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"I shall tell you where we are. We're in the most extreme and utter region of the human mind. A dim, subconscious underworld. A radiant abyss where men meet themselves. Hell, Netley. We're in Hell."

Having proved himself peerless in the arena of reinterpreting superheroes, Alan Moore turned his ever-incisive eye to the squalid, enigmatic world of Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel murders of 1888. Weighing in at 576 pages, From Hell is certainly the most epic of Moore's works and remarkably and is possibly his finest effort yet in a career punctuated by such glorious highlights as Watchmen and V for Vendetta. Going beyond the myriad existing theories, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous, Moore presents an ingenious take on the slaughter. His Ripper's brutal activities are the epicentre of a conspiracy involving the very heart of the British Establishment, including the Freemasons and The Royal Family. A popular claim, which is transformed through Moore's exquisite and thoroughly gripping vision, of the Ripper crimes being the womb from which the 20th century, so enmeshed in the celebrity culture of violence, received its shocking, visceral birth.

Bolstered by meticulous research that encompasses a wide spectrum of Ripper studies and myths and coupled with his ability to evoke sympathies in such monstrous characters, Moore has created perhaps the finest examination of the Ripper legacy, observing far beyond society's obsessive need to expose Evil's visage. Ultimately, as Moore observes, Jack's identity and his actions are inconsequential to the manner in which society embraced the Fear: "It's about us. It's about our minds and how they dance. Jack mirrors our hysterias. Faceless, he is the receptacle for each new social panic."

Eddie Campbell's stunning black and white artwork, replete with a scratchy, dirty sheen, is perfectly matched to the often-unshakeable intensity of Moore's writing. Between them, each murder is rendered in horrifying detail, providing the book's most unnerving scenes, made more so in uncomfortable, yet lyrical moments as when the villain embraces an eviscerated corpse, craving understanding; pleading that they "are wed in legend, inextricable within eternity".

Though technically a comic, the term hardly begins to describe From Hell's inimitable grandeur and finesse, as it takes the medium to fresh heights of ingenuity and craftsmanship. Moore and Campbell's autopsy on the emaciated corpse of the Ripper myth has divulged a deeply disturbing yet undeniably captivating masterpiece. —Danny Graydon

576 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1999

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About the author

Alan Moore

1,889 books19.1k followers
Alan Moore is an English writer most famous for his influential work in comics, including the acclaimed graphic novels Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell. He has also written a novel, Voice of the Fire, and performs "workings" (one-off performance art/spoken word pieces) with The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, some of which have been released on CD.

As a comics writer, Moore is notable for being one of the first writers to apply literary and formalist sensibilities to the mainstream of the medium. As well as including challenging subject matter and adult themes, he brings a wide range of influences to his work, from the literary–authors such as William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Anton Wilson and Iain Sinclair; New Wave science fiction writers such as Michael Moorcock; horror writers such as Clive Barker; to the cinematic–filmmakers such as Nicolas Roeg. Influences within comics include Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby and Bryan Talbot.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,311 reviews
Profile Image for Oriana.
Author 2 books3,302 followers
March 5, 2014
This was #17 for Jugs & Capes.

I hated every goddamn minute of it.

I hated the cramped, schizophrenic writing that made my eyes cross. I hated the stark, sketch-y drawing that were so vague you couldn't ever tell who was who. I hated the gore and the period-"appropriate" racism and classism. I hated all the characters—the flippety-gibbet women and the cold cruel calculating men and everyone in between. I hated the inexplicable worlds-within-worlds twistiness of the myriad occult subplots. I hated the bleakness. I even hated the massive heft of the goddamn book itself, which was impossible to hold comfortably in any position, especially outside on my stoop, especially on the subway, especially anywhere except I guess sitting in a massive velvet armchair in some vast dark-wood-paneled drawing room where rich white men drink sherry and chortle over their monocles. Or something like that, I don't fucking know.

Alan Moore is a very insane man, and although I was blown away by Watchmen, this book made me never want to read anything else he's written ever again. I'm not totally sure I even finished it, although I do think I remember some very unsatisfying closing scene with two old dudes on a bluff talking about how no one ever found out what they'd done? Did that happen? I don't fucking know, it's two years since I read it and I think I blocked most of it out.

Fuck this book, is what I'm saying.
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,566 followers
September 1, 2020
An outstanding achievement. I'm in deep awe of the many components that make up this complex, riveting work of ART. First off, the illustrations are opaque & shimmery, raw and delicate, fierce and even bittersweet. The Jack the Ripper story involves different angles, & they're all portrayed here in inspiring detail. Stories & sub-stories, like molecules and atoms, arrive at a fever pitch several times in the narrative, & it really is a roller-coaster of the macabre, of the surreal, and of authentic late 20th century artistry.

"From Hell" may actually belong in a frickin' museum!
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
August 10, 2021

Alan Moore’s graphic novel From Hell is an extraordinary creation, difficult to encapsulate for someone like me, who strives to epitomize the essence of a work in a relatively short review. As Walt Whitman once said of himself, From Hell is “large” (576 pages) and does “contain multitudes,” and—like any thing large and multitudinous—it is full of tantalizing contradictions.

On the surface, From Hell presents, in the form of an illustrated narrative, the historical events of the 1888-1891 Whitechapel murders, adhering to the facts (as precisely indicated in an extensive series of notes), except for an occasional fictional invention (also scrupulously acknowledged in the notes). On the other hand, the tale it tells is improbable and fantastic, in which Sir William Gull, Queen Victoria’s physician and high-ranking Freemason, executes each of the “Ripper” murders not only to conceal the sexual indiscretions of the Queen’s grandson Prince Albert Victor, but also to perform a magic ritual, a pageant of ceremonial violence, designed to suppress feminism and exalt patriarchy, to quell socialism and promote capitalism, to forestall the chaos Gull foresees that is coming to blight the century to come.

