From the series "Alice in Wonderland" by Kodomos
Thanks to Adriana Peliano at the Sociedad Lewis Carroll do Brasil for alerting us to this Spanish artist who has a few eerie illustrations of Alice in Wonderland. The artist posts online using the name Kodomos, and also has similar imaginings of Tom Sawyer and The Little Prince. Peliano writes on AliceNations, one of her excellent Lewis Carroll blogs:
The artist uses creative mark-making and layering to craft the dreamlike illustrations. In Kodomos’ world the White Rabbit is monstrously large, and shadowy landscapes reveal an even more surreal and nightmarish side of the fantasy story. These images are really special!
They actually reminded me, in a spooky way, of Barry Moser’s Dante illustrations. There seems to be only about five, plus some close-ups on the Cheshire Cat, but we’d love to see more.
From the series "Alice in Wonderland" by Kodomos
Dr Karl Shuker with a rare Phantom Cat
Cryptozoology, according to the Wikipedia, “refers to the search for animals which are considered to be legendary or otherwise nonexistent by the field of biology. ” Dr Karl Shuker, according to his own bio, is “one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world.” Wikipedia describes him as “full-time freelance zoological consultant, media consultant, and noted author specializing in cryptozoology.” He is author of dozens of books, such as 2010′s Karl Shuker’s Alien Zoo, and he is currently working on his second book on “mysterious and mythical cats,” (the first was the “seminal” Mystery Cats of the World from 1989, out of print), called I Thought I Saw The Strangest Cat… Phantom Cats (again according to Wikipedia) “are a common subject of cryptozoological interest, largely due to the relative likelihood of existence in comparison to fantastical cryptids lacking any evidence of existence, such as Mothman.”
Dr Shuker gave us a sneak peak of this forthcoming book on his blog ShukerNature last week, posting a lengthy excerpt about the Cheshire Cat! Read the whole thing here, and here are the first few paragraphs:
Ever since Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s book was first published in 1865, literary scholars, Carrollian biographers, and cat-lovers alike have debated the source of one of its most enigmatic characters – the famously evanescent Cheshire Cat, with its maniacal, detachable grin! What was Carroll’s inspiration for such a surreal creation?
To begin with: as there is no such breed as a Cheshire cat, where did its name originate? Unlike most of its history, however, this seems to be quite straightforward.
Born in 1832 at Daresbury in rural Cheshire, Lewis Carroll (whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) spent much of his childhood there and later at Croft, a little further north. Consequently, he would have frequently encountered various of the local farm, pet, and stray cats – in other words, cats of Cheshire.
Moreover, as pointed out by Martin Gardner in The Annotated Alice (1960), there was a popular saying, current during Carroll’s time – “Grin like a Cheshire cat” – which must also, surely, have influenced his choice of a name for his fictitious feline.
Hardly surprisingly, that phrase has been mooted by several scholars as the origin of the Cheshire Cat’s synonymous smile too – but there are a number of other, equally compelling claimants for that particular honour. For example, it is well known that during the period when Carroll and his family lived in Cheshire, there were several inns whose signboards portrayed broadly-grinning lions; their incongruous visages would undoubtedly have attracted the attention of anyone so captivated by the allure of the ludicrous as Carroll.
Notwithstanding this, he needed to look no further than his home county’s celebrated cheeses for immediate inspiration. In her book Lewis Carroll: A Biography (1979), Anne Clark noted that a renowned medieval inhabitant of Chester, John Catheral, whose coat-of-arms from 1304 included a cat, always bared his teeth in a grin when angry – and died with a smile on his face, quite literally, while defending his beloved town. In honour of his valour, a longstanding tradition arose whereby Cheshire cheese-makers would mould their cheeses into the shape of a cat, and carve a wide grin upon its face. Once again, Carroll would certainly have seen such cheeses, and would have known the origin of their unusual form.
