Friday, 20 April 2007

FROM HELL 5/31

C ontinuing my presentation of Alan Moore's script for From Hell. The first of the murders has been perpetrated and Gull is about to perform his symblic ministrations upon the body.
The case containing the surgical knives seems to want more attention than I gave it here, but what was I to do in the grim darkness of the location and with nine tiny pictures to put on the page. For one, I showed Gull's cutlery in detailed close up on the cover of the third volume from Kitchen Sink Press, (with the help of April Post who assisted me for a spell in the early '90s). There's a look below at the cover of the Brazilain edition.The case in the movie was more pictorially attractive, with it's blood-red velvet lining. I can't find a picture of it online. These pages are mostly just getting the details and business right, but there's a choice phrase below that could only have come from Moore: "THE SHADOWS LEAP LIKE AN ASYLUM GYMNASTICS TEAM."

FROM HELL. CHAPTER FIVE. PAGE 31. (1437 words)
PANEL 1.
ANOTHER NINE PANEL PAGE HERE. TOWARDS THE FOREGROUND, GULL CROUCHES IN A BUSINESS-LIKE MANNER BY THE OPEN GLADSTONE BAG, FROM WHICH HE IS REMOVING THE WOODEN CASE CONTAINING THE AMPUTATION KIT. NETLEY HOVERS IN THE BACKGROUND, NEAR WHERE POLLY NICHOLS’ BODY LIES SPRAWLED. HE IS LOOKING TOWARDS GULL NERVOUSLY AS HE SPEAKS, HOLDING UP THE LANTERN SO THAT HE CAN SEE GULL PROPERLY. HE LOOKS AGITATED AND SCARED. GULL, CROUCHING OVER THE GLADSTONE BAG, PAYS HIM NO HEED AND DOES NOT LOOK AT HIM. HE CHUCKLES TO HIMSELF AS HE EXTRACTS THE AMPUTATION KIT FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE GLADSTONE.
NETLEY: Right. We’ll be away then, shall we, sir?
GULL: Ha ha! With the job half done? I think not. She must be finished with according to the ritual.

PANEL 2.
NOW WE REVERSE ANGLE SO THAT WE ARE SLIGHTLY BEHIND NETLEY, LOOKING PAST HIM AS HE STANDS FACING AWAY FROM US, ROUGHLY HEAD AND SHOULDERS IN THE FOREGROUND, THE LANTERN HELD UP IN HIS HAND. FROM WHAT LITTLE WE CAN SEE OF HIS EXPRESSION HE JUST LOOKS MISERABLE AND UNEASY. LOOKING BEYOND HIM WE SEE GULL, WHO HAS RISEN TO HIS FEET, LEAVING THE OPEN GLADSTONE BAG THERE ON THE COBBLES BEHIND HIM, AND HAS TURNED AND APPROACHED NETLEY. HE STANDS FACING US, LIT BY THE LATERN GLOW, ROUGHLY HALF TO THREE QUARTER FIGURE IN THE IMMEDIATE BACKGROUND. HE HOLDS THE AMPUTATION KIT BEFORE HIM, AND HE IS OPENING IT AS HE SPEAKS TO NETLEY. HE IS LOOKING DOWN AT THE CASE AS HE DOES THIS, RAHTER THAN AT NETLEY. THE LATERN TREMBLES WITH THE PULSE IN NETLEY’S UPRAISED ARM. THE SHADOWS SHIFT AND THEN REGROUP.
NETLEY: But… but she’s dead, sir. There’s no need..
GULL: Would you be a Mason, Netley? Three Rivals betrayed Hiram Abiff, Masonry’s founder.
GULL: Their throats were cut from left to right.

PANEL 3.
CHANGE ANGLES. ALL WE CAN SEE OF GULL IN THE FOREGROUND ARE HIS HANDS, EMERGING FROM OFF PANEL. IN FACT, IT’S AS IF WE SEE THIS PANEL THROUGH GULL’S EYES. WITH ONE HAND, HE HOLDS THE SMALL WOODEN AMPUTATION CASE. WITH THE OTHER, HE HAS EXTRACTED THE LISTON KNIFE FROM ITS SLIT-LIKE RECESS AND IS HOLDING IT UP INTO THE LATERN LIGHT, FOR NETLEY TO SEE. IT HAS A LONG, STRAIGHT, DOUBLE EDGED BLADE OF ABOUT EIGHT INCHES. THE METAL HANDLE IS A FURTHER THREE INCHES AND HAS A CRISS-CROSS PATTERN IN THE METAL TO ENHANCE THE GRIP IN SLIPPERY CONDITIONS. IT IS AN EXCEPTIONALLY BEAUTIFUL KNIFE. LOOKING BEYOND IT WE SEE NETLEY HOLDING UP THE LANTERN AND LOOKING TOWARDS US AND THE KNIFE WITH A SLIGHTLY SICK EXPRESSION. HE CAN FEEL STRONG RIP-TIDES SUCKING THE SAND AWAY FROM BENEATH HIS FEET. THE CURRENTS ARE STRONGER HERE THAN HE EVER IMAGINED, AND HE FEARS THAT THEY WILL TUG HIM OUT INTO AN OCEAN TOO TERRIBLE TO BE THOUGHT OF.
GULL: Now, this is a Liston knife.
GULL: A Crimean battle-surgeon, Liston had legs on the sawdust in less than a minute with these blades.
GULL: Remarkable.

