- Series: From Hell
- Hardcover: 576 pages
- Publisher: Top Shelf Productions (October 4, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781603093972
- ISBN-13: 978-1603093972
- ASIN: 1603093974
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.8 x 10.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 204 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From Hell Hardcover – October 4, 2016
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About the Author
Alan Moore is widely regarded as the best and most influential writer in the history of comics. His seminal works include Miracleman and Watchmen, for which he won the coveted Hugo Award. Never one to limit himself in form or content, Moore has also published novels, Voice of the Fire and Jerusalem, and an epic poem, The Mirror of Love. Four of his ground-breaking graphic novels—From Hell, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen—have been adapted to the silver screen. Moore currently resides in Northampton, England.
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And perhaps the greatest graphic novel yet produced, despite the oftentimes nearly illegible lettering in what I must assume is a reduced page size from the normal magazine- or comic-page sizing of around 8.5” x 11” or so. (You may need strong reading glasses to make out some of the text.) Alan Moore is an indefatigable researcher and brilliant storyteller. Eddie Campbell's spidery, scratchy drawings suit the murky mood of the story. (And even so, when called upon to render historic London architecture, Campbell’s panels burst into glorious, meticulous copperplate-etching-type, scaled architecture-textbook detail and quality.)
This book gripped me from front to back. The conspiracy Moore conjures, supported by 42 pages of dense notes and an additional graphic appendix, unfolds splendidly. It includes, of course, the London neighborhoods, and volumes (or is it simple myriad panels) on 19th century social mores, to include, yes, all those whores and other species of “loose women” and, to our eyes today, reprehensible men, but also – for those who are unprepared, but this is no spoiler, because the Ripper stories have been in circulation for sometimes more than a century – royalty, to include Victoria, Druidism and the Old Gods, Freemasonry and its secrets and rituals, icons of 19th century art, architecture, and literature, details of contemporary police and Scotland Yard procedure, and, believe me, very much more, crammed into its 572 pages.
And on my next visit to London I'm going to bring with me chapter 4, as my guide to the buildings of Nicholas Hawksmoor. For an architecture buff, as I am, who has stomped around London peering into old churches and ancient structures, as I have, chapter 4, and its beautiful renderings of some of London’s greatest churches, was a particular unexpected, delightful serendipity.
I would urge every reader to narrate chapter 14 aloud, in the most refined English accent they are capable of producing. I found it to be a chilling reading experience.
And parents, if the title fails to warn you sufficiently, do examine the contents closely before leaving this one out for the kiddies on a rainy Saturday. The copy I read had no "for mature readers only" markings. From Hell is most assuredly for mature readers only and deserves, at the very least, an “NC-17” rating.
This is simply a terrific read and one that, I see from other reviews, will require from many a measure of patience. Moore unfolds his tale at what some will find a too-leisurely pace. Other readers have greater toleration for both glacial pace and a carefully studied narrative ambiguity. For those of us who wallow in detail, texture, and explanatory endnotes, as well as a horror stories that, in the end, are truly disturbing, this should be just the ticket.
This book is a perfect reason why someone, somewhere, needs to do what Eddie Campbell gives us a taste of here and that's start publishing the COMPLETE ALAN MOORE SCRIPTS. To Quote from E.C.'s introduction,
"These scripts are rich with incident and information that didn't always, or couldn't find its way onto the printed page... Some very fine writing is buried in these scripts, and nobody has ever read
it except me." (pg 12)
Details like the color and rational for the color of clothing, (in a work that he knew would be done in B&W) the psychological underpinning for buildings in the background, amazingly details which is up to the artist to portray in a way he finds possible. (E.C. addresses this in his text, what he kept and what he couldn't)
Frustratingly this is only a taste of what it could have been. As E.C. describes, "I have selected what I find to be the most memorable pages, ninety out of a possible five hundred and one..." (pg 12)
If this isn't enough for you you can try to hunt down a copy of "From Hell: The Compleat Scripts"  but they're rare and only include the scripts for the first three chapters.
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. His contention, one that more or less fits the 100-plus years worth of facts, is that William Gull was gradually going insane and had visions about Masonic deities - shreds of old ritual from Freemasonry's past that he blows out of proportion and begins to manifest, at least in his mind. There was nothing anti-Freemason in this book, but I realize people have to find something to get bent out of shape about.
The crowning achievement of this volume isn't the way Moore creates a perfect fit for Gull as the Ripper, but the appendix at the end in which he details the painstaking amount of research that went into this work. He has a reference for nearly every factual detail, and readily admits when he makes things up or dramatizes certain events for the story. It's an excellent resource for Ripperologists and scholars interested in Moore's book, and its inclusion is what makes From Hell such a fascinating read.
I absolutely recommend From Hell, especially if you enjoyed the film - the book is far more detailed, and doesn't sacrifice any historical accuracies to make a better story, as the movie did. If the film is a starting point, this graphic novel is the logical conclusion. Get it today; you will not be sorry you did.