While the wise among us will know that Lewis Carroll sanitized the story that Alice Liddell (or more accurately Alyss Heart) told him, the proliferation of the fastidious Oxford professor’s creation is undeniably incredible. His take on Wonderland, the place of the march hare, hookah smoking caterpillars, cheshire cats, and of course Mad Hatter tea parties is indisputably dominant. Across the globe the timeless tale has been told and retold, twisted and remixed (if you want a fantastic list of some graphic novel reimaginings, check out The Graphic World of Wonderland).
From the very early days of Alice In Wonderland artists sought to bring the whimsy of Carroll’s creation to life. John Tenniel immediately leapt into the creative work of illustrating the story we all came to love—however he would be far from the last to realize that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Read on to discover some of the most amazing Alice comic books that used the power of visual storytelling to take us through the looking glass and experience Alice’s adventures in beautiful style.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (WHITMAN COMICS, 1933)
This “big little book” is an adaptation of the Paramount Pictures vision of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, even going so far as to use frames from the actual film and promote the actress portraying our dear Queen.
One of the more charming aspects of this unusual adaptation of an adaptation, is that the story stays the same but the visuals grow ever stranger as the surreal costuming of Wonderland’s residents is made all the more unsettling with the addition of whimsical coloring.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (REXALL, 1965)
An interesting rendition of Lewis Carroll’s fantasy, perhaps much like the original author of Alyss’ adventures, this comic book produced by Rexall Family Pharmacies has Alice falling into a TV instead of the rabbit hole as a promotion for ABC Hanna-Barbera’s animated musical.
In this amusing reversal for this list, where the comic precedes the animation, this version of Wonderland carries the distinctive art style that such Hanna-Barbera classics as The Flintstones and the original Scooby-Doo.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (KING CLASSICS, 1978)
Later on we get to see the tales of Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass in the style of classic comic books of the era. An “illustrated classic” from King Classic, this iteration of the classic tale has an art style that seems most appealing to younger readers.
Placed within King Classic’s greater catalogue of literature adapted into comic form, it is quite clear that the adventures of Queen Alyss as told by Lewis Carroll continue to hold a high place in the imaginations of Earth readers.
WALT DISNEY’S ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Whitman Comics, 1984)
Whitman Comics returns again to grace our list with another transformation of Walt Disney’s beloved animated depiction of Alice (Alyss) and the madcap return to Wonderland. The art is the quality one would expect from Disney’s artists & animators, looking quite like the still art of the animated film.
If you are a fan of this comic book release, and are quite tired of staring into glowing screens of your crystal entertainment systems, then you might find a new enjoyment of an old classic.
TIM BURTON’S ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010)
Once again we are graced with another vision of Wonderland from the vault of the Disney company with the rabidly popular version crafted by one Tim Burton. Like its predecessors, this comic borrows heavily from the visual style and tone of the film, what changes is the whimsical and oddball personal touches of the Italian author and illustrators behind this tale.
The grander scale of the conflict between the Queens of Wonderland, and the unhinged aspect to “Hatter’s” personality do shine through in this particular adaptation; the softer faces of the art style reintroduces a humanity one may find lacking in the heavily animated film.
THE COMPLETE ALICE IN WONDERLAND (DYNAMITE COMICS, 2009)
Perhaps this old tutor has grown sentimental, while this re-imagining of Lewis Carroll’s fantasy takes its major beats from his Alice in Wonderland its art style and tone have a stark and at times shocking touch of realism. The somber faces of Earth’s people contrasted with maddened grins of the familiar faces on Wonderland provides excellent contrast between the two realms.
The wild and strange characters that populate Wonderland take the familiar forms given to them by Carroll with an eerie quality developed by this version’s authors (John Reppion & Leah Moore) that hints at the darker nature that hides behind the looking glass.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (CAMPFIRE GRAPHIC NOVELS, 2010)
Like their fellow creators at Kings Classics, the fine folks at Campfire Graphic Novels have produced their own modern take on Lewis Carroll’s beloved story. Like many of the other direct adaptations of the famed novel, Campfire presents the original story with a rich, colorful art style.
Similar in method to the other creators who clearly took Carroll’s tale to heart, this version aims to bring Queen Alyss’ adventures to the imaginations of Earth’s youth.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (AP Entertainment Comics, 2013)
From acclaimed Eisner Award nominated creator Rob Espinosa (Neotopia and The Courageous Princess), the timeless tale of “Alice” is brought to life with lavish colors and the rebellious spirit of Queen Alyss herself.
Continuing the trend of Wonderland evolving with the time, Espinosa’s style and tone remind this humble tutor of more modern works such as Adventure Time or Steven Universe, with simplified character designs tied together with more dynamic expressions and movements.
I would be in need of lessons from Bibwit Harte himself were I not to point out the continuing trend of revisiting the original Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in visual formats. Generations later we are still peering down rabbit holes, wondering where they might take us, so our imagination seeks out a brave young girl who dared to look.
However, never forget, this is not the crystal-clear truth of the events of Queen Alyss’ life, nor does it begin to scratch the surface of what Hatter Madigan accomplished in order to reunite us with our dear Queen of Hearts.
Next time we shall see what bizarre and mad alternative worlds have been imagined into the ink-filled frames of comics, graphic novels, and more. Adventures that cut closer to home for those who are familiar with the storied history of the true Wonderland beyond the looking glass.
Meet The Author
Marco Arizpe graduated from the University of Southern California and The American Film Institute with degrees in filmmaking and screenwriting. His brand of borderland gothic horror stems from his experiences growing up in a small town where Texas and Mexico meet. Culturally steeped in a rich history of all things terrifying, Marco never fails to bring forward indigenous folklore in contemporary and fresh settings.