The Hundred Headless Woman – Max Ernst

458142How do you read a book without words?

With your imagination, of course.

Smug jokes aside, Max Ernst’s The Hundred Headless Woman  does have words, in the form of French and translated captions. They don’t help much. This really is a funny old graphic novel, with one picture per page, and none of them ever make any sense. Here’s an example:

immaculate conception

The might-have-been Immaculate Conception.

I think Max Ernst made this image with collage techniques. I don’t think he used scissors and glue, I think he had some kind of lightbox. That little cherub is pulling the same face Australia does whenever Tony Abbott says something. And take a squiz at the bottle, talk about your wonky perspective.

There’s some kind of demented story here, and although I cannot understand it I can detect it through the presence of recurring characters.

headless women

Germinal, my sister, the hundred headless woman. (in the background, in the cage, the Eternal Father.

So it looks as though Morticia Addams had a wardrobe malfunction while playing with her giant doll’s head. Which is actually creepy, for once. I don’t know who this Eternal Father character is, but he shows up a few times.

eternal father

The Eternal Father, his beard laced with continuous lightning, in a subway accident.

So overall the Eternal Father isn’t someone you envy. I’m guessing he’s God, or maybe Zeus. Possibly an aged Thor.

Lop Lop

Loplop, dumb with fear and fury, finds his bird head and remains motionless for 12 days on both sides of the door.

This Loplop bloke seriously freaks me out. Someone is going to die after twelve days. Ernst refers to Loplop as the Bird Superior, but I seriously considered him to be an avatar of Nyarlthotep before the door motif made me decide that he works for Yog-Sothoth.

At the mountains of madness


Cthuloids? I know that it’s trite to make Lovecraft references when confronted with bizarre imagery, but that octopus makes it inevitable. This picture is probably set in Antarctica.

So yeah, if you’re over eighteen and Terry Gilliam’s animations from Monty Python’s Flying Circus don’t scare you, I think you’d enjoy Max Ernst’s The Hundred Headless Woman.


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