The Blog of the LCSNA

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Jett Jackson: Stuck in Wonderland

Welcome to the LCSNA’s blog, where you can read regular updates about Lewis Carroll’s influence on all aspects of life.  Please keep in mind that these posts are informational only; we do not endorse any link, statement or product cited below unless we specifically state that within the post. Also, the bloggers do not speak for the LCSNA as a whole. We hope you’ll visit often to review the posts and add comments.

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The Blog of the LCSNA

Yet Nine More Astonishing New Illustrators

As my posts Nine Astonishing New Illustrators and Nine More Astonishing New Illustrators have received much welcome in the Carroll-collector community, I felt it was time to do another. Once again I thank Instagrammers @semperluxus, @neverenoughalicebooks, and @chimerainwonderland for finding them!

The first, and by far the largest (16.5 x 12 inches, 42 x 30 cm) is this lushly illustrated Italian one by Francesco Corli. The art was taken from a series of 50 paintings (all shown full-page in a suite at the back of the book) done for an exhibition at the Cart Gallery in Rome in May. Although signed and limited to 100 copies, it is quite reasonably priced and obtainable from the Gallery here.

Although the only text is a one-page summary, Les Aventures d’Alice au Pays des Merveilles contains Sébastien Orsini’s exquisite paper cut-outs in a single, folded 67-inch (170 cm) sheet (Lirabelle, 2015) ISBN: 978-2358781398.

Enzio Venezia’s geometrical and wildly amusing, colorful pictures accompany a retelling (also by Venezia and from Alice’s POV) of the tale in rhymes and nursery-rhymes in a large square (12 in, 30 cm) format (Piuma Editions, 2020, ISBN 978-8897443230). A unique approach, and a true delight from end to end.

A Chinese version of both Wonderland (爱丽丝漫游奇境) and Looking-glass (Jiangsu Phoenix Literature and Art Publishing, 2022) is illustrated by Gu Rui En in a very, well, pretty manner. The translation is also said to be new and interesting. I’ll save you the trouble: you can get it on Amazon.

Jessica Cioffi, under the nom de plume “Loputyn,” has produced a number of very lovely drawings in a muted pastel palette (although a few somewhat arbitrary skulls, eyeballs, and sharp teeth are woven in). It is available in both Italian (Rebelle, 2022, ISBN 978-8894559088) and Russian (Алиса в стране чудес, Mann-Ivanov-Ferber, 2023, ISBN 978-5002140879).

Truly wacky and laugh-out-loud funny pictures by Laurent Grossat highlight this French edition (L’Autre Regard, 2020, ISBN 978-2490906284). The text is retold and the art is hysterical.

A psychedelically colored Korean edition called Alice in Wonderland Mobile Art Book (이상한 나라의 앨리스 모바일 아트북) contains amusing, highly stylized illustrations and, at the back, an assemble-able mobile! ISBN 978-8998010614.

In her artbook Miracles from Alice (Чудеса от Алисы, Артбук, 2016), collagist/artist Alena Arsentieva (Алена Арсентьева) illustrates both Alice books and one image for the Snark. There is very little text, in Russian mainly, but an extract of The Snark appears in English. ISBN 978-5699885626.

Easton Press’s Deluxe Limited Edition features eight full-color and nine pencil illustrations by acclaimed Basque artist Arantza Sestayo, each hand-tipped into the book and protected by a translucent overlay. The book comes in a custom-crafted clothbound slipcase and is a stunning example of the bookmaker’s art, as well as featuring her finely rendered drawings. (Perhaps as a bonus or teaser, an image of Looking-Glass’s Queen Alice and the Jabberwock comes at the very end!)


Alice in Cartoonland THIS FRIDAY

Brian Sibley, president of the LCS(UK) and a most entertaining speaker, explores the comic universe of Carrollian cartoons, chronicling their history from the original illustrations for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground to the work of his modern-day counterparts in the worlds of comic books, animation, and video games.

The meeting will be via Zoom this Friday, September 8, from 6 to 8 pm in London, i.e., 10 am to noon Pacific Time, 1 to 3 pm Eastern Time. Details:

Meeting Link
Meeting ID: 895 4136 5946
Passcode: 255425

(Although we normally do not use this blog to publicize online presentations by the LCS[UK], as many of you know, Facebook, relying on AI in its infinite wisdom, has taken our site down over two weeks ago for the crime of “impersonating Lewis Carroll.” We’ve filed a complaint, but good grief!)


