Walrus and Carpenter Scrimshaw Art

Here’s something you don’t see every day.  In fact, you’ve never seen one of these before–and may never see one again!  A new LCSNA member by the highly appropriate name of Ray Carpenter has created a one-of a kind scrimshaw artwork depicting the Walrus and the Carpenter–and also Lewis Carroll.  You can check out images of the artwork on his Etsy page.  It is not inexpensive, but presumably a collector of fine art will recognize the massive number of hours that have gone into the work’s creation.  We always love to see how Lewis Carroll’s works inspire artists around the world!


Walrus seeks Carpenter, must have own loaf of bread

Mowbury Park Walrus, Copyright Helen Wright

Mowbury Park Walrus, Copyright Helen Wright

Oh shed a tear for the lonely Wearside walrus! For eleven long years he has sat alone, gazing across Mowbray Park and Winter Gardens in Sunderland, UK. Now friends of the park hope to raise the money to commission a companion for him.

“We thought it was right to do this,” said Sylvia [chairman of the Friends of Mowbray Park]. “The poem is The Walrus and the Carpenter, but all we have is the walrus. It could be any old walrus without its carpenter.

“It is unlikely though, if we get enough money to go ahead, that we will base the designs for the carpenter on the original drawings – as he might scare the children!

“We would prefer a kindly carpenter visitors can sit on. People always used to sit on the lions in the past, but they don’t seem to any more. Perhaps we can start a new tradition!”

Read more about the fundraising campaign and Lewis Carroll’s connection to Wearside on the Sunderland Echo website.


“O Oysters, come and walk with us!” at the Walrus & Carpenter Nighttime Picnic

“A picnic” on legendary Totten Inlet at low tide in the dark and cold in the middle of the winter, and, if you are lucky, an icy gust of wind off the bay to season the experience — more than a little crazy, yes?

Crazy? Yes, but with impeccable literary credentials. Jon Rowley of Taylor Shellfish Farms in Shelton, WA, is taking reservations for his annual nighttime oyster picnic, inspired by the Walrus and the Carpenter.

Beneath a sulkily shining moon, adventurous diners march up and down the oyster beds before eating each and every bivalve they fancy. Or as Rowley describes it, “Lantern light, freezing weather, plump, sweet oysters just rousted from their beds and opened on the spot, award-winning “oyster wines” drunk out of Reidel stemware, a bonfire — just the right mix of magic and madness.”

These pleasant walks will take place on December 21, January 7, and February 6. Reservations can be made online at Brown Paper Tickets.


Introducing: Snarked! comic from BOOM!

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:


Alice in Sunderland

When I first saw this article about Alice in Sunderland, I thought it might be a forgotten manuscript republished by Michael Everson of Evertype, who has recently released such lost gems as “Clara in Blunderland: A political parody based on Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland” and “Lost in Blunderland: The further adventures of Clara: A political parody based on Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland,” as part of Evertype’s boundless library of Wonderland translations and variations. However Alice in Sunderland was just a Fake News release from NewsBiscuit, a website with the tag line “The news before it happens…”

Literary historian discovers Lewis Carroll sequel, ‘Alice in Sunderland’

An academic at the University of Lancaster has uncovered a previously unheard of follow-up to Lewis Carroll’s acclaimed Alice series of children’s novels, this time set in the North East of England.

‘Alice in Sunderland is very much like the original novels,’ said Professor Terry Eagleton. ‘It might be grittier and racier, but it contains the same trademark cast of unbelievable characters performing inexplicably bizarre pastimes. I don’t think I’d be spoiling the ending for the readers to say that the things they will witness in these pages could only have happened in a dream.’

As with Carroll’s first novel, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, the action begins with the young heroine lazing by a river one summer afternoon. ‘Only this time Alice is a teenager and she’s spread-eagled on a bench beside the River Wear, her soporific state explained by the two dozen empty bottles of WKD and vodka whose DRINK ME labels she had no choice but to obey.’ […]

The article ends with Professor Eagleton “continuing his search for the rumoured sequel to Alice Through the Looking Glass describing a hen weekend in Gateshead.”

