(Cover to part 1 of 10 of the newly colorized From Hell, art by Eddie Campbell.)
Eddie Campbell announced recently that he’s involved in the extensive revision of a new version of the classic, From Hell, written by Alan Moore.
We first had the news of the colorized From Hell here at Comicon.con when Koom Kankesan talked to Campbell and his wife Audrey Niffenigger here and here about their collaboration on Bizarre Romance while at TCAF 2018.
And now, Top Shelf have released details of the project. It will be re-released as a 10-issue series, with Campbell colorizing the work.
From Hell is my all-time favorite work by Alan Moore, and an absolute highpoint of Eddie Campbell’s comic career. This brilliant tale of Jack The Ripper, drenched in horror and conspiracy, is a masterpiece of dark fiction, a huge work concentrating not just on the Ripper murders themselves, but on the darkness of Victorian England of the time.
The From Hell Master Edition is a re-presenting of the comic in 10-parts, in a totally restored and colorized form. Campbell and Top Shelf are describing the process as revising the comic “for color, clarity, and continuity”. And yes, colorized is how they describe it, actually how Campbell himself describes it:
The most dramatic change is the color, of course.
I prefer the term ‘colorizing’ to ‘coloring’ since I’m not simply painting within the black lines, but reconceiving every panel to suit a full-color world. But I’ve also gone through and fixed small errors and minor flaws that have haunted me for decades. Ultimately the result is my equivalent of a ‘director’s cut’ of From Hell.
That From Hell is receiving color treatment is something I hadn’t ever thought would happen. After all, the black and white artwork by Eddie Campbell is utter perfection. The detail, the quality of his line has never looked better, and black and white simply allows the absolute horror and brutality of the work to leap from the page. But, having said that, given that it’s Campbell himself who is doing the revisions and colorizing of this greatest of works, I’m more than willing to see just how good it will look. And yes, I imagine there shall be an awful amount of red on some of the pages.
Just imagine, for example, how these pages are going to look…
You can find more from Eddie Campbell discussing the new version of From Hell: Master Edition in a new interview at Entertainment Weekly, which includes this on the genesis of the project:
I got a phone call from the publisher, and they wanted to fluff out From Hell and do something new with it, possibly put it out again as a serial, I thought that would only work if you do something drastically new, like colorize it. At first they were like, ‘That’s not gonna work, is it? It’s always been a black-and-white book.’ I said I’d show them a couple pages, and after that they said, ‘How quickly can we get this book on the shelves?’.
Which does give us an insight into how the whole thing came about. Reissues are a big thing, breathing life into older works, bringing them into the public eye again, both of these can be very valuable, even for perennial sellers such as From Hell. And for a small publisher such as Top Shelf, I imagine the idea to do something new with From Hell was incredibly tempting.
One thing of particular interest, although like Campbell, I think it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it, but the Entertainment Weekly interview with Campbell tantalizes us with the news that there’s new From Hell material being mentioned by Alan Moore in the shape of a new appendix:
When I spoke to him last month, he said “Eddie, maybe it’s time we do that other appendix, this is the only time we’ll be able to do it.” That’ll be a whole other dozen pages of illustration, but he wants to bring it up to date because in the last 30 years there’s been a lot of developments in Ripper-ology. Even though this was a crime that happened in 1888, every second year there’s a new book about it, where somebody’s found a new culprit.
And seeing as the original appendix to the original From Hell was the 24-page Dance of the Gull Catchers, a wonderful piece of meta-fiction with Moore and Campbell discussing, on the comic page, just why they were as wrong as every other theory on Jack The Ripper, that would be something I’d love to read.
From Hell: Master Edition #1 (of 10) will be released exclusively through comic shops and digitally in September 2018.
And I’ll be buying it, despite already having the work in various formats already. In fact, I know I’ll also be eventually also be buying the inevitable colorized collection. All to nicely add to these beauties on the shelf…