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Abbé is one of the supporting characters in Grant Morrison’s Sebastian O miniseries which is set in an alternate steapunk-ish England. The character is introduced mid way through issue #2. Text states he had been defrocked and convicted on a number of charges, including pederasty, brought against him during the trial that followed the Club de Paradis Artificiel raid. Abbé earned an early parole by becoming a model prisoner and leading hardened convicts to Christ’s teaching through his daily sermons.

After his release, Abbé retired to his home in the country where he tends his creation, the Mechanical Garden, comprised entirely of elaborate mechanical flowers and trees. Abbé dresses in an embellished toga, and gestures a bit theatrically. The painting above his fireplace is of Saint Sebastian’s torso pierced with arrows. Of course, he also “cares for” a number of underprivileged and pre-pubescent boys on his grand estate.

While on the run, Sebastian O turns to Abbé for information about Lord Lavender’s plans and how it relates to the Club de Paradis Artificiel. The club’s purpose was to create an artificial environment of “cosmetics, luxuries, apollonian artworks.” Abbé replies that Lavender has taken the club’s creed to its extreme. What he doesn’t tell Sebastian is his role in this
business. Lavender had threatened both Abbé and George Harkness into helping him. Abbé’s expertise in creating the Mechanical Garden was crucial to Lavender’s attempts to utilize magic lantern technology for his self-serving purposes.

Their meeting is cut short when the remaining two Roaring Boys dispatched by Lavender to capture O arrive at Abbé’s estate. Off panel, one of the villains cuts out Abbé’s gums and as he lies dying in his world of artifice he asks O to hear his confession. O politely declines, and Abbé utters the words “magic lantern” as a final clue to Lavender’s schemes.

Morrison’s “Abbé” may be a reference to late 19th century artist and writer Aubrey Beardsley, whose initials are A B (pronounced like Abbé in French). Or the reference may be to the hero alternately named Abbé Aubrey, Chevalier Tannhäuser to Abbé Fanfreluche in Beardsley’s unfinished erotic book also alternately titled “Venus and Tannhäuser” and “Under the Hill.”

Abbé’s appears first on issue #1’s cover and is confirmed gay in the second issue.

Read the related bios for Sebastian O and George Harkness.

Out of print copies of the first trade are inexpensive on Amazon. A new Vertigo trade that also collects Morrison’s The Mystery Play is available too.

All rights reserved Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell.

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