12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2003
No amount of hyperbole can do this book the justice it deserves.
Quite simply it is stunning, gob-smacking, fantastic, gripping, repulsive, compelling, hilarious, shocking, chilling...(add any extra superlatives you like)...
Impossible to summarise just how much of an effect this book had after the first time I read it. You won't so much read From Hell as experience it, it is just that good.
If you've seen the film and were not impressed please ignore it, the book has so many layers that can be peeled back and enjoyed with repeated readings.
Also do take the time to read the comprehensive appendices at the back that detail the considerable amount of research that has been made in the production of what I feel is a modern masterpiece.
One warning, it's not for the faint of heart, containing a chapter that I feel is more violent than any film I've ever seen.
Another triumph by Alan Moore, can the man do no wrong?
In conclusion, buy it, buy it, buy it, buy it, buy it.
(I am not a representative of the Alan Moore fanclub either).
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2001
The most important thing about this book is that it isn't really a Jack The Ripper story at all. It's about the way that incredible events echo and have repercussions through the years and it's about the birth of the twentieth century.
What I found really fascinating was the way that Alan and Eddie managed to use the facts and theories that have been kicking about for years and pull them all together into this astonishing narrative. It's not an attempt to give the definitive answers to the mystery of Jack the Ripper, it's a work of fiction using facts where it can to reveal a far more interesting story.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2003
Many others have commented on the sheer brilliance of 'From Hell' as a graphic novel; in my opinion, makes it truly great is the two Epilogues. The story itself is as good as everyone here has said, and more. Moore's humanity and sympathy for the Whitechapel killer's victims shines through in his treatment of the killings, whilst being a fascinating insight into the origins of the 20th century. (And if that sounds worthy, it also has hefty amounts of sex, death and violence). The tenth chapter, covering the death of Mary Kelly, is stunning to read despite the horror of what was done to her. Moore is known for his willingness to think himself into different situations and characters; very few authors would have had the courage to imagine themselves as the Ripper, attacking his victim's corpse. Still fewer would have dared to try to understand the killer, to show why he did what he did.
But the two epilogues transform this already-impressive book into something even better. The first is a set of notes on the book, where Moore goes through it almost page by page, telling us what it was like to visit these places, explaining why he chose to have this character do this and inserting his own sardonic comments (describing himself on one occasion as 'making a living out of wrapping miserable killings up in supernatural twaddle'). Reading this is as close as most of us will ever get to understanding what it is like to try to write a piece of literature. The second, where he presents a potted history of 'Ripperology', is a savage and very clever attack on all those, including himself, who have made a living out of devising ever-more fanciful theories about the killings. The ending, in which Moore describes a visit to the 'Ring O'Bells' pub during his research, where he saw a stripper working there and wondered what had changed since the Victorian era, is simply one of the best endings I've ever read.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2001
With this book Alan Moore regains the crown as the greatest graphic novel writer. For so long untouchable in his field, recent works by Neil Gaiman had placed him firmly in my mind as the new number one. Until now. Don't read "From Hell" as an accurate investigation into the Whitechapel murders, read it as what it is, a wonderful fantasy. Unlike what another reviewer has claimed, this book will expand your knowledge of the Ripper case, by debunking most of the popular theories around today, including its own. If you're a fan of graphic novels don't miss this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Alan Moore's stated aim was to solve in fiction, that which could not be answered by conventional analysis or enquiry and my word, did he succeed.
A giant tower house of a thing, it must be one the most engrossing reads ever - part examination of the crimes, part critique of Victorian society, part history lesson and part mythical analysis. In some instances even one page can take ages to properly read and understand, but in each an every case it is well worth it. The epilogue `Dance of the Gull Catchers' should be required reading for anyone even remotely interested in history of any sort.
Eddie Campbell's black and white ink-style is wonderfully complimentary to the narrative; you simply couldn't imagine it any other way.
Well done to Topshelf for going all out with this edition - good quality paper (unlike other versions) and a good size and well bound. The only sadness for me was the lack of inclusion of Campbell's cover-paintings for each issue, but no doubt it was the financial consideration - I recommend seeking out the individual editions if you can, or have a look at Eddie Campbell's blog spot for more background and info.
Everyone always talks about `Watchmen' but this powerhouse beast of a thing must rank among Moore's best work, if only because it transcends it's own medium and genre to become something of real relevance way, way beyond what it's initial appearance suggests. I'm not even that curious about the case, but that is almost irrelevant because of the amount of insight this work has in a broader context.
I strongly urge anyone with even a passing interest to check this out - you are unlikely to be disappointed. And if you can, treat yourself to the hardback edition.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2006
As others have noted, this is not a comic book in the traditional sense... although, to be honest, if you're reading these reviews, then you know that already. Instead, what writer Alan Moore and illustrator Eddie Campbell have done with From Hell, is to create a dark and evocative meditation/recreation of the infamous Whitechapel murders, offering new perspectives and opinions surrounding the events and the potential suspects, whilst simultaneously offering us notions of time, place, mystery, character and intrigue (...not to mention the lashings of violence). To put it simply, it's a great detective story, and a work of historical rumination to rival Oliver Stone's JFK; as Moore's narrative offers enough historical accuracies to make even his most far-fetched and archaic of theories seem like the most plausible solution you could ever imagine.
