Halo Jones Book 1 Annotations

The Ballad of Halo Jones, Book One – 1987 Titan Books edition – art by Ian Gibson

Below are annotations for The Ballad of Halo Jones, Book 1 – 51 pages, originally published in 2000 AD Progs 376-385 (1984)

Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Ian Gibson, Letterer: Steve Potter (2018 coloring by Barbara Nosenzo)

Go to Annotations Index

Note: some of this stuff is obvious. If there’s stuff we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments, or email linton.joe [at] gmail.com

General summary: Book One introduces Halo Jones and her friends, who live in the setting of the Hoop, a floating public housing project off of New York City. Jones goes on a harrowing shopping trip, returning to a tragedy at home. Jones then leaves earth.

Prog 1 “The Ballad of Halo Jones”

Pages 1-2

panel 1

  • The story is set in the year 4949. Jones is 18 years old, living in ‘the Hoop,’ poverty reduction programme housing floating off the point of of Manhattan.
  • Panels 1-6 form a zoom sequence, used by Moore in various places, including the first page of Watchmen.
  • LRC (logo in panel 1 – and “L.R.C.” in panel 2) stands for Lux Roth Chop, a businessman/industrialist who seems to have his hand in all sorts of businesses – perhaps analogous to a Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk in 2022. (See first full appearance of Lux Roth Chop in Book 2, Prog 9)
  • Eroom Nala started a Halo Jones annotations page (which unfortunately did not get past the initial Prog) as part of their HJ webpage. These annotations note the rhymes on page 1: 
    DataDay / Day to Day
    Making a Pact / With the Facts
    Is intervention / His intention

panel 2 

  • “E.S.S.” is some sort of ship title, similar to HMS (Her Majesty’s Ship) or USS (United States Ship.) Perhaps Earth (or Empire) Space Ship? (Suggest?)
  • Clara Pandy is a riff on Para Handy, a fictional ship captain created by Scottish journalist and writer Neil Munro. (Thanks commenter J-L.) In Halo Jones continuity, the ship is named after a “famous galactic frontierswoman” invented by Moore and Gibson. On P4,p2 Brinna mentions having met the real Pandy.

panel 3 

panel 4

  • “Ozjams” perhaps refers to traffic jams in the ozone.
  • Panels 4 through 6 are a zoom sequence.
  • Halo, Rodice and Toby commission by Ian Gibson – via artist’s webpage
    First appearance (though clearer in panel 5) of Halo Jones, Rodice Andelia Olsun, and Swifty Frisko (who, in Book 2 Prog 9 is revealed to be a computer personality that uses Cezanne Goleiter likeness and voice).

panel 6

Page 3

panel 2

  • First appearance of Brinna Childresse-Lao.

panel 3

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

panel 4

  • Ludy plays the “dota” which appears to be somewhat based on an Indian stringed instrument called a dotara. (Dota is shown in Prog 2).
  • “She’ll seed it [the tv show Existential Romance] for me to watch later” anticipates widespread broadcast recording, like TiVo which was not introduced until 15 years later in 1999.
  • First appearance of Brinna’s robotic dog Toby. In an interview Gibson stated “I never quite liked Toby. I don’t think I ever quite resolved his anatomy. But I played with his “semaphore” ears to give him character.”
    Moore does a cliché talking dog joke with Toby responding “rough” (akin to the barking sound “ruff”). (Thanks, Redditor willbrooker.)
  • Half-life” is a time measurement for radioactive decay – which also ends up as an apt description for the ‘life’ of a robot.

Page 4

panel 1

  • The “Megallanic Cloud” sounds like the actual Magellanic Clouds, nearby galaxies. It is apparently a fictional future place (or possibly a typo, or a malapropism on Jones’ part – though the idea that it some kind mistake is undermined by it being mentioned again in Book 3, Prog 1, Page 5, panel 3).

Page 5

panel 1

  • “Quaddie” is an apt insult from the armless Proximan (a native of Proxima Centauri) refering to the human’s four appendages.

panel 2 

panel 4

  • “Oobliay” is phoneticization of oublié, French for “forget.”

panel 6 

  • “Inbutt” is Moore’s Hoop slang for butting in.