From a 1952 edition of AAIW (Juvenile Productions) with watercolors by Willy Schermele
This blog doesn’t regularly deal with certain questions (italics mine, as was the rest of that sentence.) And the new LewisCarroll.org’s FAQs don’t go there. Contrariwise, Mark Burstein usually starts his question-and-answer sessions with: “The answers to the first two questions are ‘No, he wasn’t’ and ‘No, he didn’t.’”
The LCSNA doesn’t shy away from these bothersome issues even if they’re occasionally bothered by them. However, there are reputable places on the internet specializing in debunking Carroll myths. For instance CarrollMyth.com, which offers various levels of depth depending on how long your myths want to spend being debunked. That user-friendly and aesthetically-pleasing website is run by Karoline Leach, author of In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll (Peter Owen Ltd., 1999, $29.95). There’s also a new blog: carrollmyth.wordpress.com. Here she is at work:
The respected journo Robert McCrum reviews Jenny Woolf’s book The Mystery of Lewis Carroll in the Guardian, and concludes…what exactly? That Carroll has been misunderstood and somewhat abused, as Ms Woolf suggests? That a re-assessment is overdue, as Ms Woolf suggests? That, at last, we’re getting a clearer picture of a complex man?
Nope. He concludes Dodgson was either (sigh, not again) in love with little Alice Liddell , or – this is the best bit – with her ‘ten-year old brother’!?
Here it is in his own words:
More than either of these, it is a poignant love story: the repressed yearning of a solitary man for a resolution to his inner frustrations. Was he in love with Alice’s 10-year-old brother or, with Alice Liddell herself? No one will ever know the truth of that mystery .
Well, ’solitary man’, ‘repressed yearnings’, this is all the standard vocab of anyone writing about Carroll for the past sixty years, but not even the most myth-bound commentator has ever suggested Carroll was gay (well, apart from Richard Wallace, but he also thought Carroll was Jack the Ripper, so, you know, enough said), and Jenny Woolf’s book does not (I know for a fact), contain any insane riffs about possible pederasty involving young male Liddells.
So, the truth of that particular ‘mystery’, Mr McC, is that you just made it up.
Jenny Woolf, for her part, has a related article in the April 2010 Smithonian Magazine, which just went online today, called “Lewis Carroll’s Shifting Reputation: Why has popular opinion of the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland undergone such a dramatic reversal?”
And as for the Far-Flung blog, we will devote more time to the farthest flung among us (there are books proving that Mark Twain and Queen Victoria wrote Alice, exegeses outlining his Orthodox Judaism, and we weren’t kidding about his being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Carroll has been posthumously baptized by the Mormons at least eight times.)
Tattoo by Holly Azzara
So… how much do you really love Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”? Enough to get the entire movie tattooed on your body? Alice-themed tattoos are fairly common but few individuals have taken it as far as this client of Medway, MA tattoo artist Holly Azzara. Not content with a playing card or two, she wanted it all, Alice, the Mad Tea-Party, the Garden of Live Flowers, the Cheshire Cat—everything.
I would come to Holly and say “I think this would be awesome” and then two weeks later she would have it drawn up. She knew how important it was to me to have the characters look exactly like they did in the movie and she was very dedicated to my vision. I had the thickest reference folder in her filing cabinet with picture after picture of characters in the movie.
More images of the tattoo and an account of its year-long creation can be found on Holly’s blog. Holly has also created a huge back tattoo of Tenniel’s drawing of Alice and the Cheshire Cat. Apparently it was the client’s first tattoo!
Tattoo by Holly Azzara
“Play the Alice in Wonderland Costume game and dress Alice in strange costumes worn by the characters of Wonderland, then click on the ace of spades to give Alice an item from the Mad Hatter!” This mildly amusing dress-up game from FlashArcadeGamesite.com appears to be designed for tween and younger girls. I do wonder if they got permission from Disney to use the movie version of the Cheshire Cat in the game…
Russian digital artist Vlad Gerasimov has added a “Cheshire Kitten” (both solid and half disappeared, of course!) to his collection of Alice-inspired graphics for computer (and now cellphone/iPhone) desktops at Vladstudio.com.
*LOL Cheshire Cat