Sunday 26 November 2006

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.



Blogger Leigh Walton said...

I saw the new edition at Stumptown Comics Fest last month -- it's really a totally different book from the old Campbell Comics phonebook on our shelf, thanks especially to the lovely new paper.

The old one is sort of a pulpy, filthy mess of a book, which now that it's gone strikes me as somewhat appropriate.

Pros and cons, I suppose: the new one looks like it will encourage sober structuralist reading at the expense of grimy intimacy. More graphic novel, less comic?

But perhaps I'm making too much of a simple change in paper stock.

27 November 2006 at 12:45:00 GMT-5  
Blogger D. Forsythe said...

I haven't seen it yet, but I am anxious to. Perhaps I will keep it in mind for when an aunt I barely speak to asks me what I want for christmas. I certainly do not want to part with my phonebook edition either, but I would like to see how it would look all cleaned up.

27 November 2006 at 13:34:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Dwight Williams said...

Congratulations on getting the new printing out the door!

27 November 2006 at 14:05:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Johnny Walker said...

Any chance your old internet writings might make their way back onto the internet?

27 November 2006 at 17:32:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Kelly Kilmer said...

Both hubby & I are looking forward to it as I ordered it for Christmas. I can't tell you how many copies of it he's bought already!

27 November 2006 at 20:14:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Hawthorn said...

Thank God a nice new edition came out. My old one only barely survived being thumbed through for my honours thesis.

27 November 2006 at 22:08:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Phoenix Woman said...

Just surfed on over from Gaiman's shop, because he said we should. Baaaaa. Baaaaa.

So you're the guy whose artwork kept me up one night! As said of someone else's output, it has "the nauseating stink of newsreel truth", except in From Hell's case, it would have to be glass-plate truth or some such.

27 November 2006 at 22:57:00 GMT-5  
Blogger antonio said...

Damn it is so great to see you have a blog of your own!!
Have a great day and well me loving the work you do!!


Set the word verification mode!!
I mean to avoid spam!!

28 November 2006 at 01:43:00 GMT-5  
Blogger smoky man said...

Ciao Eddie,
it's great to have you back on-line!

It's great to read that maybe you will add something new to Jack's myth for the 20th anniversary of yours and Alan's masterpiece.

A big embrace from Sardinia, Italy
keep in touch

smoky man

28 November 2006 at 03:46:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

'lo :})>

The only thing that Google had to say about your Gull quote was this strange soccer quote...

And what do you say to a drink sometime soon? ;})>

28 November 2006 at 06:38:00 GMT-5  
Blogger SRBissette said...

Howdy, Eddie -- Ah, the cost of retirement and disengagement from comics: I lost everything in the Preney closing, didn't know it was happening until over a year after it happened. C'est la vie: I kept all the TYRANT originals. Someday, it'll happen. I'm more of a digital dinosaur than yourself, so that process has never, ever been engaged with. Mayhaps one of my faithful CCS students will one day guide my shaky liver-spotted hand to the task one day down the road.

Great to see you online, and I'll keep tabs on your ramblings amidst my rants. Love to all there; I sent Chris B. a package of goodies, long overdue. No doubt I owe you something, too. Life goes on...

28 November 2006 at 07:33:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

I really like the new cover and all, but is there anyway that Chris can bring back the handwritten page numbers? Please? Oh, and any plans for Bacchus reprints?

28 November 2006 at 13:42:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

thanks Steve. Great to hear from you. I think in a while negatives would have been no good for anything anyway. Further along, I'll post about scanning all those Alec pages with their zipatones. Mike, a few of the hand written page numbers were corrupted. I said they were never meant to be an essential part of the page design anyway and the first time they were included in the printed result was just one of Tundra's many accidents. So scrap 'em. they're gone for good.
I know what you mean though

28 November 2006 at 14:57:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Kimota94 aka Matt aka AgileMan said...

Hey Eddie, good to see you joining us in Blogger land. As I type this I'm looking up at the From Hell page of yours that I have framed in my living room, and counting my blessings that you actually sold the bloody things, especially considering the printing sagas you've apparently enjoyed. If it's any consolation, and I'm sure it's not, the two pages I've got have given me tons of joy over the years, as well as providing a great conversation-starter when guests spy them for the first time!

Happy blogging, dude!

28 November 2006 at 20:21:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Mark Clapham said...

Gull Catchers part two? Very tempting. I'm probably not alone in thinking its one of my favourite parts of the book.

The most startling Ripper revelation in recent years was on a recent documentary on the UK's Channel Five, in which a contemporary criminal psychologist was asked to look at the evidence. Her conclusion was that a man who butchered his fellow human beings in such a way probably 'lacked empathy'.

A revelatory thought, I'm sure you'll agree.


30 November 2006 at 16:27:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Little Nemo's Kat said...

Wow, how many problems for a new edition. Actually, all these obstacles you mention are not such problems considering it doestn't matter what it finally comes out, it will always be a masterpiece!
Thanks for visiting, I can't believe how you could get to my Spanish post!
I wish you could read those strange anonymous corrections and glosses from your work I found in my library, they are quite interesting and bizarre.
It's been a pleasure getting to know your blog. We'll meet around here, yours! ;)

30 November 2006 at 23:37:00 GMT-5  

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