Page 6 – no specific annotations

Prog 2 “A Little Night Music”

  • The title has a couple of references. It is the title of a 1973 musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. It is also a direct translation of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

Page 1

panel 1

  • First appearance of Ludy, Jones’ musician friend, and her bandmate Box.
  • The “dota” may be based on a dotara.

panel 3

  • Hoy” may be British slang, meaning more or less “hey!” or may be a sort of an invented hybrid of ‘oi’ and ‘hey’. (Was “hoy” slang in the 80s when HJ first appeared?)

Page 2

panel 3

  • Eight nights a week” is a Beatles song. (It may be a reference to a new future standard for weeks – similar to a minute being 100 seconds as mentioned in Prog 4 P4,p3 below.)

panel 4

  • “Ice Ten,” the name of Ludy’s band, is a variation on ice-nine from the novel Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.

panel 6

  • Rodice is giving Box her phone number written on a slip of paper. This feels pretty dated in 2022, but was common in the 80s.

Pages 3-4 – no specific annotations

Page 5

panel 1

  • John Cage was a avant-garde 20th Century American composer. Cage’s music has more to do with incorporating chance happenings. His work is not really part of other Atonality musical movements; the show calling him an atonal avenger is a sort of revisionist history, representing mass media entertainment trends toward drama and hype, over actual history.

Prog 3 “Consumer Protection”

Page 1

panel 2

  • An “algae satellite” was depicted on Prog 1 P1,p1.

Page 2

panel 1

  • In Jones’ future, there are 100 minutes per hour (mentioned two pages later – Prog 3 P4,p3) so “8.80” is a valid time.

Page 3

panel 1

  • “Karobix” (a foodstuff perhaps made of carob) appear again in V3, Prog 2.

panel 2 

  • “Psilosorbet” apparently combines sorbet and perhaps psychedelic mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe (or just some kind of psilo- [bare] sorbet).

panel 6

  • “Sprout some speedlines” is hoop slang, but also a sort of meta-awareness joke referring to motion lines in comics.

Page 4

panel 3 

  • A minute being “a hundred seconds” appears to be some kind of future rationalization of today’s 60-second minute, similar to the way historic units gave way to metric measurements (in Britain – in Moore’s lifetime?)
  • This is the first display of Hoop signage, which appears in multiple languages including an imagined cursive and apparently Esperanto.
    In an interview, Gibson described the hoop signage language:

Seán Twomey: Fascinatingly, the “Esperanto-like” language that the Hoop’s street signs have as an alternative to English is a real workable language that you invented yourself for fun – do you still use this in your work?

Gibson: No. I’ve mostly avoided repeating myself on that one. I designed the “alternative alphabet” when I was at college as a fun thing to do. And even exchanged letters with some genius boy who cracked the code after it appeared in an ‘underground’ newspaper of the 60’s!

  • Despite the language being described as workable (and some apparent repetition of letters), this annotator tried and couldn’t find enough repeated characters to make any sense of it as some kind of letter-substitution code. Anyone out there able to decode the Gibson cursive signs – suggest??
  • In this panel signage reads “INGANG STORVAG MELLE [?].” Google Translate finds that “inngang” is Norwegian for “entrance.”

panel 4

  • “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglae” is quoting a well known couplet from Robert Burns’ 1785 poem To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough. The original Scots poem reads “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley” and is generally translated to “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

panel 5 

  • Wuxtry! Wuxtry!” is apparently a somewhat common historic slang version of the newsboy’s refrain “Extra! Extra!” (Thanks Redditor tegeus-Cromis_2000)

Page 5 – no specific annotations

Prog 4 “Vicious Circles”

Page 1

panel 5

  • “Sensayuma” is ‘sense of humor.’

