From Hell

From Hell  is a graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist Eddie Campbell , originally published in serial form from 1989 to 1998 and collected in 1999. Set during the Whitechapel murders of the late Victorian era , the novel speculates upon the identity and the motives of Jack the Ripper . The novel has several murders, although portions have been fictionalised, particularly the identity of the killer and the precise nature and circumstances of the murders. The title is taken from the first words of the “From Hell” letter, which some authorities believe was an authentic message sent from the killer in 1888. The collected edition is 572 pages long. The 2000 and later editions are the most common prints. The comic was loosely adapted to a film of the same title , released in 2001.

About the book

From Hell  Was Originally serialized as One of Several features in  Taboo  , an anthology comic book published by Steve Bissette’s SpiderBaby Grafix. After running in  Taboo  # 2-7 (1989-1992), Moore and Campbell moved to his own series, published first by Tundra Publishing , then by Kitchen Sink Press . The series was published between 1991 and 1996, and an appendix,  From Hell: The Dance of the Gull-catchers  , was published in 1998. The whole series was collected in a paperback and published by Eddie Campbell Comics in 1999; trade paperback and hardcover are published by Top Shelf Productionsin the United States and Knockabout Comics in the UK.

From Hell  takes you icts permitted Stephen Knight ‘s theory que la Jack the Ripper murders Were hand of a conspiracy to conceal the birth of an illegitimate royal baby fathered by Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence , SLIGHTLY MODIFIED: the involvement of Walter Sickert is reduced, and Knight’s claim that the child’s mother was a Catholic has been dropped. Knight’s theories have been described as “a good fictional read” whose “conclusions have been disproved numerous times”.  [1]  In an appendix added to the collected  From Hell , Moore writes that he did not accept Knight’s theory at face value (and he echoed the then-growing consensus that such claims were likely hoaxes), but considered it an interesting starting point for his own fictional examination of the Ripper murders, their era impact. However, in the serialized publication of  The Gull-Catchers  Moore included an “author’s statement” which consisted of a blown-up panel of the prologue, depicting the psychic Robert James Lees confessing that although his visions were fraudulent, they were accurate: “I made it all up, and it all came true anyway. That’s the funny part.”

Moore and Campbell conducted significant research to ensure plausibility and verisimilitude . The collection  from Hell  features over forty pages of page-by-page notes and references, which are based on specific sources. Moore’s opinions on the reliability of these references are also listed. The annotations are followed by an epilogue in comics format,  The Dance of the Gull-Catchers  , in which Moore and Campbell expand on the various theories of the Ripper crimes and the likelihood-or rather, the near-impossibility-of the true identity of the culprit ever being established.

Plot overview

Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence , also known as Prince Eddy, marries and fathers a child with Annie Crook, a shop girl in London’s East End . Prince Eddy had visited the area under an assumed name and was unaware of his husband’s royal position. Queen Victoria becomes aware of the marriage and has separated Albert from her husband, whom she places in an asylum . Victoria then instructs her royal physician Sir William Gull to odd Annie’s sanity, which he does by damaging or odding her thyroid gland . The prince’s daughter is taken to Annie Crook’s parents by the artist Walter Sickert, a friend of Eddy ‘s, who’ s been on the East End. Crook’s father believes in the child to be an incestuous relationship with his daughter. Sickert reluctantly leaves the child with Crook’s parents.

The potential scandalous matter is resolved, Annie’s friends Mary Kelly , Polly Nichols , Anne Chapman , and Liz Stride – who are aware of the illegitimate child and its royal connections, attempt to blackmail Sickert to pay off a gang of thugs who are threatening them. After Queen Victoria learns from the blackmail attempt, Gull is once again enlisted, this time to silence the group of women who are threatening the crown. The police are complicit in the crimes – they are granted prior knowledge of Gull’s intentions, and are not affected until the plot is completed.

Gull, a high-ranking Freemason , begins a campaign of violence against the five women, John Netley , brutally murdering them with the aid of a carriage driver . Whereas he defends the murders by claiming they are a Masonic warning to an apparent Illuminati threat to the throne, the killings are, in Gull’s mind, part of an elaborate mystical ritual to ensure male societal dominance over women. While targeting Mary Kelly, Gull also kills Catherine Eddowes, who was using Kelly’s name as an alias. As the killings progress, Gull becomes more and more psychologically unhinged, until he finally has a full psychic vision of the future while murdering Mary Kelly.

The story also serves as an in-depth character study of Gull; exploring his personal philosophy and motivation, and making sense of his dual role as royal assassin and serial killer. Though rooted in factual biographical details of Gull’s life; Moore fictionalises this event as a theophany , with Gull seeing ” Jahbulon “, a masonic figure, fundamentally altering Gull’s world view, and leading leading to the murders.

