Leviathan
 

notes by Eamonn Clarke

Leviathan is a graphic novel by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli. It does not take place in the Scarlet Traces 'universe' but does feature some shared references and nods to other parts of British and American pop-culture. Links to other Edginton/D'Israeli books can be found on the home page.

These annotations are based on the Hardback collection published in 2006. It doesn't have numbers on the pages so I'll call the first page of story page 1.

As always please email me with correction and additions. All gratefully acknowledged.

Title. The Leviathan itself recalls other super cruise liners of the early 20th century including the infamous RMS Titanic which sank on its maiden voyage in 1912.

The name Leviathan recalls the biblical monster, but also the book by Thomas Hobbes about the structure of society.

The cover. Mikal Dyas points out that the front cover image recalls the poster for Jaws. Also that there is another image in the notes at the back of the hardcover which was used as the cover to 2000AD issue 1360. This recalls the publicity poster for the 1980s horror film Death Ship. Leigh Penman notes that both images are inspired by the artist A.M. Cassandre and his art-deco artwork for the transatlantic liner the Normandie.

 

 

Page 1, panel 1. Pathé is a film company formed by the Pathé brothers in 1896. It famously ran weekly film gazette newsreels which featured the crowing Rooster logo shown here. The Lion and Unicorn are symbols of the United Kingdom. Interestingly here they are shown with their usual positions reversed in the Scottish configuration.

Page 1, panel 3. This is King George V and his wife Queen Mary.
Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister of Great Britain three times including during the years 1924-9.

Sir William Ashbless shares his name with a fictional poet who was a character in a book called The Digging Leviathan.

The Titanic was operated by the White Star Line. White Hart Line sounds like the White Hart Lane home of Tottenham Hotspurs football club.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a collection of amusing SF stories called Tales from the White Hart.

Page 1, panel 4. Clyde and Harland and Wolff are real shipyards. The Titanic was built at Harland and Wolff.

Page 1, panel 5. For comparison the Titanic could take 3500 passengers.

Page 2, panel 2. The first appearance of the eye logo used by the Leviathan shipping company.

Page 4, panel 1. Eirik Hunt notes that D'Israeli based Lament's appearance on the actor David Jason as Detective Jack Frost in the Touch of Frost TV series. 

Page 5, panel 3. These characters are based on Margo and Jerry Leadbetter from the long-running British TV sitcom The Good Life. In the show Margo Leadbetter was a snob with a heart of gold and was one of the most memorable comic characters in British TV history.

Page 6, panel 4. In The Good Life Jerry and Margo lived in the London borough of Surbiton.

Page 7, panel 4. Lord Copper is from Evelyn Waugh's Scoop. Anthony Blanche is a flamboyant character from Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. Dr Finlay is from A.J. Cronin's stories which were adapted by the BBC into Dr Finlay's Casebook, although that Dr Finlay was not the drunken incompetent portrayed here.

Page 8, panel 3. A Paper Tiger is something that is not as threatening as it appears. David Niven would have been good in the role of the ship's captain.

Page 9, panel 4. O.B.E. stands for Order of the British Empire, an award made by the Monarch for notable public service.

Page 9, panel 5. The steward sings "Keep young and beautiful" a song made famous by Eddie Cantor. It was also the title of an episode of Dad's Army.

Page 11, panel 3. The structure below Lament looks like the Crystal Palace which was also featured in Scarlet Traces and The Great Game.

Page 12, panel 2. The phrase "God is an Englishman" was also referenced in Scarlet Traces.

Page 13, panel 1. The sites of the murders recreate the Leviathan eye design.

Page 14, panel 6. The Lister knife is a slight misnomer. The Liston knife was a well known sharp blade used for amputations and named after the British surgeon who developed it during the Crimean war.
Joseph Lister was the father of aseptic surgical technique who developed several new techniques but probably did not invent new blades. However he was such a famous surgeon that over the years this surgical instrument has occasionally been attributed to him in error.
This type of surgical knife was thought to be the murder weapon used by Jack the Ripper and features in From Hell. The script for the film version of From Hell correctly calls it a Liston knife.

Page 16, panel 2. Captain McLean is another reference to D'Israeli's friend Mike McLean, the owner of Asylum Books and Games in Aberdeen.
Alco-pup's is an obvious play on the term alcopop. But also based on Mike McLean's dog 'The Captain' who is fond of a drop or two. See below in McLean's Last case.
The bottle bears the Star Brand which is another recurring feature in D'Israeli's books.

