The Red Queen’s Last Son: Prince Leopold

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884), was the eighth and youngest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Handsome, gentle, charmingly shy, he received more of his mother’s attention than he liked, and as a young man he decided that the best means for gaining his independence was through marriage.

Leopold suffered from hemophilia, however, which not only kept him from active participation in sports and the military (though he held honorary positions in the latter); it also hindered his marriage prospects. Heiresses, second cousins, and aristocratic women were all briefly candidates to be his bride. Did no one want to marry a prince just because he was a hemophiliac? What of the wealth and privilege such a union would bring? Many young ladies did aspire to the royal family, and Leopold’s illness alone wouldn’t have been enough to put them off. But for those already high in society, the rank of princess wasn’t so tempting when it meant having Queen Victoria for a mother-in-law.

Prince Leopold

With Leopold determined to marry, Victoria—as she had done with her older children—loudly, repeatedly proclaimed that offspring of British monarchs should wed royals or nobles of other nations as a means of forming political and military alliances. She would prefer that Leopold stay with her and not marry at all, but if he insisted, then his must be a union that strengthened her reputation as the “grandmother of Europe”— i.e., a union with a notable someone not from the UK.

Leopold was a great admirer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and like most of London society, he knew that Alice Liddell, daughter of Henry Liddell, Dean of Oxford’s Christ Church, had been the inspiration for the titular character. Though Alice was no longer the girl she’d been when Lewis Carroll penned his masterpiece, Leopold felt—a little rightly, a little wrongly—that because of his familiarity with the book, he knew her.

He met the twenty-year-old Alice one beautiful Saturday afternoon at Christ Church. Not near as conservative and priggish as Alice had presumed him to be, she found the prince appreciative of the satire in Carroll’s “nonsensical” novel and open-minded to her ideas for ending child labor in the kingdom. As to her notions concerning a woman’s place in society—how a woman need not be so subservient, yoked to domestic duties only—Leopold encouraged them.

If women in general were half as resourceful as Alice Liddell, he thought, the monarchy would surely benefit from their being treated as men’s equals.

“The more I’m with you, Miss Liddell,” he even admitted one afternoon, “the more I suspect women are superior to men.”

She assured him of it, and unlike with heiresses, second cousins, and aristocrats, Prince Leopold lost himself; he was in love with a commoner, an orphan of no known pedigree who had been adopted into a middle-class family, and who passionately acted upon ideas that Queen Victoria considered outlandish, even dangerous.

By marrying his beloved Alice, Leopold could do more than just gain independence from his domineering mother; he could rebel against her. This, even though the prospective bride would surprisingly prove to be, in accord with the queen’s dictate, quite a notable someone not from the UK. Alice presses on with her goal of founding an orphanage, desperate to protect children from hard labor, starvation, and violence.

Alice’s growing reputation for fighting against child labor, the prince’s love—these earn her the smoldering ire of QUEEN VICTORIA. How can the queen’s youngest son be enamored of a plainly dressed commoner? A commoner, no less, whose efforts to improve the welfare of the country’s most vulnerable population conflict with certain arrangements of providing a cheap labor force to support the aristocracy that Victoria strives politically to maintain.

The Prince and His Mother Queen Victoria

No way Victoria will tolerate the upstart, Alice Liddell. Behind Prince Leopold’s back, she schemes to tear the young couple apart.

One scheme involves recruiting a gang to do away with Miss Liddell. The job falls to QUIGLY, but he has good reason not to murder the charitable Alice; he had been the very first person she met after crossing over into our realm, her best friend on Earth for a time. Every day, she contends with Jesus the gang for the theater (the site of her orphanage). And every day, the crown acts as a stealth wedge attempting to drive her and Prince Leopold apart.

It’s always easier to give in, and we might think that Alice’s life would be less troubled were she to accept a proposal of marriage and forget her do-gooder ambitions. We’d be wrong. Prince Leopold, defying his overbearing mother, proposes to Alice, and buffeted on all sides by responsibilities, other people’s hopes and expectations, she goes into something of a tailspin.

She puts off answering Leopold, knowing that, though she loves him, agreeing to become his wife will have negative implications for her work with orphans. She’s no longer naïve enough to think that the queen shares her enthusiasm for improving the children’s welfare. Nor is she unaware that the queen judges her to be an uppity no-name who’s grown from a foundling to mistakenly acting as if a woman can make her own decisions, conduct business, etc.—i.e., do everything a man can do.

Excerpt from The Looking Glass Wars:

By Alice’s twentieth year, Mrs. Liddell was becoming anxious for her to choose a husband from among her many suitors.

‘But I don’t feel anything for a single one of them,’ Alice complained, shaking her head to fling out the unwanted memory of a boy left behind long ago. Don’t think of him! I mustn’t!

Then, one Saturday, the Liddell family attended an outdoor concert by a quartet at Christ Church Meadow. They were about to take their seats when a young gentleman, under the pretense of introducing himself to Dean Liddell, approached. He was Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria’s youngest son, and he had been sent to Christ Church so that Dean Liddell might oversee his education. This was his first time meeting the family.

Mrs. Liddell became fidgety and excited as she was introduced. ‘And these ladies,’ said Dean Liddell, presenting his daughters, ‘are Edith, Lorina, and Alice. Girls, say hello to Prince Leopold.’

Alice held out her hand for the Prince to kiss. He seemed reluctant to let it go.

‘I’m afraid you can’t keep it, Your Highness,’ she said. And when he didn’t understand: ‘My hand. I may have use for it still.’

‘Ah. Well, if I must return it to you, then I must, though if it ever needs safe keeping . . .’

‘I shall think of you, Your Highness.’

Prince Leopold insisted that the Liddell’s sit with him. He placed himself between Alice and Mrs. Liddell, and when the concert began with a Mozart medley, he leaned over and whispered in Alice’s ear, ‘I don’t fancy medleys. They skip lightly over so many works without delving thoroughly into any one of them.’

‘There are quite a few people like that as well,’ Alice whispered in return.

Mrs. Liddell, not hearing this exchange, flashed her daughter a look, which Alice was at a loss to interpret. The Prince talked to her through the entire concert, discussing everything from art to politics. He found Miss Liddell unlike other young women, who spoke of nothing but velvet draperies, wallpaper patterns and the latest fashions, women who batted their eyelashes and expected him to swoon. Miss Liddell didn’t try to impress him – indeed, she gave the impression that she didn’t much care what he thought of her and he rather admired that. And her beauty . . . yes, her beauty was undeniable. All in all, he thought her a delectable puzzle of a creature.

No sooner was the concert over and Leopold gone than Mrs. Liddell voiced what she’d been trying to communicate to Alice with her eyes.

‘He’s a prince! A prince!  And he’s taken a fancy to you, I’m certain!’

‘We were only talking, Mother. I talked to him as I would have talked to anyone.’

But her mother’s awe and enthusiasm were difficult to ignore, and she started running into Leopold all over town. If she strolled through the Christ Church Picture Gallery, she found him gazing intently at an oil painting by one of the old masters. If she visited the Bodleian Library, she found him thumbing through a volume of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (which she had read in its entirety). He’s handsome enough, I suppose. And obviously well bred. Yes, but so were many of the men who vied for her attention. But at least he didn’t stroke his moustache with impatience as she talked of the need to provide for Britain’s poor. 

‘A nation should be judged on how it looks after its more unfortunate children,’ she explained. ‘If Great Britain is truly to be the greatest kingdom in the world, it is not enough to flaunt our military power and our dominance in industry. We must lead by example and be more charitable to and protective of our own.’

Prince Leopold always listened to her judiciously, weighing her arguments and reasonings with seriousness. He never agreed or disagreed with her.

Mother may be right. I could certainly do worse than marry a prince. But although Alice tried to feel something for the man, her heart remained unconvinced.

Prince Leopold dressed "plainly"

Three months after the concert at Christ Church Meadow, while taking a ride in his carriage to Boar’s Hill, Prince Leopold said, ‘Your father tells me that you’ll be visiting the Banbury Orphanage tomorrow afternoon. I’d like to come along if you’ll have me. One never knows what sort of troubles might beset a young woman there.’

‘If you think it best, Your Highness.’

He offered to take her in the carriage, but Alice said that she’d prefer to walk.

‘You see so much more of the town when you walk – a little curiosity shop or a snatch of garden where you wouldn’t think it possible to have a garden, choked as it is by city things. In a carriage, you hurry past these treasures without noticing them.’

She didn’t take the slightest quirk of mankind for granted but viewed it as a small miracle and cause for celebration, and the prince had begun to love her for this.