Gull takes Netley on a tour of London landmarks (including Cleopatra ‘s Needle and Nicholas Hawksmoor ‘ s churches), which is lost to the modern world. Later, Gull force the semi-literate Netley to write the infamous From Hell letter qui Lends the work icts title. Following this, several people write letters to the police claiming to be the murderer, and the nickname ” Jack the Ripper ” becomes a household name. Gull has a number of transcendentExperiences in the race of the murders, culminating with a vivid vision of what London will be like after the last murder. It is implied that, through its grayly activities, male dominance over femininity is assured, and the 20th century is thus given its dominant form, though Gull finds it disgusting nevertheless.

Inspector Frederick Abberline investigates the Ripper crimes without success until a fraudulent psychic, Robert James Lees , acting on a personal grudge against Gull, identifies him as the murderer. Gull confessions, and Lees and Abberline, shocked, report the matter to superiors within the police, who cover up the discovery. They inform both Abberline and Lees that Gull has been operating alone, and gripped by insanity. Abberline later discovers through luck Gull’s actual intentions to cover the matter of the royal ” bastard ” fathered by the Duke of Clarence, and resigns from the Metropolitan Police , protesting the official cover-up of the murders.

Gull is tried by a secret Freemasonic council, which determines he is insane; Gull, for his own part, refuses to submit to the council, informing them that they can not be counted as his peer, and may not be able to judge the “mighty work” he has wrought. A phony funeral is staged, Gull is imprisoned under a pseudonym “Thomas Mason”, and the Freemasons school boarding school teacher Montague Druitt has a suspect, killing him and making it look like suicide. Gull has an extended mystical experience, where his spirit travels through time , observing the crimes of the London Monster , instigating or inspiring a number of other killers ( Peter Sutcliffe , Ian Brady) Causing Netley’s death, as well as serving as the inspiration for Both Robert Louis Stevenson ‘s  Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde  and William Blake ‘s painting ” The Ghost of a Flea “. The last experience of his life is a view of a woman, who, in the novel appendices, is implied to be Mary Kelly. She is apparently able to see his spirit and abjures him to begone “back to Hell”.

Interpretations and themes

From Hell  Was Partly inspired by the title of Douglas Adams ‘ novel  Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency  , en ce que it explored the notion That to solve a crime holistically , Would one need to solve the Entire Society in qui it occurred.  [2]  Moore’s take on the Jack the Ripper murders is not a ” whodunit “: he spells out his heart, William Gull , and the ostensible reasons for his actions very early on. But as Gull remarks, “Royal Warning is embarrassing is the fraction of my work that’s visible above the waterline.”  [3]  The murders are an occult ritual, a complexhuman sacrifice using Victorian London itself as an altar. The symbolism of London’s landmarks is explored in the fourth chapter, in which Gull explains his motives to his uncomprehending coachman, and employs psychogeography to tie together these landmarks with the city’s history.

Gull is depicted as a misogynist who opposes women’s suffrage , along with other progressive movements of his time. Women had power over men, Gull believes, and the irrational, Dionysian unconscious mind dominated the rational, Apollonian conscious mind. Moore quotes writers such as Marilyn French and Robert Graves , who argues (as the fictional Gull does) that the Christian religion. Gull is reason’s lunatic: he believes he is carrying out an act of magic to enforce the rational, masculine hegemony.

From Hell  also explores Moore’s ideas on the nature of time. Early on, Gull ‘s friend James Hinton discusses his Howard ‘ s theory of the “fourth dimension”, which proposes that time is a spatial dimension. All time co-exists, and it is only the limits of our perception that make it appear to progress. Sequences of related events can be seen in the fourth dimension: history can be said to have an architecture, as Gull puts it.  [4]  Gull’s experiences seem to confirm this: he has visions of the 20th century during the murders, and he is dying he experiences, and appears to influence, past and future events. Moore had earlier explored similar ideas in  Watchmen  ,past, present and future simultaneously, and describes himself as “a puppet who can see the strings”.  [5]

Perhaps the most elaborate theme in  From Hell  stems from Moore ‘s statement  [6]  that “the Ripper murders – when they did and where they did – were almost like an apocalyptic summary of … that entire Victorian age. lot of the horrors of the 20th century. ” In Moore’s reading of the works of contemporary artists. Emile Zola and the post-impressionist painters, the prostitute had become an icon of the working lives of the impoverished and disenfranchised. He notes that the 1880s saw the Mahdi uprisings, the first time the Western world had to face militant Islamic fundamentalism; physicists were beginning to make discoveries that would pave the way to the atomic bomb ; and the growth of both Zionism and anti-Semitism . The period of the killings coincides with the conception of Adolf Hitler and the final scene to the outbreak of World War II . After the final murder, which Gull has an extended vision of 1990s England, Gull says, “It is beginning, Netley, only just beginning, for the better, the twentieth century.  [7]

Much of the metaphysical speculation in  Hell  can be attributed to Moore’s embrace of gnosticism , which takes a more central role in his other work, most notably his comic series  Promethea  .

