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4.5 out of 5 stars
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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on 20 June 2004
You might think a lot of the other reviews for this book seem a little bit over the top, but they are absolutely true. This really is a magnificent piece of work; some of the chapters, for example those concerning the deaths of Mary Kelly and Sir William Gull leave you breathless. The combination of the forboding, superbly detailed artwork and the daring, ingenious writing gives the story a real power which you don't come across very often.
Even if you don't like the idea of reading a graphic novel, do read this book; it has more of an understanding of why we are still reading and writing about Jack the Ripper more than a century after the crimes than any of the more conventional books on the subject.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 November 2002
It is almost impossible to write a review that can give this piece of fiction the justice it deserves.
Sometimes a piece of fiction will transcend it's genre (in this case Comics) and become something that everone should read. If you only ever read one comic in your lifetime then From Hell should be it.
Yes, Campbell's artwork will not be to everyones taste, and yes the story is horrific - but it is about Jack the Ripper so you would hardly expect it to be nice and jolly. I'm also sure that Alan Moore would agree that the Royal Conspiracy Theory that he uses at the main part of is story is deeply flawed and has been discredited, but to be honest it doesn't matter.
The story he has produced vividly show how dour life must have been for the working classes in Victorian England, it also shows how horrific the mulitations and murders of Jack actually were.
Don't expect the story to be easy on you, it isn't. Don't expect a nice happy ending, it isn't there.
Expect to be horrified and sickened.
You'll also find that once you are captured you cannot leave.
Moore has produced yet another masterpiece of cult fiction that deserves to be read by a wider audience - 5 stars hardly does it justice it is beyond ratings.
Buy and read, but only if you can stomach it.
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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).
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on 10 December 2015
I bought this for my partner as a gift as he's a massive graphic novel fan and I was most impressed when it arrived. The book is large, heavy and thick and tells the entire From Hell story. Each page it's beautiful drawn telling this dark tale with thought and care.
The characters are striking from the first page and the story of Jack the Ripper comes alive once more.
From Hell takes a very interesting spin on the Ripper tale and follows follows the story a detective trying to track him down. The super natural meets the bloody and cruel steeds of Victorian London in a gripping tale that I dare not say to much about lest I give away the plot. Needless to say anyone who buys this book will not be disappointed.
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on 21 June 2002
This graphic novel, in more ways than one, is a work of art. It deals with the whitechapel murders and the infamous Jack The Ripper and is the inspiration for the movie of the same name. From the opening page it grabs you, the detailed drawings douse your mind in imagery of the time, you almost feel as though you are in Victorian London. The words do not dissappoint either, Moore has written an excellent piece on the subject and the story examines the murders, victims and possible suspects throughout its 700 + pages. There is an excellent reference section at the back of the book which clarifies many issues and gives a more detailed reasoning behind some of the actions of the characters. For anyone interested in the whitechapel murders or indeed for those who generally like murder mysteries, this is unmissable, buy it - the best graphic novel in the world... possibily ... the best Ripper story in the world... definitely...
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