A Wonderland of Wallpapers

In “Judy Holliday’s Old Home in the Village Deserved a Renovation” in the Real Estate section of the New York Times on August 8, 2023, we learn that Jarrah Al-Buainain, a lawyer, found the 1,500-square-foot railroad-style apartment once belonging to the star of Born Yesterday in pretty bad shape. “As I was going in, there was more wallpaper, more wallpaper and more wallpaper,” Mr. Al-Buainain said. “It felt like Alice in Wonderland.” So he and his architect, Leah Solk, decided to renovate using wallpaper adapted from a furnishing fabric created by C. F. A. Voysey in 1930 (now held by the Victoria and Albert Museum), remastered and reworked by the House of Hackney, where it can be purchased. A photo of the entrance hall drew much Carrollian attention.

Over the years, there have been hundreds of Alice wallpapers. One that is particularly significant for me is this one (anonymous), as it was the wallpaper and bedding in the bedroom in which my father, Sandor, grew up. He became a renowned Carroll collector and scholar, not to mention a LCSNA president, and I’ve always wondered if it had somehow permeated his young brain and gotten into his DNA and that of his offspring.

One of the earliest wallpapers was designed by Tony Sarg (1880-1942), a well-known comic and children’s book artist who flourished in the early-to-mid 20th century.  Tenniel was clearly the inspiration for Sarg’s characters.  In addition to the wallpaper (a roll can be purchased here), which he designed for and was produced by the Thomas Strahan Company in the 1930s, Sarg also created Alice-related marionettes, a pop-up book (Tony Sarg’s Treasure Book: Rip van Winkle, Alice in Wonderland, and Treasure Island. New York: B. F. Jay & Co., 1942), and two Alice-related entries in Tony Sarg’s Alphabet (London: Bennn, 1926?). Sarg may be best known for designing the first flying balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades from 1927 into the 1930s (but so far we have found any of Sarg’s balloons that were of Alice characters; the first Alice float was in 1948).

This is wallpaper for a dollhouse!


2006 “Lewis Carroll and the Idea of Childhood” Conference Online!

DVDs of the truly frabjous two-day conference hosted by Jim Kincaid of USC were recently discovered and the videos are now online on our YouTube channel.

“More than 100 years after his death, the Oxford academic Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) continues to capture critical attention for his work as an author and photographer. At “Lewis Carroll and the Idea of Childhood,” held March 31–April 1, 2006 at both USC’s Doheny Memorial Library and the Huntington Library, an international group of scholars presented viewpoints challenging commonly held assumptions about the author and his work. Conference topics included the interpretation of the Alice books as realist novels; the rare appearance of boys in Carroll’s photographic oeuvre; the role of the child in an adult world; the odd recurrence of characters like the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit; the function of child idolatry in Carroll’s relationship to the real and fictional Alices; the relationship between Carroll’s Alice and Sylvie and Bruno books; the mixing of poetry and prose in Victorian literature; and Alice as a precursor to Dorothy and other heroines who refuse to surrender.”

You can read a write-up called “Aboard the Trojan Horse” from the Knight Letter here. There was much humor and fun to be had, perhaps at odds with what one thinks of as an academic conference.

Thanks to Mark Burstein, Alan Tannenbaum, and Tyson Gaskill for making it happen!


Pursuing an Artist with Smiles and Soap

Hunting of the Snark Movie

How did the delightful work of art for our Spring Conference Keepsake Fundraiser come to be? It all started about a year ago with an issue of The Snarkologist. As I gazed upon the cover of Volume 1, Fit 3 depicting a joyful little fellow leaping through the air, I thought, “That’s the cutest little Banker I’ve ever seen!” A flip of the page revealed that the illustration was by Jonathan David Dixon, a colorized version of a black-and-white illustration from his edition of The Snark (LCSNA, 1992). An article inside by Stephanie Lovett detailed Jonathan’s long and varied Snark history.

Fast forward nine months to the planning stages of the LCSNA 2023 Spring Conference, when it became clear that a brand new The Hunting of the Snark film would be a feature presentation at our virtual conference/film festival. I was determined to have some sort of fundraiser in concert with our conference, as LCSNA membership has not bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. I thought of our in-person conferences, and how happy everyone always is to get some sort of keepsake to take home. Why not have a keepsake for a virtual conference?

