Tidying up some loose ends from 2011, I found a couple of books that still deserve a mention. Comics and crosswords – what more do you need on a Saturday?
Pearls Before Swine collection by Stephan Pastis
Larry in Wonderland: A Pearls before Swine Collection gathers together almost a year’s worth of Stephan Pastis’s bizarre parliament of animals. In these strips, which ran between August 2009 and May 2010, Pastis really had fun with a Wonderland theme, introducing such characters as the Mad Ducker, Cheshire Snuffles, Tweedledum Pig, and Tweedledee Idiot Pig.
The book is currently only $6.49 on Amazon.
Mad Hatter Crosswords reproduces 75 puzzles from the New York Times. An admirably dedicated reviewer has identified them as the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday crosswords published between January 2009 and April 2010. The Mad Hatter connection doesn’t seem to go beyond the cover illustration, through it is true that crosswords go very well with tea.
NYT Mad Hatter Crosswords
The collection is published by St. Martin’s Griffin and is available from Amazon for $7.99.
Art preview from CBR for Raven Gregory's forthcoming Alice in Wonderland.
Graphic novelist Raven Gregory has now written several installments in the Wonderland universe, beginning with Return to Wonderland (2007) and followed by various Tales and Escapes. The original Return to Wonderland followed Alice Liddell’s granddaughter Calie, but according to Comic Book Resources, “the fate of Wonderland’s original protagonist has been remained untold, until now.” So the prequel, called Alice in Wonderland, will star an Alice Liddell bustier and blonder than you’ve ever seen her. Zenoscope will release it in December with covers by Artgerm, Eric Basaluda and Nei Ruffino.
There’s also an interview with Gregory at Comic Book Resources:
CBR News: Raven, before “Alice in Wonderland,” you had sent your time following the escapades of Alice’s granddaughter Calie in Wonderland. In fact, this is the first time you’ve actually visited the original character of Alice. What prompted the change in focus?
Raven Gregory: We’d been talking about doing the “Alice” story for quite some time, but we all agreed we’d only do it if we had a really good story to tell. After how well the “Wonderland” trilogy turned out, the last thing we wanted to do was to run this thing into the ground. We decided the only way to do it was to wait for the right story to come along, one that would be able to stand on its own merits yet also play into this massive mythology we’ve developed over the last five years. [continue reading.]
Enough Un-Anniversaries, July 28th is actually the day Disney’s Alice in Wonderland was released in 1951. To celebrate properly, we’ll re-post from reigning expert Matt Crandall’s excellent Disney Alice blog, vintagedisneyalice.blogspot.com, where he posted today images of a Disney comic book:
Chapter 2 appears in the issue dated July 28th, 1951, the date of the US premiere and the official anniversary of the film’s release.
Second of the colouring competitions, this time featuring my favorite character, the Caterpillar!
Chapter 2 finds Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole and chasing the White Rabbit through a small door. Guess we’ll meet the doorknob next time.
Again in this issue, beautiful painting not normally found in comic pages. Wonder what happened to all this art?
Previously on Far Flung Knight: Now Available Again: Disney’s 1951 Alice in Wonderland
BOOM! studios is debuting a new comic series written and drawn by Roger Landridge called Snarked! (Landridge also does The Muppet Show comic for BOOM! as well as The Mighty Thor for Marvel.) In a review on the Geeks of Doom website, Henchman21 describes the premise:
Snarked centers on two characters, Wilberforce J Walrus and Clyde McDunk, also known as the Carpenter. If you’re familiar with Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, you may recognize the names of those characters. Snarked takes the characters from Carroll’s poem, and puts them in their own little universe. In this introductory issue, we meet the two main characters and get a good sense of their personalities. Walrus is a grifter, a cheat, a smooth talker, and a layabout. The Carpenter is stupid. He is a dupe, a rube, and a simpleton. There is a Laurel and Hardy feel to their relationship that is perfectly expressed within the first few pages. We’ve all read these types of characters before, but there is still humor to be mined from them by a skilled writer.
What I liked most about Snarked is something that I also enjoy about books like The Unwritten or Kill Shakespeare, which is that they are stories based on literary works, but I don’t feel like I have to have read those base stories before reading the new interpretations. There are a lot of Lewis Carroll in-jokes that I do recognize: the newspaper for the town that Walrus and Carpenter live in is called the Jabberwock; the King of the town is the Red King, and a few others.
Snarked #0 (“it’s very easy to have more than nothing”) will be released August 2011 for $1.00.
UPDATE: PopMatters website had some more interesting information in their review, adding that “the original version of ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ is included in its entirety in the bonus pages of the comic, along with Langridge’s own parody version.” And some more pictures of inside:
Here’s the cover for Issue #3 of the new comic series The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which was launched after the success of the Cartoon Network show Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Bob Kass writes to us: “The cover shows the Alice in Wonderland characters but the story has the Looking Glass characters. In the story, the Mirror Master, who is a classic Flash villain, sends Batman and the Flash to the Looking Glass World with the help of Mad Hatter. The story includes the White Knight, the Tweedles, Jabbewock, Humpty Dumpty, etc. There is a clever touch where the Flash’s costume insignia reverses in the Looking Glass world.”
Johanna Draper Carlson at Comics Worth Reading is happy that this issue “take[s] on some of the whimsy and charm that make its cartoon counterpart so much fun to watch.”
Issue #3, for example, takes the trendy inspiration of Alice in Wonderland to remind us of the Batman villain The Mad Hatter, who’s mind-controlling the original Flash because “he’s one of the few heroes with the good taste to wear a hat.” That kind of logic, internally consistent to the characters but ridiculously silly to the reader, adds to the enjoyment of this comic.
