Archive for January 6th, 2011

I was having a discussion with a friend several weeks back about graphic novels and the use of illustration in storytelling.  As a result of our conversation, he loaned me this book, Alice in Sunderland by acclaimed British illustrator Bryan Talbot, which I have been poring over for the last few weeks.  It’s a massive enterprise, from a graphic standpoint, containing over 300 densely packed pages of intricate illustration. 

While mainly concerned with Lewis Carroll and his Alice in Wonderland story and the relationship of Carroll to the area of northeast England containing the city of Sunderland, the story goes into great detail about Carroll’s life and the lives of those who inspired the book.  It also tells much of the history, both real and mythical, of the Sunderland area, doing so in the fashion of a writer who loves his home area.

It is a treasure trove of information and story about many subjects, all told in surprisingly coherent manner.  When I first opened the book I was overwhelmed by the amount of graphic information my brain took in.  It seemed scattershot and all over the place at first glimpse but once I entered the mass of color, shape and word I found its composition sensible and functional.   Not to mention very informative.  It made me appreciate the amount of labor and research Talbot put into this work.

I didn’t think I would find the subject matter interesting at first.  I mean, what do I know of northeast England?  And while I admire Alice in Wonderland it is not my favorite childhood tale.  But Talbot’s ability to tell a tale with a mix of word and image and the interesting tangents he pursues make this a great read.  I find myself continually picking it up and rereading sections of it, taking in new details and sometimes simply enjoying the illustration.

So, if you’re looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, soemthing that will send you in all different directions as you’re reading, check out Alice in Sunderland from Bryan Talbot.  Good stuff…

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