At Banbury, the orphans crowded around Alice, hugging her skirts, all shouting at once. Alice laughed, held four conversations simultaneously and, to Leopold’s eye, set off against the soot-stained walls, the drab and loose-hanging clothes of the orphans and the pale bloodless faces of the wardens, she looked more radiant than he’d ever seen her. On a tour of the orphanage, a train of children following at their heels, one young boy refused to let go of Alice’s left thumb.

Alice requested a thorough accounting of the troubles facing the Banbury Orphanage. The wardens pointed out floors rotten from overflowing sewage, the sagging infirmary roof, the time-worn mattresses as thin as wafers. They showed her the pantry, empty save for sacks of dried kidney beans and uncooked rice.

‘The children have had nothing but beans and rice for two weeks,’ one of the women told her. ‘We were supposed to be getting a supply of beef ribs, but so far . . . nothing. This sort of thing happens rather frequently, I’m afraid.’

Prince Leopold had been silent for some time. He cleared his throat.   ‘What   of   the   warden   responsible   for   ensuring   that Banbury receives the food and clothes the children need?’

‘The chief warden is very selective as to who gets what and how much of it, Your Highness,’ the warden explained. ‘He says we take in too many children and that perhaps they are not so deserving. For example, that one there . . .’ the warden pointed at the boy holding on to Alice’s thumb ‘. . . he has a real talent for thieving, though often as not what he steals is food because of how hungry he is. They all are.’ She gestured at the surrounding orphans.

Alice looked at the boy clutching her thumb, reminded of Quigly Gaffer. What’s become of him? And the others? Andrew, Margaret, and Francine, hardly old enough to dress themselves, never mind living on the streets without the love and support of family.

The mournful, faraway look on Alice’s face had a profound effect on the Prince. ‘I shall talk with the Queen,’ he said after several moments. ‘I think we might establish a Commission of Inquiry into the matter and, in the meantime, arrange for an increase in food rations. How does that sound?’

‘It sounds like generosity rarely met with among the living,’ said the woman.

‘Well, no one here shall soon discover if it’s to be met with among the dead either, if I can help it.’

The orphans blinked and said nothing, hardly believing what they had heard: Queen Victoria and Prince Leopold were going to work on their behalf! The wardens offered the Prince their thanks many times over, while Alice looked on and smiled, which was all the thanks he desired.

On the walk home, they stopped to rest in the university’s Botanic Garden, where Alice found herself sitting on a bench with Leopold suddenly kneeling in front of her.

‘No matter what you decide, Alice,’ he was saying, ‘I want you to know that in the coming years I will be only too glad to assist you in your charitable endeavors. But I hope with all my heart that you’ll allow me to do so as your husband.’

Alice didn’t understand.

‘I’m asking for your hand in marriage,’ Leopold explained. ‘But . . . Your Highness, are you sure?’

‘That is not exactly the answer for which I was hoping. Alice, you are a most uncommon commoner, to say the least, and I would be proud to call myself your husband. Of course, you realize that you will not have the title of Princess, nor be entitled to ownership of the royal estates?’

‘Of course.’ Marriage? Again, she felt the tug of a long-buried affection for one who . . . No no no! Think of other things. Be realistic. The marriage would please her mother. She would do it for her mother, for her family’s sake. ‘I accept, Leopold.’

She let herself be kissed, feeling the coolness of dusk settle in around her.

‘I have already spoken with the Queen and I have asked for, and received, your father’s blessing,’ the Prince said. ‘We shall host a party to announce the engagement.’

If she’d had time to think about it, Alice might have stopped herself, considering the idea too whimsical. But the words had a force of their own, and only after she said them aloud did she realize just how appropriate the idea was.

‘Let’s have a masquerade.’

Yes, it felt right: a masquerade to celebrate the orphan girl’s impending marriage to Prince Leopold of Great Britain.

Part One: Wonderland’s Imagination Empowers

“Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.”

-       Albert Einstein

Imagination is the lifeblood of existence. Here in our happy little home realm of Earth we are not only dependent on our Imaginations for liberation from the mundane, but also for all innovative progress. A great creative mind can be the difference between total disaster or awesome advancement.

But… Where does Imagination come from? And how does it actually work?

I followed the threads, and I am here to tell you: It all leads back to Wonderland.

All Imagination flows from Wonderland – it may help to think of it as a source and a center of Imagination, the same as the Sun would be for solar power. 

Spreading through the various elements of our world and opening infinite ‘timelines’ for when influences arrive the creative energy escapes Wonderland in mysterious ways. Particularly imaginative people (the Lewis Carrolls, Da Vincis and Jules Vernes among us) are best at utilizing the wonder— but all of us are touched by the gift even if we do not recognize it.

The very best and most vital ideas are incepted little by little from the original imaginative power emanating from beyond the Looking Glass. It may take generations for the inspiration to fully arrive and be realized (such as the idea of flight or space travel—it all began when our ancestors who had no hope of touching the stars dared to dream of doing so, likely with a little unknown help from Wonderland).

We are always receiving small influences from action-packed Wonderland.  Whether it comes to us in dreams, fleeting inspiration, great works of art, or the chatter of children playing – we share an invisible connection with the source of this creative energy.  Wonderland interfaces with our world like imaginative telepathy, a whispering voice in the background of functional chaos.

Wonderland Visits Us Through All Things (Credit: Adobe Stock)

I entreat you to step back when contemplating Imagination. When you allow your mind to have access to more realms than the ‘official story’, history stops being linear and becomes a psychedelic collage.

Imagination is a neutral energy that is shaped by those channeling or using it.  As the Imagination is articulated it can become something of great beauty or terror, it can act as a builder or a destroyer.

On Earth we are very familiar with this element of creativity and imagination – neither is simply good or bad – but both, everything and more. What determines the outcome depends on how it is being expressed. The same is true of Imagination in Wonderland, only more so!

Since Wonderland is the source of all imagination it is truly awesome (in the most specific meaning of the word) just how powerful both Imaginatively creating and destroying become in this realm. Imagination is the essence, the very IT of everything.

While Wonderland Queens (the Red Queen and White Queen) like Redd and Genevieve possess an extraordinary level of Imagination, it is not theirs alone. Everyone in Wonderland is encouraged to value, enrich, and embrace their imaginations. It is a cultural imperative and honor among Wonderlanders.

This may very well be the precarious tipping point upon which our world now lingers. Will we continue to embrace the gift of our Imaginations, or will we turn away? It is my fondest wish that our realm strives to be a little more like Wonderland.

Here on earth, if you are imagining your own world, why not go for it? Why imagine anything less than magnificence? Why censor yourself? I would hope everyone realizes that they possess the power to imagine the wonders of the universe.

Artists and writers know this from literally working with their imaginations daily to 'manifest' reality for others to share— paintings, books, films, drawings…it all starts with the imagination. But this is true for everyone. 

A person of no great creative ambition still will imagine a cake and what it will taste like— first.  Then they will bake it. Or on the flip side— one might hear about the flu and the symptoms. They may imagine how terrible it must feel— and then they have it.  Or they imagine feeling better— and start to feel improved.  Imagination is so much more powerful than people acknowledge— a folly that is never the case in Wonderland.

Alyss Heart on Earth, Her Imagination Always Shined Bright (Art by Catia Chien)

Princess Alyss Heart (or Alice as you may know her) had such a powerful imagination she could manifest 3D objects— that's powerful!  But so can you.  You need a few more steps to get there and cannot do it by virtue of your genetic traits as a Queen of Light Imagination might— but you can "imagine your life— and then it happens" to quote one of the Witches of Eastwick in John Updike's novel.

Equal parts trust and self-assuredness are required for great creativity. To utilize your Imagination here on earth you have to open up your mind – you do not want to copy or be influenced by what has come before – you cannot be controlling of it – you must trust it and let it lead you. The same is true in Wonderland, a Queen utilizing Imagination will be able to channel more power from deep within by fully trusting it and herself.

Queen Redd is limited by selfishness and ego. Princess Alyss on the other hand, joins with the people (as a collaboration) and can overcome the Queen— in fact, it’s like getting hit by a train. Redd cannot believe the power coming at her when Princess Alyss summons the people to link their Imagination power with hers. And so, as Queen Redd nears defeat at the end of The Looking Glass Wars, she quits the fight and dives through the Heart Crystal to escape.

This clash of royal power epitomizes the way in which we must condition ourselves to use Imagination here on earth. We must not waste the creative energy on small, minded gains for only ourselves. No… it is vital that we look to Wonderland’s example.

Imagination is a vast topic, on which I could endlessly expound the intricacies and virtues. For today I will conclude my explanation of our connection to Wonderland via the gift of Imagination—and I shall call it “Part One” of this series on the amazing wonders of Imagination.