Yet, in the wake of Gull’s magic, historical contradictions are revealed. In one of the books most powerful—and memorably realized—sequences, Gull takes us (and his coachman Netley) on an occult tour of the urban geography of London, crowding our minds with historical anecdotes, precisely limning for us the pentagrammic map of the ceremonial violence to come. Yet, in spite of his precision, Gull’s calculations are off. When, after murdering and methodically dissecting his final and victim, he is granted the vision of a late 20th century business office, Gull realizes he has failed to bring about the advent of an Apollonian age: no, nothing remains in the future but unemotional phantoms, fiddling with strange electronic devices:
”What spirits are these, labouring in what heavenly light? . . . . No, this is dazzle, not yet divinity. Nor are these heathen wraiths about me spirits, lacking even that vitality. . . It would seem we are to suffer an apocalypse of cockatoos...morose, barbaric children playing joylessly with their unfathomable toys. Where comes this dullness in your eyes? Has your century numbed you so? Shall man be given marvels only when he is beyond all wonder? . . . With all your shimmering numbers and your lights, think not to be inured to history. Its black root succors you. It is INSIDE you."
Another contradiction is in Moore’s (and artist Eddie Campbell’s) treatment of the women who are the “Ripper” victims. The depiction of the murders themselves—particularly their climax, the murder of Mary Kelly, which takes up an entire chapter—is horrific and merciless, explicit and graphic. Yet one of the most moving aspects of Moore’s book is his detailed presentation of the day-to-day lives of these women: their comradeship and their recreations, their fears and hopes for the future. Moore and Campbell never forget for a moment that Gull’s ceremonial pawns are also real human women. In fact, Moore dedicates the work to them:
You and your demise: of these things alone are we certain. Good night, ladies.
“Of these things alone are we certain”: the phrase calls to mind another of From Hell’s contradictions. Moore’s scrupulous adherence to the facts in the case gulls the reader into thinking that Moore himself must be scrupulously recreating a scenario he believes to be true, and yet in the final pages of his work—”The Dance of the Gull Catchers”, a history of “Ripperology”—he adopts a pose of profound skepticism:
The complex phantom we project. That alone, we know is real. The actual killer’s gone, unglimpsed, might as well not have been there at all. There never was a Jack the Ripper. Mary Kelly was just an unusually determined suicide. Why don’t we leave it at that?
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
797 reviews3,640 followers
January 29, 2023
Alternative serial killer history

Murdering for the sake of the empire
This isn´t just about the detailed, very graphic slaughtering of Jacks´victims, it´s a big conspiracy theory overkill too. For everyone into British history and uchronias, the second main plotline besides Jack and the investigation to get him is

That the Royals did everything to keep their bloodline as they wished
No matter if it´s an alternative explanation of history from 10, 100, 1000, or 5000 years ago, one simply doesn´t know it. Except one is so naive as to believe the historians from 2.345 b.c or 1888 a.d. Everyone else should be open to close to any other explanation because of the sheer fact that one can´t and doesn´t know. As in many of Moores´works

The real evil lurks hidden in the background
Because what are Jacks´ killings in comparison to manipulating world history and economy? The big fishes are in such deep water that they hardly ever get caught except when they pop up to slaughter some victims. And even if there was anyone in fiction or reality who could fight them, the time window would always be too short, their traces washed away, and millions of ambitious young fish fighting to get to the top by protecting and serving their alien overlord masters. Or conventional old money billionaires.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
May 25, 2023
For all of you true crime buffs, the ultimate cold case!

I had read Watchmen and found it to be genius; V for Vendetta I liked very much as well (a pretty powerful and angry political allegory, though much less complex), and have read others by The GOAT, or one of them, Alan Moore. But this is one of my favorite works of his. It is massive, incredibly ambitious, an erudite work of scholarship and passion, and yet it also feels like one of the most personal of his works I have read thus far. And yet it all took place a century and more ago: The Jack the Ripper story, in Moore's personal fictional view, highly influenced by his favorite theoretical Ripperologist, Stephen Knight, whose theory was largely dismissed and derided in the very process of Moore and Campbell's long construction of this remarkable tome.

Before we go too far we have to mention the amazing art by Eddie Campbell, matching the scope and passion of Moore's enthralling epic conception. So how could From Hell be amazing and enthralling, since the perspective it takes is now largely dismissed? Because it is a terrific story, told terrifically. Whether it is true or not, it is compelling. It may be a tad long, one of the Moby Dicks of graphic literature, but I was truly engaged with it throughout. And though in black and white, it is still graphic (that serial murder thing, envisioned throughout).

One reason it is interesting is that it is not a whodunnit, primarily; we know who Moore thinks did it from the beginning (as opposed to the terrible Hughes brothers film version, with Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, which maybe would have been an okay flick if it weren't also called From Hell, which then makes a complete mockery of Moore's version of events and his literary/philosophical perspective on the world).

Most book versions of the Jack the Ripper story, non-fiction and fiction, make a case, propose a theory, and Moore does this, too, as I've said, but not in "true crime" fashion. Moore provides literally HUNDREDS of pages of footnotes to show he has been researching this from every possible angle for several years, but finally plot or whodunnit is only a part of his interest. He reaches far beyond that to what the Whitecastle Murders seem to portend for the twentieth century in terms of Evil, Mad Violence, Genocide, Catastrophic Wars, sort of the End of Modernism, of the Enlightenment Hope for the Future. And the occult, always, for Moore (so much of what he understood about that time was connected to the occult; see his Providence, about H. P. Lovecraft) and feminism (why the killing of all these women, by a man, as if it were an entree to a century of serial killing of women), and class, all backgrounds for him throughout and usually.

He even admits his own crazy obsession with such events is his way of trying to make meaning of life and death and culture and media and politics and history. Finally, he admits we will never know whodunnit and he admits that that is not the point, for any of the Ripperologists. The point is obsession. Or the desperate need to understand, to make meaning out of the shards of a single puzzling event. And cold cases are always the site of obsession. (A new tv series based on Michelle McNamara's I'll be Gone in the Dark: The Hunt for the Golden State Killer--0ver 50 rapes, more than a 100 burglaries, 13 murders, from 1974-86, came out in summer 2020; see my review of her book, it's just one of many studies of obsession over a serial killer).

From Hell is macabre. It is real life horror, an early serial killing to welcome us to an age of ever increasing serial killings and mass murders and multi-media obsessions with them. It takes a tale of murder and spins it into a rich work of art and historical meditation. Comics greatness, without question.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,948 reviews3,405 followers
April 20, 2017
This is the second graphic novel by Alan Moore that I've read. He is a very prolific writer, but sometimes he's a bit too over the top for my taste. It was OK in V for Vendetta though I must admit to liking the movie a bit better because it was more grounded. With From Hell, once again, I've seen the movie before having read the graphic novel and although the movie features Johnny Depp and a lot of opium, I liked that one better as well.

Why? Rather simple: the movie was a mystery with the watcher having to investigate along with the inspector. Here, we get the solution to it all right off the bat and it seems like wasted potential.

This graphic novel tells the story of the murders committed by one of THE most well-known serial killers of all time: Jack the Ripper.
There are many theories out there (I actually have a Mammoth Book about it because I find it so intriguing) and some of those theories are a bit more "out there". One particular conspiracy theory revolves around one of Queen Victoria's heirs having fathered a child and married a commoner, which was inconceivable back in the day (funnily enough, it still is rather unusual with the remaining royals nowadays which made Princess Diana become such a star *rolls eyes*). Anyway, since Albert is the heir to the English throne, this is unacceptable and Queen Victoria orders her physician to handle the subject. And let me tell you, he wasn't gentle about it. But the plan has a flaw because there are other people who know about the child and these women, prostitutes, try to blackmail the prince's friend because they are getting harrassed by a street gang and need money to survive. Thus, the doctor is dispatched once again and goes about the grizzly work we know of.

