T albot’s freewheeling, metafictional magnum opus is a map of the curious and delightful territory of its cartoonist’s mind, starring himself in multipl"/>
 

Alice in Sunderland: An Entertainment

Bryan Talbot, Author, Bryan Talbot, Illustrator
Bryan Talbot, Author, Bryan Talbot, Illustrator . Dark Horse $29.95 (319p) ISBN 978-1-59307-673-3
Hardcover - 319 pages - 978-0-224-08076-7
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T albot’s freewheeling, metafictional magnum opus is a map of the curious and delightful territory of its cartoonist’s mind, starring himself in multiple roles. The starting point is the history of his hometown, the northeast English city of Sunderland, along with his lifelong fascination with the myths and realities behind Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland —potentially dry material, but Talbot pulls out all the stops to keep it entertaining. He veers off on one fascinating tangent after another. The book encompasses dead-on parodies of EC horror comics, British boys’ comics and Hergé’s Tintin, walk-ons by local heroes like Sidney James, extensive analysis of a couple of William Hogarth prints, a cameo appearance by “the Venerable Scott McComics-Expert” and even a song-and-dance number, drawing a three-dimensional web of coincidences and connections between all. It’s also a showcase for the explosive verve of Talbot’s protean illustrative style, with digital collages of multiple media on almost every page: pen-and-ink drawings in a striking variety of styles, photographs, painting, computer modeling, and all manner of “found” images. The book’s only real weakness is its scattered focus, but Talbot is a remarkable raconteur, even if what he’s presenting is more a variety show than a story. (Apr.)

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