Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Each Charter'd Street: Being An Essay in Five Parts

Author’s Note: Due to the page numbers resetting after each chapter concludes, citations for From Hell will be conducted as follows: (Moore, Chapter Number, Page Number(s), Panel Number(s)).

Contents:
I. Between Node-Linking and Serial Killing.
II. The City Makes The People.
III. Connect The Dots.
IV. When You Can.
V. You’re Wrong.
I. “From Hell… A graphic novel about someone who crosses the line between node-linking and serial killing.”
-Andrew Hickey, 2011
From Hell, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Eddie Campbell, is overwhelming in how massive it is. Not in the literal sense, though the book itself is the size of a phonebook for a small English town (presumably Northampton given the writer), rather in the sense of what’s in the book. For all that it purports to being a mere conspiracy thriller about the Jack the Ripper killings and how they connect to Queen Victoria, Adolf Hitler, and a minor work by noted Scottish playwright Steven Moffat: From Hell reveals itself over the course of its sixteen parts to be a text filled with themes and ideas that one would not expect to find hiding under the surface. This isn’t to say the text is more complex to read than the previous works that would appear in a college level graphic novel course, though it is difficult to read in the visual sense (both in terms of Campbell’s art style and what is seen through that style). Rather, it is the kind of text one can easily get lost within when analyzing to the point where the analysis starts having parentheticals within parentheticals (such that a brief plot synopsis (beyond “The Jack the Ripper Killings were caused by the Freemasons”) would take nearly two pages and still leave out half of the plot).

One of the themes From Hell explores is the misogynistic implication of the murders. Now, this theme might seem obvious on the surface as the Jack the Ripper killings, wherein a single, most likely male, individual went about and murdered (at least) five prostitutes in horrifically gruesome yet surgical ways, were an act of said individual’s misogynistic attitudes. The symbolism of a phallic object piercing the flesh of the women being butchered is an obvious one and Moore is certainly not the kind of person to miss that low hanging fruit. But as the text reveals, this goes far deeper than merely “The knife is my penis”.

The key to this and indeed the thesis for this essay comes in the third chapter of the text. Here, Jack the Ripper (who, according to this book, is Sir William Gull) tours London with his accomplice, a cab driver by the name of John Netley, and recounts the occult history of the place as a means of explaining his rationale for butchering the women of Whitechapel. This mode of exploring a city is known as psychogeography (i.e. the exploration of cities through a logic alternative to the major consensus). And it is this method of exploration that is key to understanding the text. For From Hell argues that taking a psychogeographic-esque view of history can illuminate the hidden ghosts that haunt capital “H” History.
II. “Hang around for years, you get to see the layout. People make the city and the city makes the people.
-Grant Morrison, 2008
Noted influence and friend of Alan Moore, Iain Sinclair once wrote on the subject of the M25 “Nobody can decide how long the road is, somewhere between 117 and 122 miles. By the time you’ve driven it, you don’t care” (Sinclair, 6). This description gets at the heart of psychogeography without giving a direct definition. But since I must assume you, dear reader, are not fully versed in the works of the Guy Debord and the Situationist International, Psychogeography is a form of navigating a city via non-typical logic such as the London shot locations of where certain Doctor Who serials from the 1960’s to the pattern of the snake used in Benjamin Franklin’s “Join, or Die” cartoon to explore Philadelphia to, in the case of Iain Sinclair, simply walking along the M25. These walking tours would typically take less traveled routes based on the traveler’s own logic and then write about the experiences and how it shaped the space they explored.