Perhaps the next time I will revisit the matter with an eye toward a more detailed explanation of the practical Art of Imagination.

Wonderland Look-Alikes: Some of The People Lewis Carroll Got Wrong

Princess Alyss Heart’s history was a bloody tale, full of power and terror and even a glowing glimmer of hope. When Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) heard the harrowing story, he was full of good intentions. Jotting down her story he tried to help the troubled foundling, adopted by his dear friends, to adjust to her own childhood in Victorian England.

The writer did his best, crafting a story of whimsy that amused children and adults alike—however, they did not amuse Alice Liddell (as she had become accustomed to calling herself over the years since departing the adventures in Wonderland). The familiar faces of her childhood were warped, the truth obscured.

These are the facts behind Lewis Carroll’s fabrications:

Bibwit Harte (The White Rabbit)

Bibwit, like so many others, figured prominently in the stories Princess Alyss Heart imparted to Charles Dodgson thus resulting in his being written into the book as the character of the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures Underground. He became this particular character because his name could be anagrammed to spell: “White Rabbit.”

An imperious, but loving 6-foot-tall albino with pale green veins that pulse beneath his alabaster skin, Bibwit is known for his excellent hearing, swift body and razor wit. He is also fond of conversing with others and is often fond chatting with anyone who will take the time to listen, including the flowers that populate the palace grounds.

Trained in the Tutor Corps in the tradition of his kind, Bibwit was head of his class, excelling in everything he set his mind to. Though his people act as great conveyors of knowledge, they lack the ability to utilize the magic of Imagination themselves—and so excel as instructors. Becoming the Royal Tutor to the Queens of Wonderland was an honor bestowed on Bibwit for his unparalleled grasp of the principles of Light Imagination.

Capable of doing six things at once, Bibwit can often predict what the Queen will say and always follows orders to the letter. His sensitivity, however, makes him fragile physically and emotionally. As he takes pride in the triumphs of those he has trained, so to does he take their failures to heart and look for the fault within himself. 

Such is the case when Rose Heart, the princess who would one day be disowned and become Redd (The Red Queen), begins to tread upon those darker paths, turning her back on light imagination and committing fully to the path of dark imagination. In the years following her exile, Bibwit often blamed himself for failing her, attributing her fall to a failure in her education. 

Bibwit would have tutored Princess Alyss as he did for her mother Queen Genevieve (The White Queen) had Redd’s coup not ousted the Princess from Wonderland. Though he obeyed Redd during her terrible reign, he did so only to maintain a place in her court— while funneling information back to the Alyssian resistance.

Upon Alyss’ return to Wonderland, Bibwit will be among her closest allies. Resuming her education, the Royal Tutor will assist Alyss in preparing to navigate her Looking Glass Maze. 

Bibwit Harte from The Looking Glass Wars vs Lewis Carroll's White Rabbit

General Doppelgänger (Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum)

The Commander of the Royal Army, General Doppelgänger is made up of two people, Doppel and Gänger, whose natural state is to reside within one body. The able warrior distinguished himself in the war between Genevieve and Redd for the throne, becoming a close compatriot of The White Queen.

Through much of Wonderland’s history the condition suffered by General Doppelgänger was considered purely mental, a split personality disorder. That is until a pioneering physician found a way to unravel the afflicted person into two (or more) distinct people.

 This clarified the problem but was an imperfect solution as many of the twins, once disentwined, became traumatized. The true breakthrough came a generation later, when a method was devised which allowed the twins to be either one singular being or separated into two or more beings at will.

As Alyss told Lewis Carroll of her mother’s loyal servant that could split in two, the author took liberties to contain the martial nature of Wonderland’s leading military mind into the farcical Tweedledee and Tweedledum (thanks to a little help from the poetry he was constantly consuming).

The truth of the matter is the General was one of the few present at Redd’s attack on Heart Palace to escape the palace with both their lives and their freedom that day, alongside a handful of chessmen and the traumatized Dodge Anders. 

Together the beaten and grieving group made their way into the Everlasting Forest and over the following weeks, General Doppelgänger would work alongside these forces and the others who fled Wondertropolis to establish the Alyssians. Named for the lost princess that all assumed dead, the rebels dared to strike back at Redd Heart. 

At the height of their activities, the Alyssian forces struck out at strategic locations striving to right the worst of the wrongs committed by Redd. However, as the years of tyranny mount, the strength of the rebels begins to wane, creating a dire situation at the time of Alyss’ return.

With the rightful heir returned to Wonderland, General Doppelgänger is unflinchingly prepared to oust Redd from the throne.

General Doppelgänger from The Looking Glass Wars vs. Lewis Carroll's Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

Frog Messengers

Though being a rather humble member of the Royal Court in Wonderland, with what most could call a “simple” job— the Frog Messenger is insultingly misrepresented as “the Frog Footman” in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

While the character in Lewis Carroll’s children’s tale sits with an invitation undelivered for days, to royalty no less, the Frog Messengers of Wonderland would never delay in carrying out their courier duties. They would also have you know a Frog Messenger would never tangle their wigs with the Fish Footman—because everyone knows Fish Footmen do not wear wigs!

The Frog Messenger from The Looking Glass Wars vs. Lewis Carroll's Frog Messenger

The Walrus

A butler at Heart Palace whose uniform is a tuxedo jacket two sizes too small. He’s a servant—first of Genevieve, then Redd; a comic figure whose helpless innocence and good wishes for all endear him to anyone he meets (except maybe Redd and her vicious servant known, wrongly, to some as the Cheshire Cat). 

He carries a pouch of dust around the palace, sprinkling dust on objects and surfaces as needed—Wonderland’s version of our household chore known as “dusting.” When nervous or worried, the Walrus tends to overcompensate by, bringing endless supplies of refreshments.

How Lewis Carroll could twist the selfless servant of the ruling family is beyond Alyss. While the character in The Walrus and Carpenter poem within the absurd book is a glutton for oysters, the Princess could not recall at any time seeing the Walrus consume even so much as a tarty tart. Surly the sweet creature did eat, but never in sight of anyone.

After surviving, and escaping, Redd’s oppression on Mt. Isolation the Walrus will hold the honor of being the first to call Alyss “Queen” after she successfully navigates her Looking Glass Maze.

The Walrus Butler from The Looking Glass Wars vs. Lewis Carroll's Walrus


My friend Lynne Henderson is a Wonderverse super-fan and Alice Aficionado supreme. I have had the pleasure of enjoying Tarty Tarts masterfully created by Lynne at the Comic-Cons we have both immersed ourselves into—and recently as I craved a taste of those sweet treats, I thought I should give Lynne a platform to explain her take on the magic of Alice In Wonderland.

Without further delay, please enjoy her fantastic collection of All Things Alice, and her moving explanation of the power that this story and its characters hold.

The Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland stories have been my favourites since childhood, and my appreciation has only grown through the years, as I began to understand the adult intelligence behind the children’s fantasy.  I think I first encountered Alice at around eight years old in the classic 1949 Lou Bunin film, considered by many to be the best version and called “the lost Alice,” as it was overshadowed by the 1951 Disney version.  

Bunin’s was the first filmed version I ever saw and is my favourite, with wonderful songs, many of them using Carroll’s text, very faithful to the Wonderland story and not mixing in characters from Looking-Glass, as many other versions are wont to do;  I can be a purist about some things and feel the two stories should be appreciated for their own uniqueness (uniqueness that extends to the film versions with Johnny Depp).  Unfortunately, every time it was shown on television, it was edited differently.  

Years later, after collecting VHS tapes with the various edits, I painstakingly edited them together in order to make a complete film.  But I’ve heard that Thunderbean Animation is apparently working on a complete restored version.  Oh frabjous day indeed!

The Book Where Lynne Fell in Love with Alice

I first read the stories courtesy of my mother Lucille’s brother, my Uncle Claude.  He gave me a ten-volume set of classic children’s stories (which I still have), including Wonderland and Looking-Glass, with the Tenniel illustrations, of course.  Every eight-year old girl can relate to Alice’s curiosity and adventuresome nature, and I was no exception, imagining myself interacting with these talking animals and discovering the magical land beneath her feet.  But even more than wandering in Wonderland, I loved the thought of stepping through a mirror in my home into another magical world populated by living chess pieces, anthropomorphic animals and other fanciful beings.  

Wonderland is fun, but the Looking-Glass world seemed more “adult” somehow and more challenging and more accessible to a city born and bred girl like me through her bedroom mirror.  As I grew and learned more about Lewis Carroll Societies and what influenced his writing, I came to appreciate Alice on a whole other level.  His wordplay, poetry, leaps of logic and other qualities firmly cemented Alice’s place in my heart.  As well as the copy from my childhood (picture included), I also have the Martin Gardner Annotated Alice, the definitive illustrated edition published in 1992 and the Dover Publications facsimile of Carroll’s 1864 manuscript, written in his hand and with his illustrations.  During one of my thrift shop scroungings I even picked up two LP boxed sets of the great actor Cyril Ritchard reading the novels;  they came with reproductions of the first editions, but the Wonderland one is missing, I only have the Looking Glass reproduction.