Page 2

panel 3

  • The writing in the middle appears to say “VÄSERFEMTO” which is not entirely clear. Based on Google translate, “Femton” is ’15’ in Swedish, where “västra” or “väster”  would be ‘west’ (and “väser” would be ‘beings.’)
  • “Fuller” may refer to architect inventor (including of domes) Buckminster Fuller.

panel 4

  • “Vänta” is Swedish for ‘wait.’
  • “MAM” stands for Municipal Aid and Maintenance – the Hoop’s welfare system.
  • “Exit gardens” (suicide chambers) is a term/feature Moore incorporated into Providence, starting on #1, page 5. For what it’s worth, the short footbridge depicted in panel 5 bears a slight resemblance to the footbridge that Providence opens with.

Page 3

panel 2

  • What does “HC” stand for? Hard Core? Suggest??

panel 3

  • “Salida” is ‘exit’ in Spanish.
  • “Väster” is ‘west’ in Swedish.

Page 4 – no specific annotations

Page 5

panel 2

  • Googol” is a very large number: 1 with 100 zeroes following it. (The company Google was named after a misspelling of this.)

panel 3

panel 4

  • What does “N.A.U.P.” stand for? Perhaps something like ‘no access unauthorized personnel’? (or, from Toby’s statement in the prior panel “no arguments…?”)

panel 5

  • “Zenade” (explained on the next page) combines zen and hand-grenade.

Prog 5 “The Wild Brown Yonder”

Page 1

panel 1

  • Longish narration boxes are fairly rare in Halo Jones. This is the first one that is longer than one word (earlier ones included “streetside” and “rearscene.”)
  • Alpha waves are a brain wave associated with mediation.
  • The Zenade has a Lux Roth Chop company logo – first seen in the opening panel of Halo Jones.

panel 2

panel 3

  • Rin Tin Tin” was a famous dog that appeared in early 20th Century movies. 

Page 2

panel 1

  • “Aumm” (or “om”) is syllable people chant when meditating.
  • “Kissingered” refers to U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a somewhat controversial figure who spearheaded a hawkish U.S. foreign policy. By making Kissinger slang for betray/trick/swindle, Moore is projecting that future generations will look unfavorably toward Kissinger’s career.

panel 2

Page 3 – no specific annotations

Page 4

panel 2

  • Rodice starts stating various meditation clichés: “inside is the outside,” “the sound of one hand clapping,” “a tree falling in the forest with no-one to hear it,” etc. One hand clapping is a Zen koan.

panel 3

  • The various hoop sections – W37, N18, E20 – include the initial for West/North/East.

Page 5 – no specific annotations

Prog 6 “Fleurs Du Mall”

  • The title is a riff on “Les Fleurs du mal” (French for ‘the Flowers of Evil’) which is the title of a controversial volume of poetry by Charles Baudelaire. In this case, Moore has added an L so it would translate as ‘mall flowers’ – ie: people who hang out at a shopping mall.

Page 1

panel 3

  • “Ms. Anthrope” store was mentioned on page 2 of Prog 5.

Page 2

panel 7

Page 3

panel 6

  • Does “hold-e-mall” refer to something specific? Suggest??
  • “Prock hock” appears to be a pawn shop. Hock is a synonym for pawn.

Page 4

panel 2

  • It is, of course, Ludy’s dota.
  • “Leibchicks” is sort of ‘dear girls.’ In German, “Lieb” is ‘dear.’

panel 3

  • “LRC” is again Lux Roth Chop.
  • “Mornaments” are perhaps some kind of ornaments? Suggest??

panel 4

  • The Tarantula Nebula is an actual region in space.
  • The Tarantula Nebula and General Luiz Cannibal feature prominently in Book 3.

panel 5

  • [Ludwig] Wittgenstein” was an Austrian-British philosopher. Not sure of the significance of him rising from his grave? Suggest?? 

Page 5

panels 5-7

  • These form a zoom sequence.

Prog 7 “Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig”

To market, to market, to buy a fat hen,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

Page 1

panel 1

  • These are the first of Jones’ diary passages shared with the reader. Moore would go on to use character’s diaries in Watchmen, Crossed + 100, and elsewhere. 

