Wednesday, July 29, 2009
From the Reading Pile: From Hell
By Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
Masterpiece. Alan Moore has at least three books that qualify. There is Watchmen, Lost Girls, and this one. It is probably the least of the three, but it still rises to the top of the greatest achievements in all of comics.
Moore takes the lore of Jack the Ripper and uses it to mark a clear demarcation between the grime and questionable morality of 19th century London and the free for all that has become the 20th century and beyond. By pointing out the evils of that more "innocent" time, he examines the worst of humanity and the evils of the present become a more potent concern.
Along the way there is the cautionary tale of Gull. He is a doctor who strives to be the best at what he does. Slowly, but surely, his unquenchable drive causes him to lose not only his mind, but everything he worked so hard for.
Campbell's art is an acquired taste. The loose line is overcome by his strong storytelling. One has to wonder what a more capable artist could have brought to the table. Would the loss of the gritty mood have been more harmful than the sketchy nature of the art?
A sublime, dark and incredibly dense epic, From Hell takes historical fiction into the realm of the metaphysical.