Fig. 1: Do what thou wilt.
(Moore, 4, 3, 1-8)
In the case of From Hell, this approach is explicitly used in the fourth chapter “What doth the Lord require of thee?” wherein Gull and Netley traverse the streets of London. Gull uses this opportunity to explain why he plots to murder the four women in such a ghastly manner (as opposed to the reason he plots to murder the four women (which is, on behalf of the freemasons and her royal majesty, Queen Victoria, to cover up a blackmail scandal in which the four women are aware of the birth of a bastard child of Prince Albert Victor (note the sequence in which Victoria discovers the blackmail and orders Gull to do as he will (fig. 1). Campbell draws her pose as uncaring and cold towards what “needs to be done”. She is perpetually drawn with crosshatches (in fact, the only backgrounds in this sequence are the crosshatches and the void) and without any panel borders (each supposed panel getting smaller and smaller as the sequence continues). Her power is shown in her size to the point where even Jack the Ripper himself is small in comparison to her monstrosity)) or why he murders a fifth (a case of mistaken identity (Moore, 8, 48, 3-6))). His explanation comes in the form of the psychogeographic logic he uses for the journey: that of the occult history of London. Now, the term “occult” has two meanings, and this text uses both of them: the obvious in regards to magic (this is a masonic conspiracy after all) and the root of the word “Occultus”, Latin for clandestine, hidden, secret. This is core to the concept of psychogeography: to uncover the secret vision of places that the dominant culture wishes to keep hidden, either out of ignorance or shame. After all, the sites Gull and Netley visit are those “…that the official ‘monumentality’ of London would rather not contain: they stress the excess, the residual and the local that disrupt or at least provoke a reevaluation in concepts of national belonging or ‘consensus’ ” (Ho, 111).

