Thursday, 7 February 2013

Preview Post: FROM HELL

It is one of the most notorious unsolved cases in all of history, a series of brutal murders whose perpetrator is known only as Jack the Ripper. Since the original murders, the case has taken a particular place in pop culture, and has been examined over and over again in various forms and styles. And in the next 24 Panels Per Second, Dru and Dave are going to take a look at a feature film loosely adapted from a sprawling, complex comic about the case. The title? From Hell.

The case of Jack the Ripper happened in the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. In short, an unknown serial killer murdered a minimum of five prostitutes – more are suspected – and mutilated their bodies. The crimes generated an extensive public uproar, but the police investigation ultimately did not result in the capture and trial of any suspect, and the murders eventually ceased. Given the lack of closure, various theories as to the identity of the killer have emerged over time, though none have been proven.

Since the original murders, the Ripper case has been the subject of various works of fiction across a variety of genres. Authors such as Robert Bloch (Psycho), Harlan Ellison (A Boy and His Dog),and Gardner Fox (noted DC comics writer), among many, many others, have used the Ripper case as the subject of some of their fiction. Likewise, Jack the Ripper has featured in episoes of various television programs, including the Star Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”…

…and the first ever episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

In addition to literature and film, the Ripper case has been the basis of numerous films. In 1979 alone, Jack the Ripper featured in two major studio films: the Sherlock Holmes mystery Murder by Decree...

…and Time After Time, in which H.G. Wells and the Ripper travel to San Francisco 1979 via time travel.
Between 1989 and 1996, writer Alan Moore and illustrator Eddie Campbell produced From Hell, an examination of the Ripper case based upon the theory that the murders were sanctioned by the Royal Family over Prince Albert Victor marrying and fathering a child with a commoner. Initially published by several different companies, the comic was eventually collected into a massive trade paperback form.
While ostensibly about the case of Jack the Ripper, Moore and Campbell’s work is more of a study of Victorian society and its values, with issues of gender, sexuality, race, and class closely examined, amongst others.
In 2001, a film adaptation of the comic was released. Starring pre-box-office-superstar-era Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, From Hell is directed by the Hughes Brothers, whose work also includes Menace II Society

…and The Book Of Eli.
So what will Dru and Dave make of the film? Will they even survive reading the mammoth comic? Tune in on February 24 to find out!

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