The From Hell Companion

2 July 2013

It’s probably no surprise AT ALL to regular readers of this blog to learn that Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s masterpiece From Hell is one of my favourite books (if not THE favourite book) and also spawned one of my favourite films. Okay, the film version of From Hell has its (many many) faults but I love it anyway.

Anyway, you can my sheer and unadulterated JOY when I found out that the team behind From Hell had brought out a new companion book, snappily entitled The From Hell Companion
to go with it, which probes even further into the story they were trying to tell, explains various plot decisions that were made and delivers up even more deliciously darkly Victorian material for mega fans like myself.

Not that you need to be a MEGA FAN OMG of From Hell to appreciate The From Hell Companion, however. I think this book would be a great and massively enjoyable read for anyone who has even the most passing admiration for the original book.

I must admit that I was absolutely enthralled by this book and devoured every single detail from the wry asides about the 2001 film, to snippets about Alan Moore’s research to behind the scenes nuggets of information about the writing and illustrating process, which took ten long but very rewarding years.

Not every frame or even chapter of From Hell is featured and explained here and there are quite large chunks missing but there’s more than enough to fully enrich anyone’s reading of the original book. Quite a lot of the companion is devoted to an explanation of the script with Alan Moore’s often highly detailed commentary on how he wanted the accompanying drawings to look but there are also sections devoted to themes such as the way the book translated to the film and the precise relationship between Abberline and his prostitute lady friend, the enigmatic ‘Emma’.

I’m not a habitual graphic novel reader so I’ve never really given much thought to the behind the scenes process or work that goes into creating one so this was a bit of an eye opener for me as I made the visual connection between Moore’s script and descriptions and the resulting drawings by Eddie Campbell. I suppose I’d just thought they sat together and worked on it all in one go! How wrong I was – at the time, Moore was based in England and Campbell was in Australia so this was more of a long distance relationship type thing going on, which if anything made me appreciate even more the mad genius lurking behind the whole enterprise.

Anyway, if you’re even slightly into From Hell then I would DEFINITELY recommend getting hold of a copy of this! It’s incredible.

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‘Frothy, light hearted, gorgeous. The perfect summer read.’ Minette, my novel of 17th century posh doom and intrigue is now £2.02 from Amazon UK and $2.99 from Amazon US.

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