Fig 2: Actually, it's about
the ethics in serial killing.
(Moore, 4, 10, 4)
Regardless, their journey begins with Black Bridge Road, where Boadicea, last servant of the matriarchal gods, was slain by the Romans at the end of her rebellion which involved burning down all of England (that’s a partial truth, as it truly begins with Gull asking Netley if he likes women as people, a theme that will grow more apparent as the section continues). As they travel, Gull explains to Netley that they are on the beginnings not of a mere murder of several women, but of a Great Work. Next on their travels is Albion Drive, where “…once was “Hakons Ea,” a settlement where Saxons lived and worshipped heroes, deified as gods… where goblets were raised to toast the man who killed the moon” (Moore, 4, 10, 1-2). There, Gull muses about the works of poet William Blake, in particular the line from “Visions of the Daughters of Albion”: “Enslaved, the DAUGhters of Albion weep; a trembling lamentation” with a chuckle and a small cruel smile (fig. 2). As previously mentioned within the text, the moon is connected to the goddess Diana and the feminine. So then, the connection between the fondness for the Blake line and the place where great men killed the moon indicates Gull’s desire to be akin to these men, to haunt the psychic landscape of London like they do.
As they travel onwards to Bunhil Fields, Gull continues his musings on Blake, citing him as their greatest prophet. Netley remarks that Blake sounds barmy, to which Gull replies with a monologue about the left and right sides of the brain where the left side represents reason and the Sun and the right represents madness and the Moon. When they arrive at the graveyards, Gull remarks upon the irony of Blake, who embodied the right side of the brain, to be buried under the shadow of an obelisk for the Sun God Apollo. Netley makes a remark that the obelisk looks like a cock, to which Gull congratulates him on his perceptiveness before going on a tangent on how obelisks are a symbol for the phallic of the sun, putting it, and in turn Gull, in direct opposition of Diana’s feminine moon.
Rather than continuing on this play by play of the occult tour of London (an artistic detail lost because of this shift is that of the backgrounds. As the journey goes more and more into the architectural landscape of London, so to do the backgrounds of the panels become more and more detailed), I think I should get to the point: after a long journey through the mystical subconscious of London, Gull and Netley arrive at their final destination: St. Paul’s Cathedral (where the Doctor Who psychogeographic tour mentioned earlier also ended, though on the steps outside, where the feet of qliphothic priests from a dead future once walked upon (there’s a reason I derailed this paragraph to bring up that fun fact. We will be getting to him)). Gull admits, he only told Netley his dark intentions because he knew the cabbie wouldn’t understand. For while Netley has intelligence and understands some of what his master is saying, “…Gull, one could argue, is an adapter who explores London’s past (as an architectural and geographical space) and re-envisions it, however inappropriately. Gull’s occult knowledge allows him to see the pagan culture thriving under the surface of civilized London” (Pietrzak-Franger, 174). Thus Gull is playing by a different set of rules that neither Netley, nor his fellow Masons, nor even Queen Victoria herself can comprehend until it’s far too late. As they walk inside the cathedral, Gull pulls out the map of London marked with all the locations they traveled. Gull then asks his cab driver to draw a line between several of the marks. And then another. And then Netley begins to recognize a shape, but Gull demands he draw another. And lo, the shape is revealed: a pentagram.
Fig 3b: Gull threw a shape.
(Moore, 4, 36, 7-8)
Fig 3a: "Become transfixed...
Become transfigured... Forever."
(Moore, 4, 23, 5-7)
And thus the motivations of Jack the Ripper are revealed. Though Gull says his motivations out loud on the next page (“This pentacle of Sun Gods, obelisks and rational male fire, wherein unconsciousness, the Moon and Womanhood are chained. The lines of power and meaning must be reinforced according to the ancient ways… What BETTER sacrifice than “Heiros Gamos”? Than Diana’s priestesses?” (Moore, 4, 37, 1-2)), I think it’s befitting a visual medium to talk about a moment of parallelism that reveals this. The first quoted section seen within (fig. 3) depicts another of Gull’s monologues about the nature of magic in regards to femininity. The second is that of the horrified Netley exclaiming “oh god!” as Gull laughs and replies “…but not yours”. Note how the final panels of both sequences are nearly identical images of a close up of Gull with the same smile and his cold dead eyes. In particular, these words spoken in the first section: “…or to deliver half this planet’s population into slavery” (Moore, 4, 23, 7).
And so, Gull’s plot is revealed: the murders he will commit will act as a magic ritual to put women down. Of course, as with many mystical rituals, this does not turn out how Gull expected. But to understand this, we need to change approaches. No, that’s the wrong term. We need to shift focus, slightly away from the geography of the city and into the chronography of history. A psychochronography if you will.
III. “Most of the stuff in this story really happened. The rest may as well have. It’s all how you connect the dots.”
-Douglas Rushkoff, 2016
Not to be confused with psychohistory, the study of the psychological motivations of historical events, or psychohistory, noted science fiction author Isaac Asimov’s fascist mathematical formula in regards to the arc of history, psychochronography refers to applying the logic of psychogeography towards the arc of history, being the shape that history takes, (and it is here where I must name drop noted Blake scholar and Grant Morrison fan Dr. Elizabeth Sandifer, who coined the term psychochronography as well as performed the aforementioned Doctor Who psychogeographic tour of London. Initially, I wasn’t going to invoke her name (at first as a joke about discussing “psychochronography” without mentioning its creator, then out of spite for leading me to believe London Orbital had a working definition of psychogeography within it), but then she pointed out that would count as an act of plagiarism, so instead I just referred to her as a Grant Morrison fan, which I suppose is a far crueler punishment in the beady eyes of the one true God, Glycon). In the case of From Hell, the “city” it explores would be that of 19th Century Victorian England (among other eras, but we’ll get to that).
Fig 4: Architecture & Morality.
(Moore, 2, 15, 1-4)
This arc of history is itself invoked within the book via an early discussion on Charles H. Hinton’s “What Is the Fourth Dimension”. In this paper, Hinton argues that seemingly random events from a third dimensional viewpoint might actually be “…a four-dimensional existence passing through a three-dimensional space” (Hinton). In From Hell, this takes the form of a discussion of history (fig. 4), citing a possible scenario wherein a strange occurrence happens in 1788, then another in 1888, then again in 1938, again in 1963, and once more in 1985. (This section of the text is told to us via the conceit of the chapter wherein it is predominantly told in the first person perspective of Jack the Ripper, causing this speech to be given in direct address to the reader, a technique used previously in the prologue, where, in regards to his “predictions”, the bearded, false mystic, Robert Lees, tells the former Inspector Abberline (while looking away from him and towards us) “I made it all up, and it all came true anyway. That’s the funny part” (Moore, Pro, 5, 4) (incidentally, on his 40th birthday Alan Moore, wearing his famously long beard, declared himself to be a magician and his God to be noted Roman snake puppet Glycon)). So then, it follows that seemingly random coincidences within the novel are in fact key to understanding the truth of what has happened.

