Sunday, January 14, 2007

Immense gratitude and purplocity overflows... the direction of that darling boy Amit Varma, who in his bountiful munificence has presented me with two DVDs packed with the full content of graphic novels such as Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan, Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Craig Thompson’s Blankets and Bill Willingham’s Fables, plus Sin City, Sandman and much else.

I can’t read for long stretches on the computer and the tactile experience of reading a book in its original form is very important to me – so I still intend to collect the hardcopy versions of these works over time. (Besides, navigating through pages can be difficult on the comp, especially when the files are very large.) But one great advantage of having these comics on DVD, as Amit pointed out, is that you can appreciate the artwork in a way that the hardcopy format simply doesn’t allow you to. Each page, blown up on the computer screen, becomes a treasure to be closely studied and marveled at.

I spent most of last night moving between the 580 pages of one of my very favourite books – no, make that (Ponderousness Alert) one of my very favourite Works of Art: Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s magnificent From Hell, set in Victorian London at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. I’m a big fan of Moore’s writing, and more to the point his conceptualizing and putting together of seemingly unrelated ideas; the Appendix of footnotes in From Hell is a book unto itself and testifies to the depth of his research and imagination. But this is one instance where he’s been overshadowed by his illustrator. Campbell’s atmospheric, sooty black-and-white drawings look stunning on the laptop screen.

Am not going to gush about From Hell here, except to say 1) please, no mention of that Johnny Depp-Heather Graham film of the same name, and 2) if you’re at all interested in the Jack the Ripper case and/or the social climate of late-19th century England and you haven’t heard of this book, you should kill yourself without delay. But here are two links before you do: the Wikipedia entry and this write-up on Enjoy.

Meanwhile, I’m moving on to Moore’s collaboration with Melinda Gebbie, the pornographic Lost Girls, which is one graphic novel that won’t be available in our bookstores anytime soon – though wouldn’t it be lovely if it were and an innocent shop assistant tossed it into the children’s section! Happens all the time with the others...

Earlier posts on graphic novels: Spiegelman’s Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s Embroideries, Moore’s Watchmen, Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha.


  1. Jai, just download the Cdisplay Comic reader. It's simple and easy to use.

    From Hell is one of my favorite comic books, its such a great read and as wikipedia mentions it, I love the way the "holistic" crime solving.

    The scene where Gull takes his coachman through all of London stands out in my mind. Of course I don't believe a word of it, but the way Moore constructs his worlds, its hard to argue otherwise.

    If you like Lost Girls, don't forget to check out the League of Extraordinary Gentlement. As for importing the title into India, it'll never happen. Lost Girls is for all intents and purposes, pornography. The writer says so himself in the introduction to the book. It's just not the usual thrusting and heaving type.

  2. I know, that "symbols of London" chapter is superb. I love so many things about From Hell that I don't even want to try and review it. Besides, the Wikipedia entry is dauntingly comprehensive. But I might write a part-review built around my early fascination with the Ripper case.

    Have read both LXGs - I have them in hardcopy form. The only major Moore work I haven't read now is the Promethea series.

    The Cdisplay reader was in the DVD Amit gave me. Have been using it but haven't been able to navigate smoothly between the pages of From Hell - a new page appears on the screen only 15-20 seconds after I press the "page down" key. Or is that how it's supposed to happen?

  3. Youve read all Moore except Promethea? cool. i havent read Tom Strong, or the British superhero one. Promethea I have, though, and you're welcome to it. Did the Lost Girls you read include #3? I want a crack at those DVDs. I haven't read Blankets.

  4. The Cdisplay can be a problem with the really large files, I'm assuming it's some RAM issue there. From Hell is actually the title that is slowest for me, perhaps because the entire book is on one archive instead of split into two or three files.

    I have Promethea as well, btw. I think I'll just get my portable hard drive when I come to Delhi this week and partaking can be done. The one major thing I haven't yet managed to get soft copies of is Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library series, or his novel, Jimmy Corrigan. Desperate search is on!

    Samit, Blankets rocks. Immense gorgeousity. I don't think I've been moved so much by any other graphic novel...

  5. Umm.....

    Umberto Eco's new Graphic Novel?

  6. Hi,
    Have you heard about my maiden novel,'The Bet'?
    Can I send you a copy, perhaps, for your comments?

  7. Salut, ca va?

    Il fallait absolument que je te fasse partager un plan pour gagner de l'argent,
    c'est génial, et super simple! Tu peux gagner plus de 2775 € par mois
    et tout ca grâce à 1€ seulement!
    Ca te coûte rien d'essayer l'inscription est gratuite ;o)

    Rend toi à cette adresse et fait comme moi inscris-toi et suis les instructions:
    p.s.:et viens voir mon blog

  8. Jai, the From Hell file is very huge, owing to the amount of pages. That's not the reader's fault, it's happened to me too. Its very high resolution just makes the thing to slower. If you want, make a copy of the file and rename it to a .rar extension and extract all the images. Maybe that'll work for you.

    I tried to read Tom strong, couldn't get into it, or Top Ten. Promethea just flies over the top of my head. The only time I got through that chaos magic stuff was when I tried to read the invisibles. I got through it after 4 readings, but never again.

    Chris ware's work is very very hard to find on the net, and I had a copy of jimmy corrigan, but it turned out to be entirely in french.

  9. Return of the Dark knight is one of my breathed a new life into the dark knight ...

    I don't want to spoil it for you if you haven't read it but the part of Superman v Batman is superb ..and if you are a batman fan, do try to read the tower of babel. it is an awesome comic.


  10. Btw Jai, you can also try the Comical comic reader supports both cbz and cbr and is available under open gui .... Mite help.


  11. Read garth ennis's "the Preacher" series! Now thats fine storytelling!