Page 18, panel 4. The chap demanding a job is Yosser Hughes from Alan Bleasdale's Boys from the Blackstuff.

Page 19, panel 4. The thug's accomplices have similar appearances and hats to Dravott and Coughly from Scarlet Traces.

Page 20, panel 5. Sky uses Judge Dredd's "I am the Law" phrase, infamously mangled by Sylvester Stallone in the movie. 

Page 21, panel 4. Eirik Hunt points out a possible reference to the Ripping Yarns TV series by Michael Palin and Terry Jones. Ripping Yarns was a parody of the sort of "Boys Own" adventure stories that Captain McLean has later on in Leviathan. In the episode Roger of the Raj a British Officer passes the Port the wrong way and has to step outside and shoot himself.

Page 23, panel 1. Below the Zone V sign it says f1.4 @ 1/30 sec which appears to be a photography exposure instruction?

Page 26, panel 2. The giant mushrooms resemble a scene from the 1959 Journey to the Centre of the Earth film. And also a possible nod to Alice in Wonderland.

Page 27. On his blog D'Israeli posted a guide to how he created this page.

Page 31. Hastur is a demon from the Cthulhu stories. Although not created by Lovecraft himself he did mention him in one of his stories.

Page 32, panel 2. Morningstar is another name for Lucifer or the Devil.
The Goat of Mendes refers to another depiction of the devil or a demon.

Page 33, panel 1. I think this is the first time we learn our hero's full name. Marcus Aurelius was Roman emperor and a notable philosopher. His Meditations contain several references to Laments. There was also his lament in the film Gladiator: "There was a dream that was Rome."

Page 35, panel 2. The Silver City is the name given to one aspect of heaven in the Sandman comics from DC. I suspect its use predates that but I can't find a reference.

Page 35, panel 3. The Ouroboros symbol of a snake consuming its own tail features in several mythologies.

Page 35, panel 4. Several demons are represented here. From left to right they may be Belphegor, Baphomet, Hastur, Amon, Beelzebub, unknown and maybe Mammon.

Page 36, panel 2. The Third Crusade took place between 1189 and 1192.

Page 36, panel 3. This character looks similar to the shopkeeper from Mr Benn who appears in at least two other books by D'Israeli and Edginton.

Page 37, panel 5. Davy Moyes is a reference to another of D'Israeli and Edginton's friends, the writer David Moyes.

Page 42, panel 6. Ashbless refers to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray in which the title character does not age.

Page 46, panel 5. At bottom right is an image that reminds me of Goya's Saturn devouring his son. But Mikal Dyas quite rightly points out that this image is actually from the right hand panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymous Bosch.

Page 50, panel 2. Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street?!? And the Rubber Duckie.

Page 53, panel 3. Star Brand Fishpaste makes its Leviathan appearance. This seems to be a regular running gag in D'Israeli/Edginton books.

Tales of the Leviathan: Chosen Son.

Page 57, panel 1. Davy Moyes again. A Night to Remember is the title of a book and a film about the sinking of the Titanic.

Page 58, panel 1. Tom Mix was a star of silent Western films.

Page 60, panel 6. "In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king." is usually attributed to the Dutch philosopher Erasmus.

Tales of the Leviathan: McLean's Last Case

Page 62, panel 1. Aurelius Lament is in room 42, possibly the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.

Page 62, panel 3. More Star Brand fishpaste.

Page 62, panel 4. And Captain McLean's Rot Gut.

Page 62, panel 5. Luncheon Vouchers are tickets provided to employees to purchase meals.

Page 63, panel 2. Eirik Hunt points out that McLean's adventures resemble those from the Boy's Own Paper stories, which were memorably spoofed in Ripping Yarns.

Mike McLean notes that Ian Edginton and Matt Brooker created the Captain as a joke about himself. The dog is based on Mike's own dog called The Captain. And Edginton claims that he actually heard McLean say the line "That's not a drink. That's just a wet glass!" although Mike cannot recall this incident!

Page 65, panel 2. Harrods is a famous London shop. Glenmorangie is a brand of Whiskey and Courvoisier is a Cognac.

Tales of the Leviathan: Beyond the Blue Horizon.

Page 68. Petra Connaught is clearly based on famous aviatrixes such as Amelia Earhart and Pancho Barnes.

Page 69, panel 3. John Thomas is a British euphemism for male anatomy probably coined by D.H. Lawrence in Lady Chatterley's Lover.