If your English geography is hazy, Sunderland is a small coastal city within Tyne and Wear in North East England, and the NewsBiscuit article should give you a taste of some of the local color.  However, it’s not without its real Carroll connections, and NewsBiscuit is not the first to make the joke. This is a paragraph from the Wikipedia article on Sunderland:

The Walrus in Mowbray Park, Sunderland -Wikipedia

Lewis Carroll was a frequent visitor to the area. He wrote most of Jabberwocky at Whitburn as well as “The Walrus and the Carpenter”. Some parts of the area are also widely believed to be the inspiration for his Alice in Wonderland stories, such as Hylton Castle and Backhouse Park. There is a statue to Carroll in Whitburn library. Lewis Carroll was also a visitor to the Rectory of Holy Trinity Church, Southwick; then a township independent of Sunderland. Carroll’s connection with Sunderland, and the area’s history, is documented in Bryan Talbot’s 2007 graphic novel Alice in Sunderland. More recently, Sunderland-born Terry Deary, writer of the series of Horrible Histories books, has achieved fame and success, and many others such as thriller writer Sheila Quigley, are following his lead.

Bryan Talbot’s Alice in Sunderland is on amazon.com here. Wikipedia’s sited reference for the claim that Carroll wrote “The Walrus and the Carpenter” at Sunderland is the website englandsnortheast.co.uk, at which I found written:

On the coast to the north of Sunderland towards South Shields is the village of Whitburn and the nearby Whitburn Sands, where Lewis Carroll is said to have written the eighteen verse poem called the `Walrus and the Carpenter’.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come;” the walrus said
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax
Of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.”

The Sunderland and Shields area does seem a likely setting for the poem as in Carroll’s time Sunderland was a great shipbuilding port employing many carpenters. Boiling hot sea could be a reference to the steam-boat colliers in the area and a stuffed walrus in a Sunderland museum may have provided further inspiration. It is known that during his regular visits to Whitburn where he had a number of relatives, Lewis Carroll and company entertained themselves with evenings composing rhyme and song. Carroll’s nephew, Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, informs us that all but the first verse of the `Jabberwocky’ poem were written by Lewis Carroll at Whitburn. The first verse was written at Croft on Tees, near Darlington, where Carroll lived as a boy.


The Brum and the Oologist

The Brum and the Oologist
Were walking hand in hand;
They grinned to see so many birds
On cliff, and rock, and sand.
“If we could only get their eggs,”
Said they, “it would be grand.”

“Oh Seabirds,” said the Midland man,
“Let’s take a pleasant walk!
Perhaps among you we may find
The Great – or lesser- Auk;
And you might possibly enjoy
A scientific talk.”

The skuas and the cormarants,
And all the puffin clan,
The stormy petrels, gulls and terns,
They hopped and skipped and ran
With very injudicious speed
To join that oily man.

“The time has come,” remarked the Brum,
“For ‘talking without tears’
Of birds unhappily extinct,
Yet known in former years;
And how much cash an egg will fetch
In Naturalistic spheres.”

“But not our eggs!” replied the birds,
Feeling a little hot.
“You surely would not rob our nests
After this pleasant trot?”
The Midland man said nothing but,
“I guess he’s cleared the lot!”

“Well!” said that bland Oologist.
“We’ve had a lot of fun.
Next year, perhaps, these Shetland birds
We’ll visit – with a gun;
When – as we’ve taken all their eggs –
There’ll probably be none!”

This poem was sent to us by LCSNA member Mary DeYoung, who found it in a “little book” called Bird Brain-Teasers by Patrick Merrell. Ms. DeYoung writes:

The compiler of this little book, Mr. Merrell, says that this poem, abridged, was written in 1891, appearing in Punch. Brum is slang for Birmingham England, he says. I am certain there were and are many takes on The Walrus and the Carpenter; this is a gem.

And I found you can see the original page from Punch using Google Books here.


Seattle’s new oyster bar, The Walrus and the Carpenter

The picture above is from the website for Seattle’s new oyster bar opening in July, The Walrus and the Carpenter, “located at the South end of Seattle’s Historic Ballard Avenue in the newly renovated Kolstrand building” . They even included the full poem on their site! The blurb:

Award winning Chef Renee Erickson (Boat Street Café/Boat Street Pickles) has partnered with Business Manager Jeremy Price and Developer Chad Dale to realize her long time vision for an Oyster Bar. It makes perfect sense then, that she would do it in her own neighborhood.

Opening this July, The Walrus and the Carpenter blends the elegance of France  with the casual comfort of a local fishing pub. “The idea is to serve the highest quality food and drink in a space that is stripped of pretense …it should feel like home.”

The newly restored Kolstrand building on the south end of Ballard Ave, will be the perfect home for this rustic, light-filled, oyster haven. Plans for an outdoor space are also in the works. In addition to oysters, the menu will include locally harvested clams and mussels, house smoked fish, frites, and specialty meats. A full selection of wine, craft cocktails, and beer will also be available. And did we mention brunch? Brunch is served Sundays, 10am-2pm.

Ah, summer. Just in time.

I hope every dining experience will also include ruminations on innocence and death.