From Hell to Eternity
I wanted a quote up here about William Gull being a giant besmirched by pygmies, but i can't find the damn thing. I thought it was in Melvin Harris' The Ripper File, but he just says "the promised devastating solution was simply the Gull hoax once again. An innocent man was once more recklessly smeared." (he was referring to the 1988 tv special, which reiterated the Stephen Knight theory of a decade earlier. But he might as well have been referring to us.) And if you google the line about the pygmies you get a soccer commentary. Not sure how the world's pygmies feel about it all. There have been enough new Ripper theories since we finished From Hell that Alan has posited the idea of an additional appendix, a "Gull-catchers 2", to bring it all up to date. Perhaps to be released as part of an anniversary special in 2008 (twenty years since we started it and ten years since we finished it. But hey, this is just a rumour. You heard it here first.
The new edition is out at last, about three or four weeks ago.. This is the seventh printing of the complete From Hell, and the second Top Shelf edition. And it was a tortuous path getting it here. It was supposed to be out in the middle of last year but our printer went into bankruptcy. Buying printing is one of those publishing things I was never very good at. The Top Shelf guys do that much better than I ever did. To tell the truth I just stuck with Sim's printer, Preney, since it so happened that he had the old style photographic machinery to make negatives straight from artwork. Nowadays the information is input digitally, and I think the plates are treated directly, leaving the big negative sheets out of the process altogether. And this state of affairs may even have something to do with Preney losing a hold in the market. The very thing they were good for inevitably put them at a disadvantage if you consider that only Campbell and Sim were running their operations in much the same way as publications have been doing for sixty years, or however long offset litho has been the preferred commercial process. (I had started to find things difficult when I started employing computer design more, on The Birth Caul and after.)
This is just one more episode in the loony publishing history of this book, which has seen publishers, distributors and now a printer all go out of business. So, the problem was that there was no digital copy of this work in existence, and the only usable materials outside of the Preney shop was my collection of fine quality xeroxes. We had already advanced the printer a bunch of money for this printing, which he had (and still has) defaulted on. And in the meantime, I spent months making scans of my master xerox file, which in the final analysis proved unreliable in places and therefore unacceptable overall. Somehow Chris Staros had gotten the printer to sneak our From Hell negatives out of the factory when the receiver wasn't looking, and store them in his garage. Chris then paid him to hire a truck and drive the whole lot to Ronalds Quebecor which is where the majority of comic books seem to be printed these days. The negs were given to a good prepress op. who proved that they knew their stuff by making excellent scans from them. It appears that the Preney negs (the one thing they were good at, remember) were better than their own print job, which means that the same materials on a better printing press have quite remarkably given us the best version of the work thus far. To seal the deal Top Shelf have put it on a better quality paper this time around. Another notable feature is the new colour painting on the front. I made this for the first top Shelf printing but the guys went into a panic about putting all that blood on the cover when we urgently needed a good display in the bigger bookstores, and they figured the buyers there would be wary. So that image appeared in black and white in the endpapers of the sixth printing (first Top Shelf).
The various typeset pages have also been refreshed and this really is the dog's bollocks, as we would say in the UK.
Anyone who kept my long history of From Hell from the old Eddie Campbell Comics website can cut and paste this onto that as the latest sorry chapter in the peculiar history of the book that has kept a roof over our heads here at Castle Campbell all these years. I used to do a one and a half hour comedy routine which consisted of telling the whole story.
But the joke aint funny any more.
Labels: From Hell