I won't say anything about the ending, but the police (or some levels at least) knew about the plot and were paid to play along, and the killer becomes more and more psychologically unstable. That in itself is all well and good and even realistic (except for the fact that the Queen probably would have had a different way of dealing with something like this), but all the Masonic bits, the visions of the future etc were too trippy for me.
Because yes, the good doctor is not only a lord and friend to the Queen, he's also a Freemason and trying to block the influence of the Illuminati by murdering women in a grizzly way. It's all a bit bonkers.

The art is ... not to my taste. The black-and-white is OK and I get that the rudimentary and blunt style is a tool to convey a message of its own; it shows the grittiness of life if you weren't in certain social circles, illustrates the depravity of certain people and the downward spiral the Ripper takes psychologically. The panels are very graphic where sexuality is concerned (female and male body parts are shown explicitly). Both author and artist don't hold back and most in the story is somehow tied to sex. I don't mind this at all since we are following the lives of prostitutes and I don't like taboos anyway, thus I don't faint when seeing a penis depicted anywhere. No, my "problem" with the art is that I just don't find it "pretty" (attractive might be a better word to say what I mean).

Nevertheless, this is an ambitious and good piece of work and it deserves all the recognition it's gotten over the years.
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,689 followers
April 16, 2012
A story doesn't have to be factual to be true, and I don't think I have read a truer story in any form than Alan Moore's From Hell.

At the heart of the tale is Jack the Ripper. It is the truest telling of Jack the Ripper that I've ever read. It matters not a whit whether Dr. William Gull is actually Jack the Ripper. Nor whether Queen Victoria set the ball rolling with her orders. Nor whether Abberline actually fell for one of the prostitutes. Nor whether the Freemasons had their hands all over the deeds in Whitechapel. Nor whether Druitt was sacrificed to keep the peace and maintain power dynamics. Nor whether Sickert was involved. Nor whether industrialized, fin-de-siècle, London was our clearest real world dystopia.

What matters is that Alan Moore's writing and Eddie Campbell's artistry uncover a deep emotional and philosophical truth about the reverberations of the smallest actions in the world. The smallest and the biggest. What matters is that they recognize that their tale is nothing more than a tale told from their perspective. What matters is that they painstakingly researched anything and everything that had to do with that autumn in East London, that they rode every ripple from the epicentre no matter how far it took them in time and space, that every decision they made was conscious, and that the sum of that conscious work offered a hyperreality of that definitive event in the life of London that encapsulates the beauty of our existence within the ugliest of events. That is the truth they uncovered: the beauty of living in the ugliest of circumstance.

Theirs is an astounding achievement that transcends the graphic novel medium. It is not simply the greatest graphic novel ever written (though it is that), it is also one of the greatest five stories I have ever read. I would put it up there with Hamlet and Gravity's Rainbow and The Outsider and Wuthering Heights (forgive me this list ... I've not read some others that are undoubtedly great and perhaps deserving of my praise).

From Hell is not for the delicate of heart. I demands work. It demands that you stare at the horror and not simply turn the page with a desire to get past the horror because Moore and Campbell demand that you engage with the horror and cut deep, to the bone, to discover what it is that makes us terrible and wonderful.

The changes this masterpiece (superior to Watchmen and The Killing Joke and V for Vendetta) have wrought on storytelling, on the comic form and even on me are unclear at the moment. But they will be real, and with the benefit of hindsight they will be traceable to From Hell.
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 2 books716 followers
January 20, 2023
I put off reading this a decade ago after a. watching the awful film adaptation and b. reading Watchmen, Moore's 'magnum opus', which was remarkably overlong and horribly pretentious (OH COME ON, ALAN, WHY THE PIRATES???). But then Kindle Unlimited offered me a three-month free trial and, being Scottish, I jumped on the chance to save a few pennies. Long story short, I was writing a picture book and looking for inspiration and this was free on KU so I clicked the download button and, actually, it wasn't so bad at all. It WAS a bit overlong, but it was blessedly pirate-free, and remained on-point from the first page to the last. Far from perfect, but still, it's a four from me, Jim.
Profile Image for Belarius.
67 reviews14 followers
January 29, 2008
From Hell is a brick of a book by legendary author Alan Moore. It presents one theory (since discredited) about the Jack The Ripper killings, and in so doing presents us with the story from every conceivable angle. The result is an exhaustive (albeit fictional) account of a sweeping slice of Victorian landscape.

From Hell is dense, multi-layered, and overflowing with an obsessive connect-the-dots tone that fancifully associates the events to everything from Aleister Crowley's childhood to Hitler's conception. The murders are, of course, the central events of the book, and are depicted as an elaborate Masonic ritual by the killer (with pages and pages of Masonic theory to boot), but devotes considerable time to even the minor characters, a sort of pantheistic character study of an entire society.

There is little doubt that From Hell is a "great work" from a strictly literary perspective. Its devilish intricacy and boldly experimental approach make it a pioneering achievement. At the same time, it is not an enjoyable read. Setting aside for a moment its most uncomfortable moments (most notably a gruesomely detailed depiction of every step involved in the Ripper's most famous killing), large patches of the text are dull and technical. Other tangents, presumably included for "completeness," seem superfluous and distract from the central focus of the story.

Making matters worse is the artwork of Eddie Campbell, which can kindly be called "pen-and-ink impressionism" and less kindly be called "chickenscratch." Apart from robbing much of the story of the shading a black-and-white style needs to really breath, it also often makes it extremely difficult to recognize characters. Readers must depend on gross physical characteristics (weight, facial hair, outfit) to keep track of which character is which in many cases.

Ironically, the best part of the book is an appendix comic-essay called "The Dance of the Gull Catchers," which explores the difficulty of studying the history of the killings. Moore and Campbell also provide an exhaustive overview of which parts of the story are fictionalized and which have some basis in reality, an exceptionally rare move in historical graphic fiction.

On the back cover, Moore states, "For my part I am concerned with cutting into and examining the still-warm corpse of history itself." This, we can all agree, he has done. The sad truth, however, is that this examination, while epic and masterful, still isn't especially rewarding to watch.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,979 followers
April 8, 2017
I'm torn on this one. I mean, sure, it's Jack the Ripper and Alan Moore and it's supposed to be this grand masterpiece, but to me it just feels mostly like some kind of disjointed hodge-podge collection of personas that simultaneously lift up and denigrate both the East Side women and everyone else, nearly randomly, until much later in the comic when things finally tie together into a mystical extravaganza that is both surprising and feeling rather out of place.

