If you don’t already know the basic story of Alice ‘s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, then I’m surprised you’re here reading a book review because it is one of the most basic. earliest, must-read books for readers of the English language. I’m not going to summarize the story because you should already know it.
I will, however, tell you that this is one of the best, illustrated adaptations of the stories that I have ever encountered.
There are a couple of things that really make this graphic novel stand out, and a couple of smaller items that keep me from giving this a perfect 5 out of 5 rating.
First, Leah Moore’s adaptation is simply brilliant. She clearly understands the stories and the medium in which she is working and is able to convey the story to the artist.
Next, this adaptation includes a chapter that had been cut from Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript and only discovered again in 1974 – ‘The Wasp in the Wig.’ Despite being a self-described ‘Alice in Wonderland’ aficionado, I was not at all familiar with this ‘lost’ chapter. What a thrill to read it both alone as a prose chapter (included at the end of the graphic novel as an ‘extra’) and to read/see it as part of the graphic novel.
And the art … never have I seen a visual adaptation (movie or book) that has better captured the complete absurdity and frightening aspects of Wonderland the way artist Erica Awano does. The Johnny Depp film comes close, but in many ways, this is SO much better. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the abject fear of the unknown as much as when Alice is first experiencing the shrinking and growing fits when first in Wonderland.
This is truly a brilliantly put-together book.
I have three issues with the art. The first is the digital presentation of the art. Perhaps it is simply my ARC copy, but when looking at this book on my computer, the art is a little murky and muddy. I’ve read other graphic novels that have had this same problem, but I’ve also read graphic novels using the same platform and the same computer that are absolutely brilliant so I know that clean art in graphic novels can be accomplished.
My second issue may well be tied to the first issue and that is that the coloring is dull. Even the colorful pages look as though they’ve been washed over with a gray watercolor wash.
If the book is being sold digitally, I hope that it is not the same process as the one I received for review.
My last issue is not connected to digitization, but definitely a personal preference.
I have never, ever liked the ‘anime’ style of art and the Alice in this book is very much an anime Alice. Oddly enough, the other characters do not seem to have the typical ‘anime’ characteristics, but the Alice could be pulled right off any Japanese animation cartoon. And of course, since the book is about Alice and she’s in nearly every art panel, it really prevented me from enjoying the book without reservation.
Looking for a good book? The Complete Alice in Wonderland graphic novel, adapted by Leah Moore, is one of the over-all best adaptations of the novels published to date (but you have to put up with an anime-style Alice all the way through).
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
The Complete Alice in Wonderland
author: Lewis Carroll
adaptors: Leah Moore & John Reppion
artist: Erica Awano
publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
paperback, 184 pages