Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
Top Shelf Productions
From Hell is an incredibly unique comic. It is a fictitious telling of the Jack the Ripper legend, from a number of different perspectives, with a level of intrinsic detail that is as horrifying to comprehend as some of the visceral horrors are to view in the pages.
Everything about From Hell gives the reader a feeling that incredible research and effort went into it.
Twenty four years after the comic began to be published, this From Hell Companion is a welcome publication from the genius of Campbell and Moore. At nearly 300 pages, the companion is an excellent phrase to describe it.
It is a huge compendium of all things From Hell, and anyone who has read the original comic will probably find something to delight them. Looking at the process from script to comic, reading the handwritten notes, seeing the wide variety of sketches, and gaining insights into the work itself – there is something here for all readers. I personally found the full color pictorial interludes beautiful. Photo references and Polaroids, again in color, set next to panels of the comic start to give the reader the understand of the vast efforts Moore and Campbell went to bring this comic to fruition. Moore’s thumbnails are amazing to see, and in actual fact when small pieces of thumbnails are referenced next to a wider explanation of what is going on, you can see the connection directly between writer and artist.
Photographs of Campbell and Moore with their families and friends from 1986-2009 allow one, as a humble reader, to see the friendship that existed within this endeavor. I always feel that From Hell is one of those comics which allows the reader to feel justified in wanting to know more, as if permission is given for curiosity to run free and seek out more information. Seeing a section in the companion about the type of nibs used by the artist, may seem like a level of detail that could be boring. But let’s be honest – people who find that boring won’t be readers of From Hell, and won’t have had the patience to enjoy the phenomenal work. Therefore I am pretty sure that many readers will find that type of insight intriguing.
Interviews, sketches, thoughts, anecdotes, Ripperology, synopses, as well as pieces of censorship, comics technique, logic and logistics pepper this book, while Campbell’s fully colored artwork is a real joy to see. The watercolor cover is stunning.
Perhaps it is indicative of the type of comic reader I am that a diagram of different types of surgical tools could be so exciting.