What do I mean? Well, throw out the movie version, for starters. Keep the bits about William Gull, REALLY emphasise the importance of Masonic conspiracy theories and the connection to the crown, and then, after you're thoroughly grounded in all the blood and gore and the feeling like nothing really matters, top it all off with a dose of Alan Moore's more odd explorations in the human psyche and/or WOW mysticism.

Fortunately, I've read Jerusalem.
From Hell goes there, serving as a freaky introduction to life without time, magical incantations, demons, and the power of location upon magic.

This part is worth all the apparent slog of most of the rest of the comic. (At least for me, but I love literature of ideas and oddities and complex plots.)

Will people hate me if I was rather bored with long segments of this story? That I only really started perking up to it with Gull's becoming Virgil?

Still, in the end, I really liked it and I thought it was rather cool how all the well-researched conspiracies tied it back in. I did, however, have a hell of a time with reading the text. It hurt my eyes.
Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews9,789 followers
April 3, 2015
Ripperology is a mess of theories and conspiracies, an impossible puzzle which obsessive writers turn into narratives that tell us more about the author than about crime or murder. Moore knows this as well as anyone, pointing out in his afterward that the whole thing has become a silly game, a masturbatory immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with discussions on the levels of Star Wars canon or Gandalf's particular racial background.

I read this not with a notion that by the end I'd come to understand the ins and outs of the Ripper case, but to witness yet another of Moore's masterful deconstructions of the stories we like to tell ourselves. If the story had followed the approach laid out in the afterward, I'd be writing a much different review today, one about the presentation of truths and untruths, of allowing the narrative to deconstruct itself, to fall apart while at the same time drawing ever closer to some fundamental truth about storytelling, about our need for stories, our urge to make patterns out of nonsense.

That is an approach I'd expect from Moore--but Moore's presentation here is altogether too precise, too small, too lucid to really capture the grand mythology of The Ripper, a figure larger than any one story, any one account. There are a few excellent moments that draw this simple little story out of itself: strange glimpses of the future, a recognition of an age that is dying (which is in fact about to be brutally murdered, its blood flowing through the gutters of all the great cities of Europe) but these threads are not fully explored. They are secondary to the neatly tied-up story, rather than its nebulous core.

The long chapter where the killer wanders the city, explaining all the little particulars of his madness, was less than I have come to expect from Moore. Such a lengthy and unbroken piece of naked exposition detracted from the notion that this was a story at all. As a reader, I want to be shown ideas, I want them to dance before me in all their permutations, then gradually coalesce into something more--a task which I know is not too great for Moore. Instead I received a lecture. Never have I known Moore to do so little to take advantage of the unique physical capabilities of the comic medium.

I also found Eddie Campbell's artwork terribly disappointing. The Mid- to Late Victorian is the single most fruitful period in the history of the pen and ink drawing style. Everything that we have done since then is merely a rehash of the pure variety and invention developed by those artists. One can study the art of the period to the exclusion of all else for a lifetime, and after fifty years, still keep discovering new masters, new styles and forms you've never even heard of before--an embarrassment of riches fathomless to plumb.

With so much to choose from, so much material from which to take inspiration, I was nonplussed by the sketchy, lackluster lines chosen define this story. The sense of individual characters is simply not there--instead we tend to see the same faces and forms, over and over. There is little sense of form or gesture, flow and movement are lacking, and worse, the stark balance between the white and black spaces--the very power of pen-and-ink work--is absent.

The anatomy is particularly slipshod--especially when aping a period when anatomical precision was such a central, defining aspect of art. I don't merely mean classical forms--the Victorian was also notable for stylized caricatures, as in Punch's--but there still must be a precision there, a delineation of lines, a purpose within the artist's hand. I understand the concept of an unsure, muddy world, a world of the past, seen through a thousand conspiracy theories and lies, but that thrust of history must still be presented with a sense of forcefulness, a trajectory--or better yet, many trajectories.

I think of Duncan Fegredo, the greatest living comic artist, and his work on Peter Milligan's remarkable Enigma : it was slipshod, loose, and fluid, refusing to be confined, yet it still managed to be forceful, impressionistic, and vividly alive. Some of Campbell's panels are better than others, reaching a height which would have easily carried the book, but alas, the common lot is of (literally) shaky quality.

That is the visual form I would have hoped for here, but overall, the work seems to be a case of good ideas lacking the execution to match them. Moore's concept was beautifully grand and imprecise, but the end result was a narrative much too narrow to hold it. Contrarily, Campbell's art was too broad and nonspecific to capture the weight and thrust of history--even if it is an invented history.

My Suggested Readings in Comics
Profile Image for Devann.
2,434 reviews134 followers
July 23, 2018
God this has to be about the most boring thing I've read this year. Well, I read maybe ...20% of it ...then I started skimming it ...then by about the 60% point I was literally just looking at the pictures because I cannot explain with words how MIND NUMBINGLY DULL THIS IS. I'm sure I'll get tons of shit for this, especially because Moore famously hates all adaptations of his work, but just go watch the movie lmao.

I just ...don't even understand the point of it because all that stuff you find out at the end of the movie is literally the FIRST CHAPTER in this so like ...you know the entire plot twist and who committed the murders right from the start so all that's left is a bunch of pretentious rambling for 500 pages coupled with annoying sketchy black and white artwork and a lot of awkward sex scenes. Someone else said they thought it was 'intentionally unreadable' and I mean that does sound like Moore, but it's still a dick move and awful to read. Bleh.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,138 followers
August 5, 2015
"This is the house that Jack built".......ends the first chapter.

FROM HELL by Alan Moore is a monster of a hard cover (comic) book depicting the gruesome Whitechapel murders committed by the notorious Jack The Ripper and investigated by Scotland Yard in the late 1800's.

While a work of fiction, this book includes a greatly expanded and detailed Appendix with factual notations as well as educated speculation (from the author) for each chapter and a period map of London giving the reader much food for thought.

But BEWARE........Visually morbid and x-rated illustrations of various sexual acts including autopsies and dissections are pictured throughout the story.

Bang-tails (whores).....Blackmail.....Treason.....and scandalous activities combined with the evil doings of the Freemason Brotherhood come together to tell Jack's bloody story of butchery. 4.5 Stars

Profile Image for Jonathan.
714 reviews82 followers
June 7, 2021
An interesting and (To me) unique take on Jack the Ripper. I admit I do not know more than precursory knowledge on Jack; I've never heard of the theory that it was a Royal Family cover-up.

So to me, this was a delicious tale. Unfortunately, the art, which is bleak and evocative, just didn't gel with me. It certainly fits the story, but I wish it were better somehow.

