A friend of mine, who'd never read a comic in his life, read FROM HELL and described it as 'sooty;' I wish to God I'd come up with it first. 'Sooty' captures perfectly the look and feel of Victorian London that Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell have crafted within FROM HELL's pages.
On the surface, Moore and Campbell have created an evocative portrait of London in the time of Jack the Ripper, and the phenomenon that rose up around him and his work. At it's most superficial, FROM HELL is a fascinatingly complex conspiracy story in which the highest social strata declares war on the lowest in the bars, alleys, and slums of the Bad Parts of town.
To pigeonhole FROM HELL as just about Jack the Ripper does Moore and Campbell's work a great disservice, however. Across its pages, Jack becomes a death-metaphor for the modern era, weaving a legacy of madness and bloodshed across gaslight streets and the sullen masses living therein; indeed, across time itself.
A polemic on the nature of murder and violence for the 20th century, FROM HELL is an intricate watch-work of a book, steeped in soot.
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.