There are, of course, three major psychochronographic moments in the text (besides small things such as a cameo by Aleister Crowley (Moore, 9, 3, 5-9; 9, 4, 1-7), a meeting of socialists during one of Jack’s Rippings (Moore, 8, 31, 1- 33, 2), and Jack the Ripper, shortly after killing Cathy Eddowes, appearing in Mitre Square, 1988 (Moore, 8, 40, 1), among others). The first is within the fifth chapter, The Nemesis of neglect, where, fittingly, Jack rips his first victim, Mary “Polly” Nicholls. We open on a snowy day in Upper Austria where two Austrians, Klara and Alois, are having sex. While performing this act, Klara has a vision of a Jewish Quarter exploding in a fountain of blood. Both of these events are based on things that actually occurred: a Jewish Quarter did, inexplicably, explode in a wash of blood and Alois and Klara Hitler did have sex around July or August, 1888 giving birth to a baby boy they named Adolf. By opening the chapter with this event, From Hell frames the events as happening on the exact same day as the first killing done by Jack the Ripper, linking the start of one of the bloodiest crimes in the 19th Century with the largest genocide in the 20th century of the Holocaust. And yet, this is a minor moment within the book, a “…somewhat resonant chronological coincidence…” (Moore, I, 18) that has little bearing on what follows, save for the chilling final line of the story: “I think there’s going to be another war” (Moore, Epi, 10, 5). But then, it’s those little moments, those odd, haunting coincidences, that History ignores (in favor of  the “major” events such as the rise and fall of kings) and that psychochronography picks up and runs with.

Fig 5: Consumption.
(Moore, 5, 8, 1-2)
The events continue with a paralleling of the morning routines of Gull and Polly. While Polly is drawn in the typical style of the comic, Gull is done in a faded, almost watercolors style (if the only colors you used were black and grey, that is). Their actions parallel each other, showing their class separations (note (fig. 5), wherein Gull is eating his meal in his nice house whereas Polly is on the streets. Despite this, Gull’s panel is smaller and less detailed than the one featuring Polly. And while Gull is not alone in his panel, you can’t make out the woman (his wife) indicating a lack of importance to her whereas in Polly’s detailed panel, things like the stripped cat jump out as equally important as Polly is). This continues even when Gull’s panels return to the style used in the book, where the two continue to be paralleled in that they are doing their respective jobs at the same time. While History would only view their significance to each other through the lens of the fact that one kills the other, this psychochronographic lens allows us to see the deeper connections these two characters share.

The second example, mirroring the first, happens during the final murder of “Mary Jane Kelly” in the tenth chapter, The best of all tailors. Throughout the chapter, Gull has visions of some moments from his entire timeline from working on patients while James Hilton watches to his later trial and imprisonment by the Masons. But one moment in particular is when Gull finds himself in Thatcher’s England, to his horror. As I mentioned before, Gull’s ritualistic murder of these five women was meant to once more chain womanhood. Now, you might be expecting me to say, “Well, clearly it failed utterly”, what with the whole Margaret Thatcher thing and all, but no. Far worse in fact: it succeeded.

For the feminine, within this text, has always been connected with the concept of the divine. While Apollo may be the sun god, he is not where beauty comes from. He is of technology, science, history, and History. Diana, the goddess of the moon, connected with the arts and magic, though Moore would claim they’re the same thing (this gender essentialist divide can also be seen in the works of William Blake with the characters of Urizen, the “villain” of Blake’s mythos who believes in single vision, and Ahania, Urizen’s emanation who wishes to see the beauty of the world (given this is a discussion of 19th century English visions of what is to be, invoking the works of Blake, who saw visions of what will be among other things like undead fleas and tygers, is not out of place)).
Fig 6: Gotta get back.
Back to the past.
Ripper Jack.
(Moore, 10, 21, 5-7;
10, 22, 1-3)

The horror of this future is highlighted in the art. While Gull and “Mary” are both covered in crosshatches and dark colors, this future is shown in a pale, almost sterile style, causing a dissonance in the reader that makes them feel as repulsed by this ordered singular future as Jack the Ripper (and yet, the text doesn’t fall into the obvious trap of “damn kids and their smart phones don’t know what real beauty is” that many modern scholars fall into. In all the bits where such a message could be delivered in direct address to the reader (fig. 6), Campbell subverts this by having Gull either looking away from the reader, being too miniscule and unfocused to really say anything, or the “camera” angle on Gull keeps him within the confines of this dark, cruel, cold century that he has delivered).