I also very much appreciated how Alan Moore, at the end of the book, took us through page by page and explained the historical accuracy of each scene, his references and why/how he chose to do what he did.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,440 reviews829 followers
November 3, 2021
This isn’t really one to ‘enjoy’ as such because of the content although the quality was excellent. Moore uses the royal connection as the true version of what happened. It seemed plausible enough to me, especially the involvement of the free masons. Doctor Gull was horrible. *shudder*.
Profile Image for Marcos GM.
278 reviews101 followers
July 29, 2022
Que se puede decir de esta obra que no se haya dicho ya...pero lo intentaré.

Es una obra hecha a conciencia, con una cantidad de investigación ingente que merece su propio libro (de hecho lo hay) y que usa el autor para contarnos algo que puede haber sido real pero que seguramente nunca se sabrá.

La historia de Jack el destripador siempre ha suscitado morbo e incertidumbre, y esta obra se decanta por algo que puede ser plausible, pero siempre dejando claro que es la visión del autor. Tiene escenas realmente duras, que hecho con otro artista se habría convertido en grotesco, pero que el dibujo feista que usa Eddie Campbell nos permite afrontar sin sentir náuseas. El dibujo por cierto es en ocasiones realmente espectacular, y en otras parece más una serie de bocetos rápidos, pero que no desentona en ningún momento.

El volumen que yo he leído incluye unos apéndices en que el autor nos explica de donde sale prácticamente cada cosa tratada en la obra, y es en sí mismo digno de leerse.

Como único punto negativo y es cosa mía totalmente, lo de los masones me aburre mucho y todos los delirios del personaje de Gull me cuestan un poco, pero es porque no me interesa ese tema.
Una obra maestra sin paliativos.
Profile Image for Gianfranco Mancini.
2,198 reviews754 followers
May 7, 2021

La Corazzata Potëmkin di tutti i Graphic Novel

Per anni, il mio modesto giudizio critico su questo capolavoro é stato più o meno ingiusto, complici i disegni che non mi attiravano per nulla, la mole del tomo, ed il prezzo non indifferente.
Grazie ad un purtroppo ormai defunto gruppo di lettura su Goodreads e ad un colpo di fortuna (ho trovato il volume in offerta a meno di metà prezzo) mi sono finalmente deciso a fare il grande passo.

Il primo approccio, dopo una introduzione dell'autore che mi ha messo i brividi, é stato quello temuto: disegni orrendi, dialoghi logorroici ed appendice integrativa finale da leggere dopo ogni capitolo se volete capirci qualcosa... insomma, una vera e propria mattonata.

Finito l'interminabile quarto capitolo, con i suoi soporiferi sproloqui su massoneria ed architettura delle chiese londinesi costruite da Hawkmoor, un flash: la storia ingrana lasciandomi a bocca aperta più e più volte (ma le storie di Alan Moore mi fanno più o meno tutte questo effetto) e rivaluto completamente i disegni di Eddie Campbell, perfettamente integrati ed adatti al racconto: non più una semplice indagine sull'assassino più famoso negli annali della storia, la cui ferocia si può dire diede inizio concretamente al Ventesimo secolo, ma un'opera monumentale basata su una accurata (e maniacale) ricostruzione storica (alla quale hanno contribuito in minima parte anche Dave Gibbons e Neil Gaiman, compagni di "merende" di Moore ai tempi di Watchmen e Spawn).

Dimenticatevi l'omonimo (bel) film con Johnny Depp: From Hell di Moore & Campbell é un sontuoso affresco, a tratti allucinato e disturbante, pieno di metafore sull'animo umano e sulla violenza, permeato da un cupo e macabro realismo, ambientato in una Londra vittoriana che più sporca, evocativa e tetra non si può, la cui lettura non va affrontata come un semplice fumetto/graphic novel, ma come un'opera impegnativa che può dare o meno molte soddisfazioni ai fan dell'autore, mentre il lettore occasionale farà probabilmente bene a tenersene alla larga.

E a tutti quelli che come me hanno criticato i disegni di Campbell, e che magari avrebbero preferito un disegnatore iper-dettagliato e realistico stile Jacen Burrows (artista della trilogia lovecraftiana di Providence scritta dallo stesso Moore) io dico: gli omicidi di Marie Kelly e le sue sventurate compagne da parte di "Jack" qui raffigurati, non sono già fin troppo disturbanti?

Per quanto riguarda l'appendice finale con tutte le teorie dei vari "Squartatorologi" (Moore & Campbell inclusi) io l'ho trovata a tratti esilarante.

Un Romanzo a Fumetti che ogni lettore dovrebbe prima o poi leggere in vita sua.
Profile Image for Maria Lago.
442 reviews95 followers
February 19, 2020
Ya no se puede hablar de Moore sin que terceros salten a la yugular de cualquiera que discrepe con sus teorías personales. Pero me arriesgo: From Hell me parece la obra maestra de Alan Moore.
Me arriesgo porque me gustaría recomendar esta novela gráfica a todos aquellos que sienten curiosidad por este tipo de cosas (me refiero a cómics, historia, asesinos en serie, misterios, terror, arte gráfico, etc.), pues este cómic es el resultado de un enorme trabajo de investigación e interés personal, cuya genuina motivación queda patente en la elaborada trama, una trama que no deja cabos sueltos. Ni uno.
¿Podríamos decir entonces que Moore ha resuelto el caso de Jack el Destripador? Yo lo digo.
Y Campbell, con sus ilustraciones negras y extrañas, con su estilo poco acabado, como sucio, no hace sino añadir una pátina de terror, otra más, a la que ya de por sí es una historia escalofriante.
Solo me resta añadir que el tratamiento de estrella al asesino, del que pecan tantísimas películas, libros y cómics, está aquí completamente ausente. En cambio, las víctimas tienen rostro y personalidad propias; son ellas, junto a la malsana sociedad británica de la época, las protagonistas.
Profile Image for Kosta Voukelatos .
24 reviews18 followers
February 2, 2020
From Hell is a graphic novel that closely follows the mystery and intrigue surrounding Jack the Ripper. I found it to be a harrowing investigation of the motivations that can lead someone to commit such gruesome atrocities. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who is interested in true crime or murder mysteries.
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,944 reviews158 followers
June 24, 2017
Alan Moore's From Hell could rightfully be called a masterpiece. It is a large tome measuring in at 510 pages of story and 70 pages of annotated notes. It is the last part that truly imparts the tremendous amount of research Mr. Moore conducted on From Hell. Whether or not you will agree with his stated concept is the reader's choice, but do not let it prevent you from reading this wonderful work.