If the subject was the Snark, there was no doubt in my mind whom I wanted to ask to donate his talents and time: Jonathan David Dixon! But would he do it? He’s a busy man, after all: a multitalented multi-hyphenate artist of the stage, screen, and page. Plus, I had no relationship with him, unless you count fangirling and getting him to autograph my copy of Looking-Glass House a few years back. But it couldn’t hurt to ask, right?

Okay, maybe it could hurt to ask …

I took a deep breath and virtually cold-called Jonathan. Much to my delight, he wrote back the next day and said YES, very graciously. Much to my amusement, he let his true feelings be known on Facebook somewhat later:

“Hello, folks!
For the Lewis Carroll Society of North America’s upcoming virtual online meeting on Saturday, April 15th, I was asked to do an illustration that could be printed up as a 5×7 card for a keepsake and fundraising promotion.
I went back and forth, wary that I wouldn’t have the time … but then Heather Simmons recommended that I use my characters from Carroll’s THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK, and I weakened because I love them so much and the temptation to revisit them was strong.
Then, because the theme of the meeting will be Lewis Carroll-inspired movies, she suggested as one possibility the characters wearing 3-D glasses. I shouted, ‘Curse yooouuuu!!! Cuuuurrrrsssse yoooouuuu!!!’ — because I knew then that I had to do it.”

Hey, I have no problem being cursed, with results like these! Jonathan decided the Butcher and Beaver would be attending the movies together, as they are friends now. Flanking them in the darkened movie theater are the Bellman and the Billiard-marker. Fun fact: this is only the second time Jonathan has depicted the Billiard-marker!

5X7 prints of this Dixon original may be purchased through May 15 for just $10.06. (Like ten shillings and six pence? Cute? Yes?) But I wholeheartedly recommend you take the second buying option: for $42, you get a print and a chance to win the original art in a raffle being held at our May 20 virtual event! Intent on increasing your odds? You may buy as many chances as you like!

To those that have already purchased a keepsake print, THANK YOU. All proceeds of this sale go toward bringing you more virtual and in-person events like our Spring Conference/Movie Marathon, which welcomed 162 attendees from 15 countries!

May 15 will be here before you know it! Don’t miss your opportunity to support the LCSNA in the most adorable way possible. Prints will be shipped starting the first week of May.


Nine More Astonishing New Illustrators

The response to my post “Nine Astonishing New Illustrators” was overwhelmingly positive, so I think it is time to do another. Most of these were found by an Instagram cadre of Alice collectors, principally “Semper Lux,” “Never Enough Alice Books,” and “Chimera in Wonderland” (@semperluxus, @neverenoughalicebooks, @chimerainwonderland). Many of these artists are also on IG. If you are, may I also highly recommend following Semper Lux for her wonderfully erudite, albeit tongue-in-cheek, reviews of these and many other Alice books?

A truly masterful edition by the award-winning, prolific fantasy artist Paolo Barbieri is widely available in English or Italian. Alice here is a blonde teenager in contemporary dress, although other characters are in Victorian garb; the renderings (b&w drawings and color paintings) are extraordinarily skillful and full of imagination and surprises (Italian: Lo Scarabeo, 2022, 978-8865277966; ‎English: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2023, 978-0738775852).

Sean Dietrich, whose work ranges “from comics to gaming to live art at nightclubs to being one of the biggest artists in the Cannabis arena,” has produced an edition incorporating a fine set of 24 fully-realized illustrations and many concept-art sketches. The art is humorous and full of “grotesqueries” in the positive sense of the word (Red23, 2022, 978-0463179307).

Katsiaryna Dubovik’s illustrations for a Belorusian Looking-Glass (Скрозь люстэрка, і што ўбачыла там Aлica) are highly amusing, a tad reminiscent of those of Hilary (Eloise) Knight, although certainly less realistic (Галіяфы [Goliaths], 2017, 978-9857140398).

Philadelphia artist Cavin Jones walks us through both Wonderland and Looking-glass Land in a series of beautifully drawn pictures, accompanied by poetic riffs on the text. Alice herself is a middle-aged Black woman, and the illustrations are replete with African sculptures and masks. A stunning re-imagining! Alice In Wonderland: A Series Of Drawings and Verses (independently published [POD] in 2020, 979-8605235187).

