FROM HELL 5/30
T he next page in my continuing show of Alan Moore's FROM HELL scripts. Polly Nichols has just been murdered.
There's a long thread discussing comic book lettering here at Warren Ellis' ENGINE site. In the middle of it there's some speculation as to where Alan got his custom of writing the body of his scripts in upper case the way he does.
Dave Gibbons chimes in: "If you type the description in upper case, you can just put the caps lock on and bash away, without worrying about the niceties of capitalization at the start of sentences. Having dialogue in lower case differentiates it from the description, obviously. More importantly, it means that you can use caps for bold and don't have to bother going back and underlining. It's a typewriter thing."
I think it's necessary to emphasize that the artist reads the thing once properly and after that needs simple visual cues for finding his way back through it. Separating the descriptions which don't appear on the finished page from the dialogue which does is achieved simply by making one of them all-capitals. The artist can see it all at a glance.
The book of the From Hell scripts (first three chapters only) published in the early ‘90s by Borderlands did not follow the typographical peculiarities of Alan’s manner, which I have always held to in these transcriptions.
Also of interest: you'll find a monstrously colossal argument following Jesse Hamm's excellent post titled Why Comic Book Writers Oughta Mind Their Own Business.
The script for this page is exceptionally long. I guess it was all these technical details of who was where and wearing what and how long would it have taken to get from where they were previously. As you can imagine, I was close to despair as to how I could keep this visually interesting, being somewhat slack on the details and more focussed on atmosphere. I think I got better at it as we went along, but this one taking place in near total darkness gave me pains. I used to get pissed off at those artists (Image) who would proclaim it was fun and when it stopped being fun they'd stop doing it. They should be made to suffer like I suffered. I did a page in Little Italy, years before From Hell, titled How to suffer properly. Must be my catholic upbringing. See, I always thought I should have been the artist on Big Numbers. I could never have equalled the slick art of Bill Sinkiewicz, but I'd have had the suffering down pat.
FROM HELL- Chapter 5- Page 30 ( 1502 words)
THERE ARE NINE PANELS ON THIS PAGE. IN THIS FIRST ONE WE ARE INSIDE THE COACH, SITTING NEXT TO GULL, SO THAT GULL IS IN THE FOREGROUND. BEYOND GULL WE SEE POLLY, STILL SLUMPED MOTIONLESS AND STARING AGAINST THE SIDE OF THE CAB. BEYOND HER, THE CARRIAGE DOOR HAS BEEN OPENED AND JOHN NETLEY POKES HIS HEAD INSIDE TO SEE WHAT SIR WILLIAM WANTS. HIS GAZE COMES TO REST UPON THE CORPSE AND HIS EYES WIDEN SLIGHTLY IN SURPRISE. IN THE FOREGROUND, GULL ISN’T BOTHERING TO LOOK AT NETLEY AS THE COACHMAN LOOKS INTO THE CARRIAGE. INSTAED, GULL IS SLIPPING THE WEDDING RING INTO HIS WAISTCOAT POCKET IN A MATTER OF FACT MANNER, GLANCING DOWN CASUALLY AS HE DOES SO. POLLY STARES INTO THE MIDDLE DISTANCE. ACCORDING TO THE FORENSIC SCIENTISTS OF THE DAY, HER RETINA IS BY NOW IMPRINTED WITH THE IMAGE OF MERRICK, SNIFFING HIS ROSE.
NETLEY: Yes, sir? What can I…?
GULL: We’ll require somewhere further from the main streets to complete our task unhindered.
GULL: Help settle her upon my shoulders.
WE ARE NOW OUTSIDE THE CARRIAGE, GULL HAVING DISMOUNTED TO STAND IN THE DARK STREET, LIT ONLY BY THE LIGHT THAT FILTERS THROUGH THE OPEN CARRIAGE DOOR FROM WITHIN. GULL FACES TOWARDS US WITH HIS BROAD BACK TURNED TOWARDS THE CARRIAGE. NETLEY, ALSO STANDING BY THE CARRIAGE DOOR, IS STRUGGLING AS HE HELPS MANHANDLE POLLY’S STILL-LIMP BODY FROM THE CARRIAGE AND ONTO GULL’S WAITING SHOULDERS. HE LOOKS AT GULL NERVOUSLY AND APPREHENSIVELY. GULL, FACING US IN THE FORGROUND HAS HIS FACE MOSTLY IN SHADOW SINCE THE LIGHT IS DIRECTLY BEHIND HIM. FROM WHAT WE CAN SEE OF HIS FACE, HOWEVER, HIS EXPRESSIPON IS SURLY AS HE BEGINS TO TAKE THE WEIGHT OF POLLY’S INERT AND STARING CORPSE UPON HIS SHOULDERS.
NETLEY : A-are you sure you can manage, sir? She’s…
GULL: Manage so frail a thing as this ? Of course I’m sure. Now, bring my bag. We’ll carry her around the corner.
