On Being an Alice Fan Right Now

h1 February 3rd, 2010 by jules

Now, isn’t that the Mad Tea-Party as you’ve never quite seen it before? That comes from the mind of illustrator Oleg Lipchenko, but more on that in a minute.

It’s about to be a good time to be a fan of the novel for which Lewis Carroll was most famously known, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or—in the words of Martin Gardner—“a very curious, complicated kind of nonsense.” And the reason it’s about to be a good time to be an Alice fan? This new film adaptation. Publishers are already taking advantage of the upcoming Alice craze, including Chronicle books, who have recently released this. (More on that later, since—as the Illustration Junkie I am—you can bet I’m dying to see that one.)

Another case-in-point? Illustrator (and designer and teacher) Bill Carman, who has visited 7-Imp several times and whom, I swear, I should bring on as a consultant or something, tells me that Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California, is planning an upcoming exhibit, a tribute show, called “Curioser and Curioser: Inspired by Alice in Wonderland.” Here’s the link with the information; the exhibit begins February 27th. (How much do I love that they’re also featuring “Zombies in Love,” but I digress.)

The gallery’s invited “artists of the feature film and beyond to create their vision of the iconic story and celebrate it’s lasting legacy.” Bill will be contributing a few paintings himself, and I’m sharing them today. Here’s Bill’s Dude, What are You Wearing?, but he says we can call it Tweedles for short. (A tribute to these guys, of course.)

Here is his Hatter image below, though I stress that it’s a work-in-progress. In fact, Bill’s sharing the birth, so to speak, and growth of the image over at his blog. (“I feel a little naked showing all of my marks, snots and goobers as I go,” he writes, “but this is an important part of my process. The bad brushstrokes and ‘mistakes’ all tell me something and could lead to beautiful passages which would otherwise stay hidden were I more careful.”) Here are the first two versions, and the one you see here is the third. To see the final, polished illustration, check out Bill’s Studio later this week.

Incidentally, Bill tells me that Nucleus is really good about posting all of the work from their shows. In fact, the pieces will be posted on the site all during the exhibit — after opening night. So, be sure to take a gander, if—like me—you’re way far away and can’t take in the exhibit yourself.

Back to that opening illustration…That comes from Oleg Lipchenko’s adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, released by Tundra Books in November. (I have Colleen and Little Willow to thank for emailing and telling me I just had to see these illustrations.) Because you know I’m a Review Nerd and like to share the professionals’ point-of-view, I’ll add: Publishers Weekly called Lipchenko’s illustrations “gracefully expressive” and called the book a “lovely and faithful interpretation,” while School Library Journal applauded the “{e}legant book design and sophisticated artwork,” adding:

Lipchenko’s illustrations, in monochromatic sepia and black-and-white tones, combine precisely drawn detail with broad architectural perspectives…. Ever-changing perspectives, dramatic shadowing and shading, and layouts that have an Escheresque quality make the artwork remarkable and innovative, though geared toward a more mature audience. The relationship between the text and pictures offers much room for exploration and interpretation…

Yeah. I’m still poring over my copy. I was able to get some art from it today to share. Here’s more from the Mad Tea-Party:

Here’s the same spread in two cuts so that you can see it in more detail:

And here are the left and right sides of the endpapers:

Curiouser and curiouser, yes? And surreal and gloriously bizarre in about seven different directions.

Many more images from the book can be seen at Oleg’s website.

* * * * * * *

Illustrations from Bill Carman used with his permission. All rights reserved.

ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Oleg Lipchenko. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tundra Books, Ontario.

16 comments to “On Being an Alice Fan Right Now”

  1. There are also two ALICE adaptations for the stage playing in New York now.

  2. Those illustrations are super-creepy-cool! I love his use of a limited palette. I’ll be keeping my eye out for Oleg–and Bill Carman, too!

  3. The Chronicle book has actually been around for a while. In fact, I’ve two editions of it, the last from 2000. I think they are just pointing to it because of the movie.

    Oleg’s version is amazing, first published in a gorgeous limited edition. I was lucky enough to see some of the original art a few years back at a Lewis Carroll Society party.

    There are also quite a few other new editions including a pretty neat one by Robert Ingpen.

    I generally read and do my whole Alice unit in March-April and am trying to figure out how to factor in the Burton movie. That is would hope the kids will still look at all the different version and not be overly influenced by Burton’s vision.

  4. Oh how I love Oleg’s Alice – so so so beautiful. And how I love it when you do a post like this. It reminds me all over again how amazing Alice is and forever will be.

    Sigh. Someday we are all going to get together and spend a weekend just gushing about Alice, I promise.

  5. I think what I like best about the full-color Alice looking down the hole with her daisies is that she looks like she could be a relative of yours.

    What great sepia-toned inks. And that clock! It’s all Melting Clocks and perfectly Mad-Hattery tea. I love it.

  6. Thanks, you all. J.L., thanks for the info, and Monica, thanks for setting me straight on the Chronicle book being re-released. Can’t wait to see it. Didn’t see it before.

    And, yes, the Ingpen tea party is on this page of the blog, actually!

    Tanita, that full-color image is actually the cover. And, speaking of relatives of mine, I think I should read the book again with the girls. We started it before but got side-tracked. Horreurs!

  7. Ooh! Love those illustrations! May have to grab the Lipchenko version! (I’m already on the list for an advance copy of the Chronicle Alice – can’t wait to see it!)

  8. Look for Humpty Dumpty and Friends: Nursery Rhymes for the Young at Heart, also illustrated by Oleg Lipchenko. Coming September, 2010!

  9. Thanks for this post! I’m currently writing a Master’s thesis on identity in the Alice books, and am always eager to geek out over various interpretations of the artwork and story. These are really stunning.

  10. Yay for brunette Alice! I want to see a variety of Alices – races, heights, weights – depicted in all of the mediums and media.

    I hope the adaptations are worthy and good.

    I sent you the link to the new Wildhorn musical, right?

  11. Whoa, super cool art. Thanks for sharing…inspiring stuff.

  12. Love both Bill’s eerie and Oleg’s peep-sepia takes on ‘Alice’.

    It’s getting to be expensive to read your blog Jules. I just took my “STAY UP AND MAKE SOMETHING” poster to get framed. And now I have to (yes,HAVE to) buy Chronicle’s collection of Alice illustrators as it covers my favorite age of children’s books.

    Is there an art-o-holics group out there yet?

  13. Denise: Hee. I’ll join that group. And one day…one day…I’ll splurge on the stay-up poster, too. It’s perfect, isn’t it? (I’m still sloooowwwwly getting stuff framed myself, and my checkbook can’t take any more art purchases or framing right now. Boo.) So glad you got it!

  14. […] “Curiouser and curiouser, yes? And surreal and gloriously bizarre in about seven different directions.” – Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast […]

  15. […] I mentioned earlier, dear readers, that Chronicle Books was releasing a most lovely illustrated paperback edition of […]

  16. The illustrator Oleg Lipchenko has recently published an illustrated version of The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony In Eight Fits (by Lewis Caroll), and also just finished another body of work titled Freudoscope, which will be showcased as a solo exhibition in Toronto, opening April 5th.

    Limited edition of 100 copies of The Hunting of the Snark is still available here:

    Mass-marketed edition published by Tundra Books will be available soon.


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