world Keystone Kops producer Mack Sennett.
- Early silent animation work was among Moore’s inspirations for Tomorrow Stories Splash Brannigan stories, especially evident in “Specters from Projecters!?!!” in America’s Best Comics 64 Page Giant, No. 1.
To some extent, silent film has similarities with comics as both involve images paired with words.
- This resembles the above 1914 still from ‘In the Clutches of the Gang.”
- The office eating appears to be Fatty Arbuckle.
- It may be obvious, but this is a silent movie “dialog intertitle.” With no sound, this is how silent movies characters spoke.
- The “F” presumably stands for Fatal Officers.
- The police car hits a pregnant woman who gives birth, somewhat reminiscent of Terry Jones’ character in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, who has kids standing up at the sink.
- These panels form a comics polyptych.
- Especially in 1963, Moore has been critical of the wordiness of unnecessary comics transition captions like “meanwhile” – used in 1960s Marvel comics.
- These panels form a fixed-camera sequence. Note the silhouette of the police car approaching in the window.
- The fat policeman is again Arbuckle, who continues to appear throughout pages 5-7.
- The captions are the voice of the unnamed viewer who narrates Pages 1 and 8.
Pages 5-6 – no specific annotations
- Again, the captions are the voice of the unnamed viewer who narrates Pages 1 and 8.
- These panels form a fixed-camera sequence.
- The shrinking circle (called an “iris slow wipe“) was a common way for early movies and cartoons to end.
- The face is again Arbuckle.
- “Fatty Arbuckle” was a popular silent film comedian.
- “That story… the girl and the coke bottle. Lies apparently covering up an abortion gone wrong.” refers to Arbuckle’s alleged rape of actress Virginia Rappe.