WE ARE STILL HOVERING AROUND THE OPEN COACH DOOR, BUT FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE, SO THAT WE’RE ALMOST LOOKING ALONG THE LENGTH OF THE COACH HERE, TOWARDS THE HORSES. IN THE FOREGROUND WE SEE NETLEY AS HE LIFTS THE GLASDSTONE BAG FROM WITHIN THE LAMP-LIT CAOCH, ABOUT TO PUSH THE CARRIAGE DOOR SHUT WITH HIS OTHER HAND AS HE DOES SO. WHILE DOING THIS, HE SNEAKS A FRIGHTENED, WORRIED GLANCE BACK OVER HIS SHOULDER, AS IF TO SEE WHAT GULL IS DOING. LOOKING BEYOND NETLEY WE SEE THE DARK, BROAD SHAPE OF WILLIAM GULL AS HE TRUDGES HEAVILY AWAY INTO THE IMPENETRABLE AND STYGIAN EAST END DARKNESS. POLLY NICHOLS’ BODY IS DRAPED ACROSS HIS SHOULDERS LIKE A SACK OF POTATOES. MIARCULOUSLY, ALTHOUGH THE BONNET HAS SLIPPED DOWN OVER HER FACE, IT IS STILL JUST ABOUT HELD IN PLACE BY THE BOW BENEATH HER CHIN. NETLEY SHIVERS AS HE TAKES THE BAG FROM THE COACH, GLANCING BACK OVER HIS SHOULDER TO KEEP AN EYE ON GULL.
TO THE RIGHT OF THE FORGROUND WE CAN JUST SEE A LITTLE OF WILLIAM GULL AS HE COMES TOWARDS US IN ROUGHLY HEAD AND SHOULDERS CLOSE UP, ALTHOUGH WE CANNOT SEE HIS FACE HERE, THIS BEING OFF TO THE RIGHT HAND SIDE OF THE PANEL. WHAT WE CAN SEE IS PART OF THE FACE OF POLLY NICHOLS AS SHE LIES DRAPED ACROSS GULL’S SHOULDER, JOGGED SLIGHTLY BY THE UNEVEN RHYTHM OF HIS FOOTFALLS, HER STARING FACE UNCOMFROTABLY CLOSE TO US. THE HAT HAS SLIPPED DOWN OVER ONE EYE AND LOOKS AS IF IT’S GOING TO FALL OFF SOONER OR LATER. LOOKING BEYIND THE DEAD FACE OF POLLY NICHOLS AND FURTHER BACK ALONG THE TOP OF THE WHITECHAPEL ROAD WE CAN SEE NETLEY AS HE FOLLOWS TIMIDLY SOME FEW YARDS BEHIND, LOOKING TOWARDS US NERVOUSLY AS HE PADS FORWARD CARRYING THE HEAVY GLADSTONE BAG, BEYOND NETLEY WE CAN PERHAPS MAKE OUT THE MOTIONLESS COACH AS IT WAITS BY THE KERB-SIDE OPPOSITE THE LONDON HOSPITAL. THE BALLOON THAT REPRESENTS GULL’S LABOURED BREATHING HANGS TAILLESS SOMEWHERE IN THE FOREGROUND, NEAR GULL’S OFF-PANEL FACE.
TAILLLESS BALLOON: huff
WE NOW SEE GULL THROUGH NETLEY’S EYES AS HE PAUSES ON THE CORNER OF WHITECHAPEL ROAD AND BRADY STREET. HE STOPS AND LOOKS UP AT THE STREET SIGN, POLLY’S BODY STILL SLUNG ABOUT HIS SHOULDERS. WE CAN MAYBE ONLY SEE HIM HALF FIGURE OR THEREABOUTS, SO WE AE CLOSE ENOUGH TO SEE THAT HIS FACE IS SOAKED IN SWEAT AS HE GAZES AT THE SIGN. HE FROWNS SLIGHTLY, AS IF PUZZLED BY SOME GAP IN HIS MEMORY. MAYBE IN THE FOREGROUND WE ARE LOW ENOUGH SO THAT WE CAN JUST SEE ONE OF NETLEY’S HANDS ENTERING THE PANEL FROM OFF, CARRYING THE GLADSTONE BAG, JUST AS A WAY OF SHOWING THAT NETLEY IS STILL FOLLOWING GULL DOWN THE STREET WITHOUT ACTUALLY SHOWING ANYONE’S FACE IN THIS PABNEL BUT GULL’S. THE SWEAT RUNS DOWN THE BRIDGE OF HIS NOSE AS HE PEERS UP THOUGHTFULLY AT THE SIGN, STRUCK BY A SENSE OF DÉJÀ VU. THE TWO TAILLESS BALLOONS JUST HANG IN THE AIR BEHIND GULL, LEADING NATURALLY TO HIS ACTUAL SPEECH BALLLOONS.
TAILLESS NBALLOON: huff
TILLESS BALLOON: huff
GULL : “Brady Street.”
GULL: huff. Where do I know that name from , Netley?
