Christopher Murray
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‘These are not our promised resurrections’
Unearthing the uncanny in Alan Moore’s A Small Killing, From Hell and A Disease of Language
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Alan Moore's early work in the 1980s earned him a reputation as a clever innovator, producing reinventions of old characters, subverting their histories, remoulding them as 'realistic' or adding shades of characterisation uncommon in comics. With these characters Moore rehearsed the elements that would mark his mature work, texts such as Watchmen, A Small Killing and From Hell, and the spoken performance pieces The Birth Caul and Snakes and Ladders. These were adapted into comics by Eddie Campbell and later collected as A Disease of Language. In Moore's stories the kinds of sensation and excess traditionally seen in superhero comics becomes inverted into the kind usually seen in Gothic literature. There are certainly Gothic elements in The Birth Caul, but they are in tension with the autobiographical elements, and overall the effect is more towards the uncanny than horror.

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