Page 2

panel 2

  • The LRC initials (seen again the next page panels 3 and 6) are again Lux Roth Chop.

Pages 3-5 – no specific annotations

Prog 8 -“When the Music’s Over…”

Page 1 – no specific annotations

Page 2

panels 4-5

  • A leucotomy, similar to a lobotomy, is the brain operation Rodice describes. The operation is similar to what the Different Drummers, including Ludy, undergo.

Pages 3-5 – no specific annotations

Prog 9 “I’ll Take Manhattan…”

  • The title comes from the 1925 Rodgers and Hart song Manhattan. The opening lyric is “we’ll take Manhattan” though often sung as “I’ll take Manhattan.”  (Listen via YouTube.) Leonard Cohen’s First We Take Manhattan was first recorded in 1986, two years after this Halo Jones prog.

Pages 1-5 – no specific annotations

Prog 10 “Going Out”

Page 1

panel 1

  • The worker speaks in a humorous Brooklyn accent – somewhat similar to Moore’s later Crossed+100 Gapple Islands residents. This panel reads: “You want a job? [I’ve] got a job working hostess duty. Going to be a two-and-a-half year round trip. Credit is nine thousand P.A. [per annum]. [Do] you got a better offer?”

panel 2 

  • This panel reads: “so… what [do] you say to that?”

Page 2

panel 1

  • This panel reads: “Sensible decision! Like I say it’s nine thousand afore [before] tax.”

panel 2

  • Cassiopeia is an actual constellation.
  • This panel and the next read: “… share a cabin, but you get your own bunk… and there’s only a job for one of you.”

panel 4 

  • This panel reads: “Yeah. It’s the last vacancy. Which of you is it going to be?”

panel 5

  • The Luz Roth Chop logo appears again.
  • This panel reads: “I tell you what – either of you talk cetacean?”

panel 6

  • “Jobzyurs” is “[the] job is yours.”

Page 3 – no specific annotations

Page 4

panel 1

Page 5

panel 1

  • Panels 1-5 form a zoom sequence. This zoom outward somewhat mirrors the first page’s zoom inward, framing Book 1.

>Go to Panelwise Annotations Index
>Go to Halo Jones Book 2

5 thoughts on “Halo Jones Book 1 Annotations

  1. Greenaum

    You know all the foreign language on signs in The Hoop is Esperanto, right? It’s a utopian, synthetic, intended worldwide language from the early 1900s that didn’t really take off. I’ll let you look more up about that yourself.

    Like

  2. Greenaum

    I would guess a “hold-e-mall” is a holdall, particularly useful to hold things in malls, with a sort-of K-Tel inspired name. The future!
    “Mornaments” presumably mourning ornaments, perhaps gravestones or the like, urns.
    “Fleurs du Mall” I don’t think is meant to be translated literally, it’s literally just a pun, since the kids are kind of evil. Similarly I dunno how much Alan knew about John Cage at the time that he didn’t think “atonal avenger” would be a suitable name for him (if he went into crimefighting or general vengeance!) I think most people know him for that silent song that’s 4 minutes something, and maybe telling people to feed and water their piano.

    Nice to see you’re annotating Halo! Was certainly fun doing Tempest and Providence. Ta, Joe!

    Like

  3. loopyjoe

    Nice to see Halo annotated. I just read through this page and two thoughts occur.

    The “Swifty Frisko” media voiceover device resembles Promethea’s “TEXTure” (issue 2 onwards). As well as conveying background information, it introduces characters who would later enter the story, such as Lux Roth Chop here, and Mayor Sonny Baskerville and others in Promethea.

    page 5 panel 3 – “Armagideon Time” is a song by Jamaican reggae musician Willie Williams, covered by The Clash in 1979 and released as the B-side to “London Calling”. Bob Marley also pronounces Armageddon this way in “One Love”, a 1965 song which became “One Love/People Get Ready”, a hit single in the UK in 1984. I’m sure Moore would have been aware of at least one of these. I wonder if the word comes from Jamaican patois?

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