Saturday 7 April 2007

Review: Alice in Sunderland - Part 1: Introduction

Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot, cover by Jordan Smith, Jonathan Cape, 2007, 318 pages of strip, £16.99

Click here for Part 2: Antecedents

Panels contain images from the book under review, plus
Martin Rowson The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Picador, 1996


Richard said...

This is a really fantastic review. Love the way you've done it.
I'd also add that another influence is Alan Moore's use of psychogeography in his various magical performance pieces. (although he to is heavily influenced by Iain Sinclair.)

Anonymous said...

Steve, that's brilliant - only spotted it when Richard pointed it out to me and it has really brightened my Monday morning. I'm only abut 50 pages in so far, but really enjoying it. Found the "Boy's Own" style story of the sailor Jack Crawford to be suddenly quite contemporary again, reading of a modest seagoing hero while the news is full of the modern sailors selling their stories. Obviously Bryan couldn't have known that was going to happen around the same time as his work came out, but added another layer in for me.

Steve Flanagan said...

Thanks, chaps.

I think a comparison with Moore's magical workings could be an interesting one.

I have no idea if Talbot has read Sinclair or not (he's old enough to have been influenced by the resurgence of interest in Situationism in the 1970s, but who knows?), but I found it useful to compare their approaches to structure.

With Moore, it might be worth comparing his mysticism with Talbot's more mundane, humanistic approach. I'm sure that Moore would put a very different interpretaion on the plethora of dragon stories in the North East, for example.

Another approach would be to compare the way Talbot links specific pieces of culture with national identity in England, and the way Greil Marcus does the same in America.

But I set myself a limit of a week's worth of posts, so I'll have to leave those ideas dangling. Alice is a rich enough book to support an awful lot of approaches.

Tim Chapman said...

Cracking review! Not sure I agree with all your (admittedly minor) criticisms, but the 'local TV' comment is horribly perceptive.

As to whether Talbot's read any Sinclair, I'd be amazed if he hasn't - if only because of their mutual interest in (or friendship with) Michael Moorcock.

Joe said...

Cool, I passed this on to the Boing Boing guys and they actually decided to run it, so Steve is now famous to webkids the world over :-)

Matt said...

That's a wonderfully inspired way to review comics, thoroughly enjoyable and informative. I'd love to see an entire magazine adopting this approach, applying it to other visual media and perhaps even prose.