As the years went by, I made it my mission to get copies of every filmed version of the original Alice in Wonderland. Among them the 1916 silent versionthe 1933 film with W. C. Fields, Cary Grant, Alison Skipworth and other Golden Hollywood actors;  and, of course, the 1949 Bunin version.  Like so many other works of art, Alice has been reinterpreted in some unusual ways, none more so than the 1989 film by Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer, which appeals to my love of the bizarre (watch it and you’ll see what I mean).  I even managed to collect the 1979 adult version, which also has the distinction of being the first X-rated musical.  It’s actually quite sweet and innocent in its own way.

Lynne's Video Collection;  the VHS of the "adult" version is on the right!

It may have been while browsing the Internet in general or on eBay searching for other Alice memorabilia, but my ears perked up big time when I first heard about Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars trilogy.  Bookworm that I am to this day, I’m rarely without a book in my hands, and was intrigued to read the “real story” of Alice and Wonderland.

I was NOT disappointed by any stretch of the imagination—whether in our world or Alyss’.

And although I can be a pedantic purist at times about things I hold dearly, I immediately knew I would love this fabulous reimagining of Alice and her world that Frank Beddor created just as much as I do Carroll’s original.  No longer reading about a sheltered child wandering through bizarre dream worlds, I discovered a girl torn from the only life and world she knew, struggling to find her way back home, only to find her home torn apart, and determined to fight tooth and nail to defend and restore the peace and beauty of her homeland. 

Frank’s reworking of the characters and their places in Wonderland is brilliant, he’s channeled the inspired imagination sent out from Wonderland’s Heart Crystal and crafted a world full of emotion and intrigue that reflects the best and worst of human nature.  Some character’s natures are amplified, for better or worse:  the White Rabbit into Bibwit Harte is a wonderful advisor, and the Queen of Hearts makes a terrifying Redd Heart;  some are completely turned on their heads:  the bumbling Tweedle brothers become the crafty General (Generals?) Doppleganger;  and some are changed in an amazing and brilliant way:  the absent-minded Hatter becomes the almost Spock-like focused, fiercely loyal warrior Hatter Madigan

(Some of) Lynne's Impressive Novel and Comic Collection

I particularly love Frank Beddor’s Carroll-like logic play and wordplay (the “doggerels” of war in particular make me smile) and love how Frank even included author Lewis Carroll/Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who was so fond of and protective of the real Alice Liddell and echoed him in Alyss’ childhood friend and protector Dodge Anders (I see what you did there, Frank---brilliant).

If discovering Frank Beddor’s trilogy wasn’t serendipitous enough, meeting him was even more so.  I’ve been going to New York Comic Con for almost ten years, reveling in the company of my fellow nerds, and consider it the start of Hallowe’en and license to wear whatever costuming strikes my fancy.  I think it was on Facebook that I saw a post from Frank for a booth assistant one year.  I sent him a message and he contacted me, but he needed the same person to help for all four days, which I couldn’t do, unfortunately, but I made sure to visit him and say hi every year.  On eBay I got a copy of Frank’s Princess Alyss of Wonderland and its wonderful LGW backstory in Alyss’ own words. 

Meeting Frank at the New York Comic Con!

The graphics are amazing, the book is brilliantly put together, it’s a delight to the eyes as well as the intellect, and Frank very kindly autographed it for me at NYCC one year.  Among other treasures in it, I discovered Alyss’ recipe for Tarty Tarts, and make a batch for Frank every year at NYCC, using cookie cutters shaped like card suits (of course).  Frank is a genuinely lovely person, and his love and passion for Alyss’ story impressed me from our first meeting.  I hope his trilogy can be made into a movie series someday, what an amazing epic that would be! 

But what is it about Lewis Carroll’s stories that has fascinated us for over one and a half centuries?  They’re certainly a wonderful escape from reality, the nonsense gives many a laugh and the surprising bits of logic and common sense food for thought.  But for me I think it was mostly the thought that there could be an entire fantastical, magical world literally underneath my feet or on the other side of my mirror, and that I only have to be at the right place at the right moment to get there.  And The Looking Glass Wars trilogy expands on that world brilliantly.  The breadth and depth and power of Frank’s imagination brings home to me the universality of certain truths and emotions we all share:  good vs. evil;  right vs. wrong;  selflessness vs. self interest;  and the most important of all, love. 

(A small portion of) Lynne's collection of Alice Artifacts and Music

Whether patriotic, familial or romantic love, to hold something or someone outside of ourselves as so precious that we would do anything to ensure their happiness (a happiness that brings us joy as well) is ultimately all we can do for each other that lasts.  No matter how long I live, Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars trilogy will always be on my bookshelf right along with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, two complimentary sides of the same coin.

In Queendom Speramus!  Long Live Alyss!

Alice Is An Alyss’s Kind of Alice In Wonderland

As the Royal Scholar of Wonderland, I, Bibwhit Harte am tasked with peering through the Pool of Tears to see the myriad of creations inspired by Wonderland, from Lewis Carroll's fanciful novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland  and Through the Looking Glass first published in 1865, to the 1951 animated movie Alice in Wonderland from Disney to the very accurate 2006 New York Times best-selling series The Looking Glass Wars with Princess Alyss by Frank Beddor (

I have been overjoyed and overwhelmed at the response from you, dear readers to my humble Bibwhiticisms. I must admit that when I began this endeavor, I had no idea what a “blog” even was. It sounded to me like something to be avoided, something one might become stuck in or that might have a somewhat offensive odor, but Blogs, I have discovered, are both amusing and informative, two of my very favorite things!

And today’s source of amusement and information is Alice or Alyss. Not the much-celebrated person, Princess Alyss Heart of Wonderland, but the name and the name itself and other interesting Alices. The name Alice or Alyss is an anglicized variant of the Old French Adelaide which is of Germanic origin. The Germanic “adal” means ‘noble’ and “heid” means ‘kind, sort’ hence the meaning of Alice being ‘noble one.’

Both the French Adelaide and the English Alice were well established in medieval times. I believe that our Princess Alyss may have been named after her regal ancestress, Queen Alyssabeth. What? You don’t know the story of Wonderland’s Queen Alyssabeth? I will save that story for another time. Now, we look at some other bearers of this most celebrated name…

We begin appropriately with a Princess, Princess Alice of the United Kingdom. Our first Alice was Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine from 13 June 1877 until her death in 1878 as the wife of Grand Duke Louis IV. She was the third child and second daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Alice was the first of Queen Victoria's nine children to die, and one of three to predecease their mother, who died in 1901. Her life had been enwrapped in tragedy since her father's death in 1861. It in entirely possible that Alyss met Alice while she was in exile from Wonderland and romantically involved with Alice’s younger brother, Prince Leopold! I must remember to ask her for my research…  

Princess Alice of the United Kingdom

And next a “sort of” Princess, Alice Roosevelt Longworth was an American writer and socialite and the eldest child of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt and his only child with his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt. The Roosevelt family was almost considered royalty in the Americas. She was the most eccentric first daughter to ever enter the White House and became the strong-willed and unbridled face of the New Woman movement of the early 1900s.

She danced on the rooftops of millionaires, wore a pet garter snake as an accessory, and needle-pointed “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anyone, come and sit here by me” on a pillow in her home. Her independent and free-spirited nature breathed new life into the very idea of young womanhood in the early 20th century as the suffrage movement was gaining steam. She sounds an awful lot like another strong-willed Alice I know…

Alice Brady was an American movie actress who began her career in the silent film era and was one of the fortunate few who survived the transition into talkies. She worked up until six months before her death from cancer in 1939. Her films include My Man Godfrey, in which she played the flighty mother of Carole Lombard’s character, and In Old Chicago for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

For my readers in Wonderland, let me briefly explain what a “movie” is. Similar to the “Video Game” that I described in my previous blog, a movie is a projection of imagination onto a somewhat larger rectangular shaped screen. (Note to self: perhaps a future post could look at some Wonderland inspired movies… hmmm.)

Alice Brady, The American Actress

Alice Walker is an African American writer best known for her fiction and essays that deal with themes of race and gender. Her novel The Color Purple (1982) won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and she has also published volumes of poetry, criticism, and nonfiction. Walker was the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in the California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts in 2007. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages. A most inspiring Alice!

