"From Hell" transforms the Whitechapel Murders into an epic tale of madness and conspiracy. How did it come about?
The idea was to do a documentary comic about a murder. I concluded that there was a way of approaching the [Ripper] murders in a completely different way. I changed the emphasis from 'whodunit' to 'what happened'. I'd seen advertisements for Douglas Adams' book "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency". A holistic detective? You wouldn't just have to solve the crime, you'd have to solve the entire world that that crime happened in. That was the twist that I needed.
Why was "From Hell" so unflinchingly graphic with its violence?
I was doing a book where five prostitutes are getting killed. I really wanted people to have some idea of what it would be like to spend two hours in a room cutting up a woman. There was no possible sense of glamour about it. That seemed to be the only honest way to do it.
What is your involvement with the forthcoming film, starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, and directed by the Hughes brothers?
I don't have anything to do with the film. They are talented directors and they've got some brilliant actors. However well it turns out, it's not going to be anything like my comic strip. They are separate entities. I wish them well with it, but any triumph will be theirs.
Do you think the violence of the book can be translated to the film?
You couldn't do it. There certainly couldn't be the violence [of the book]. That would be too much. It would be just unpleasant. The blood is black and white in the comic, which provides a necessary distancing. I'll be interested to see what they do with it. It might still be a good film. We'll see.
"From Hell" opens in UK cinemas on 1st February 2002.