Though the story is fascinating, and the characters that Moore creates are rich in detail and believable as human beings, the art work is another reason to pay attention. Avoiding the trap of making everything pristine and vibrant, like a lot of comic books or graphic novels, Campbell instead works exclusively in black and white, favouring scratched inks as opposed to lush pencils, and creating images that are as rich and sinister as the story itself. Many of the images look like frames taken from David Lynch's film The Elephant Man, with Campbell continuing that bleak, gloomy and positively rancid evocation of late 19th century London, which, not only gives us a sense of period detail that furthers the story and lends a greater air of plausibility to Moore's recreation, but also offers us some astounding images, motifs and iconography that is referenced back and forth throughout to create a greater sense of mystery and dramatic tension.
Whilst reading Moore's fantastic notations and finding yourself lost within Campbell's dark and worryingly realistic black and white imagery, you wonder how Hollywood got it so wrong when adapting the story in 2001. From Hell is a fine film if we judge it on it's own terms, but when comparing it to this fierce work of graphic literature it falls down flat... and you can't help but wonder why this happened; especially when we consider the fact that a graphic novel is essentially a film in still form. All the filmmakers had to do was bring it to life. Regardless of whether or not you enjoyed the film, From Hell, the graphic novel, is an experience in itself. The story is intelligently written with moments of deep thought and poetic recreation juxtaposing nicely with the profane descriptions of death and mutilation, whilst the art work, which gives us a real flavour to the dingy and dilapidated Whitechapel area (with it's garbage strew streets, smoky pubs and alleyways filled with freakish ladies of the night) also acts as a sort of underpinning to the deeper historical notions and iconography at the heart of the plot.
From Hell is a book that will not only appeal to fans of Alan Moore, or similarly dark graphic novels like Watchman, V for Vendetta, Batman: Year One, The Complete Maus and Sin City, but should also be of significance to those interested in the myth of Jack the Ripper, the whole of the Victorian era, serial killer fiction and case studies, or any kind of macabre or violent dramatic literature. So, in other words, it's the perfect Halloween reading material... or a companion for those dark autumn nights.
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 24 April 2002
My introduction both to Alan Moore and to the graphic novel medium in general, and I couldn't have asked for a better initiation.
This is easily one of the best novels I have ever read, graphic or otherwise. It can be taken on as many different levels as the reader wishes to - as an effective thriller story, as a touching, frequently heartrending portrayal of the real people involved in this event, as a meticulous reconstruction of the events of 1888, clearly outlined in the excellent appendix, or as a stunning meditation on psychology, sociology, mythology, the media and probably lots of other things which take more than one reading to uncover. The interplay between Moore's text and Eddie Campbell's brilliant illustrations frequently achieves a quality that is nothing short of genius; some scenes will remain forever etched in your memory as clearly as the best moments of film or literature.
Truly exceptional, completely indispensable.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2001
If all those people who never touch something as disgusting as a "comic" could be made to read one example I would make them read this. A masterpiece of writing, plotting and artwork. Certainly not for the faint of heart though, this contains images that could haunt you for a long time, it's certainly one of the few times when "graphic" really means what it says on the label in relation to graphic novels. Reminds me a lot of Kim Newman's "Anno Dracula" which mixes the Ripper story with other characters from fiction and reality. The film will soon be out although it will be hard pressed to do justice to such a fine book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell have excelled themselves with this excellent graphic novel telling the story of Jack the Ripper, who needs no introduction. The artwork is primarily pen and ink and blends well with the subject of this story. While the text can look a little spidery at times, it actually works well with the illustrations and so I think this is an excellent testament to the professionalism of Eddie Campbell.
The story itself is a very complex study of the Ripper murders and Alan Moore calls upon some of the greatest Ripperologists to weave the known facts with situations he sees as fiction but, nevertheless, events which could have taken place at the time. Once again, the mood depicted in the artwork captures Alan Moore's writing perfectly.
This is a book which cannot be read within a day or two. It has to read carefully and the artwork appreciated panel by panel. Furthermore, I strongly suggest reading a chapter and then turning to the back of the book and reading the annotations to the chapters. The explanations of the pages are excellent and 'From Hell' cannot fail to make sense, though it will inevitably open up more questions.
Who was Jack the Ripper? Personally I hope we never find out. He is an enigma of London, an East End setting which is fast disappearing under the hand of redevelopment. Alan Moore tells us right from the start who the book considers to be the identity of Jack the Ripper and I think he will convince many readers of the true identity. I, however, prefer to remain open-minded.
A highly recommended book for Ripper fans and graphic novelists alike!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2001
One of those rare books which linger on in your thoughts long after you've finished reading it. Alan Moore's a clever so-and-so who reads a lot. His books dispense arcane knowledge like so much mind-candy, each page pregnant with erudition. Like the chapter where one central character narrates a journey through a London stryiated with occult meaning, betrayed by its architecture, that both enthralls and surprises the reader. But what really radiates out of this magnificent work is the way the humanism and compassionate insight temper the metaphysics, marking Alan Moore out as one of this country's outstanding literary talents. The WB Yeats, William Blake, William Morris and Oscar Wilde cameos are pretty neat, as well. Does anybody really believe Hollywood can do this work justice?