Alice Walker, the Award Winning Author

Next, we have an unexpected Alice… a man! Alice Cooper is an American rock singer whose career spans over 5 decades. With a raspy voice and a stage show that features numerous props and stage illusions, including pyrotechnics, guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, reptiles, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers to be "The Godfather of Shock Rock".

He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock audiences. This combination of drama and darkness would certainly appeal to her royal viciousness, Queen Redd of Wonderland!

Alice Cooper, the Godfather of Shock Rock

Alice Waters  is best known for her love of healthy fresh food, respect for the people and for the land that produces food, her support of farmers who till the soil, her desire to educate children about the benefits of “slow food” (as opposed to unhealthy and ever-present “Fast Food”) and her passion to cook and provide meals that are delicious. Alice Waters was the first woman named “Best Chef in America” in 1992 by the James Beard Foundation. Later she received their Humanitarian Award and in 2009 she was named to the French Legion of Honor, reconnecting her to the source of her life’s work. ---

The producing of fruits and vegetables from a tiny seed seems to me to be a form of the Magic of Imagination. As does conjuring a delicious meal from these simple ingredients. Dear Reader, I am loathe to perpetuate “rabbit stereotypes”, but I will share with you that I adore carrots! Carrot soup, carrot cake or a simple raw carrot! Scrumptious!

A Princess, an activist, an actress, an author, a musician and a chef! What a lovely eclectic assortment of Alices! Princess Alyss would be most pleased to share a name with them. Until next time, dear readers!

Where in Wonderland? Key Locations of The Looking Glass Wars

The Wonderland of The Looking Glass Wars is full of places that perhaps you know from Lewis Carroll’s (sanitized) Alice In Wonderland. However, the truth behind the fiction is far more epic, beautiful, and at times dangerous.

Here are but a few of the highlights a Wonderverse traveler would see upon stepping through the looking glass:

The Pool of Tears

Unlike the Pool of Tears as described by Lewis Carroll, “Alice” (Alyss) did not cry this body of water alone. A swirling, luminescent lake of water, a portal connecting Wonderland to other worlds (notably Earth), and the means by which Hatter Madigan and seven-year-old Princess Alyss escape Redd Heart’s (the Red Queen’s) murderous intentions. 

At the start of The Looking Glass Wars, no one who has entered the pool has ever returned. Loved ones of Wonderlanders who’ve vanished into its depths sometimes stand on an overlooking cliff, mourning, letting their tears drop into the water; hence the name. 

On Earth, the portal manifests as puddles where no puddles should be, such as in a desert. Though the Pool of Tears is the only portal entry/exit point in Wonderland, there are numerous puddles where no puddles should be on Earth providing access. 

Essentially, the pool is an open channel through which Wonderland’s most dangerous elements can, at any time, intrude upon the already treacherous world of Victorian England and beyond. 

Top: The Pool of Tears from The Looking Glass Wars; bottom: Alice in the Pool of Tears by John Tenniel

House Of Cards

This structure is to Wonderland what the Red Keep was to King’s Landing. The House of Cards is center of military and political wheeling and dealing in the Queendom. From here Card Soldiers (no, not the stick figures with playing cards for bodies in the Disney adaptation) are dealt into battle— a source of might that Redd abuses at every turn during her reign to inflict her tyrannical whims.

The Suit Families, powerful houses that rule over Wonderland, each retain presence in the House of Cards— or at least they did until Redd came to power and announced that she needed no advisors, only loyal obedient subjects. While the Suit Families kept their heads by playing along, not all are so loyal to the wicked despot. The halls of the House of Cards echo with schemes and deceptions, feeding into The Queen of Heart’s paranoia.

The House of Cards, from Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars series

The Millinery

The training campus of Wonderland’s elite security force, where those born to protect the queendom are molded into spies, assassins, and bodyguards.

 Its graduates—the famed Hatter Madigan (perhaps you know him as The Mad Hatter) and his brother Dalton among them—are called Milliners on account of the hats they wear, which serve as their most potent weapons and allies in combat. 

The Millinery, complete with training fields and dormitories, sits within the capital city of Wondertropolis. Its buildings and outer wall are constructed largely of silk from the queendom’s caterpillar-oracles, each color of which has certain properties that protect students from outside threats. (The Blue Caterpillar of Lewis Carroll’s creation makes more smoke than thread—a stark difference between the fiction and truth of the story Alyss told him.)

The building in which classes are held, instilling the Milliner ethic (stoicism, duty above all else), is shaped like a top hat. The campus’s state-of-the-art training arena, known as the HATBOX (Holographic and Transmutative Base of Xtremecombat), is comparable to Star Trek’s Holodeck . . . but, with all due respect, it’s cooler. (For more on this amazing thread-tech, read Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the HATBOX)

The Millinery from Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars series

Valley Of Mushrooms

A landscape of giant mushrooms nestled within a ring of twilight-blue mountains, home to Wonderland’s caterpillar-oracles. No two mushrooms are alike, and what with the play of light on their caps and the many-hued shadows cast on the valley floor, visitors are inevitably greeted with a sight of impressive kaleidoscopic brilliance. 

Should a visitor be remarkable enough for the caterpillar council to reveal itself, she would see six caterpillars nearly the size of jabberwocky (large!), their bodies coiled beneath them as they smoked from the same ancient hookah. Each of them would be sitting on a mushroom as distinct in color as himself: red, orange, green, blue and violet.

Redd, concerned that the caterpillars might breed dissent with their predictions, tries to do away with them when she first takes control of Wonderland. But every time she attacks, they see her coming and vanish like smoke. So she exercises her rage on their beloved valley, and now its colors, which were once like the sprouting of renewed hope, are muted, scraped, marred. Mushroom stalks everywhere are hacked, and butchered caps litter the dank ground. 

The once magical place is a fungal wasteland, as it will remain until, if ever, it’s allowed to grow back to its former splendor.

Left: The Valley of Mushrooms from The Looking Glass Wars; Right: The Blue Caterpillar on his Mushroom by John Tenniel

Crystal Continuum

A network of byways that enables Wonderlanders to enter through one looking glass and exit from another. Focused looking glasses lead to specific destinations. Unfocused looking glasses allow travelers to choose their own destinations, provided there are looking glasses at those destinations out of which they can be reflected. 

It takes practice to stay inside the continuum and master basic navigational skills, because just as a body underwater tends to rise to the surface, a body entering a looking glass wants to be reflected out. An inexperienced traveler might enter a looking glass in her own home, thinking to pay a visit to a friend across town, only to be reflected out of a looking glass at her next-door neighbor’s. Given time and experience, she would be able to make the trip. 

Covering long distances in the Crystal Continuum is possible only for the most experienced traveler, but short trips are within the skill range of everyone.

The Crystal Continuum

Chessboard Desert 

This is not the “curious country” that Alice stumbled upon in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. This is the Chessboard Desert, acres of icy snow alternating with acres of tar and black rock, forming what looks from the air like a giant chessboard. A place of pain and hardship, the desert is home to Jabberwoky and ShardBeasts— only after being removed from succession to Wonderland’s throne, Redd Heart was banished to this inhospitable region, living in a fortress on Mt. Isolation. The tyrannical practitioner of Dark Imagination launched both the unsuccessful war against her sister Queen Genevieve (the White Queen)—then later, the bloody coup that would kill Genevieve and exile Alyss to Earth. 

Left: The Chessboard Desert from The Looking Glass Wars; Right: The Chessboard from Alice In Wonderland by John Tenniel

Looking Glass Maze

A unique Looking Glass Maze exists for every would-be sovereign of Wonderland, which she must successfully navigate to reach her imagination’s full potential and become a Warrior Queen (i.e., fit to rule). 

As a sacred Wonderland text states, “Only she for whom a Looking Glass Maze is intended can enter.” But where a given maze might be, or what it consists of exactly (it’s a test of both physical skill and emotional maturity), only the caterpillar-oracles allegedly know. One who successfully completes her maze emerges with her scepter, which serves as both token of her newfound power and a tool for its exercise. 

Redd Heart hasn’t gone through her Looking Glass Maze, which is why, if Alyss can find and successfully navigate hers, the usurper just might be defeated.

Alyss Heart's Looking Glass Maze

Who the Queen of Hearts Is Based On: Queen Victoria

When Queen Victoria, monarch of the United Kingdom from 1837-1901, first took the throne at the age of nine­teen, the role of the crown was uncertain, fluid. The Prime Minister and those elected to House of Commons and the House of Lords did the political heavy lifting, and no one expected the crown to serve as a spur to the economy; there were innovative capitalists enough for that.