NOW GULL HAS STARTED MOVING AGAIN AND IS CONTINUING TO TRUDGE FORWARD, COMING TOWARDS US THROUGH THE DARKNESS WITH A DEAD WOMAN DRAPED ABOUT HIS SHOULDERS LIKE A GARLAND. THE SWEAT STILL RUNS DOWN HIS FACE AS HE WALKS, AND HIS EXPRESSION IS NEUTRAL HERE, WHAT WE CAN SEE OF IT. LOOKING BEYOND GULL WE SEE NETLEY, STILL STANDING NERVOUSLY AND LOOKING APOLOGETICALLY TOWARDS GULL’S BACK AS HE SPEAKS TO HIM. GULL SDOES NOT LOOK BACK AT NETLEY AS HE REPLIES, BUT CONTINUES TO WALK STEADILY TOWARDS US DOWN BRADY STREET. PERHAPS THIS COULD BE A LOW ANGLE SHOT, TO ACCENTUATE THE MASSIVE NATURE OF GULL, SO THAT HE LOOMS ABOVE US AS HE TRUDGES FORWARD BENEATH POLLY’S INERT WEIGHT.
NETLEY: W-why, I couldn’t say, sir…
GULL: No matter… huff… it doesn’t matter.
GULL: huff. Take the next corner on the left.
NOW WE ARE IN THE NARROW MOUTH OF BUCK’S ROW, LOOKING UP IT TOWARDS THE POINT WHERE IT OPENS ONTO BRADY STREET. LEONARD MATTERS DESCRIBES BUCK’S ROW AS BEING NARROW, COBBLED AND MEAN. ON ONE SIDE ARE “SHABBY’. DIRTY LITTLE HOUSES OF TWO STOREYS, AND ONLY A THREE FEET PAVEMENT SEPARATES THEM FROM THE ROAD, WHICH IS NOT MORE THAN TWENTY FEET FROM WALL TO WALL. ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE ARE THE HIGH WALLS OF WAREHOUSES WHICH AT NIGHT WOULD SHADOW THE DIRTY STREET IN A FAR DEEPER GLOOM THAN ITS OWN CHARACTER IN BROAD DAYLIGHT SUGGESTS. ANYWAY, I’M SURE YOU’LL HAVE REFERENCE PHOTOS OF BUCK’S ROW SOMEWHERE, BUT IF I CAN FIND ANY I’LL SEND THEM ALONG WITH THIS. IN THIS PANEL WE ARE IN BUCK’S ROW, LOOKING UP TOWARDS BRADY STREET. GULL AND NETLEY ARE JUST TURNING THE CORNER OF THE STREET AND COMING DOWN IT TOWARDS US. MAYBE IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA IF NETLEY WAS HOLDING THE DETACHED CARRIAGE LANTERN AS WELL AS THE GADSTONE BAG AS HE ACCOMPANIES GULL DOWN THE STREET . SORRY I DIDN’T MENTION IT EARLIER, BUT I ONLY JUST THOUGHT OF IT. SEE IF YOU CAN WORK IT NATURALLY INTO THE EARLIER PANELS IN THIS SEQUENCE. PERHAPS AS THEY ENTER THE NARROW MOUTH OF BUCK’S ROW HERE, COMING TOWARDS US, THE LANTERN IN NETLEY’S HAND CASTS LARGE AND GROTESQUE SHADOWS UPON THE NARROW WALLS OF THE STREET. WE SHOULD MAYBE BE ABLE TO MAKE OUT THE STREET SIGN WITH THE NAME OF THE STREET UPON IT, HIGH ON A WALL SOMEWHERE.
ROUGHLY THE SAME SHOT, ONLY HERE NETLEY AND GLL IN PARTICULAR ARE MUCH CLOSER TO US, HAVING REACHED THE FOREGROUND, GULL STOOPS SLIGHTLY FORWARD AS HE ALLOWS THE DEAD WOMAN TO BEGIN TO SLUMP DOWN FROM HIS SHOULDERS. AS HE DOES SO, HER BLACK BONNET FINALLY FALLS OFF. IT IS IN MID AIR HERE, BUT WILL COME TO REST SOMEWHERE IMMEDIATELY TO THE RIGHT OF WHERE SHE WILL END UP LYING. NETLEY HOVERS BEHIND GULL, LOOKING NERVOUS. HE CARRIES THE DIM LANTERN AND THE GLADSTONE BAG.
GULL: “Buck’s Row. Ha ha. Named for Diana’s sacrificial beast.
GULL : Here. This will do.
MUCH THE SAME SHOT. WHEREAS POLLY WAS ONLY JUST STARTING TO SLIDE DOWN FROM GULL’S SHOULDERS IN OUR LAST PANEL. HERE WE SEE HIM AS HE CATCHES HER IN HIS ARMS AND LOWERS HER GENTLY ONTO HER BACK UPON THE CONBBBLES. HER BLACK BONNET POSITIONED SOMEHWERE IMMEDIATELY TO HE RIGHT. NETLEY LOOKS ON, HOLDING UP THE LANTERN IN ONE HAND. THE GLADSTONE BAG HAS BEEN SET DOWN ANSD RESTS AT HIS FEET. THIS IS A ‘LAYING TO REST’ PANEL. NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING. POLLY’S EYES STARE, FISH-LUNMINOUS IN THE LANTERN LIGHT.
Labels: From hell scripts-2