Me. I mean the guy does scare me a little.
Many years ago, I picked up Moore’s magnum opus about Jack the Ripper, From Hell, with the intentions to crush it like a brittle robin’s egg with my fierce comic-consuming eyes, but unlike my experience with some of his other work, this book bit back. Hard.
Now, I’m not saying I didn’t find any of Moore’s other work challenging (shit, you need a working knowledge of turn of the century Victorian pop culture to get half the references in most of it), but they were always rather easy to navigate. But From Hell fucked my world up. It was dense, horrifying, and exhausting to read, and I don’t mean that as an insult.
I chewed my way through about 150 pages of the trade until I set it down for something else (I have a bad habit of that). I had all the best intentions to finish it up, but never did.
The book was eventually lent out to a co-worker who was talking about the shitty film adaptation with Johnny Depp when I said, “hey, did you know that movie was based on a comic?” I then launched into my whole “more people should read comics and stop wasting their time with shitty TV shows and bad movies.”
*Fuck you, you beautiful idiot.*
In retrospect, pontificating about the glory of comic books to a non-reader should have never been punctuated with handing them a copy of From Hell. It was too much comic for them. Hell, it was too much for me.
Now, about six years later, I have purchased a new copy of From Hell and I am two issues (or chapters if you fancy) away from finishing it, and let me tell you: it might be the best thing Alan Moore has ever written.
I was going to wait until I was done with the book before I wrote anything about it, but unless this comic drops the ball in it’s final act, which I know it DOES NOT, this tome is one of the greats, not just in comics, but in historical fiction.
But it’s not just Moore’s writing the elevates this comic to the stratosphere: Eddie Campbell’s art is stellar, evoking the era via Victorian style newspaper cartoons. It’s amazing and renders the Whitechaple Murders in graphic detail.
I love Alan Moore, and I want so badly for all his work to be this good. This book is a reminder as to why I was so disappointed in Providence Act 1.