PANEL 4.
NOW WE ARE LOOKING THROUGH NETLEY’S EYES. ALL WE CAN SEE OF NETLEY IS HIS FREE HAND, THE ONE NOT HOLDING THE LATERN. IT ENTERS INTO THE PANEL FROM OFF IN THE FOREGROUND. IN THE IMMEDIATE BACKGROUND, LIT BY THE LIGHT OF THE OFF PANEL LATERN, WE SEE GULL AS HE STANDS FACING US, ROUGHLY HALF FIGURE. HE HAS TUCKED THE SMALL AMPUTATION CASE UNDER HIS ARM, LEAVING HIS HANDS FREE. WITH ONE HAND, HE GRASPS NETLEY’S VISIBLE HAND BY THE WRIST, QUITE GENTLY, AND RAISES IT, PALM UPWARDS, INTO VIEW. WITH HIS OTHER HAND, HE GENTLY PLACES THE COLD LENGTH OF THE LISTON KNIFE UPON NETLEY’S PALM, GIVING THE COACHMAN THE BLADE AS IF HE WERE A KINDLY GRANDPARENT DISPENSING TREATS ON CHRISTMAS MORNING. AS HE DOES THIS, HE STARES INTO OUR EYES AND SMILES BENIGNLY, HIS EYES TWINKLY WITH AMUSEMENT.
GULL: So, Netley…
GULL: Left to right.

PANEL 5.
NOW WE ARE RIGHT BEHIND GULL, SO THAT WE CAN PERHAPS JUST SEE A LITTLE OF HIS HUNCHED SHOULDERS OR A LITTLE OF HIS TOP HAT ENTERING THE PANEL ON THE LEFT, HIS FACE NOT VISIBLE TO US HERE AS HE STANDS THERE EMOTIONLESS AND SILENT AND OBSERVES THE PROCEEDINGS. FACING US AND GULL IN THE IMMEDIATE BACKGROUND IS NETLEY, ROUGHLY HALF FIGURE. HE STANDS, RATHER STUPIDLY, WITH THE LISTON KNIFE RESTING ACROSS HIS PALM, THE LANTERN STILL HELD IN HIS OTHER HAND. HE DOES NOT LOOK AT THE KNIFE. HE JUST STARES UP INTO GULL’S OFF PANEL EYES WITH A LOOK OF STUNNED DISBELIEF. GULL DOES NOT MOVE, SPEAK, OR DO ANYTHING TO LESSEN NETLEY’S DISCOMFORT. LOOKING BEYOND NETLEY, IN THE BACKGROUND AT THE EDGE OF OUR CIRCLE OF LANTERN LIGHT WE CAN SEE POLLY NICHOLS LYING THERE ON THE GROUND EXACTLY AS GULL LEFT HER, HER BLACK BONNET LYING IN THE DARKNESS TO HER RIGHT. IN THE FOREGROUND, NETLEY JUST STARES AT GULL AS IF HOPING THAT THIS IS A MISUNDERSTANDING, AND THAT HE WILL BE GRANTED SOME LAST MINUTE REPREIVE. NONE IS FORTHCOMING.
No Dialogue.

PANEL 6.
SAME SHOT, ONLY HERE NETLEY HAS TURNED HIS HEAD TO LOOK BACK OVER HIS SHOULDER AT THE BODY OF POLLY NICHOLS, THERE IN THE BACKGROUND. HE STILL HOLDS THE KNIFE USELESSLY ACROSS HIS PALM, SEEMING HARDLY TO DARE TO CLOSE HIS FINGERS AROUND IT. HE GAZES INTO THE BACKGROUND, STARING AT THE BODY GULL HAS ASKED HIM TO CUT THE THROAT OF. GULL, IN THE FOREGROUND, DOES NOT MOVE. NETIHER DOES POLLY IN THE BACKGROUND.
No Dialogue