From Hell tells a story on a vast canvas. That canvas is the Victorian Era of London. This book is not only a retelling of the Jack the Ripper crimes, but it is also a tour guide to Victorian London, it has social commentary on the rights of women and the rigid thinking associated with the Victorians. The feel of the story, supplemented by the grim but very appropriate black and white artwork, is one of the miserable, grimy, almost inhuman conditions of the poor Whitechapel slums and the posh, shining and obviously wealthy sections of London where the gentlemen and aristocrats lived.

Moore puts forth the idea that Prince Albert, heir to the Throne, was having an illicit affair with a Whitechapel based prostitute. This affair results in a secret ceremony (where the Prince used a fictitious identity) of marriage and eventually in a child. When Queen Victoria finds out she has Prince Albert confined to the Palace and the wretched prostitute sent to Bedlam, the famous madhouse. Here we meet the brilliant Doctor and Freemason- Sir William Gull. Dr. Gull, operating as a loyal Freemason helps the Crown to cover up this delicate turn of events.

Eventually local prostitutes figured out what happened to one of their own and threaten to tell the sordid tale of the Prince, the Prostitute and the Bastard. This leads to Queen Victoria's request to Dr. Gull to "deal" with the situation. Sadly Dr. Gull is a complete and utter loon. His solution and the subsequent police, media and local reactions are perfectly captured by the rest of the story as it unfolds. Mr. Moore's look at Victorian London shows all the myriad forces at work in creating the Jack mythos. Moore also depicts Dr. Gull as a beacon leading towards the new century. Sometimes in the midst of his orgy of destruction, Dr. Gull will project himself into the future and see's the modern world. Moore implies that it was Jack that ushered in this "new age".

The art is completely done in black and white. Normally, I do not care for art that lacks detail but for this grim and dark story-the art just fits. Subtle touches such as depicting the Whitechapel slums as grimy and dirty by using an art style that emphasizes the shadows and the filth, whereas whenever he would depict the ordinary life of Sir Gull the art style was closer to a painted style which emphasized the opulence of the class of men such as Dr. Gull. The art also serves to frame the gory murders-which are recreated in this story slash by slash. Just a warning for the squeamish.

From Hell is many things. It is a graphic novel, yet it is a great work of fiction as well. It paints a vivid and often brutally honest view of Victorian London. It is well researched and while the historical accuracy of the Dr. Gull scenario is often debated by experts, Mr. Moore's tale does not lack for plausibility. I would recommend this to a broad swathe of readers- from those who would appreciate a true work of art to those who are interested in the Jack the Ripper tale. A truly wonderful look at the genius of Alan Moore.
Profile Image for Ona.
156 reviews24 followers
July 12, 2017
DNF - I had to stop torturing myself. The art work was white/black OK I don't have the problem with that, but when in some frames you can not even recognize characters or read text properly. It makes you confused an uninterested in the story.
Profile Image for Javier Muñoz.
791 reviews70 followers
August 25, 2017
Durante mucho tiempo he estado retrasando la lectura de este cómic, casi todo lo que escribe Moore es muy denso y From Hell tiene fama de ser el cómic más denso que ha escrito hasta la fecha, además el tema que trata nunca me ha llamado demasiado la atención y el dibujo de Eddie Campbell digamos que no es que atraiga a primera vista precisamente y luego está el tema de los apéndices, estoy harto de oir que son de lectura obligatoria, y a mi eso de interrumpir la lectura de un cómic para irme al final del tomo a leer las anotaciones del autor cada dos páginas no me gusta un pelo... el caso es que después de tanta reticencia al final me armé de paciencia y me puse con ello... y aquí estoy tres días después poniéndole cinco estrellas y con la cabeza explotada por varios sitios, este es uno de esos extraños casos en que mi experiencia con un cómic de culto supera las expectativas previas.

From Hell es una reinterpretación más de los asesinatos de whitechapel de otoño de 1888, ¿otra búsqueda más de la identidad de Jack el destripador? en realidad no. Moore nos ofrece una posible solución a los crímenes, un posible culpable, pero en todo momento nos hace conscientes de que esto es simplemente un relato literario en forma de cómic, una historia contada tomando como base la información de la que dispone. En este relato entran en juego la casa real británica, los francmasones, múltiples elementos históricos y mitológicos, la ciudad de Londres como protagonista imprescindible, y un gran elenco de personajes, investigadores, testigos, victimas, cómplices... el trabajo de documentación de los autores es exhaustivo, aunque hay muchas partes del relato que son invención de los autores, todo tiene su justificación lógica basada en datos recogidos en múltiples trabajos de investigación escritos a lo largo de los años. Moore coge todos los datos en su poder y construye una historia redonda con múltiples ramificaciones y muchos elementos ocultos, mitológicos y esotéricos.

En principio puede resultar un poco duro adentrarse en este cómic, en los primeros capítulos se nos exponen gran cantidad de personajes y sucesos entre los que no encontramos relación, muchos detalles que no adquirirán significado hasta más adelante... el punto de inflexión lo tenemos en el capítulo cuatro, en el que se nos ofrece un recorrido por el Londres oculto y mitológico, con la arquitectura de la ciudad como protagonista indiscutible, después de eso, la trama comienza a avanzar con paso firme y todas las piezas van cayendo en su lugar.

Después de leer este cómic he de reconocer que aunque se pueda hacer un poco duro sobretodo al principio, la lectura de los apéndices me parece esencial para el óptimo entendimiento de la obra, es más, creo que lo mejor es ir leyendo los apéndices según se lee el cómic, en paralelo; nos dará una mejor percepción de los acontecimientos y los personajes, nos aportará múltiples anotaciones históricas y mitológicas, nos pondrá en alerta sobre detalles que se pueden pasar por alto fácilmente y sobretodo nos hará apreciar el gran esfuerzo de Moore a la hora de documentarse, este hombre no da puntada sin hilo.

El dibujo de Eddie Campbell como digo en principio no es muy atractivo, pero refleja a la perfección la ambientación en el londres victoriano, sus gentes, las formas de vestir de la época y la oscuridad necesaria en una obra como esta... creo que el artista hace un gran trabajo y se nota la atención al detalle y el esfuerzo por ofrecer un retrato veraz y fiel de la época.
Profile Image for Hendrik.
409 reviews77 followers
June 15, 2020
Die S/W-Zeichnungen sind nicht schlecht, auch die Darstellung des viktorianischen London ist gut gelungen, aber insgesamt war die Story rund um das Rätsel der Whitechapel-Morde etwas lahm. Von Anfang an wird um die Hintergründe kein großes Geheimnis gemacht, was der Erzählung ein wenig die Spannung nimmt. Nach dem ersten Mord ist im Grunde bereits alles über die Grausamkeit und die Motivation des Täters gesagt. Die anderen Morde sind dann letztlich nur Variationen des bereits Gezeigten, ohne noch groß überraschen zu können. Ein anderer Kritikpunkt betrifft den ausführlichen Anmerkungsapparat. Der Autor hat zweifellos eine Menge Arbeit ins Quellenstudium gesteckt, um möglichst viel davon in seiner Geschichte zu verarbeiten. Allerdings stellt sich die Frage, weshalb er einen Großteil der Informationen nicht gleich in seinen Zeichnungen untergebracht hat, sondern den Leser nötigt sich erst durch die Anmerkungen zu arbeiten. Einige Szenen sind ohne die Erläuterungen absolut unverständlich, wodurch der Lesefluss erheblich leidet. So gesehen bleibt es bei einem interessanten Versuch den Ripper-Mythos als Graphic Novel umzusetzen, aber das Ergebnis überzeugt leider nicht ganz.
Profile Image for Jason Pettus.
Author 18 books1,279 followers
April 22, 2008
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

