Thursday, 25 July 2013

Eddie Campbell's From Hell Companion

From Hell Companion
by Eddie Campbell & Alan Moore
(Top Shelf/Knockabout, July 2013)
(from the introduction to From Hell Companion, 2013)
...Watchmen had been a continuous celebration for two year by [1988]. But Alan had fallen out with the publisher, DC Comics, and was determined to reinvent his career in a way that did not involve corporate manipulations. His first moves consisted of, on the one hand, self-published Big Numbers with Bill Sienkiewicz as illustrator, and on the other he lined up  a second to be serialized in Taboo, the new horror anthology published  by fellow discontent Steve Bissette. This was to be a complex retelling of the story of the Whitechapel muders of 1888. Alan and Steve set their minds to choosing an artist for the job. Like Alan, I had already appeared in the first issue of Taboo (Nov 1988) with a short story, The Pyjama Girl. I had also worked with Alan once before when I illustrated Globetrotting for Agoraphobics (in Knockabout, 1985). But my work was otherwise about the contemporary and the quotidian. Horror was  not my thing and I must have seemed an odd choice to illustrate the doings of the most infamous serial killer in history, Jack The Riper. The rational, as Steve explained, was that "It was essential that the artist not be seduced by the violence in the tale..."

And so it was off and running. From Hell appeared in Taboo for six issues of that publication, and then assembled and completed in ten volumes of its own title between 1991 and August 1996, published by Tundra and then Kitchen Sink Press. An eleventh volume, The Dance Of The Gull Catchers, being an appendix, was added two years later in September 1998. The complete work was first published all in one book, under my own Eddie Campbell Comics imprint (all of our previous publishers having by then gone out of business), in the last month of the old millennium, December 1999. It has been continuously in print since then in about twenty languages, still increasing as I write this. When I say continuously, I'm ignoring a one-year hiatus after the printer of our US edition went bankrupt. Considering the collapses of publishers, distributors and a printer, one has to marvel that the complete book got published at all.

(from a fax, 16 July 2013)
I don't know if Eddie forgot or never knew that I was the one who financed TABOO at first, so I'm technically FROM HELL's first publisher. Bissette vouchered all the jobs and I cut him a cheque and paid the printing bill... It really is quite a good book: exhaustive coverage. I hope he sells a bunch. I'm assuming that FROM HELL the graphic novel has survived FROM HELL the movie in a way that WATCHMEN didn't.


Gabriel McCann said...

There's a good TV interview about graphic novels done by ABC TV in Australia in 2010 where Eddie is one of the panelists and talks about From Hell and Alan....

Anonymous said...

Dave Sim assumes correctly. FROM HELL the movie is so forgettable that I forgot it existed. The only thing it shares in common with the graphic novel is the title.

David Birdsong

Jason Winter said...

WATCHMEN the comic did'nt survive WATCHMEN the movie? I enjoyed the movie adaption, and thought it complimented the comic very well.