Thursday, 13 January 2011

Books: From Hell


From Hell
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Eddie Campbell


Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:

The point where Moore put away the superhero toy box and got all serious. With sketchy black and white artwork from Eddie Campbell it's as dark as you would expect (or hope) a Jack the Ripper story would be. On the face of it From Hell is just a recreation of the known events surrounding the Whitechapel murders mixing in with a possible interpretation as to who murderer really was and why he did it (which apparently Alan Moore doesn't believe in but merely uses as "an interesting starting point" for his own fictional examinations). Fictional examinations? That would be cutting open the levels of Victorian society like some sort of (if you wanna go there) 19th century version version of "The Wire" with the following metaphysical undertones: the human conception of time, the psycho-geography (such a cool word) of London and the creation of the 20th Century (apparently that's: Hitler, celebrity serial killers and fluorescent-lit office cubicles). How much of this will appeal depends on what you're looking for in a comic book (and probably how much you will like Alan Moore in general). Do you just want to be told a nice and simple story - or do you want all the trimmings too? It's a long book (572 pages!) but totally worth the time it'll take the read - just be careful you don't get lost in it's labyrinth-like pages...

Links: Comics You Should Own Review, Take the Chapter Four Walk, Short Guardian Interview with Alan Moore, Dave Sim Interview with Alan Moore Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Conclusion.

Further reading: Berlin, Cages, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, WatchmenNeonomicon, HabibiViolent Cases, Black Hole.

Profiles: Alan Moore.

All comments welcome.


Wilbur said...

True, From Hell is cerebral and labyrinthine, but it's also full of warm touches, the kind Alan Moore doesn't get enough credit for. The old man being bathed in the tub (yes with the weird jabberwocky nob); the escape from London to the in-comparison paradise of the countryside. You know, just in case anyone was thinking it was 100% bleak. It's only 97% bleak!

Islington Comic Forum said...

I think out of all the Alan Moore books out there From Hell is the one I've read the least (like - 2 times? If that?). Feels like this is something I should rectify... Correct me if I'm wrong tho: but isn't the 3% of non-bleak stuff only there to make that 97% feel even bleaker - to use the WORST POSSIBLE EXAMPLE EVER: it's like that bit in one of the cursed Matrix sequels when Ted Theodore Logan and Trinity "Man-Face" go above the clouds for - like - 3 seconds and go "it's so beautiful." And then - it's back into the murky, oppressive and oh-so-limited colour palette of the rest of the film........ It's that small dash of light that just makes all the black erm - NON MORE BLACK! (or something?)

But yeah From Hell = Matrix sequels. You heard it here first.

Wilbur said...

I feel "From Hell = Matrix sequels" will come back to haunt you one day.