Sunday, 11 February 2007

FROM HELL: 5/22

The eleventh in my series of pages of Alan Moore's FROM HELL scripts. I've always been fond of this scene, though there are two or three things going on in it, and since Alan wanted to emphasize the darkneess, it was by no means easy to draw. My fondness is due to Alan's casting of the murderer and his lackey in a pair of comedic roles, and to this end I took the liberty of stretching the dialogue over more panels than was requested in the script, in order to work the timing better. Thus the first and last panels, silent in the script, now have speeech. The final panel, which was supposed to take its place in a rhythmic march toward unavertible doom ( a sequence of five pages with wide silent finishing panels), now has dialogue measured out from the sequence above, which may endanger the overll balance of the pages. I never cleared it with Alan, and he has never mentioned the matter. Maybe when we're cranky old geezers we'll fall out over it.

CHAPTER 5 PAGE 22 (724 words)
PANEL1
NOW A SINGLE SEVEN PANEL PAGE IN WHICH WE RETURN TO GULL AND NETLEY, THE LAUREL AND HARDY OF SERIAL MURDER, AS THEY PROGRESS THROUGH THE EAST END. THE TOP TWO TIERS HAVE THREE PANELS EACH WHILE THE BOTTOM TIER HAS ONE WIDE PANEL. IN THIS FIRST SILENT PANEL WE HAVE A LONG SHOT OF THE DARK BULK OF THE COACH AS IT CREAKS AND RATTLES THROUGH THE MIASMAL BLACKNESS, ONLY JUST DISCERNABLE TO US AS A RECOGNIZABLE HORSE AND CARRIAGE. OTHERWISE, IT IS JUST A VAGUE AND THREATENING MASS TRUNDLING AWAY FROM US THROUGH THE NARROW STREETS. A SINGLE COACH LAMP BURNING DIMLY AND BALEFULLY INSIDE IT
No dialogue.

PANEL 2
NOW WE ARE UP ON THE BOX BESIDE GULL, WITH GULL ONLY PARTLY VISIBLE TO ONE SIDE OF THE FORGROUND.ALL WE CAN REALLY SEE OF HIM ARE HIS LAP AND HIS ARMS AS HE SITS THERE JUST OFF THE PANEL. HE HAS A BAG OF GRAPES IN HIS LAP, AND IN HIS HANDS HE HOLDS THE SMALL BOTTLE OF LAUDANUM, NOW OPENED, AND A SMALL PAINT-BRUSH. HE IS JUST DIPPING THE BRUSH INTO THE LAUDANUM HERE, HIS SPEECH BALLOON ISSUING FROM OFF-PANEL. LOOKING BEYOND GULL’S HANDS, THE GRAPES AND THE LAUDANUM WE CAN SEE A HALF-FIGURE SHOT OF JOHN NETLEY AS HE SITS THERE NEXT TO GULL ON THE BOX, HOLDiNG THE REINS IN ONE HAND AND HIS WHIP IN THE OTHER. HE IS GAZING AHEAD INTO THE DARKNESS AS HE RIDES, RATHER THAN LOOKING TOWARDS US OR GULL, AND HE WEARS A FAIRLY NEUTRAL EXPRESSION.
GULL: (OFF) : Hark, Netley! It is two o’clock, and still our bag is empty.
Gull (off): You DID locate the woman earlier, according to instructions?

PANEL 3.
SAME SHOT. IN THE FOREGROUND, GULL IS NOW APPLYING THE LAUDANUM-SOAKED PAINTBRUSH TO THE GRAPES, PAINTING THEM WITH THE STICKY TINCTURE. LOOKING BEYOND GULL’S HANDS WE CAN SEE NETLEY AS HE TURNS TO FACE US WITH AN ANXIOUS EXPRESSION, WORRIED THAT SIR WILLIAM MAY BE DISPLEASED WITH HIM, AND ANXIOUS TO GIVE A GOOD ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF. BEYOND NETLEY THERE IS ONLY DARKNESS AS THE CAB CONTIUES TO MOVE SLOWLY AND ALMOST SILENTLY THROUGH THE EAST END
NETLEY: Oh, yes, sir. Three of ‘em. Two I’ll know again. The third I singled out by givin’ ‘er a token, like you said.
GULL (OFF): Excellent! How shall we know her?

PANEL 4.
SAME SHOT. IN THE NEAR BACKGROUND, NETLEY TURNS HIS EYES BACK TO THE ROAD SO THAT HE IS ONCE MORE IN PROFILE AND NO LONGER FACING TOWARD US OR SIR WILLIAM. HE ALLOWS HIMSELF A SMUG, SELF SATISFIED SMIRK, PROUD OF HIS GREAT INITIATIVE AND CLEVERNESS. IN THE FOREGROUND, GULL’S HAND PAUSES HALFWAY BETWEEN THE GRAPES AND THE BOTTLE OF LAUDANUM, TOWARD WHICH IT WAS HEADING TO REFILL THE BRUSH.
NETLEY: I gave ‘er a bonnet, sir.
NETLEY: A black bonnet.

