Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot

Alice in Sunderland
Bryan Talbot
Jonathan Cape 2007

This is the graphic novel I was trying to get my hands from Central Library a while ago, Miss Ellipse! It’s a large, dense, colourful work which mixes a history of the Sunderland region with the life of Charles Dodgson, and contains quite a lot of Bryan Talbot’s life as well.

Presented by the author to an uninterested spectator in the Sunderland Empire Theatre (who might also be Bryan Talbot), the book uses colourful photo collages for many of its backgrounds (similar to the style of Jitterati), but for some reason Talbot’s figures are black and white. It debunks many myths about Dodgson with relish – for example, the common perception of him as a shy, stuttering deacon who was only comfortable around small children was cultivated by his family after his death, when in reality he was something of a party animal (in a genteel Victorian way, of course).

Talbot retells many local stories (including the onstage death of actor Sid James and the dreadful Victoria Hall disaster) and includes many coincidences and personal connections to these anecdotes which had me shouting “who the fuck cares?” until I realised it was also an autobiography. A dense, handsome, expensive book with some hilarious jibes at Scott McCloud and the tight-fisted Arts Council, who subsidised its publication in no way at all.

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5 Responses to “Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot”

  1. How’s quiet time?

  2. shhh… it’s quiet time.

  3. Sorry to be a pedant, but “disinterested” means “without a personal stake”, and is synonymous with “unbiased”. The “interest” is of a pecuniary or other kind, rather than curiosity. “Uninterested” is appropriate in this case.

    Oh, and by the way, if you ever hear a politician say that they “refute” allegations without actually producing empirical evidence that the allegations are false (which is what that means), you have my permission to hit them. Hard. Repeatedly.

  4. Grudgingly corrected.
    While crying softly on the inside.

  5. Rhinocrates Says:

    Oh well, I’ve had my feet held over a fire for over an hour by my supervisor for my use of “essential” as a synonym for “necessary”. God, it’s a hard life in the trenches of academia, but it toughens you up to withstand the deadly hail of malapropisms in the tutorial, the rapid fire mondegreens, the wicked traps of mispronunciation when undercover in French and German territory. I remember the time I actually pronounced “Walter Benjamin” as “Walter Benjamin”. It took the surgeons hours to remove the embarassed blush and I still have the scars to show on my cerebellum.

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