So in what I think is a first since opening CCLaP last year, I got a chance recently to not only read a book for the first time but also watch a movie based on it for the first time in the same week; in this case, it was the "Jack The Ripper" conspiracy tale From Hell, with the original 1999 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell and the subsequent 2001 movie version by Allen and Albert Hughes, known professionally as The Hughes Brothers. I thought it'd be fun, then, to take a cue off the Onion AV Club's "Book Versus Film" essay series, and write one review encompassing them both; I'm not expecting this to happen very often in my life, though, so don't hold your breath waiting for this to become a regular series.

And indeed, the only reason I took on the original graphic novel in the first place is because I'm a big fan of Moore's, with this for example being the fifth full-length project of his I've now read (after Watchmen , Miracleman, V For Vendetta, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen); and the reason I'm such a big fan of Moore's is because he is one of the most complex writers in the history of the comics format, penning project after project that not only have the gravitas of a traditional text-based novel but that perfectly exploit why they could only be published as comic books anyway. And in fact From Hell is yet another good example of what I'm talking about; set right before the turn of the 20th century, in the waning years of the Victorian Era, it relies as much on the pacing of the graphic boxes on each page as it does on the plot itself, with Moore deliberately breaking the story at certain points precisely because of knowing that it's where that page will end in the finished book.

Taking place in a grimy, crime-filled East End London, like I said this is Moore's take on the infamous Jack The Ripper legend, the notorious serial killer from the late 1800s who was famously never caught nor even identified; and this being Moore, of course, his take on the whole affair is a complicated and fantastical one, a grand conspiracy involving the royal family, an illegitimate child, the Freemasons, a respected surgeon who doubles as a violent psychopath, brain strokes misinterpreted as religious visions, Medieval Christian churches whose architects snuck pagan references into the plans...oh, and a little time travel to boot, just in case Moore hasn't screwed with your head enough at this point. In fact, the more you read the massive From Hell (which, be warned, is almost 600 pages long), the more you realize that the Ripper story isn't really the main reason Moore even wrote this in the first place; this is more of a dark love letter to the city of London itself, one of the bastions of Western civilization and a place so steeped in history according to Moore that you can almost taste it while there. Like many of his other projects, Moore's main theme here in From Hell is actually the complex and hidden patterns that are layered one by one by society onto history, of how these overlapping patterns both work in tandem and against each other, and how in a place like London it results in a 3,000-year-old matrix of power and magic, full of "hot spots" around the city where literally dozens of important events have all transpired over the centuries.

Ah, but then this delicate web is handed over to The Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society), and things start falling apart alarmingly fast; there's a reason, after all, that this was the movie to make Moore famously declare that he will never again in his life sell the film rights to any of his future projects. Although to be completely fair, the problem is not really with The Hughes Brothers per se (although as directors of the project, they are the ones ultimately accountable for the finished film); no, the real mess starts right off the bat with the muddled, messy script by Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias, who surprisingly enough have a number of solid movies in their pasts (including Death and the Maiden, Payback, and Mad Max: Road Warrior), so you would think would know better. For example, the character Johnny Depp plays in the movie version is in actuality an amalgam of three different characters from the original book -- a policeman, a psychic, and a crazed opium addict -- not to mention that in the book, these three characters are supposed to not like each other, with personalities that naturally clash against the other two. Then add the fact that in the book, the psychic is actually fake, and admits so right on page 2 of the manuscript; in the movie, however, Depp's psychic visions are supposed to be real, brought on by the massive amounts of opium he is constantly smoking in seedy Chinatown dens, yet with all of this being suspiciously tolerated by his bosses at Scotland Yard.

It essentially turns the film version of From Hell into a schizophrenic disaster, a movie that can't decide if it's a fact-based police procedural, a horror movie with supernatural elements, or the Hollywood version of a historical thriller (i.e. the Victorian prostitutes are way too hot to be actual Victorian prostitutes). Say what you will about Alan Moore's writing style (which I admit can get awfully overblown at points, especially when he was younger), but at least he is a master at putting together a sharply focused yet wildly digressive story, and smart enough to understand how two such seemingly competitive elements can actually complement each other when done in the right way. It's a lesson that completely eluded the group of people responsible for the movie version; and that's why the book version of From Hell is ultimately so brilliant, and why the film version is ultimately so terrible.

Out of 10:
Book: 9.0
Movie: 4.5
Profile Image for Michael.
1,530 reviews153 followers
Shelved as 'abandoned'
June 14, 2020
Wer sich als Leser auf dieses Mammutprojekt einlässt, tut gut daran, schon einiges Hintergrundwissen über die Protagonisten und Theorien rund um die Whitechapel Morde zu haben. Moores FROM HELL ist kunstvoll konzipiert und extrem anspielungsreich. Mit Campbell hat er einen Zeichner gefunden, der das Szenario / Drehbuch sicherlich ganz in seinem Sinne umgesetzt hat: filmisch anmutende Perspektivwechsel, Symbole und Details wollen erkannt und gedeutet werden.
Das alles stellt den Leser vor keine kleine Herausforderung, ist aber auch faszinierend und beeindruckend. Das Lettering hingegen habe ich als katastrophale Frechheit empfunden; ich kam mir wie ein Gelehrter vor, der über assyrischen Schriftrollen brütet, bei dem Versuch, die kleine und krakelige Schrift zu entziffern.
So sehr mich Moores Blick auf die viktorianische Gesellschaft und ihre grundlegende Misogynie beeindruckt haben, habe ich das Buch nach fünf Kapiteln erst einmal beiseite gelegt. Es ist nichts, was ich in einem Rutsch bewältigen kann / will.
Profile Image for Anthony.
781 reviews57 followers
March 23, 2015
I bought this digitally from comiXology back in 2013 when it was on sale. I can't remember how much I paid for it (probably around £3/£4). And then it sat on my iPad for over year, unread and taking up space. One day, I decided to give it a go.