PANEL 7.
CHANGE ANGLES. WE ARE NOW DOWN BY POLLY NICHOLS, SO THAT SHE LIES THERE WITH HER HEAD TOWARDS US. MAYBE THE BLACK BONNET IS VISIBLE, THERE ON THE COBBLES SOMEWHERE TO HER RIGHT, UP IN THE FOREGROUND. OUR ANGLE IS QUITE LOW HERE, AND AS WE LOOK UP PAST POLLY WE CAN SEE THAT JOHN NETLEY HAS TURNED AWAY FROM GULL AND IS WALKING SLOWLY AND CAUTIOUSLY TOWARDS US AND THE BODY. HE LOOMS OVER IT HERE, AND HAS THE LISTON KNIFE IN HIS RIGHT HAND, RAISED ACROSS HIS BODY SO THAT THE KNIFE IS OVER HIS LEFT SHOULDER IN PREPARATION FOR A LEFT TO RIGHT SWEEP OF THE BLADE. HE HOLDS THE LANTERN IN HIS OTHER HAND, AND HIS FACE IS A SWEATY RICTUS OF CONCENTRATION AND TERROR AS HE TIMIDLY ADVANCES UPON THE DEAD WOMAN. HE LOOMS OVER HER HERE, THE BLADE TREMBLING IN HIS HAND AS HE PREPARES TO STRIKE. LOOKING BEYOND HIM WE CAN SEE THE DARK FIGURE OF GULL IN THE BACKGROUND, JUST STANDING AND LOOKING ON, HIS FACE INVISIBLE IN THE SHADOWS, HIS PRESENCE INDICATED ONLY BY A DARKER BULK AGAINST THE DARKNESS SURROUNDING HIM.
No Dialogue.

PANEL 8.
SAME SHOT. NETLEY MAKES A WILD SWIPE WITH THE BLADE ACROSS POLLY’S THROAT. AS HE DOES SO, HE TURNS HIS HEAD AWAY AND CLOSES HIS EYES. THE LANTERN LURCHES WILDLY IN HIS FREE HAND, AND THE SHADOWS LEAPS LIKE AN ASYLUM GYMNASTICS TEAM. THE SLASH ACROSS HER THROAT KNOCKS POLLY’S FACE TO ONE SIDE A LITTLE HERE, AND A FEW DARK SPECKS OF BLOOD FOLLOW THE BLADE IN ITS UPWARDS ARC AFTER IT HAS TRAVELLED ACROSS THE THROAT. GULL STANDS MOTIONLESS IN THE BACKGROUND, LOOKING ON INDULGENTLY AS NETLEY BOTCHES THE FIRST CUT.
No Dialogue.

PANEL 9.
A SIMILAR SHOT NOW, IN THAT WE ARE STILL DOWN NEAR THE HEAD OF THE BODY. GULL HAS WALKED ACROSS FROM THE BACKGROUND HERE AND IS KNEELING DOWN TO INSPECT THE WORK THAT NETLEY HAS DONE. HE HOLDS POLLY’S CHIN, LIGHTLY AND FIRMLY BETWEEN THE FINGERS OF ONE HAND, TILTING HER HEAD SLIGHTLY THIS WAY AND THAT AS HE INSPECTS THE WOUND ACROSS HER THROAT. WITH HIS FREE HAND, HE REACHES OUT ABSENTLY BEHIND HIM, PALM UP, NOT LOOKING AT NETLEY AS HE ASKS NETLEY TO GIVE HIM THE KNIFE, BUT KEEPING HIS INTERESTED DOCTOR’S GAZE UPON POLLY’S THROAT WHILE HE SPEAKS. LOOKING UP BEYOND GULL AND POLLY WE SEE NETLEY, STANDING TREMBLING IN THE NEAR BACKGROUND. THE LANTERN STILL HANGS IN ONE HAND AS HE LEANS WEAKLY AGAINST THE WALL, AND PERHAPS HE RAISES THE HAND HOLDING THE LISTON KNIFE TO HIS BROW, WIPING THE SWEAT AWAY. HE LOOKS TOWARDS GULL WITH SICK HORROR AS HE DOES THIS. WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE COACH MAN WHILE HE INSPECTS POLLY NICHOLS’ CORPSE, GULL HOLDS OUT HIS HAND AND ASKS FOR THE KNIFE.
GULL: Oh, Netley…
GULL: I fear that you will never be a surgeon. See..the blade’s glanced off her collar-bone.
GULL: Ah, well, ten. Give it here. Give me the knife.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Gabriel Villa said...

this cover was used in the brasilian edition! I remember when it went to bookstores.
Was one of the first comics sold in bookstores and not in comicshops.
as always, good posting! keep up!
regards,
Gabriel
http://www.donttalkaboutlife.com

24 April 2007 8:30:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

thanks for stopping by, Gabriel

24 April 2007 7:09:00 pm GMT-5  

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