As for the third example, well…
IV. “Catch me when you can.”
-Anonymous, 1888
In the final chapter of the book, Gull, ascending, Jack the Ripper dies. Or, rather, William Gull dies in 1896, six years after the History claims he did. He dies alone, the sole witness of a sexual act between a doctor and a nurse (outside, in a bit of irony, is Anne Crook, the woman who had an affair with Prince Albert that started all of this, whom Gull lobotomized). This is what he saw.

We flashback to his childhood; he is on a barge with his father, coming out of a dark tunnel (this is the framing device used in the second chapter, wherein eight quotes from within the chapter are presented without context in non linear order). Of course, this is only a memory, as he soon realizes that he is dying. He is going to Heaven. Up in the sky with the other gulls. He manifests himself in an explosion of blood over the Mediterranean region in 1888 (Moore, I, 40-41). He is beginning to understand what he is.

He is back in London, at the obelisk, a ghost in the machine of that shining city, the subtext beneath the stones, beneath the beach. The cruel future he once saw, now mere shadows, mere ghosts to his eternity (Moore, 14, 8, 1), for he will remain in the psychic landscape of London long after we are all dead, he is an idea that haunts the arc of history. And he goes up and up to the sky and sees the pentagram sigil that marks the city. “The sites connected by the points of the pentagram and through which they pass pertain to other histories, to specific events irrelevant to the murder and dismemberment of five prostitutes in the East End of London; an occult figure thus emerges, a graphic image having to do with neither the immediate history nor topography of the city of Jack the Ripper” (Wolfreys). This is his design.

The first spot he arrives at is the home of a man. To the man’s horror, he appears in the form of a… monster. I suppose that is the right word in this case, as he claims his hands are now scaly, monstrous things (though I see only circles). I wouldn’t say he’s a man now; the living dead don’t belong in the world of Apollonian manhood. Ghosts have always been entities that appear in the moonlight, under the judgment of Diana’s sphere, and it is her children (the artists, the writers, the magicians) who decide what form ghosts take. He thinks himself to be many things, fire, energy, Meaning. For now, he is a ghost, of what we shall see.
 
Fig 7a: The Architecture of History.
(Moore, 14, 12, 6-9)
He returns to his childhood, in the church where he was told where he is now by his childhood friend, James Hinton. He is told through a paraphrasing of Hinton’s son’s work “What Is the Fourth Dimension”, this time with visual aid (fig. 7). In 1788, “The Monster”, Renwick Williams, slashed women’s bums. In 1888, Jack the Ripper killed at least five women. 1938, a bit of mass hysteria occurs, wherein people believed a slasher, known as the Halifax Slasher, was out to get them, only for it to be revealed to be the people slashing themselves. In 1963 (the year Doctor Who began), Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the Moors Murderers who killed several children, are watching a movie about Jack the Ripper. And in 1985, Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, is digging graves when he hears a voice commanding him to commit his murders (Moore, I, 41). Each event tied to Jack the Ripper by him, rippling out like a stone that fell into the river (though, if you want to get cheeky, the center of these events is 1938, one year before World War II began, itself invoked by the ending lines of the book). This shape unseen within the ripples themselves, only seen from a perspective outside of the lake, is the shape of history; the occult secret at the heart of this fourth dimensional design. He sees them all. This is his design.

