Hell on Earth

Hell on Earth
Hell on Earth graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 0-930289-05-6
  • Release date: 1985
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

One of the most radical interpretations of classic for DC’s 1980s line of SF graphic novels came courtesy of Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming, with inks and colours from Greg Theakston and Bill Wray not to mention phenomenal lettering and calligraphic effects from Gaspar Saladino.

August horror fantasist Robert Bloch developed from the Lovecraftian tradition of the early pulps to become a household name for books such as Psycho and I Am Legend, which replaced unspeakable elder gods with just-as-nasty yet smaller-scaled devils like Jack the Ripper. In 1943 he scripted a blackly ironic tale of three ordinary people, researcher Professor Phillips Keith, his assistant Lily Ross and the reporter/pulp horror writer they hire to document their great experiment.

The tense interplay of this claustrophobic chiller is effectively captured by artist Giffen in his multi-paneled homage/distillation of José Muñoz’s stark art style as the experiment proceeds and the parapsychologists proceed to bring the Devil to Earth and trap him a glass cage. But as the lives of the trio spiral down into a miasma of darkness, guilt and regret, we have to ask: “is he really trapped?”

Although a wordy, moody text, as seen by the sample art, Fleming and Giffen have created a visual analogue that is just as tense and stifling as the original, so if you like daring art and classic spookiness you should track down this album. And while you’re at it why not grab the prose piece as well and see how it works sans graphic narrative?