PANEL 5.
NOW A LONG SHOT OF THE COACH, SIMILAR TO PANEL ONE. IT IS MOVING AWAY FROM US INTO THE DARKNESS OF WHITECHAPEL. AN INDISTINCT BLACK SHAPE AGAINST THE EQUAL BLACKNESS BEYOND. IT IS NOT YET TOO FAR AWAY FROM US HERE, SO THAT WE CAN STILL JUST MAKE OUT THE HUDDLED FORMS OF GULL AND NETLEY AS THEY SIT ATOP THE COACH. OTHERWISE, THE PANEL IS ALMOST COMPLETELY BLACK. WHITECHAPEL IS BLACK. THE COACH IS BALCK. YOU CAN BARELY SEE YOUR HAND IN FRONT OF YOPIUR FACE.
GULL: A black bonnet. How very helpful.
GULL: Netley, do you know what your foremost distinguishing feature is?
NETLEY: Why, I… I can’t think, sir.

PANEL 6
SAME SHOT, ONLY NOW THE COACH IS FURTHER AWAY, MOVING FURTHER INTO THE IMPENETRABLE DARKNESS OF THE BACKGROUND, THE SHADOWS SMOTHERING THE IMAGE.
GULL: Precisely.
GULL: Head for Whiitechapel Road, and let us hope your eyes are equal to the task your ailing wits have set them.

PANEL 7.
NOW A BIG WIDE PANEL IN WHICH WE SEE A GENERAL VIEW OF THE EAST END AT NIGHT, DIFFERENT FROM THE SHOT WITH WHICH WE CLOSED PAGE TWENTY ONE, BUT EVOCATIVE OF THE SAME THINGS. THERE CAN BE PEOPLE ABOUT, OR NOT, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU FEEL. MAYBE WE’RE LOOKING ALONG THE DARK LENGTHS OF THE COMMERCIAL ROAD, FOR EXAMPLE, WHERE SMALL KNOTS OF MEN GATHER IN FOGGY CONVERSATION AROUND THE GLOW OF THEIR CLAY PIPES.
No dialogue.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous tita said...

I'm nibbling these From Hell entries with joy (although I never got around to read my own copy - and still have to wait until it arrives with the rest of my books). Your black/white pages - such as this one - are among the most powerful works I've ever seen.
Has anyone ever mentioned you as his/her spiritual tutor or influence concerning his/her graphic works? (I think I would, if you don't mind :)).

11 February 2007 1:43:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

No, and i've never been plagiarized either!!
thank you, Tita.

Eddie

11 February 2007 2:00:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Jabberwock said...

Eddie, thanks so much for these insights into the collaborative process that went into creating From Hell. I finished reading (and rereading) it just recently, and it's staggering what you and Alan achieved together - it's a great work of art.

What sort of brief did you get from Alan for the last page of chapter 9 - the one with Gull entering Mary Kelly's room and the last three panels being more or less the same exterior shot (except for subtle differences in the light shining out from inside the room). That page is one of the most haunting passages of the book for me.

11 February 2007 8:03:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Peter Bangs said...

Off subject completely, I'm gonna be on the Gold Coast for a couple of weeks in April and I'm hoping to get up to Brisbane. Bent Books is on my itinery but can you recommend a decent pub and an art supplies store in the city?

11 February 2007 8:20:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Jack Ruttan said...

Question I would have (and I've read the book, just can't tell from the scans) would be whether the writer would, at some point, want the bottle to clearly read "laudanum."

Maybe it's been introduced before, maybe they've even mentioned its properties, for those readers who don't know what laudanum is.

Of course, the idea that he's a surgeon painting grapes probably is enough to give the impression of what's afoot.

I worry about this, because in my stories I don't want to be opaque, nor do I want to treat readers like idiots.

Of course, in my kind of stories I'd put a skull and crossbones on it (but that wouldn't do the job exactly!).

11 February 2007 9:27:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger HemlockMan said...

Another Netley/Gull portion.

For some reason, I find these bits to be the creepiest and most unsettling in the book. I suppose because these scenes seem to show Gull completely lucid, and a kind of logic in the the insanity at work.

There's something, too, about the class system in the UK at that time at work in the tale. Which I also find very disturbing.

11 February 2007 10:13:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

jabberwock
I've mad a mental note to show that page somewhere along the line. I remember there was a great deal of notation about which girl awas supposed to be in the room but we didn't draw attention to the matter.

Peter
mention it closer to the day and I can meet up with you.

jack
I just had a look. I wrote Laudanum clearly on the bottle.

12 February 2007 5:08:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Chris McLaren said...

Hmm... looks like the original art for this page has appeared on eBay.

Auction ending Feb 28

I think I might just have to go bid on this one. I have one other page (9/27), but I'm kind of taken with this one after reading the writeup here.

22 February 2007 9:48:00 am GMT-5  

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