From Hell: Scary Books–Part II

 Alan Moore (writer), Eddie Campbell (artist).

Alan Moore’s well-researched, 500+ page graphic novel theorizes that the Jack the Ripper murders were in fact a conspiracy to get rid of a royal’s illegitimate child who posed a threat to the Victorian lineage. I can’t say enough good things about this book. I am a huge fan of graphic novels, and this is one of the best, right up there with Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Dave Sim’s Cerebus and Joe Sacco’s Palestine. The intricate plot involves Masonic conspiracy, Victorian sexual mores, 19th century surgery, insanity, and a blood ritual resulting in transcendental time travel. Eddie Campbell’s art does a wonderful tight-rope act in putting order to chaos. His scratchy inks burst with emotion–I can’t imagine a better artist for this story. I actually wonder if some of Moore’s other work (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) would resonate deeper with me had an artist of Campbell’s caliber (Bill Sienkiewicz or Mike Mignola, possibly) worked on those books. I doubt it though. I always recommend this book to persons who don’t think graphic novels are literary. I won’t loan it out though. I don’t want it to go MIA.

(By the way, the Hughes brothers-directed movie adaptation of this novel, starring Johnny Depp, IS NOT the same story at all. I know, hard to believe that Hollywood could screw up great source material, but nonetheless true).

5 thoughts on “From Hell: Scary Books–Part II”

  1. The bastardization of great ready-to-be-made material by Hollywood major studios has been a source of incredible annoyance for me. In fact, I’ve always been astonished at the way graphic novels have been “adapted” as opposed to simply re-enacted on screen. I mean, isn’t the comic format virtually the same as a storyboard built for a scene in a movie?

    And if it’s a successful video game with an exciting story, like Resident Evil perhaps, why not just film the cutscenes and a little exposition with real actors and call it a day?

    Unfortunately Alan Moore’s work has been tampered with in recent film adaptations of his work, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and, to a lesser-but-still-very-noticeable degree, the aforementioned V for Vendetta. Both of which would have made fantastic films without any rethinking/alterations. They could have saved a fortune on the screenplay because they didn’t need one!

    Of course it takes a real troublemaker/Hollywood semi-outsider like Robert Rodriguez to make a true-to-the-material movie out of a fine graphic novel. Rodriguez knew that Sin City didn’t need to be rewritten to be less dark, less disturbing, or dumber. Lucky for fans of Frank Miller and edgy film there were no compromises and Miller was brought in as a co-director. The end result: a surprisingly successful movie box office-wise (~$75million) that doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator of viewer.



  2. Damon, you’re spot on. Sin City worked because it recognized that the source material was excellent, and simply tried to recreate it as accurately as possible. I think a lot of Hollywood execs confuse a “property” like Batman or Spiderman with a good story, like V for Vendetta. To quote a favorite, now canceled TV show, Arrested Development: Maybe Funke, teen film exec, talking about a prospective film idea: “I can totally see that on a baseball cap.”


  3. […] This afternoon I finished the first graphic novel of Alan Moore’s  run writing Swamp Thing, and I can’t wait until my library hold on the second graphic novel comes in. I had no idea Saga of the Swamp Thing would be as good as it was, nor as beautifully illustrated; it’s actually much better than V for Vendetta or Moore’s other famed work, Watchmen (and none of these titles are even in the same league as Moore’s masterpiece, From Hell). Alan Moore and Steve Bissette’s run on the DC Comics series essentially led to DC’s creation of the edgier Vertigo imprint for their more “mature” titles, such as The Sandman. These titles helped to change the audiences of “comic books” and helped to make the graphic novel a new standard in the medium (no mean feat, considering the fanboyish culture of comic nerds, a culture that prizes rarity of print run over quality of storytelling).  […]


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