Friday, May 1, 2009

Alice in Sunderland

Alice in Sunderland
Written and Illustrated By: Brian Talbot
Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: Dark Horse
Language: English
April 2007, $29.99
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel, History

Sunderland! Once the greatest center of learning in christendom and the birthplace of English consciousness. In the time of Lewis Carroll it was the greatest shipbuilding port in the world and here are buried the roots Carroll's surreal masterpiece, Alice in Wonderland. Enter the famous Sunderland Empire, for a unique experience: an epic meditation on myth, history and storytelling and decide for yourself--does Sunderland really exist?


I don’t read a lot of historical non-fiction and essentially that is what Alice in Sunderland is. This is the history of Sunderland and the connections it has with Lewis Carroll and Alice herself. But if you’re looking for Caroll and Alice to be the center of the book, you will be disappointed because this is really all about Sunderland. This is a lecture in comic form. This is not say I did not enjoy it.

Talbot tackles the history of Sunderland and there is a lot of it changing his pacing and his art styles along the way. It is definitely one of those books that needs to be read a few times to truly appreciate all of the nuances and hard work that went into it. I will say it does make me want to visit Sunderland for all of the rich history and beauty there is. This is not a typical story, but a historical/arm chair travel guide graphic novel.

I enjoyed the first half of the book as there were enough clever references to Caroll and lines from Alice. Admittedly it gets a bit too lecture-y for my taste at times and overwhelming, but it is quite evident that this is something that Talbot is extremely passionate about. I just wish it was more about Carroll and Alice that they were the focus instead of the silver thread that ties it all together.

In the end it wasnt my cup of Mad Hatter tea, but it is something I might revisit again when I am in a mood for something like this.

2.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

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