Fig 7b: History repeats.
(Moore, 14, 13, 1-9)
Fig 7c: The Gravedigger and
The Ripper of Whitechapel
(Moore, 14, 14, 1-6)
He rises up and up, towards the moon (does he plan to kill it like the Saxons (Moore, 4, 10, 2)), when suddenly, a man wakes up from a terrible dream. His name is Robert Stevenson, and the man’s had a most terrible dream about “A doctor with the soul of a terrible beast inside him. Women. He rampaged through London trampling women” (Moore, 14, 6-7). This is, of course noted author Robert Louis Stevenson, and the dream he has just had will become Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, released in 1886, two years before he comes into the scene. His influence, then, emanates outside of the realms of mere History and into the realm of dreams, which we only walk within when the moonlight of Diana’s sphere shines upon the earth. Thus he, aligned with Apollo’s sterile rationality, haunts the dreamscape of Diana, creating stories in his image.

Fig 8: From Neoreaction a Basilisk
(Moore, 14, 17, 2-4)
He returns to the man who saw him so long ago. Another man (whose name, though not given in the chapter, is John Varley (Moore, I, 42)) is with the man from that night. They are talking about him. He goes to reach out for the man who saw him, but the man sees him once more. He realizes that the man has a name: Blake. He is in awe of Blake, as he was when he was a child (Moore, 4, 11, 1). This dismays Blake, as it means he cannot finish his drawing of the ghost. Blake must sketch out his mouth. It is at this moment that he decides what he is (fig. 8): “An invisible curve, rising through the centuries. I am not man so much as Syndrome; as a voice that bellows in the human heart. I am a rain I cannot be contained Free of Life, how then shall I be shackled? Free of Time, how then shall History be my cage? I am a wave, an influence” (Moore, 14, 17, 2-4) (note how, though the first sentence is spoken by Hinton, Campbell draws him so small and so engulfed in darkness, that it’s nigh impossible to differentiate Hinton from him. Note also the darkness of the blood, as it begins to dominate the panels. Note how the increase of raining blood adds more and more ripples to his bloody work, implying what was shown previously: that the killings will have an impact upon the world that will go on and on until the end of time (or, at least, the edge of the puddle)). No one is safe from him. This is his design.

He returns to Bradly years before their “first” meeting. Bradly, then was a child on a bicycle. He is a disembodied head that terrifies the child into being his dark servant. He returns to Sutcliffe, where he holds an ashtray, much to the dismay of Sutcliffe’s sister in law. It is 1903. Netley is still a cab driver. But when he appears before his former accomplice, Netley’s horse becomes (rightfully) terrified of the floating disembodied head and crashes nearby the Obelisk, killing Netley. These are loose ends that need to be tied up. His singular vision must be perfect, lest someone notice the obvious hole in the center of it all. This is his design.

Fig 9: The survivor
banishes the devil.
(Moore, 14, 23, 1-7)
He is rising to the gods of old and new. He is rising to their place. Since he cannot be contained, why wouldn’t they admit him into their sanctum? Well… there’s one stop left (fig. 9). In Ireland, 1905, an older woman is leaving her house, calling for her daughter Annie. There’s a cold wind coming, so she wants Annie to get her sisters, Katey, Lizzie, and Pol, back into the house. He is confused about why he is here. His is afraid of her. She comforts her children who have caught a frog. She tells them to let the frog go. And then, she directly addresses him and the reader. Her children are afraid. She is not (for she is free from his vision, as he does not know her, but she knows him, even if they never met). She tells us and Gull the same message: “And as for you, ye auld divil I know that ye’re there and ye’re not having these. Clear off now wit’ ye. Clear off back to Hell and leave us Be” (Moore, 14, 23, 6-7) (she is the counterpoint point to his vision of history, an untold story who, like others of her kind, only exists in the margins, within parentheticals, ignored by History in favor of him. And yet, by having this one last moment in the text, the holistic nature of psychochronography reveals the little things that slip through the cracks of History, not within it’s arc, have just as much power as those it focuses on).

