It gets a little solitary and windswept out here on Myth Point, tending our lonely beacon with only gulls and other Carroll outcasts for company, so we’re taking a welcome break to talk of other things. Namely the amazing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (ISBN 978-0-88776932-0) illustrations of Oleg Lipchenko, that have just won the 2009 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award. We saw them and were blown away. We think they have to be about the most original and inventive and beautiful Alice images since Rackham (much, much better than the ponderous, over-rated Tenniel).
The picture on the right is one of his, and here are thumbnails of 2 more (click to see full size images)…
You can see more of them on Mr Lipchenko’s website, and you absolutely must see his PDF Drawing Treacle Well, that tells the story of how his ideas evolved, illustrated with early sketches and background commentary.
And see his Duchess. He’s actually noted Carroll’s description. The ‘uncomfortably sharp chin,’ and created a creature poised on that weird cusp between beauty and ugliness. In his own words:
I wish to point out that Sir John Tenniel’s Duchess is undoubtedly ugly, but her ugliness is straightforward. It is an ugliness of old age, an old, wrinkly, male-shaped face. I think that this way is too cliché. From my observations, the human face’s attractiveness is quite a tricky subject. It is very often that beauty and ugliness differ due to the existence of a small feature(s Generally, when drawing my version of the Duchess, I didn’t invent anything. My Duchess is taken from real life; such a face, nose, etc… That kind of person everybody has met
She is awfully real in her way, kind of like a caricature of Wallis Simpson, (who was, of course, a Duchess herself, as well as, apparently, a Nazi-sympathiser, which just, I suppose, goes to show, well, something). Mr L also makes an interesting comparison between the Duchess and the Red Queen (NB - Tim Burton, that’s not the same as the Queen of Hearts), suggesting the first as a sort of prototype of the second.
They have a lot in common; evidentially the same prototype was used for both the characters…They are both addicted to using hyperboles..Both of them also like to teach Alice, and seek out the moral in every situation, conversation or anything at all.
Mr L tells us in his PDF that he was thinking of drawing a map of Wonderland for the endpapers, and when we read this we thought ‘yes, why hasn’t anyone done this before!?’, so when he went on to say it was pretty much impossible, given the lack of topographical detail, our heart sank a little. But he does add this hopeful teaser…
The next story of Alice – Looking Glass is more certain topographically, So maybe I’ll draw the map for it.
Contrariwise says – please please do! Looking-Glass needs Lipchenko pictures! And a map would make it perfect.
Kudos to Oleg Lipchenko, and thanks to him for letting us use his pictures here.