Even the crown’s ceremonial role was in doubt, some claiming the monarchy superfluous. But the new queen impressed with her grace and assurance, and the public romanticized the accession of a young woman—a woman so young, so sheltered, that not until she was officially monarch did, she have her own bedroom. Even then, custom dictated that she couldn’t live independent of parental supervision before mar­riage; until the queen wed her cousin Albert, her mother resided in Buckingham Palace.

Small of stature, Victoria was big with contradictions. She hated being pregnant and was said to detest babies, her renowned quote “An ugly baby is a very nasty object and the prettiest is frightful”. This is intriguing as Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” depicted the Duchess and her baby (which became a pig). --

Evidently, the Duchess neglects the baby, and tosses it to Alice when she needs to play croquet with the Queen. The verses to the Duchess’ lullaby – “Speak roughly to your little boy, And beat him when he sneezes; He only does it to annoy, Because he knows it teases,” is as violent as the way she tosses the baby up and down.

Queen Victoria was quoted to have referred to behavior of children as that of “rabbits and guinea pigs, and Carrol; portrayed children as pigs in his book. He had a similar dislike of babies as well. “If (the baby) had grown up, ‘(Alice) said to herself, “it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes a rather handsome pig, I think.” Chapter VI Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Yet, the Queen gave birth to nine children, and the era that bears her name placed a high value on motherhood.

She had no interest in social issues (inevitably blaming flare-ups of discontent and unrest on small groups of agitators), but while she was in power, Britain under­went tremendous social reform. She did not embrace changes wrought by technology, slow to appreciate potential economic benefits, but technological innovations reshaped Europe and much of the world throughout the 19th century. Victorian England was living the imperial experience, the British Empire was expanding while new lands and cultures were discovered.

What followed was an encounter of cultures and, quite often, an aggression against the foreignness perpetrated by the British Empire. Danial Bivona in “Alice the Child-Imperialist and Games of Wonderland”, argues that Alice’s approach to Wonderland is deeply marked by an imperialistic attitude. She comes from her incapacity of understanding the other culture, assuming that, only because she cannot understand it, it must be devoid of logical rules. An assessment true for all time, and deeply rooted in the world Victoria helped shape.

And as Queen Victoria’s reign wore on, she concluded that governance was no place for a woman and accordingly subordinated herself to her husband, giving him a greater role in handling the crown’s responsibilities.

Queen Victoria: a headstrong woman with conservative principles, cautious in her friendships, prone to temper tantrums and depression. Not one to readily forgive, she ensured that woe befell anyone who wittingly or unwittingly fought against her— a trait Alice (or rather Alyss) eventually came to think of as a fractal reflection manifesting the ill intent sent from Queen Redd (Red Queen) in Wonderland at the time.

Throughout her life there were eight assassination attempts against the Queen, all of them failing miserably. Her carriage was shot at by Edward Oxford in 1840 while she was five months pregnant— an unthinkable trauma that Victoria accepted rather well. –

Then twice more the Queen was shot at in 1842 by the would-be assassin John Francis. A hunchback named John William Bean fired a pistol at the Queen just five weeks later— though it was unloaded, and the man postured his attack as a cry to be sent to a penal colony (far from the hardship of Britain).

Victoria’s carriage was shot at again in 1849 by William Hamilton. A year later, known lunatic Robert Pale attacked the Queen in Hyde Park, smacking her on the head with his cane (making him the only assassin to injure the Queen). A 17-year-old named Arthur O’Conner attempted to shoot the Queen in 1872 but was foiled by her favorite personal attendant, John Brown.

Her final would-be-assassin was a man named Roderick Maclean who attempted to shoot the Queen in 1882 but was tackled by a group of Eton college boys. Such was the earthly queen with whom Alice Liddell, née Alyss Heart of Wonderland, would contend.

By 1859, Victoria had successfully married off eight of her chil­dren. Only the youngest, Leopold, remained. He was grown into a fine man, and the discomfort she’d felt around him when he was a youngster had evaporated; she was now greedy for his company and overprotective. Much as she had done to rid her­self of her mother’s “supervision,” Leopold was determined to marry to get out from under the maternal thumb.

Victoria believed that offspring of British monarchs should wed royals or nobles of other nations as a means of forming political and military alliances. How galling then, that Leopold set his heart on a former foundling named Alice Liddell, a member of the gentry, modestly famous for being Lewis Carroll’s muse (the queen loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland but knew that it satirized her court,) what was worse: Miss Liddell had progressive ideas on social and economic reform, and she didn’t care to abide a woman’s place in society. 

A bit of trivia -- Queen Victoria suggested that Carroll dedicate his next book to her. And so, his next work, “An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, With Their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Equations,” was presented to the queen- no recorded reaction is known.

Queen Victoria could never let Leopold marry this upstart with the arrogance of a princess. But she couldn’t simply forbid him from marrying her either; he would detest her, and he reminded her too much of Albert (who had died prematurely and mourning whom Victoria wore only black for the rest of her reign) for her to have tolerated that. –

She would have to be subtle, nuanced in her sabotaging of Leopold and Alice’s relationship; they would seem, to themselves, to be masters of their own uncoupling, then Alice Liddell would give up her pretensions and reforms and fall back into her proper sphere.

Queen Victoria wasn’t accustomed to failing.

Through the Looking Glass of Wonderland Video Games

As the Royal Scholar of Wonderland, I, Bibwit Harte am tasked with peering through the Pool of Tears to see the myriad of creations inspired by Wonderland. From Lewis Carroll's fanciful novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass first published in 1865, to the 1951 animated movie Alice in Wonderland from Disney to the very accurate 2006 New York Times best-selling series The Looking Glass Wars with Princess Alyss by Frank Beddor. Today I am investigating a most curious form of entertainment… the “video game.”

“Video” from the root “vide” of the Latin “video,” meaning “I see.” What one sees when one plays a video game is a box filled with a sort of Power of Imagination that creates an illusionary world. This world can only be viewed through a portal. Usually, a screen or glass… not unlike a Looking Glass. (Hmmm.)

With its Looking Glass-esque visuals, it is not surprising that there have been several video games inspired by the wonders of Wonderland. Here is a brief list for you to peruse…

TINY TINA'S WONDERLAND (2022) – I begin with the most recent entry on our list. Tiny Tina’s Wonderland has just arrived and is proving to be very popular. Though its connections to Princess Alyss Heart and the true Wonderland are tenuous at best, it is certainly a showcase for the Power of Imagination!

An amusing, action packed adventure that showcases magic, mayhem and even a powerful Queen. Although the Queen in question is a jeweled rainbow unicorn, I am sure Queen Genevieve (The White Queen) would approve of her regal power. 

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010 Disney Live Action) - Before the latest Wonderland adventure, one must peer through the Pool of Tears to the distant past of 2010 (in earth years) to see another Alyss oriented video game.

Alice in Wonderland (inspired by the Disney live action movie) allows players to guide, protect and aid Alice as she journeys through the world of Wonderland while unraveling the game's many twisted mysteries. Along the way, players call on a diverse and unique cast of characters such as the Mad Hatter (inspired by the heroic Hatter Madigan) and Cheshire Cat (inspired by the villainous Cat) who each have unique abilities to help evade traps and solve challenging puzzles.

ALICE IN THE COUNTRY OF THE HEARTS (2007) – This is a Japanese visual novel game developed by Quin Rose. The game is a re-imagining of Lewis Carroll's classic 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (which was, of course, a rather loose re-imagining of the actual Wonderland.) There are multiple sequel games, as well as multiple manga series, multiple anime cartoons and even some animated films. This game leans into the aspects of love and romance. A true Game of Hearts, if you will…

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Disney Animated 2000) Another game inspired by a Disney film. This time the 1951 animated Disney film. The game begins with the player as Alice following the White Rabbit (March Hare) down its hole. The plot is used to change the level design from stage to stage and gives the player a more varied experience through gameplay. The game changes the level design based on different stages from the film and Alice changes sizes throughout the game to help her find her way through various puzzles.

Though* this game did not receive the most glowing reviews, I include it because the central figure (aside from Alice/Alyss) is the White Rabbit, a character that is apparently based on yours truly, Bibwit Harte! Dear reader, I must confess that I find this rabbit chap to be rather annoying. He shares my speed, but, alas, lacks my sophistication.

AMERICAN MCGEE'S ALICE (2000) The same year that the whimsical Disney inspired Alice in Wonderland arrived, another very different game premiered. American McGee’s Alice is a  third-person action-adventure video game developed by Rogue Entertainment under the direction of designer American McGee.

The game presents a gloomy, cruel and violent version of the World of Wonderland. The game centers on the Lewis Carroll novels' protagonist Alice, whose family is killed in a house fire years before the story of the game takes place. After several years of treatment in a psychiatric clinic, the emotionally traumatized Alice makes a mental retreat to Wonderland, which has been disfigured by her injured psyche.