We have more prosaic level, Moore indicts the inequalities of the Victorian society, contrasting Gull and the wealthy circles he moves with the hand-to-mouth existence of the women he targets; the moral disgust shown at the peccadilloes of the poor with the depths to which the property is being prepared; and the imaginary anti-Semitic conspiracy theories which divert the police’s investigations with the real conspiracy that controls them. During one murder, scenes from the killing are interspersed with scenes from a meeting of a socialist club, addressed by William Morris , where a portrait of Karl Marxcomes to dominate the scene. In his appendix, Moore sardonically expresses regret that England never had a revolution as France did.

Just about every notable figure of the period is connected with the events In Some Way, from “The Elephant Man” Joseph Merrick to Oscar Wilde , from the Native American writer Black Elk to William Morris , the artist Walter Sickert to Aleister Crowley , Who makes a brief appearance as a young boy in short trousers, sucking on a candy cane, and lecturing the police about magic.

According to his notes in his appendix, Moore was somewhat inconsistent with how “historically accurate” the events within the novels are. One Abberline gets into an argument with Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley ; he rewrote it after research revealed that Buffalo Bill had left England by the time of the murders. On the other hand, again selon à son own notes, He Had William Morris APPEAR in London on the night of one of the murders, ALTHOUGH historical records show He Was out of town That Night. Morris, however, does not interact with any of the characters, but is simply seen reading his poem “Love Is Enough,” while Gull murders Elizabeth Stride in the alley below.

In  The Dance of the Gull Catchers  Moore reports that he had been drawn into the world and obsessed with the particulars of the Ripper murders. The Ripperologists-or “Gull Catchers” have been referred to as unhinged men, with detailed, yet tenuous, details. Initially, Moore observes them from a distance, but eventually-while researching and writing  From Hell  -he joins them. Moore compares the multitude of overlandish Ripper theories to a snowflake Koch , where a finite, fixed location, event and era (London, in late 1888) can have an infinitenumber of nooks and crannies. Ultimately, Moore observes that the Gull Catchers chase after the Ripper, the more the ground and becomes churned and unrecognizable mud; their attempts to uncover the truth only serve to obscure it and cause further confusion.


From Hell  has won Several Eisner Awards , including “Best Serialized Story” (1993),  [8]  “Best Writer” (1995,  [9]  1996  [10]  1997  [11]  ), and “Best Graphic Album – Reprint” (2000).  [12]

It also won the ” Prix ​​de la critique ” at the Angoulême International Comics Festival in 2001, for the French edition published by Éditions Delcourt .  [13]

The comic series is a winner for the Fan Comics Guide Fan Award for “Favorite Limited Series” for 1997, and the collected edition of their Award for Favorite Reprint Graphic Album in 2000.

During its initial serialization,  From Hell  received the 1996 International Horror Guild Award for Graphic Narrative.  [14]

Movie adaptation

Main article: From Hell (movie)

A film , loosely based on the novel, was made by the Hughes brothers in 2001, starring Johnny Depp , Heather Graham and Ian Holm . It received mixed reviews from critics, with a rating of 57% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes .  [15]

TV adaptation

FX is Developing a  From Hell  drama series with Don Murphy Who Produced the film is Executive Producing and David Arata will write the adaptation.  [16]

See also

  • Torso  – a true crime killer: the Cleveland Torso Murderer .


  1. Jump up^  Casebook:  The Ripper: The Final Solution
  2. Jump up^  Dave Windett, Jenni Scott & Guy Lawley, “Writer From Hell: The Alan Moore Experience” (interview), Comics Forum 4, p. 46, 1993
  3. Jump up^  Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell, From Hell Chapter 4, page 33, panel 4
  4. Jump up^  Moore & Campbell, From Hell chapter 2, page 15, panel 4
  5. Jump up^  Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, Watchmen issue 9, page 5, panel 4
  6. Jump up^  Groth, Gary.  Last Big Words – Alan Moore on “Marvelman,” “From Hell,” “A Small Killing,” and being published.  The Comics Journal  140, February 1991.
  7. Jump up^  Moore & Campbell, From Hell chapter 10, page 33, panel 2
  8. Jump up^  1993 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners, Almanac Comic Book Awards
  9. Jump up^  1995 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners, Almanac Comic Book Awards
  10. Jump up^  1996 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners, Almanac Comic Book Awards
  11. Jump up^  1997 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners, Almanac Comic Book Awards
  12. Jump up^  2000 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners, Almanac Comic Book Awards
  13. Jump up^  Critics’ Prize 2001,ACBD
  14. Jump up^  IHG Awards Recipients, International Horror Guild.
  15. Jump up^  From Hell – Rotten Tomatoes
  16. Jump up^   Andreeva, Nellie (18 November 2014). ” ‘ From Hell’ Drama Based On Jack The Ripper Graphic Novel In Works At FX” . Deadline . Retrieved 30 August 2015 .

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