Though this is E.J. Barnes’ first set of strips on an unlikely comic duo (and I hope there are more), I admit I knew enough of the back story before reading this. Luckily, for historical satire, the set up isn’t as densely as you might think.
I first heard of John Dee (visionary and adviser to royalty) from an interview with Alan Moore, who spoke of Dee’s mixture of science and magic. Of course, Moore spoke more glowingly of Dee and left out the less-than-glamorous aspects of his life, particularly his association with the more notorious would-be magician and fortune teller Edward Kelley. It’s the less savory facts that feed the work here. Barnes has links on her site if you are interested in knowing more, but you don’t really need From Hell length footnotes to go forward. Just an appreciation of comics. Picture true sixteenth century facts told in the style of 1970’s Doonesbury with John Dee as an unwitting Uncle Duke and Edward Kelly as a less innocent Zonker. If that doesn’t do it for you, then I give up.