Tuesday, May 23, 2017


As a writer of a book about the Ripper it could be assumed that I like Jack the Ripper in comics.  The answer to that is sort of.  That isn't me being equivocating, it is me saying, most people haven't done the research enough for it to work for me.  That isn't to say everyone sucks. And it isn't to say that the stories that aren't "factual" or conversant with the facts, aren't good as stories.  It is that their use of a character that there are known facts about is perhaps either lazy, or cliched.  I am not making accusations.  Simply, that if you want to use a historical figure why not create your own?  This is like writing a story taking place in the American Civil War, using a character named Abraham Lincoln, and his being short, fat, and stupid.  He is clean shaved, wears a beany, and never made hard choices during the conflict.  Maybe that is a bad analogy, but the truth is, if you can't pay justice to the character, use your own, or a different one you can do justice for.

Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell show how to write a story that isn't focused upon the facts of the slayings, but is honest and faithful to the facts that are known.  From that point we engage the focus of the story, which is, Batman lived in Victorian era Gotham.  He is the answer to the new terror that has struck Gotham, Jack the Ripper.  It is an amazing tale, with emotive writing, and moody successful art.

The truth about this story is multi-fold.  It created the imprint Elseworlds for DC, a place where the often iconic figures in DC's universe are allowed to consider what if scenarios.  Secondly, it showed the world, from the first step how such a story should be done.  Thirdly, many people who otherwise would have been bored by a true crime story, were thrilled by the story of the same, only using the Batman and others to create a new way of considering it.

Don't confuse the placement of any series here as my saying that all of the works on Jack the Ripper are equally good. They are not.

The series Jack the Ripper from Eternity/Malibu was a quick fun read.  It was not a text book, nor historically factual.  But it was fun, for what it was.  I think it does make some mistakes, but, it is a work that would lure into more study the casual reader.

NBM Publishing's A Treasury of Victorian Murder: Jack the Ripper by Rick Geary was magnificent.  His tongue in cheek style of writing is consistent with the look of his art of the day of the Ripper. The writing and art together tell an interesting version of the story of the Ripper.  It isn't the very best of the bunch, but it takes 2nd place.  This isn't an ultra factual work, but it tells the story with deft talents.

First place goes to TOP SHELF COMIX, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell.  I've written about the series many times, and it is worthy of that attention.  Writer Alan Moore bases his story on the Stephen Knight book JTR the Final Solution,  In this book a theory that the Ripper was a doctor and others who were destroying people who had knowledge about Prince Eddy.  He'd been dingling his fiddle in the prostitutes of the Whitechapel, an area of London known for being a seedy place.  The slaughter hides not only the prince's naughty dalliances, but a secret child who would be an embarrassment to the Crown.  Moore is honest and doesn't say this is the absolute solution, he is saying, according to this theory, this is what happened.  Amazingly expressive, yet unconventional, art by Eddie Campbell adds layers and layers to the story.  Moore is rightfully well considered, and I've known many people who read this and think, that must be the truth.  Moore never claims that it is.  As a result, we have a piece of knowing fiction based upon the world of the Ripper.

In this series from DARK HORSE, Francois Debois writer and Jean-Charles Poupard artist tell a tale after the slayings in Whitechapel that is very delicious.    It is Spring, 1889 and the ripper slayings have ended in London.  But when the chief inspector of the investigation learns that there are a series of murders in Paris, he is curious and suspicious.  It turns out that these Paris slayings are very very similar to that in Whitechapel.  This works because it is familiar with the facts of the Whitechapel slayings, and introduces the reader to aspects of the case that a reader might not be familiar with.

Robert Bloch's Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper from IDW is based upon the novel and short stories of the same name.  This broad expansive work is an example of the fiction based on the exploits of the Ripper.  It enters the area of speculative fiction when it shares tales of the Ripper in other locations, and eras.  Chicago, space, time, the future, and again, Whitechapel are the setting for the slayer.  This work is amazing.  Less great than the novel, which was insanely good, it still reverberates with stunning effectiveness. 

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