Thursday, March 19, 2009

Trade Marks: From Hell

Since everyone seems to be reading Watchmen these days, I thought I put one foot outside of the box and revisit From Hell. I should admit that I saw the movie years before buying this GN, and I actually really liked flick. I know that a lot of people trashed the movie, but I really dug it, but fully recognize that it only scratched the surface of Moore's work. I have the softcover edition put out by Top Shelf and if is certainly a hefty tome, nicely put together. The story of Jack the Ripper is well know, but the real treat here is the snapshot of 19th century London and all of its class dynamics. The historical overview of London's urban planning and architecture is also a real treat and allows the reader to get lost in that great city's back alleys.

I remain unbelievably impressed by the depth of research undertaken by Moore. I found myself flipping back and forth between the story pages and the annotations. Perhaps this process interferes with the overall flow of the story, but I've never had a comic book experience quite like this. I wanted to know everything. Eddie Campbell's artwork is absolutely perfect here, as his heavy inking and 'scratchy' effects perfectly established the atmosphere of a dirty London, both literally and figuratively. The cover price is a little steep - but my guess is that you could pick this up from an on-line retailer at a fairly deep discount. It will also take you a good chunk of time to read it cover to cover, so there's some good value here. Trade Mark: A+

2 comments:

craig/benday-dot said...

I go back and forth... and um forth again... between Watchmen, Swamp Thing and From Hell, in regards to my favourite Alan Moore book. I agree the anecdotes perfectly enhance the reading experience, and the Eddie Campbell art is astoundingly apt. It looks like an illustrated Victorian story, or better still a Victorian daily comic strip, if there was such a thing. I still got nothing out of the movie, and see it as woefully far removed from this masterful book, but hey where we differ there, I can't agree enough about your praise for the original book.

Argo Plummer said...

I too saw the movie before I read the book. I owned, but had never read it, so I too enjoy the movie for what it is. However, this is one of the greatest examples of what is possible in the comics medium. Love this book and it definitely deserves a place in the upper echelon of not only Moore's greatest works, but the greatest comic works of all time.