Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Linda P Review-From Hell by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell Review:The mad, shaggy genius of the comics world dips deeply into the well of history and pulls up a cup filled with blood in From Hell. Alan Moore did a couple of Ph.D.'s worth of research into the Whitechapel murders for this copiously annotated collection of the independently published series. The web of facts, opinion, hearsay, and imaginative invention draws the reader in from the first page. Eddie Campbell's scratchy ink drawings evoke a dark and dirty Victorian London and help to humanize characters that have been caricatured into obscurity for decades. Moore, having decided that the evidence best fits the theory of a Masonic conspiracy to cover up a scandal involving Victoria's grandson, goes to work telling the story with relish from the point of view of the victims, the chief inspector, and the killer--the Queen's physician. His characterization is just as vibrant as Campbell's; even the minor characters feel fully real. Looking more deeply than most, the author finds in the "great work" of the Ripper a ritual magic working intended to give birth to the 20th century in all its horrid glory. Maps, characters, and settings are all as accurate as possible, and while the reader might not ultimately agree with Moore and Campbell's thesis, From Hell is still a great work of literature. --Rob Lightner

 If From Hell was the first Alan Moore book I ever read, I don't think I would ever read another one of his books. He did a lot of research about London and its society during the time of Jack the Ripper. I definitely got the flavor of London in the Victorian era. But it's long and slow with little pay off. If you are looking to learn about Jack the Ripper you will but not so much about the actual murders (they are more of a side story). You'll learn a lot about London and the Freemasons. 

It's great literature. It's dense and confusing at times. At the end of the edition I read there were more maps, pictures and additional reading.  It's not easy reading. The drawings are scratchy and tough to interpret at times. It takes time to digest what's going on. 

Since I've read The Watchmen before I read From Hell, I can understand that Moore can be wordy. His books are a commentary on society. They are stories within stories. There is more than just what you think the story is about. 

I would recommend From Hell if you are a fan of Alan Moore, love learning more about Victorian London, and have a lot of patience. My husband tried to read it and gave up.