I think one should approach this not as a comic, or even a graphic novel, but as a prose novel. It's a very dense read, and requires a lot of your time and attention. But I don't say this as a criticism. Once you get past the first 100 pages or so, it turns out to be a very fulfilling read.

Painstakingly researched and crafted by both Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, From Hell tells the tale of the White Chapel and Jack the Ripper murders. If you come to this after seeing the Johnny Depp film, you'll be in for a shock, as the original source material that the film is based on is much more layered and in depth and quite frankly a lot better than the Hollywood film.

There's an appendix in the back which goes into detail of the research process Moore went into when writing the book.

There's a lot of myth behind the Jack the Ripper killings, and at times it might be difficult for someone to tell what the difference is between fact and fiction, or if there's even a line between the two at all. Moore brings all the research together to tell a story that's enjoyable for someone who might not be well versed in the factual knowledge of the white chapel murders.

I feel better for having finished it (after it, admittedly, taking me a while) and I think you will too.
Profile Image for Bradley Timm.
3 reviews9 followers
February 25, 2011
I find this book to be criminally overlooked; whether its relevance to the god awful adaptation by the Hughes Bros. has anything to do with it or not.

Here is what I consider to be Alan Moore's personal best work. When I finished "From Hell" I had a profound, inescapable feeling that I just learned something very important about mankind and human nature on such a level that it was difficult to quantify. The work is at once clinical, unsympathetic and uncomfortable, yet these reactions are so intense that one can only approve of Moores effective allegories. In choosing to employ the retro illustration style of artist Eddie Campbell served to compound the authenticity of his time-warp to the gritty streeys of London in the 1800's.

The story itself is an examination of the world through the educated dimentia of Jack the Ripper, who manages to make compelling, if not twisted, arguments for his double life as both a respected Physician of high society, but a murderer and mutilator of woman in the world first profession.

One could teach a short course on "Moore's" thoroughly researched gift to contemporary literature, but I'm content just highly recommending it to adventurous readers.
Profile Image for Steffi.
955 reviews199 followers
June 9, 2020
Diese hochgelobte Graphic Novel hinterlässt bei mir einen zwiespältigen Eindruck:
Absolut großartig finde ich die zahlreichen Anspielungen und das schier unglaublich umfangreiche Personal, das aus vielen historischen Figuren besteht. Da wären nicht nur direkt am Fall beteiligte Personen wie der Ermittler Frederick Abberline, die Opfer und verschiedenen Tatverdächtigen, sondern Figuren, die man anderweitig kennt: Nicholas Hawksmoor, Queen Victoria, Buffalo Bill, William Blake, der Elefantenmensch, Oscar Wilde… Zudem immer wieder Namen, Mythen, Orte und Gegebenheiten, die man recherchieren möchte und die zu einem ganz eigenen, wenn auch düsteren Bild Londons im späten 19. Jahrhundert führen. Dass dabei auch allerhand wüste Verschwörungstheorien zusammengesponnen werden, kann ich angesichts dieses atemberaubenden Kosmos gut verzeihen.

Mit dem Zeichenstil bin ich nie warm geworden. Das ist mir zu krakelig, zu wenig erkennbar, ja gerade zu lieblos. Dass ich damit hadere, hat sicher auch mit meiner mageren Comic-Erfahrung zu tun, aber ich fürchte, dass selbst die angekündigte colorierte Version da nur wenig helfen wird. Und zudem war die Geschichte ja auch in Schwarz-Weiß konzipiert.
Der zweite Kritikpunkt ist gewissermaßen die Kehrseite dessen, was ich oben überschwänglich lobe. Sehr viel muss dem Laien und selbst dem „Ripperlogen“ erklärt werden, was einen sehr umfangreichen Anmerkungsteil zur Folge hat. Den zu lesen, reißt einen aus dem Lesefluss, ihn zu ignorieren dagegen zu manchem Verständnisproblem. Ńur weil ich das Buch in der Gruppe gelesen habe, fand ich immer Antworten auf meine Fragen, ohne sklavisch an diesem Teil des Buches zu kleben.
Und schließlich hätten es auch gerne ein paar Seiten weniger sein können. Bei mir war irgendwann ein bisschen die Luft raus.
Profile Image for Rory Wilding.
639 reviews24 followers
February 9, 2017
Although he has been radical with his comic book work, Alan Moore has been dragged into the mainstream due to the fact that films have been made, based on his comics. This started with the 2001 loose adaptation of From Hell: Moore and Eddie Campbell’s graphic exploration of the Jack the Ripper murders. What we got from the Hughes brothers’ film is a visually impressive but predictable “whodunit” slasher. In the case of the source material – originally published in serial form from 1989 to 1996 and collected in 1999 – it is a different beast altogether.

When Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence marries and fathers a child with a shop girl in London's East End, Queen Victoria becomes aware of the marriage and has Albert separated forcibly from his wife, whom she places in an asylum where the queen’s royal physician Sir William Gull is instructed to impair the wife’s insanity. After resolving this potentially scandalous matter, Gull begins a campaign of violence against Annie’s friends who are a group of prostitutes, thus donning the Jack the Ripper persona as conceived by the British media.

At this point in time, Jack the Ripper is more myth than man as there have been many theories over the serial killer’s identity, as well as being dramatized through different media over the decades; you could say he’s more of a fictional construct nowadays. In the case of From Hell, it is not about who the Ripper was, but really what motivated the Ripper. With a fictionalised Sir William Gull depicted as the murderer, the story centres on a highly educated physician with a love of quoting history committing the most gruesome murders in Victorian history, which he sees as his artistic masterpiece.

Despite the central subject, From Hell is an ensemble piece which also explores other cultural angles within Victorian London, from the painter Walter Sickert who became a key figure in the modern art movement, to the prostitute which became an icon of the working lives of the impoverished and disenfranchised. The greatest achievement of Moore’s writing here is how cleverly positions the act of Jack the Ripper as the gateway into the 20th Century, with Gull even hallucinating the foreseeable future, ultimately losing his mind.

Much like V for Vendetta and Watchmen, From Hell retains the traditional nine-panel grid. Known for his scratchy pen-and-ink style, Eddie Campbell captures the murkiness of Victorian London as he doesn’t shy away from the vulgarity that was happening at the time, from the pornographic sex to the surgical killings. Certainly the most graphic sequence of the book goes to Chapter Ten which depicts the final murder as the many panels go into great detail into how Gull dissected the victim, whilst at the time having visions of 20th Century architecture and technology.

No doubt that this is a thick book and certainly requires a level of attention to examine every tiny detail, but it is benefit to Alan Moore who is always pushing the comics medium and with his exploration into what made the Ripper ticked, From Hell is a must-read as long as you can stomach it.
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