"The Mad Hatter as he appears in Lego Batman: The Videogame." -Wikipedia
Batman’s most famous enemy The Joker has been identified with Carroll’s character before (recently in The Joker’s Asylum II, June 16th, 2010.) But apparently The Mad Hatter is himself also a Batman villain, originally appearing in Batman #49 in October 1948 (according to the Wikipedia.) “Like other Batman villains, the Mad Hatter has become a darker character over the years. The Mad Hatter is depicted as a scientist who invents and uses technological mind-controlling devices to influence and manipulate the minds of his victims, believing that ‘the mind is the weakest part of a person’. He is well-known for sporting a green-coloured hat which is usually slightly over-sized as it houses his mobile mind-manipulating devices.” So that’s why the Hatter wears a big hat!
Mahendra Singh’s beautiful new graphic novel version of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark got a Christmasy plug in The New Yorker’s blog Book Bench, in a post called “Holiday Gift Guide: For the Precocious Child.” “…Illustrated with delightfully surreal (and somewhat macabre) drawings,” writes Eileen Reynolds. “The language isn’t easy, of course, so save this book for the brightest and most adventurous young word-worms on your holiday shopping list.”
Over at Melville House’s blog MobyLives, Singh wrote a short essay about his creative process when approaching the illustration of the Bellman’s blank map. The original post is here, and I’ll quote in full:
A panel from Singh’s adaptation
The infamous Blank Map of the Bellman is proof positive that there was no Bellwoman forcing the Bellman to stop and ask for directions. It’s also a classic example of Carroll’s subversive sense of fun in the entire Snark.
The original illustrator of the poem, Henry Holiday, simply drew a blank map for this scene, a zen-like decision which really complicated my life when I set about drawing this panel.
Outsmarting Holiday would not be easy, but I had two advantages working for me in my quest to draw that celebrated blankness. First, this was going to be the world’s first, genuinely full-scale Surrealist Snark. Second, I am a shameless borrower of things which don’t belong to me.
Both the Snark and Surrealism involve a lot horsing around with the exact meanings of words and pictures, with interchanging them, combining them, sometimes even making their entire meaning softly and silently vanish away.
Henry Holiday’s Map of the Bellman
The Belgian Surrealist, Rene Magritte, was obsessed with this sort of game and his painting, “The Lover”, makes a perfect comment upon the Bellman’s Map. So, I just took it. Shameless on my part, yes, but there’s even more of that to come.
The map’s legend, “you are here” is literally true but what’s really shameless is my insistence that French is the language of the lost and confused when everyone knows that it’s really English. This is easily verified. Stand on a street corner in any big francophone city and ask a stranger: where am I? If necessary, pull at shirtsleeves and wave your arms, speak very slowly while carefully pronouncing every word at the utmost decibel level. I think you’ll quickly see what I mean.
Words, words, words! If only they had the decency to cover themselves up, like the Bellman & Company. They have no loyalty, they can’t be bothered to mean anything anymore, they’re shameless!
Rene Magritte’s “The Lovers”
Singh’s Snark is for sale on Amazon here, and more on The Hunting of the Snark around our website here.
After the rather challenging illustrations in our last two posts, here’s a recent Arlo & Janis comic that is a bit easier on the eye. It was published on Comics.com on October 14.
Arlo & Janis, by Jimmy Johnson
Isabelle Melançon, creator of the new web comic Namesake, which has just launched, promises that Lewis Carroll, Alice, and many familiar fairy tale characters figure prominently in the story. From the web site:
“Namesake is the story of Emma Crewe, a woman who discovers she can visit other worlds. She finds out that these are places she already knows – fantasy and fairy lands made famous through the spoken word, literature and cinema. Her power as a Namesake forces her to act as a protagonist in these familiar stories as she figures out how to get home. But as she travels, she discovers that those controlling her story have their own selfish goals in mind – and her fate is the key to everyone’s happy ending. Join Emma, her sister Elaine and their friends as they tumble down the rabbit hole. If you like, adventure, humor, stories of friendship, fairy tales and fantasy, this is the webcomic for you.”
Click the image on this post to visit the site. Since the comic will have new content three times a week, if you like what you see, you might want to subscribe to the site’s RSS feed to make sure you see the prologue and all subsequent pages.
Campfire Graphic Novels, a publishing house out of New Dehli, India, released their Alice in Wonderland this week, as part of their large and expanding series of comic versions of classics, biographies, mythology, and originals. The adaptation (72 pages, full color) is by Lewis Helfand with art by Rajesh Nagulakonda (who has previously illustrated their Joan of Arc, The Time Machine, and Oliver Twist.) Campfire’s mission statement: “It is night-time in the forest. A campfire is crackling, and the storytelling has begun. In the warm, cheerful radiance of the campfire, the storyteller’s audience is captivated. Inspired by this enduring relationship between a campfire and gripping storytelling, we bring you four series of Campfire Graphic Novels…” A noble cause, but isn’t reading comic books by firelight a bit hard on the eyes?
Campfire’s Alice in Wonderland is for sale on their website for $9.99 with free shipping worldwide!
There’s a series of comics at a site called Webcomics Nation, reminiscent in style to David Rees’ cut-&-paste web strips (My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable & Get Your War On), except it uses Tenniel’s Alice illustrations as the stock images. The series, Here We Come A-Carrolling, is created by a certain Doctor Randomness of Randomness Productions.