And so Gull dies, alone.
V. “You’re wrong. Goodbye.”
-Aleister Crowley, 1888… Allegedly
But what of Jack the Ripper, who cannot be contained by mere death? Well, that’s the thing about this psychochronography we find ourselves within. For the ghosts in our machine, the monster at the end of the book, must reveal themselves to us… you do know that William Gull isn’t Jack the Ripper, right? I mean, even Moore goes out of his way to highlight this in the second appendix, Dance of the gull catchers, wherein he goes at length about the history of Ripperology. All the people who are believed to be Jack the Ripper from Madame Helena Blavatsky (Moore, II, 4, 4), to Dr. Alexander Pedachenko on pay by the Okhrana (Moore, II, 7, 4) to an unusually determined suicide (Moore, II, 23, 9). In the end though, Moore concludes that all of these are false. “Jack mirrors our hysterias. Faceless, he is receptacle for each new social panic. He’s a Jew, a Doctor, a Freemason, or a wayward Royal. Soon, somebody will notice the disturbing similarities between the Ripper crimes and recent cattle mutilations, from which they will draw the only sensible conclusion” (Moore, II, 22, 8-9). In short, Jack the Ripper is an idea, a story: the archetypal serial killer. The reason he can haunt history then is because it too is a story, written by people with agendas and beliefs of their own.

So then, what’s to be done? How do we contain him (well, aside from the whole “is a character in a comic called From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell that has an ornate nine panel grid that is consistent throughout the book” thing he has going for him, which hasn’t stopped others before.)? (I suppose at this point, I should bring up Moore’s invocation of Koch’s Snowflake. “Koch’s Snowflake begins with an equilateral triangle, which can be contained within a circle, just as the murders are constrained to Whitechapel and Autumn, 1888. Next, half-sized triangles are added to the triangles’ three sides. Quarter-sized triangles are added to the ne shape’s twelve sides, and so on. Eventually, the snowflake’s edge becomes so crinkly and complex that its length, theoretically, is INFINITE. Its AREA, however, never exceeds the initial circle. Likewise, each new book provides fresh details, finer crennelations of the subject’s edge. Its area, however, can’t extend past the initial circle: Autumn, 1888. Whitechapel. What have we to look forward to? Abberline’s school nickname, or the make of Mary Kelly’s shoes? Koch’s Snowflake: gaze upon it. Ripperologits, and shiver.” (Moore, II, 23, 3-7) This seemingly contains Jack the Ripper just fine, but the influence of Jack, which is what were trying to contain, can still run rampant. Stories like Harlan Ellison’s The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World, Hirohiko Araki’s Phantom Blood, or Stanley Kubrik’s Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb don’t need the actual Jack the Ripper so much as the name.)

Well… we don’t have to. It’s been done for us. Blake, whom Gull had aligned with Diana, the moon, art, and madness (Moore, 4, 2, 1-7), saw Jack and decided to turn him into art, a story with only one image. Before Stevenson’s novella, before at least five women had been murdered, before Moore and Campbell even came together to make a comic book about a killer, William Blake had defined what kind of ghost Jack the Ripper would be:
 
(Moore, 14, 17, 1)
I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
-London, William Blake, 1794

Works Cited
Hinton, Charles H. "What Is the Fourth Dimension?" Scientific Romances 1 (1884): 1-22. Print.
Ho, Elizabeth. "Postimperial Landscapes: "Psychogeography" and Englishness in Alan Moore's Graphic Novel From Hell: A Melodrama in Sixteen Parts." Cultural Critique 63.1 (2006): 99-121. Web.
Moore, Alan, Pete Mullins, and Eddie Campbell. From Hell: Being a Melodrama in Sixteen Parts. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2006. Print.
Pietrzak-Franger, Monika. "Envisioning the Ripper's Visions: Adapting Myth in Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell." Neo-Victorian Studies 2.2 (2009-2010): 157-85. Web.
Sinclair, Iain. London Orbital: A Walk around the M25. London: Granta, 2002. Print.
Wolfreys, Julian. "London Khorographic". ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. 1.2 (2004). Dept of English, University of Florida. 19 Nov 2016.

Sources for Quotes
I-An Incomprehensible Condition by Andrew Hickey
II-Miracle on Crime Alley by Grant Morrison
III-Aleister & Adolf by Douglas Rushkoff
IV-The From Hell Letter by Anonymous
V-(Moore, 9, 4, 6)

1 comment:

  1. Good work, Sean. Love to see your writing in print!

    ReplyDelete