A stylish Hungarian Wonderland (Alice Csodaországban) illustrated by the multiple-award-winning Katalin Szegedi uses quirky, magical, highly detailed montage illustrations, often full pages, that bear repeated viewing not only for the esthetics, but for the many half-hidden references (General Press Kiadó, 2007, 978-9639648739).

A sweet Ukrainian Wonderland (Аліса в Країні див), combines innovative typography, geometry, and an amiable drawing style (by Inna Maslyak) somewhat reminiscent of Sempé (Ранок [Ranok], 2019, 978-6170955289).

Galina Zinko’s warmly humorous, inviting images (with that most rare bird, an Alice of the right age) are available as follows:
Looking-glass in Ukrainian: Алиса у Задзеркаллі, A-ba-ba-ha-la-ma-ha, 2020, 978-6175851869.
Wonderland in Russian: : Алиса в Стране чудес, Willi Winki, 2018, 978-5171089597.
Looking-glass in Russian: Алиса в Зазеркалье, Willi Winki, 2019, 978-5171179564.
Both books together in Russian: Алиса в Стране чудес / в Зазеркалье, Willi Winki, 2022, 978-5171185343.

The always wonderful Adriana Peliano of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil, along with her five-year-old nephew Jorge, has created a truly charming, wordless picture book (42 pages, of course) of Wonderland (Alice Quebra Cabeça, “Alice Puzzle”) based on Tangrams. Click here for details.

The image you see on your left is slightly misleading: this fun Mexican edition is in tête-bêche format (i.e., each upside-down to the other), but that’s not the only idiosyncrasy. Each book has a different illustrator (and translator) and all of the full-page drawings are collected in a 32-page galeria at the back (Maravillas) or front (Espejo) of the books for some odd reason. Anabel López Cabrera’s skillful, stylized illustrations for Maravillas look like they were done on parchment and employ interesting perspectives; Mariana Magdaleno’s for Espejo feature a white-haired Alice and marvelously rendered characters, often in unconventional tableaux (Mirlo, 2018, 978-6071421395).


Wonderland’s Other Queen?

According to Emma Capron, one of the world’s leading Renaissance art experts, and curator of The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance, which opens at the National Gallery in London on March 16, Quinten Massys’s painting An Old Woman, aka The Ugly Duchess, inspiration for Sir John Tenniel’s drawing, is actually a portrait of a male transvestite.

The exhibition will also claim that the drawing of the woman in A Grotesque Couple, attributed to Francesco Melzi, who was Leonardo da Vinci’s leading assistant, inspired Massys’s painting.

A story in The Guardian tells us more; the exhibit runs through June 11.


Street of Dreams

Beginning with its pre-title slide that proclaims that Dodgson met Alice in 1863 (it was, of course, in 1856), Elina Street’s 16-minute short film Alice and Lewis (Behind the Door Productions, 2018) plays fast and loose with history as she imagines a story of a usually angry, stammering Dodgson giving mathematics tutoring to a young Alice, who occasionally drops a line or two from what will become Wonderland. As per cinematic convention, they start out at odds and end up great friends, with a story he wrote for her (no mention of a boating expedition, and the film takes place in a snowy winter). I can’t say I was enchanted. Available for rent or purchase on Vimeo and Google Play. (In a Carrollian manner, you can buy it on Google for less than it costs to rent it.)


How Did We Miss This Great Art?

From March 27 to April 25, 2021, the Haven Gallery in Northport (Long Island, NY) had a “Lewis Carroll Group Exhibition” in which artists were “invited to look to the writings of Lewis Carroll for inspiration in all visual and thematic elements. Creative homages to the environments, characters, costumes and/or narratives will be explored and reinterpreted in the artists own style.” It’s too bad we didn’t know about it at the time, but we can visit it virtually. Many of the artworks are available for sale.


Donald Rackin, 1933-2022

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of a great Carrollian and a true mensch: Donald Rackin passed away on November 23, 2022, at the age of 89 in Philadelphia after a long, brave struggle with Parkinson’s. Donald was a professor of English at Temple University for 33 years, a noted scholar specializing in Victorian literature who published widely on Carroll.

 In 1967, he won the MLA’s prestigious William Riley Parker Prize for his essay “Alice’s Journey to the End of Night.” He has addressed our Society four times and served on our board from 1997 to 2002. An “In Memoriam” column will be devoted to him in the Spring 2023 Knight Letter.

Don was a warm, gentle soul with a fierce intellect always lurking behind his marvelous sense of humor. He will be greatly missed.