ALICE: MADNESS RETURNS (2011) is the sequel America McGee’s Alice. Alice: Madness Returns follows Alice Liddell, a girl suffering from trauma caused by the death of her family in a fire. Alice was discharged from a psychiatric clinic and now lives in an orphanage for mentally traumatized orphans under the care of Dr. Angus Bumby.

To heal the trauma and learn the truth about her past, she once again falls into this dark and deadly version of Wonderland, where a new evil force has corrupted it. Such dreadful scenes are most certainly the product of Dark Imagination! Queen Redd would feel most at home in this world! 

Last, though certainly not least, I will mention the “games” connected to Wonderland through more than sheer inspiration! Countless players engaged in the Card Soldier Wars MMO, brought to Earth by Frank Beddor, never suspecting that the mighty battles waged therein were truly tied to the shifts in power back beyond the Looking Glass.

Similarly, The Looking Glass Wars TCG (set to be re-released in the near future) blends the line between physicality and photons. Hybridizing the living world and the games of our imaginations is an idea that could have no other origin than Wonderland.

This concludes our examination of 21st Century Games inspired by the wonders of Wonderland! Perhaps, if my dear readers are interested, I can examine games from the 20th Century when the artform was new and rather primitive.  For now, this is your humble author, Bibwit Harte bidding you farewell and wishing you a most wonder-filled day!

All Roads Lead to Alice

My friend and Wonderverse collaborator Chad Evett (the Top Hat of Hatters) has returned (alive!) from the land of Con and Cosplay after SDCC 2022. I asked him to pen a quick reflection of why and how Alice so invariably makes her appearance in his kingdom of costumes. True to form, his take is thoughtful and fun. Check it out:

Well, here we are: post San Diego Comic-Con 2022. Did you survive? Are you able to walk again? Did you dodge the con crud?

SDCC is, far and away, one of the greatest if not the grandest pop culture conventions on the planet, taking place every year in San Diego, CA - United States. As an international endeavor, the convention sports indoor and outdoor events, exclusive merchandise, along with a myriad of film and television announcements. Laced throughout the halls packed with comics, fans of every description, posters and costumes; there is one unifying factor: a distinct presence of everything that is currently en vogue.

Stranger Things, Star Trek, Star Wars, nearly every modern and contemporary fad is reflected. But mixed in among them, one finds a few gems from fads past: those few and faithful cosplayers that love what they love and wear it proudly for all to see. And perhaps the strangest things of all are the amount of people showing their love for a Victorian book about a curious little girl who took a tumble down a rabbit hole.

The entertainment industry is one powered by dreamers, those who are incapable of sitting still and not putting pen or brush to paper. In the first chapter of “Alice’s Adventures Underground” (later renamed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,) Alice is bored on the riverbank and takes to daydreaming to entertain herself.  It is notorious that the book was written as pure escapism, so one would naturally assume that Alice would fit in beautifully between the rows and within the halls of the San Diego Convention Center.

The Hustle and Bustle in the Halls of the Convention Center

Nat Lawson, an avid cosplayer and mother of a day dreamer (both of whome were dressed as magnificent French Tweedles) sees the Alice in us all: “I love stories about people who travel to other worlds and embrace new and wild experiences- Alice, Narnia, Oz, Inuyasha, etc.”

When asked if she thought of Alice’s moral, she described the average congoer almost accidentally, but no less accurately: “Live your life as you think you should— do the things you want to do and do not let other’s expectations shackle you into an endless loop of boring offices and minivans and warehouse stores.”

Perhaps the modern equivalent to that Victorian riverbank is indeed the boring office cubicle.

Connor Breen, another participant in the madness of the day, absolutely sees the glory of escaping the mundane: “…I feel like the reason why Alice in Wonderland continues to be so beloved; regardless of rewriting, re-creation, and rebirth of each character, is that the spirit of Wonderland is always true to what it intends to be.

Lewis Carroll created a world that has never been the same the second time you look at it. Familiar characters return in different ways for each new explorer, always there to help them in whatever way is needed regardless of if our hero or heroine knows what exactly what they needed help with in the first place.”

After a pause, Breen continued “No matter how old you are or what version you were first introduced to, every part of it feeling like returning home. Wonderland is always there for us, in that space between dreams and nightmares. It’s not always safe, but it never was dangerous either, it’s the flickering of light as you drift away, always waiting to welcome you back with a friendly smile, a hot cup of tea, and a new adventure with just the turn of a page.”

If Comic-Con is Wonderland, then each of us inhabits a part of Alice when we step onto that familiar cement floor: we explore, we renew, we indulge in a little nonsense—and most importantly, we dream.

Dreams evolve and yet defy definition—Alice’s journey through history is no less of an evolution. The story of a defiant little girl who questioned authority and the adults around her is one that parallels the ages since its publication. The cooky Mad Hatter once an exercise in lunacy has transformed, revealing a hat wielding hero underneath.

Alice absolutely would have been a suffragette—she would have marched for Stonewall, and she would have campaigned for liberty. Cosplay, functioning as a looking glass, reflects this evolution as the character has been reborn.

The League of Hatters

Frank Beddor, author of The Looking Glass Wars saw Alice (or is it Alyss?) as a character seeking to understand herself and her world through the enlightening power of Wonder and Imagination. 

Tim Burton’s Alice was a lost freedom fighter seeking to define her strength through her journey. A stylistically absurdist version of Wonderland, even by whacky and weird standards, is the perfect landscape of gothic obstacles, & became a box office success.

American McGee took a second glance at the idea of Madness, and the subjective definition. His Alice saw an asylum run by the insane and the topsy-turvy state of reality cast as an adventure game soaked with the blood of those who would force order into Whimsy.

Alice, and the denizens of Wonderland around her, have been reborn and reworked numerous times, and each time it seems to work: the subject matter is unique in its pliability of translation. 

The fans of Alice all flock to her for different reasons. For some, it’s the Disney flair & familiar characters (White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Red Queen, Alice). For others, it’s the idea that one person’s madness is another person’s sanity.

The concept of “Muchness” is introduced in chapter seven of the original book, “a mad tea party,” and is revolutionized in the 2010 Disney film as a metaphor for individuality and personal strength. Pushing back against the societal norms that suffocate the magic out of the young.

Cosplay is possibly the most flamboyant of the modern moves against society’s concept of Normalcy. Since 2010 the League of Hatters, an Alice-themed Cosplay club, has met on the first Thursday of Comic Con. Each member has drawn themselves to the group through their love of what Alice represents. (Yours truly has been lucky enough to be elected Top Hat for three consecutive terms!)

Watching fans of Alice exchange ideas and notes on costume execution and design is one of the hallmarks of a League meetup. Each year, new people see the advertisements of the meetings and join for a day of revelry.

Lorraine Oulette as The Queen of Hearts

Lorraine Oulette, a teacher from Connecticut, has brought her son and husband to league meetings every year since 2013. Her son River actually celebrated his 13th birthday with a HaberDashMitzvah—-a massive party where the entire league converged for tea, specialty cupcakes, music and dancing—all while dressed as characters from Wonderland. “The comradery is wonderful. Seeing all the hatters, queens, rabbits and Alices—it feels like family every time we meet up.”

And who does Lorraine Cosplay? “The Queen of Hearts. Naturally” she says with a wink.

Only in Wonderland.

About The Author

Chad Evett graduated from Santa Fe University of Art and design with a degree in technical theater, with an emphasis on Costumes. He has designed numerous short films, and has worked as a theater director and production designer. His work has been seen on The View, and he has designed shoes for actress Whoopi Goldberg, and Writer/Producer Bryan Fuller.  He lives in Los Angeles and works as a designer and Consulting storyteller.

Following Hollywood’s White Rabbit Into Wonderland: Curtis Clark

Curtis Clark, one of my Wonderverse collaborators that helped write the Hatter Madigan graphic novels, reflected on the early days of his career in this thoughtful blog. His charming origin story shed light on the fact that unbeknownst to me, I played a bigger role in his journey than I ever knew. We both agreed it would be perfect to share his wonderful words as inspiration for other young writers forging down the same twisty path of breaking into Hollywood & making it big.

It certainly wasn’t Wonderland. It was a bowling alley. A friggin’ bowling alley.

I worked there. One of those just moved to Hollywood jobs. I needed money. Knew nobody. Most days I would bang away on my laptop while seated at the bowling shoe desk. I was the sentry of the stinking soles. I got used to writing through pins scattering, bowling balls clacking, and shoe spray coating my fingers.

