Title: Robert Bloch’s Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper
Authors/Creators: Adapted by Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale from the original story by Robert Bloch
Format: Trade Paperback Collected Comic Series, IDW
Some stories, those collections of words and punctuation that becomes pages of sentences and paragraphs, should simply remain prose. Others lend themselves to adaptations into other forms, from television series to movies and so on. Upon my first reading of Robert Bloch’s Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper, a tale first printed in the pulps in 1943, I can remember thinking how cool it would be see this play out on the comic page. Bloch’s descriptions in the story lent themselves to a visual medium such as comics, the rapid pace of sequential storytelling seemingly a perfect match for his writing style.
IDW’s adaptation, Robert Bloch’s Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper by Joe and John Lansdale both proved my long held opinion right…and wrong.
Robert Bloch’s Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper opens at the scene of a horrific murder in 1940s Chicago. Jenny, a female newspaper reporter/owner and Dr. Carmody, a psychiatrist are present at the scene, one that is rather horrific, and the most recent in a series of prostitute murders. Sir Guy Hollis of London, a rather wealthy and influential man, inserts himself into the investigation, stating that he is certain that the killer is somehow the infamous 19th Century murderer, Jack the Ripper. Although Carmody is skeptical, Sir Guy and Jenny began gathering clues and eventually encounter a being that, the Ripper or not, is indeed a monster. The story winds through grim revelations, dark alleys, and sinister supernatural doings, revealing that the Ripper indeed may be stalking Chicago in the 1940s…and no one may be able to stop him.
The original Bloch story was almost more character study than actual full tale and the Lansdales expanded on Bloch’s work quite a bit. Although several liberties were taken in this adaptation, the adaptation holds to Bloch’s style, delivering both simple, straightforward storytelling as well as digging beneath the surface and finding the twists and turns within characters more than relying on the gore and audacity of the actual murders. The true essence of this adaptation, like its source material, is what makes a person do what they do and how fickle control of that actually may be.
Where this adaptation falls short, however, is in an area that really matters in any comic book-the art. Kevin Colden, the artist, definitely works in a stylized manner within the book, relying essentially on jagged line work, reminiscent of rough pencils with splashes of red throughout. Although atmospheric at various points and even a time or two evocative in a horrific way, the art overall is a distraction and slows down the storytelling. If not for the strong narrative established by the Lansdales in the dialogue, the art would have crippled this story. Because the actual adaptation and the expansion of Bloch’s work is so solid, the art can’t really do more than make this an overall average experience.
Robert Bloch’s Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper is a three out of five page read, just barely. The art is really an issue with this adaptation, but the story itself is actually set up well and makes this worth the read.
The IDW collections earns 3 out of 6 bullets. It’s an average read when taken as the whole package because of the negative impact the rather and quite literally sketchy art has on the tale.