Friday, January 04, 2008

Alice in Sunderland...random thoughts

My first ever graphic novel. And about an eye-opening experience! Not reading a graphic novel before this was not a judgmental choice. I wouldn't even call it a choice, as it was never a conscious decision to not read one. They just never really entered my field of view, if you know what I mean.

But that said, I will admit that I had some seriously off-base preconceived notions about the world of graphic novels. Manga and superheroes...that was as far as it went in my mind. And I have nothing against either manga or superheroes, by the way, but I never felt the need to delve into them. (Though Annie, of course, loves manga. I'm fairly certain Annie has never met a genre she didn't like.)

Anyway, it was Nymeth's wonderful review of Alice in Sunderland
that got me intrigued. So intrigued that I immediately got on our library's website and requested it through inter-library loan. And I must say I enjoyed every minute I spent with this book. And frankly, that was a lot of minutes!

Alice in Sunderland is a piece of non-fiction. Bryan Talbot must have spent an unbelievable amount of time researching this work. It is just jam-packed with so much information! In general, it is about Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell and their links to Sunderland in the northeast of the country. But it is so much more...

The history of Sunderland and the surrounding area is explored in wonderful detail. From prehistory to modern day. So much information that I can't claim to have retained more than a fraction of it. Talbot did an incredible job of weaving the stories of a large number of people and events all together into one fascinating book. The familiar names that popped up in this book were numerous, from musicians like The Beatles, Grace Slick, and Marilyn Manson to authors like Neil Gaiman and James Herriot and from artists like Dave McKean and Ralph Steadman to serial murderers like Jack the Ripper and Mary Ann Cotton. Talbot expounded on many of the area's myths (my personal favorite being the Lambton Worm). He even included a brief history of comics.

Talbot explored some of the sights one can see in the area today, both from older times and modern. In fact, if Rich and I ever get to take the England/Scotland trip we dream of taking someday, I will do everything in my power to make sure we can visit the St. Peter's Riverside Sculpture Trail.

And as if my TBR list wasn't long enough already, I wrote down three more titles from the pages of this book that sounded quite interesting.

This truly was a great introduction to the world of graphic novels for me. Thank you Nymeth...I never would have read this if it hadn't been for your review. And I must say, I'm more excited than ever to dive into Dewey's Graphic Novels Challenge.

And hooray...I get to fill in my first slot of Joy's A-Z Challenge now!


Joy said... are too funny (although I know how it feels to fill in a letter!).

Congrats on your first graphic novel! I haven't read one, but I happen to have one on my YA Challenge reads, so that'll prove to be interesting. I have NO idea what to expect.

Happy Reading! (and Happy Linking!)

Carl V. Anderson said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it and have broken into the world of graphic novels. There are many amazing, not to be missed, ones out there. Alice in Sunderland is definitely on my list to check out. Great review.

Melody said...

Glad you enjoyed the graphic novel, Debi.

Wow, another reading challenge! I think I have to let this pass since I think I have a 'handful' already, haha. Happy reading!

Anonymous said...

being a big comic book fan i'm very glad you enjoyed your first introduction into graphic novels!!

you've also made me even more keen to read this now.

what were the other 3 graphic novels that you have now decided to read after this one? and what are you reading for the graphic novel challenge?

Ana S. said...

yay! It makes me really happy that you liked it so much. I know what you mean about never having consciously decided not to read graphic novels...the same has happened to me with certain types of books. I have nothing against them, but I just don't often remember they exist.

Is one of the other titles you want to read "Rose" by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess? I really want to read that one! Unfortunately it seems a bit hard to get a hold of around here :\ I only saw a copy once and it cost £22!

Great review, and I hope that you continue to enjoy your adventures in the world of graphic novels!

Dewey said...

I guess I never realized Alice in Sunderland was by Talbot! I just wrote a review of another of Talbot's books yesterday, but it won't be posted until next week. I'd heard of A in S and wanted to read it, but now I'm more excited than ever to read it, since Talbot is amazing. SO GLAD YOU JOINED THE CHALLENGE!

Debi said...


Oh, it really was fun to fill in a letter! And I didn't realize there would be some strategy involved in this...but now for every book, I'll be thinking, "So, should I use this for a title or an author?"

Jean Pierre and Nymeth-

Actually, there weren't all graphic novels. One book was The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman, one was The Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker, and the third one was Rose by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess. I hope I don't have as tough a time getting my hands on it as you, Nymeth!


Oh, I can't wait to read your Talbot review! And I couldn't be more excited about your challenge! I just ordered The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, and I'm so anxious for it to arrive so I can dive into it!

Joy said...

Yes, you're right. There is some strategy involved in filling in your A ~ Z lists. I actually already have my list of books chosen, but am not posting them until I read them. This leaves me room for flexibility, if another book comes along. Also while creating it, it revealed what letters still required a book. Have fun!