One shift, I was red-penning a printed copy of a screenplay I had written. Which, was a very, very cliché Hollywood thing to be doing. I assure you, though, I was actually working on it, not just trying to look like I was working on it. I had somehow finagled getting that script into ICM for script coverage. I was confident it was going to give me my start in the industry as an aspiring author & writer. Which, spoiler, it did not. 

A few hours into the grind, a customer walked in for his kid’s birthday party and saw me marking up my script. He took some small notice of me diligently writing, probably because I was less diligently setting up for his kid’s party. The name on the party sheet read: Frank Beddor.

I had no idea who Frank Beddor was. I didn’t know he had written the best-selling Looking Glass Wars trilogy or that he had produced There’s Something About Mary. Had I known those things, maybe I would have tried to drum up conversation. After all, that is why most people in Hollywood do cliché things like work on a script in public — for those mythological “chance” encounters. Me? I guess I was oblivious. I didn’t even google Frank’s name or anything.

So, not for one second did I imagine that the so-bad-I-can’t-go-back-and-read-it script I was working on would not be my start in the industry, but that this Frank Beddor, and his twist on Alice in Wonderland, actually would. 

When Frank finished bowling, I was still editing away. He asked me what I was working on? During my early days, imposter syndrome dictated I try and sound like a legit writer to just about everybody. So, too-cool-for-school, I filled him in on my momentous, impending script coverage. Which, almost certainly made me sound green as grass. 

Frank told me he was also a writer, but I had never heard of his books. Which wasn’t surprising because at that time I hadn’t even read Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (I have several times since). Our conversation seemed destined to peter out as pleasantry, until, serendipitously, Frank asked if I liked comic books, or had written any? What he had no way of knowing was that I had a collection of comics twice the size of the shoe wall I stood in front of.

And, at that time, I also just so happened to be writing a comic book for a guy I met playing basketball, because, you know, the Hollywood hustle sometimes works in weird ways. I showed Frank a few pages of art from that comic, and it was enough to earn his business card.

Back then, for me, a business card was a magical thing. You could feel it, put in your wallet, keep it in a drawer. They were tangible things, whereas most things in Hollywood seemed to evaporate the second you turned around. The industry can be so hard to navigate, especially early, that I took getting a business card as a sign I was at least doing something right.

Me during a "Director Moment" after I collected enough business cards

Maybe, if I collected enough of them I would, I don’t know, level up? That would have probably made more sense than how the business actually works. 

Frank told me to send him a copy of the comic I was working on when it was done. His office address was on the card. I had an address! On a business card! And a writer producer who wanted to read this comic! I would be done working at this bowling alley in no time! Spoiler again, that would not be the case.

A few weeks later, I hand delivered a copy of said comic book, hoping for another face-to-face chat to build off of. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, Frank’s office was closed that day. So, I slipped my comic under the door with a note, and assumed he’d get it. And then I heard nothing. For weeks. 

Wait, did he get it? How would I even know? Talk about driving yourself mad.

I followed up via email a few times, and didn’t get a response. That familiar early-days sinking feeling was happening, where I got excited by an opportunity, only for it to slip away as nothing materialized. I was a young, nobody writer who handed this guy crusty shoes, and he was a busy writer producer with young kids and a burgeoning brand. Could I be angry at this guy, who I had met once, for not having time for a twenty something kid whose comic he may or may not have found slid under his office door?

Um, yes. I was 100% angry Frank wasn’t getting back to me in a manner that suited my unrealistic career timeline. That said, now-a-days, I understand why someone like me, back then, wasn’t exactly his priority number one.  

After weeks of nothing, I decided to email him one last time. No BS, it was going to be my last follow up. I’m sure I rolled my eyes or jabbed the return key passive aggressively when I hit send on that email. I had run hard and fast into quite a few dead ends at that point. 

However, after months of nothing, Frank got back to me within minutes. He sent a very brief email that read something to the effect of, “I read your comic. Come to my office. I might have a job for you.” 


After all that time waiting, he fires a job tease email off to me in mere minutes? I had already emotionally moved on, probably deflecting Frank’s lack of interest with some self-doubt managing thought about it being his loss. I was spun.

The truth was, that email meant the world to me at that time. If I haven't made it apparent enough by now, starting out in Hollywood can be a daunting, soul shattering endeavor, especially if you have no connections. And I didn’t know anyone in California when I moved here, let alone in the entertainment industry. 

That email is why I’m writing this blog post on I honestly do not know if I would have made it to my current place in my career, where I have representation and shop projects with production companies, agencies and the studios, had it not been for me following up that one last time, and Frank actually getting back to me.

I’d like to think I would have earned my shot sooner or later, probably after some much needed seasoning, but I don’t know if or when another opportunity with a legit Hollywood entity would’ve come my way.

So, after reading that email, I quickly bought the first book of The Looking Glass Wars and ripped through it in a day. Nervous, I went to Frank’s office for our meeting. The walls were covered with Card Soldiers and Jabberwocky concept art, poster sized prints of Alyss, Hatter Madigan, and Redd, set photos from There’s Something About Mary. The shelves were stacked with various US and UK printings of Frank’s books, and a few beautiful copies of Alice in Wonderland. As a wide-eyed baby writer, it was cool as hell, but I tried to act like it was all normal to me. 

I sat across from Frank in a comfy chair and we chatted. I said a bunch of young-dumb stuff about how I wanted to write all of his comic books. Honestly, I barely knew what I was talking about and was being super presumptuous. At least I was passionate, though, and had some ideas. Which, must have been enough to not turn Frank off because I left with a chance to write a short web comic for him.

From Script to Finished Page!

There were very few guidelines to the assignment. It had to be Hatter, on Earth, during the years he was looking for Alyss. It was basically a sink or swim opportunity, where I was supposed to pitch Frank an idea, and if he liked it, he’d hire me to write it. Except, instead, in something like two days, I wrote a very weirdly formatted short story and sent it to Frank. He liked it, whatever it was, and wanted to make it, but what was he going with this weird, sort of prosey, sort of scripty thing I gave him? I was a comic nerd. Why didn’t I send him a comic script?

Frank didn’t know this then. Actually, he might even be reading it for the first time here. I had read a zillion comic books, and I had “written” exactly one, but I had never really scripted one in an industry correct way. That sample issue he looked at? I “wrote it” by sitting side-by-side with the artist and drawing out the comic panels together.

Now, I wasn’t some full-blown charlatan who had lied my way into a job. I had read a few comic scripts and written in screenplay format. Still, when Frank said yes, but make it a comic script, I literally had to buy the Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel, skip to the scripting section, and follow it step-by-step. I needed to transform what I gave Frank into something that his artist — who by the way was Finnish, living in Finland — could correctly follow.

Keeping score at home: I had met the guy at a bowling alley, wasn’t familiar with his work, hadn’t read the material that inspired it, was fishing for bigger work before I had even earned his trust, and more-or-less didn't really know how to do the job I was lucky he hired me to do, a job I went ahead and sort of did without getting his go ahead for my idea. I never thought of myself as someone who did the “fake until you make it” stuff, but yeesh… 

However! I did my research. I figured it out. And being passionate was the most important thing (and always will be). That script, once correctly formatted as a comic, ended up being the Baseball short in the Hatter M. Seeking Wonder graphic novel. And that fun, little job blossomed into working on and off with Frank for years. His Wonderverse was so broad, that I could pull from every corner of my vast nerdom.

Together, we expanded his world through two graphic novels, many other projects, and countless conversations. And I went off and built my own career, aided by the confidence those experiences gave me. Frank and I still check in regularly and talk shop. It’s been a friendship that’s lasted over a decade.

I wrote this post because it's a fun little story, but also in hopes that if some young writer finds their way here, they can take heart in the extended meet-cute Frank and I had that helped start my career. 

It’s not some impossibly uncommon Hollywood story. Countless young writers meet their Frank Beddors. The important parts are that he and I struck up that first conversation, found a mutual passion, that I didn’t quit on the opportunity, that he then took a chance on me, and then, despite not really knowing what I was doing, that I worked, and learned, for however long it took to deliver.

The experience taught me a valuable lesson early in my career, which was not to be afraid of getting in a little (or a lot) over your head. I was lucky that first job with Frank made me embrace the unexpected and the unfamiliar in pursuit of my dreams. 

Which, how fitting is that, when you think about it? The unexpected and the unfamiliar? Aren’t those the things that cause us to wonder in the first place? 

So, always follow the glow, Wonderlanders, even if you’re not quite sure where it will lead you.


Curtis Clark

About the Author:

Curtis Clark grew up the son of a farmer in Wacousta, Michigan. He spent his youth spun up in a tornado of comics, novels, film, television and games. Eventually it spit him out in Los Angeles, where he writes, directs and produces, while also wrangling his two young children, alongside his amazing wife.