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Alice in Sunderland Hardcover – May 1, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Hardcover, May 1, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Talbot's freewheeling, metafictional magnum opus is a map of the curious and delightful territory of its cartoonist's mind, starring himself in multiple roles. The starting point is the history of his hometown, the northeast English city of Sunderland, along with his lifelong fascination with the myths and realities behind Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland—potentially dry material, but Talbot pulls out all the stops to keep it entertaining. He veers off on one fascinating tangent after another. The book encompasses dead-on parodies of EC horror comics, British boys' comics and Hergé's Tintin, walk-ons by local heroes like Sidney James, extensive analysis of a couple of William Hogarth prints, a cameo appearance by the Venerable Scott McComics-Expert and even a song-and-dance number, drawing a three-dimensional web of coincidences and connections between all. It's also a showcase for the explosive verve of Talbot's protean illustrative style, with digital collages of multiple media on almost every page: pen-and-ink drawings in a striking variety of styles, photographs, painting, computer modeling, and all manner of found images. The book's only real weakness is its scattered focus, but Talbot is a remarkable raconteur, even if what he's presenting is more a variety show than a story. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass(1872) have had an immeasurable impact on children's literature and, indeed, the entire spectrum of popular entertainment, with Carroll's absurdist wordplay and surreal scenarios inspiring artistic visionaries from Salvador Dali to John Lennon. Of English writers, only Shakespeare is more frequently quoted. Such interesting literary tidbits as those abound in Talbot's lavishly illustrated graphic "entertainment" tracing the historical and cultural influences behind Carroll's masterpieces. The launching pad for Talbot's alternately fanciful and didactic exposition is the Empire Theatre in Sunderland, a former shipping port in northeastern England and a favorite Carroll haunt. Talbot's chosen stage manager-narrator is his own illustrated doppelganger, who takes the Empire stage for an audience of one and proceeds on a breathtaking tour through Sunderland's colorful history. Along with insights into famous battles, bridges, and ghost-infested castles, Talbot provides updates to Carroll's biography via recent information concerning his controversial relationship to the "real" Alice, Alice Liddell (1852-1934). Talbot's talented team of collaborating illustrators weaves a rich tapestry of artistic styles, ranging from superlative pen-and-ink drawing to colorized faux photography. They make a beautiful coffee-table volume of what may come to stand with Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice(1960; rev. ed., 1990) as an indispensable trove of Wonderland lore. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse; First Edition edition (April 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593076738
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593076733
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There have been and always will be books that intimidate your average everyday book reviewer. As someone who works primarily with children's literature, this doesn't happen to me all that often. After all, as much as I'd like to be overawed by the latest Junie B. Jones series title, it just ain't gonna happen. But encompassing the whole of literature written with children in mind means sometimes having to deal with books that only just barely touch on my sphere of experience. When I first heard of Bryan Talbot's graphic novel, "Alice in Sunderland," I had no idea what it was. Not really. A glance at the cover gives the reader some hints to the contents, but for your average everyday American the word "Sunderland" means nothing. It's a nonsense word. A play on "Wonderland" obviously, but beyond that we're without reference. Standing at an impressive 328 pages, the book is obviously publisher Dark Horse Comics' most ambitious project to date. Dense, intense, and without comparison, Talbot has constructed the ultimate love letter/tour guide to his home. The fact that it may have also inspired Lewis Carroll's best-known work? Almost a sidenote.

Step right up! Step right in! Take off your hats and coats and make yourself at home. A man walks into a theater for a performance unlike any other. Onstage, the rabbit mask-wearing lead performer begins to tell the story. But it's not the story of Alice in Wonderland or even Charles Dodgson, her creator. Rather it's the tale of a place. A little strip of land on the North Eastern side of the island of Britain. A location that has inspired so many heroes, stories, tales, and legends you'd be amazed to hear them all. But Talbot isn't going to concentrate on the biggest folktales of his region. Nothing so straightforward.
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Format: Hardcover
This will be brief--part biography of Lewis Carrol, part overview of British history, part political statement, and part love letter to the author's adopted home, Talbot's "entertainment" (officially a graphic novel, but unlike anything else I've seen) uses a variety of art styles, referencing everything from Mad Magazine to Prince Valiant and everything in between, to take us on a circuitous journey through the British city of Sunderland and its environs, as well as separating fact from fiction in the life of Lewis Carrol and the history of his most famous works.

It's occasionally wordy, often surreal, and always mesmerizing. I bought it without knowing anything about it, having just finished The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition, and after needing a few minutes to adjust, was just blown away.

The only reason for dropping a star is that it may appeal mostly to Anglophiles or those obsessed by literary history. It's certainly not for everyone, but it's definitely one of the most intelligent, gripping "entertainments" that I've read in recent memory.

Well done, indeed.
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Format: Hardcover
The book took me by surprise. I was expecting another boring graphic novel, but Alice delivers so much more. I've little to compare it to in the field of graphic storytelling, but the only thing that comes to mind is From Hell. Like From Hell it delves with an enormous amount of information on a subject and this occurance is Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, and Sunderland England and how they all tie together.

Talbolt does this by presenting the facts in a lucid style of a theatrical presentation. Using this device, he jumps around the history of Sunderland(from it's begginings to the theatre he's telling the story and to so much more) and how Carroll may have been influenced by the location when writing the Alice stories.

Yet it isn't just a story about a book for kids, it touches upon so many varied things that it had my head swimming with information so I could only read about fifteen pages a day. His artwork adapts to the element of story that needs it. There are about a hundred smaller stories under this title and he jumps and creates some interesting designs to make this work. Talbot has gone beyond the usual standards of comics and presented a amazing new book.

The only complaint I have is how he overuses a photoshop filter over photographs. If he did this once in a while it would be alright, but it's a technique that is driven into the ground by the end.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's not for everyone, but I love it! A lot of history, backstory, speculation, seemingly random digressions and wanderings, all centered on the Alice books and the English town of Sunderland. Nothing anyone can say about it will prepare you for it. It has to be experienced. I first read it by checking it out from the local library. It stunned me, and I knew I had to have my own copy to have and share and dip into whenever. If possible, you should read a library copy first, also. You might be one of those who hates it. I doubt many will be indifferent to it. About the art style: it has several dozen of them. Changing every few pages. Great fun to spot what he's emulating on which pages!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous "little" book, packed full of cartoons, collages, photos, poetry, and an off-kilter exploration of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's (aka Lewis Carroll) "Alice in Wonderland" & "Through the Looking Glass", and it's roots in Sunderland in NE England. It's a merry visual chase to pinpoint various features and events that may have inspired one of the world's most cherished modern fairy tales. This ISN'T linear story telling and certainly not your run-of-the-mill historical graphic novel (as much as I enjoy those also); it leaps from this modern period to Carroll's era to ancient history, and explores and reviews various mediums of art related to "Alice".

I first encountered this book at my local library while browsing in the comics, TPB and graphic novels section, and ended up paying large overdue fines because I reread it over and over. When I saw this on Amazon, I knew I had to own it. There's always something new to encounter that you may have missed before, when giving it a reread. It's a smart book that requires smart reading; go in with your heart open and your mind ready to be engaged, and you won't be disappointed.
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