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From Hell Paperback – June 10, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The mad, shaggy genius of the comics world dips deeply into the well of history and pulls up a cup filled with blood in From Hell. Alan Moore did a couple of Ph.D.'s worth of research into the Whitechapel murders for this copiously annotated collection of the independently published series. The web of facts, opinion, hearsay, and imaginative invention draws the reader in from the first page. Eddie Campbell's scratchy ink drawings evoke a dark and dirty Victorian London and help to humanize characters that have been caricatured into obscurity for decades. Moore, having decided that the evidence best fits the theory of a Masonic conspiracy to cover up a scandal involving Victoria's grandson, goes to work telling the story with relish from the point of view of the victims, the chief inspector, and the killer--the Queen's physician. His characterization is just as vibrant as Campbell's; even the minor characters feel fully real. Looking more deeply than most, the author finds in the "great work" of the Ripper a ritual magic working intended to give birth to the 20th century in all its horrid glory. Maps, characters, and settings are all as accurate as possible, and while the reader might not ultimately agree with Moore and Campbell's thesis, From Hell is still a great work of literature. --Rob Lightner

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As ambitious and affecting as anything ever rendered in pictures and word balloons. --Salon

At once a meditation on evil, a police procedural and a commentary on Victorian England ... an impressive piece of work. --The Los Angeles Times

My all-time favorite graphic novel ... an immense, majestic work about the Jack the Ripper murders, the dark Victorian world they happened in, and the birth of the 20th century. --Warren Ellis, Entertainment Weekly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 572 pages
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Production; New edition edition (June 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0958578346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0958578349
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 7.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Jason N. Mical on November 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
The most recent offering from Alan Moore, the author who, alongside Neil Gaiman, was responsible for bringing comic books to their fullest potential as art on par with novels, From Hell is a brilliant, moody, and well-researched re-telling of the Jack the Ripper story. Moore takes an interesting twist on the story - and one he himself admits that he believes is false - but the point of the book isn't so much a whodunit as a treatise on the combining of fact and fiction into myth, and the nature of sensationalism and crime in the 20th century.
From Hell features an amazing cast of characters and the story is told in sixteen chapters - two of which are a prologue and an epilogue. Moore weaves historical facts together to form a cohesive story, and draws on dozens of sources, both Ripper-related and otherwise. From Hell suggests that the Ripper was, in fact, William Gull, Physician Ordinary to the Royal Family and a member of the Freemasons (this fact is revealed very early on in the book, unlike the movie which IS a whodunit). Where high-level criminologists like FBI profiler John Douglas (inspiration for the Crawford character in Silence of the Lambs) seem to think that the crimes were motivated by a fear of women, Moore focuses on the calm, ritualistic nature of the murders, and the important connection between the victims - that they all knew each other.
Although in this book the crime itself was a Masonic ritual, I think it should be noted that Moore isn't trying to smear the Masons, and that should be obvious to anyone reading From Hell.
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125 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Daniel H. Bigelow VINE VOICE on April 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a classic work, as dense and as demanding as any novel, and perhaps the closest to literature a graphic novel has ever come. It could only have flowed from the pen of the great Alan Moore, whose Swamp Thing and Watchmen revolutionized graphic storytelling. He and Eddie Campbell have done wonderful work here. I merely write to correct a couple of errors in other reviews.
First, jplatt@webspan.net says this is only the first part of From Hell. The pictured edition does, I believe, contain the entire story, although there are single comics containing single chapters and other trade paperbacks containing fewer chapters than the above pictured edition. If you buy the pictured edition, you are getting a complete story from beginning to end. I read the above edition and found nothing missing -- it goes from before the first murder to after the last.
Second, editor Rob Lightner says that Moore believes, and wants us to believe, that Jack the Ripper was the Queen's physician and part of a Masonic conspiracy to kill the mother of Queen Victoria's grandson. I think this misses the point. Moore loves to make connections between things (see, for instance, his ongoing series Promethea), and the Masonic conspiracy gives him a lot of room to weave in the various aspects of the Ripper legend. I don't know that he necessarily believes it any more than he believes, as shown in From Hell, that the killer was able to predict the future while he was gutting his victims. Moore is a storyteller and his story contains many fantastic elements. It would be a mistake, I think, to attribute to Moore all the opinions expressed in this fine work of fiction.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Brandon B. Alspaugh on May 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
After his success with Swamp Thing, Watchmen, and half a dozen other projects, Alan Moore went into self-publishing, beginning Lost Girls, Big Numbers, and From Hell. Sadly, the first two remain unfinished (possibly indefinitely), but the third well makes up for it.
The exhausting amount of detail is the first thing one notices. From street philosophers, to royal courtesans and favorites to who had the most popular literature at the time, Moore has done everything humanly possible to make the book disturbingly accurate. His footnotes are almost a book in and of themselves.
The take on the Jack the Ripper murders, while off-putting to the weaker stomachs among us, is psychological horror coupled with intrigue, sordid love affairs, and human perversity in almost every form. If you want to feel novacaine-numb good after reading something, pick up a Superman. If you want to be disturbed, challenged, and perhaps educated a bit, read From Hell.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Babytoxie on February 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This story is a masterpiece, and this collected edition is the only way to read it. Even if you're like me and have never had much of an interest in the Whitechapel murders, I can't recommend this book highly enough. Moore thoroughly researches all of his stories, as evidenced by his strong body of work over the past 20 years, and his inventiveness and attention to detail extend to this one. The thorough endnotes outline everything for you, giving more depth and understanding to the plot. Also, "From Hell" is not intended to be gospel, and Moore makes it clear that he has used fact, assumption, & outright fabrication in order to craft this story - and the endnotes let you know which is which.
Eddie Campbell's dark sketchy art is perfect for this story. It provides just the right mood, although sometimes it's hard to interpret what is going on, and many of the characters look a bit too similar. Picking up all the details in a few of the panels may take some time.
The last chapter, in particular, is a brilliant way to wrap up the story, bringing it into the present day, and the epilogue, "Dance of the Gull Catchers", offers a hilarious study of the Ripper phenonmenon.
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