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"Southern Change"

(23 pages)
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist(s): Steve Bissette, Alfredo Alcala
Colorist: Tatjana Wood
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Karen Berger
Swamp Thing Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson

Cover: Steve Bissette, John Totleben


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The front inside cover of this issue announced results of a reader poll by the COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE. SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING won Favorite Story (ST #21), Favorite Book, Favorite Writer and Favorite Character.

Unused cover design by Bissette

1:5 Tombstones bear the names of ST artist Totleben and James Marshall Hendrix (better known as musician Jimi Hendrix) Hendrix's real first name Johnny, but his father changed it to "James". A self-taught rock music prodigy, Hendrix is considered to be the greatest electric guitarist of all time. (Hendrix will be mentioned again later).

4 Artist Steve Bisette based the face illustrations on images from Alexander King’s Magic Island (page 20 of the 1929 edition), reworking the portrait of “Dort Dessiles, who was a papaloi.” The decorative snake elements emulate those shown in the photographs Seabrook included in the back of the book.

The Feast of Papa Ogou: Ogou (also called Ogoun, Ogorin, or Ogu-badagri) is the traditional warrior/fire god in Vodoun (voodoo) mysticism. Ogou is credited with inspiring the Haitian slaves to a sucessful revolt in 1804. When African slaves were brought to Haiti, they brought with them the beliefs that became Vodoun, which is still prevalent in Haiti.

Vodoun parallels Catholicism in many ways, including a belief in personal "loas" or "lwas", much like catholics have patron saints. Haitian slaves "attached" their loas to Catholic saints to disguise their ceremonies. Ogou is celebrated together with St. James the Greater on his feast day of July 25th.

4:5 Dynasty was a very popular television series in the mid-1980's. Along with shows like Dallas which was set on a contemporary plantation estate, it was part of a genre involving back-stabbing rich families.
Rob Lowe was starring in
St.Elmo's Fire at the time.

5:1 Angela Lamb, Richard Deal and Billy Carlton are all new characters. Artist Steve Bissette based Deal's likeness on actor Rob Lowe.

6:4 The song is Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix. Listen. The son of a Ghanan voodoo priest once noted that the beats in Hendrix songs were very much like those used in voodoo ceremonies. (David Henderson, "'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky", pp. 250,251).

7:1 Nice cinematic transition from the previous scene: zooming out of the front door to a long shot of the house in 6:6, then zooming into the upper window here.

7:4 Billy's clothes have changed color and the room has suddenly been restored to it's original finery!

7:5 Presumably "Breaking Even" was a movie we've never heard of.

7:6 Link to 8:1 "another day"/"July 26th"
Art on pg. 8 inspired by King's
illustration in The Magic Island

8:1 On July 26th, practitioners of voodoo celebrate Gran'D�lai and Gran'Aloumandia, which is also the Feast of St.Anne.
Another look at Voodoo

Moore explored the mysticism of the Deep South again in the four-part VOODOO comic book miniseries published by Wildstorm in 1997. The cover of each issue featured an ornately rendered title taken from the name of a voodoo spirit, as was done with the chapters of this SWAMP THING story. Issue 2 also opens with a dream sequence of page-width horizontal panels, rendered in wavy line art reminiscent of the dream in SWAMP THING #22. The story, which Moore himself was unhappy with, was collected in the trade paperback Voodoo: Dancing in the Dark and again in Alan Moore's Wild Worlds. The story bears no real connection to the WILDCATS comic book series which the heroine originated from. Story synopsis.

8:6 Abby says "A lot of TENSION...", and in this panel we see an insect called the Water Strider. The insect can walk on water, utilizing surface TENSION. (Thanks to Daniel Gon�alves for spotting this!)

10:1 Once again, the house and surroundings have changed.

10:6 Okay, you can't tell the players without a program.
Here's who's who:

Angela Lamb playing Rebecca Davenport acts like Charlotte Jackson
Billy Carlton acts like William
Richard Deal playing Mr. Davenport acts like Wesley Jackson
The TV show Providence is being shot at "Robertaland".

13:1 On July 29th, practitioners of voodoo celebrate "Ma�tresse Silv�rine, who only very slightly tastes of the food offered to her" and "Ma�tresse Lorvana, who smells flowers for her nourishment". ("Secrets of Voodoo" by Milo Rigaud, 1985.) There is a garden plant named Silverine, commonly known as "hens-and-chicks".

14:8 Link to 15:1 "cut to evening"

16:1 "Dan W�do": Danbala W�do and his wife Ayida, are serpent water spirits celebrated on April 27, although his communion ceremony is on August 25. That is the feast day of St. Louis, King of France, but Dan W�do is often associated with Saint Patrick of Ireland.
Art on pg. 16 (left) inspired by
photo from The Magic Island

16:6 Link to 17:1 "lines"/"lines of cocaine

17:6 The "white lines" are (a) cocaine and (b) the scripts of the white people

18:top The goat-riding Death figure and procession of zombies at the top of the page were based on Alexander King’s illustration facing page 98 in his book The Magic Island (captioned, “No one dared to stop them, for they were corpses walking in the sunlight.”)

18:1 August 29 is the Mystere L'orient, one of the most important voodoo holidays. Next issue 13:2 says it's when the zombies walk. It would also be the day in 2005 that New Orleans was devastated by flooding during Hurricane Katrina (after years of the federal government cutting funding for protection.)

Link from 17:6 "keep away from the white lines"/white lines of salt
(We'll see who it keeps away!)

18:3 "Tim Caldwell" assisted Steve Bissette in the late 1980's with research for his book on cannibal films, "We Are Going to Eat You!"

18:6 link to 19:1 "real dark"/night time

19:6 link to 20:1 "ridiculous"/"This is ridiculous"

20:6 Link to 21:1 "black and white"/black man with white woman

22:1 Link to 22:2 "what's going on?"

22:2 Link to 22:3 "rotten"/"tainted"

22:3 Link to 22:4 "repulsive"/"sick"

22:4 Link to 22:5 "inhuman"/"lower than an animal" Animal sacrifice is a standard part of voodoo rituals. Possible comparison to ST absorbing the bird on page 12?

22:5 Link to 22:6 "please!"

23:3 Link to 23:4 "Oh, God!"

COMMENT: In the letter column of issue #47, artist Steve Bissette acknowledges the work of Alexander King "whose eerie and evocative drawings from the 1929 edition of W.B.Seabrook's The Magic Island provided much of the inspiration for the Voodoo border designs." The Magic Island popularized the term "zombie".

COMMENT: This issue's title is found in the lyrics to SOUTHERN MAN by Neil Young, from the 1970 album After The Goldrush. Listen.

Southern man better keep your head.
Don't forget what your Good Book said.
Southern change gonna come at last.
Now your crosses are burning fast. Southern Man.

I saw cotton and I saw black,
Tall white mansions And little shacks.
Southern man when will you pay them back.
I heard screaming and bullwhips cracking.
How long, how long?

Southern man better keep your head.
Don't forget what your Good Book said.
Southern change gonna come at last.
Now your crosses are burning fast. Southern Man.

Lilly Belle your hair is golden brown.
I've seen your black man coming round.
Swear by God I'm gonna cut him down.
I've heard screaming and bullwhips cracking.
How long, how long?

COMMENT: This issue is reprinted in black and white as ESSENTIAL VERTIGO: SWAMP THING #22, August 1998. In 2001, DC Comics collected/reprinted ST #35-42 in a book titled "Swamp Thing: The Curse".

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