From Hell Book

"I shall tell you where we are. We're in the most extreme and utter region of the human mind. A dim, subconscious underworld. A radiant abyss where men meet themselves. Hell, Netley. We're in Hell." Having proved himself peerless in the arena of reinterpreting superheroes, Alan Moore turned his ever-incisive eye to the squalid, enigmatic world of Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel murders of 1888. Weighing in at 576 pages, From Hell is certainly the most epic of Moore's works and remarkably and is possibly his finest effort yet in a career punctuated by such glorious highlights as Watchmen and V for Vendetta . Going beyond the myriad existing theories, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous, Moore presents an ingenious take on the slaughter. His Ripper's brutal activities are the epicentre of a conspiracy involving the very heart of the British Establishment, including the Freemasons and The Royal Family. A popular claim, which is transformed through Moore's exquisite and thoroughly gripping vision, of the Ripper crimes being the womb from which the 20th century, so enmeshed in the celebrity culture of violence, received its shocking, visceral birth. Bolstered by meticulous research that encompasses a wide spectrum of Ripper studies and myths and coupled with his ability to evoke sympathies in such monstrous characters, Moore has created perhaps the finest examination of the Ripper legacy, observing far beyond society's obsessive need to expose Evil's visage. Ultimately, as Moore observes, Jack's identity and his actions are inconsequential to the manner in which society embraced the Fear: "It's about us. It's about our minds and how they dance. Jack mirrors our hysterias. Faceless, he is the receptacle for each new social panic." Eddie Campbell's stunning black and white artwork, replete with a scratchy, dirty sheen, is perfectly matched to the often-unshakeable intensity of Moore's writing. Between them, each murder is rendered in horrifying detail, providing the book's most unnerving scenes, made more so in uncomfortable, yet lyrical moments as when the villain embraces an eviscerated corpse, craving understanding; pleading that they "are wed in legend, inextricable within eternity". Though technically a comic, the term hardly begins to describe From Hell's inimitable grandeur and finesse, as it takes the medium to fresh heights of ingenuity and craftsmanship. Moore and Campbell's autopsy on the emaciated corpse of the Ripper myth has divulged a deeply disturbing yet undeniably captivating masterpiece. --Danny Graydon Read More

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  • Dave Majors28 October 2010

    Alan Moore is one of the giants of the comic book industry. His work on Watchmen and V For Vendetta revolutionised the comics medium and opened the genre up to 'serious' readers who had previously maintained that comics were for kids. While the majority of popular comics featured fantastical stories and superhuman exploits, in Moore's books the settings were recognisable and real if often skewed and his characters were all too human and flawed. The two previously mentioned titles may well be Moore's most famous work, but my personal favourite from among the many quality titles he has written is From Hell, a meditation on the identity and motives of Jack the Ripper.

    Although the majority of the story is original, From Hell is actually based on Stephen Knight's theory that the Jack the Ripper murders were part of a conspiracy to conceal the birth of an illegitimate royal baby fathered by Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and grandson of Queen Victoria. While Knight's theory might be far from plausible and certainly not popular, in his Author's Statement Alan Moore suggests that it is certainly one of the most entertaining theories and arguably the most interesting starting point for his own fictional examination of the Ripper murders, their era and impact.

    From Hell, therefore, begins with Prince Albert Victor marrying and fathering a child with Annie Crook, a shop worker from the East End of London who is unaware of her new husband's royal connections. Queen Victoria becomes aware of the marriage and has Albert separated forcibly from his new family and Annie placed in an asylum. Queen Victoria then instructs her royal physician, Sir William Gull, to permanently damage Annie's sanity. Sometime after these events, women start to be brutally killed on the streets of London. As the devilish killer sends letters to the police, taunting them over their inability to catch him, Inspector Frederick Abberline of the newly formed Scotland Yard is assigned to investigate the Ripper crimes. From Hell follows Abberline as he trudges across London desperately trying to identify the Ripper while Alan Moore, just as desperately, tries to offer reasons for the Ripper's murderous actions.

    From Hell is far more than a historical whodunit. In fact, the [fictional] culprit and the ostensible reasons for his actions are identified quite early one in the book. The brilliance of the book actually lies in its investigation into the psychology of the Ripper and the reasons, beyond the obvious, behind his crimes. Ideas of the occult and the symbolism of London's landmarks play a big role in the [back]story, as do Moore's own ideas on the nature of time. Moore must have done a great deal of investigation, looking beyond the facts of the Ripper crimes, into the Victorian era and into the inequalities of Victorian society. Eddie Campbell should also be commended at this point as just as much research must have gone into the illustration of From Hell as into the story.

    It is such a rich, dense book, encompassing as it does criminology, occultism, architecture, social history, theology and mathematics, that it would be easy to write a whole thesis about From Hell. The explanatory notes at the end of the book are exhaustive while the story alone runs to around 552 pages. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say then that I consider this to be Moore's magnum opus. From Hell is a truly extraordinary novel; undeniably both unmissable and dark, it is a phenomenal piece of work and could arguably be held up as genre defining. From Hell is truly one of the most engrossing books I have ever read - buy it now!

  • BookDepository

    Following the huge success of From Hell, Knockabout presents a stunning volume comprising a new story by Alan Moore, Snakes and Ladders, based on a performance given on Red Lion Square in Holborn. The other story, originally a performance piece by Alan Moore and Tim Perkins, was adapted as a comic by Eddie Campbell. It is a shamanism of childhood, a journey from the present to the past, back into the womb and beyond. The last part of this volume is an extensive interview of Alan Moore he gave Eddie...

  • Play

    An unflinching recreation of Jack the Ripper's mutilation of five Whitechapel prostitutes in 1888 is the core of this graphic novel. Jack acts as "midwife to the 20th century", delivering the next 100 years of Holocaust, serial killing and media rapaciousness as he extracts his last victim's heart.

  • Pickabook

    Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Eddie Campbell (Illus)

  • 0861661419
  • 9780861661411
  • Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell
  • 2 June 2008
  • Knockabout Comics
  • Paperback (Book)
  • 576
  • 8th

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