7 Mad Hatter Day Must-Haves

Mad Hatter Day is officially upon us! October 6th is the day dedicated to our most favorite milliner. In a world often bound by conventions and expectations, the Mad Hatter represents the freedom to be authentically and outrageously oneself. People yearn to don his oversized hat and mismatched attire, to dance a frenetic futterwacken, and to engage in absurd conversations that defy logic and reason. His tea parties, marked by their perpetual chaos and whimsy, beckon us to release our inner eccentricities and celebrate the kaleidoscope of our individuality.

Moreover, the Mad Hatter teaches us the value of embracing the present moment, no matter how bewildering or absurd it may seem. He reminds us that life’s journey should be a delightful, unpredictable adventure filled with laughter and imagination.

Celebrate Mad Hatter Day by inviting the Hatter’s spirit into your life through whimsical purchases that echo his eccentricity. These fun and exciting purchases not only commemorate the day but also remind you to embrace creativity, individuality, and the delightful madness of life. It’s a whimsical journey that lets you channel the Hatter’s charm, sparking imagination and a touch of Wonderland in your everyday adventures.


A black t-shirt with a cartoon character mad hatter from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This is an extra-spooky black and white cartoon version, with a black and white spiral background that is hypnotizing. The text at the bottom reads: "Mad as a Hatter".

Purchasing a spooky Mad as a Hatter Tee for Mad Hatter Day is a brilliant fusion of whimsy and Halloween spirit. This unique tee allows you to blend the eccentricity of the Mad Hatter with the spooky ambiance of October. It’s the perfect way to celebrate both occasions, adding a touch of Wonderland madness to your Halloween festivities.

The tee becomes a conversation starter and a statement of individuality, making you stand out in the sea of traditional Halloween costumes. It’s a creative and fun way to embrace the whimsical side of life while embracing the spookiness of the season, truly making Mad Hatter Day memorable.


A collection of Hatter M graphic novels and books by Frank Beddor, with illustrations on each cover. The 6 books pictured are: "Far From Wonder", "Mad With Wonder", "The Nature of Wonder", "Zen of Wonder", "Love of Wonder", and "Seeking Wonder".

The Hatter M Graphic Novel Bundle, on sale for Hatter day, is an enticing gateway to a mesmerizing world of storytelling and visual artistry. This bundle immerses you in the captivating adventures of Hatter Madigan, expanding the truth behind Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland universe in beautifully illustrated detail. By purchasing it, you’re not just acquiring a set of graphic novels; you’re investing in a journey through the surreal and imaginative realm of The Looking Glass Wars carefully crafted by Frank Beddor.

You’ll traverse Wonderland’s enchanting landscapes, encounter whimsical characters, and delve into Hatter’s complex narrative. It’s an opportunity to relish the fusion of literature and art, all while enjoying a fantastic deal. Don’t miss out on this chance to own a piece of Wonderland’s magic.


A bookmark with a picture of Hatter Madigan, meditating in a zen-like state. A zen proverb on the bottom reads: "When you seek it, you cannot find it."

If you partake in the wild adventures of Hatter M. you are going to need this handy bookmark. Adorned with the iconic imagery of Hatter Madigan in his zen lotus pose, adds a touch of delightful eccentricity to your reading experience. It serves as a reminder to embrace creativity, imagination, and to relax your mind in your pursuits.

Whether you’re immersed in a gripping novel or exploring the depths of a philosophical text, this bookmark is a charming companion that encourages you to pause, reflect, and savor the present moment, just as Hatter Madigan would amidst the chaos of Wonderland. It’s not just a bookmark— it’s a piece of Wonderland magic in your hands!


A picture of Disney's Mad Tea Party board game with a box and a toy tea set. Featuring iconic imagery of Walt Disney's classic 1951 animated film: Alice in Wonderland.

Purchasing Disney’s Mad Tea Party Tabletop Game is like bringing a slice of Wonderland into your home. This board game combines the whimsy of Disney with the charm of Lewis Carroll’s creation. It offers a chance to immerse yourself in the fantastical world of the Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, and Cheshire Cat.

With its intricate design, bright artwork, and gripping fast-paced gameplay, it provides hours of family-friendly entertainment. It encourages strategic thinking, fosters healthy competition, and sparks laughter as players navigate their way through the topsy-turvy. It’s a magical journey into the heart of Wonderland, perfect for Disney fans and board game enthusiasts alike.


A toy figurine by Funk Pop of the Mad Hatter from Disney's Alice in Wonderland, wearing a green jacket, pants, shoes and hat. The pop figure is standing outside of its box, holding an overflowing cup of tea.

Purchasing a Mad Hatter Funko Pop to celebrate Mad Hatter Day is a delightful choice for collectors and fans alike. This miniaturized, meticulously detailed figure captures the essence of the iconic character from Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. It serves as a quirky reminder of the spirit of eccentricity, imagination, and unbridled joy, which the Mad Hatter embodies.

Display it proudly, and let it become a conversation starter, inviting others to share in your appreciation for Wonderland’s madness. Plus, as a collectible item, it carries a certain charm and value that can grow over time. On a shelf with your collection, adorning a desk, or even treating the tea table – there’s nowhere this Funko wouldn’t be perfect.


A colorful ceramic container with a lid, made by Gracie Bone China. This one is covered in a multi-colored floral pattern and inspired by Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter character from Alice in Wonderland. The perfect way to celebrate Mad Hatter Day, 2023.

What Hatter Day would be complete without tea time? And, what tea party is complete without sugar? This Mad Hatter Sugar Bowl from Gracie Bone China is essential, embodying the spirit of whimsy and tea-time merriment. It’s not just a functional item; it’s a symbol of camaraderie and eccentricity.

As you gather ’round for your own mad tea party, this sugar bowl becomes a centerpiece, invoking the enchanting chaos of Wonderland. It invites friends and family to join in the revelry, pouring sugar with abandon and stirring creativity with each spoonful. Crafted with exquisite bone china, its elegant and nuanced Mad Hatter design adds a touch of enchantment to teatime. It’s not just a sugar bowl; it’s a charming piece of functional art that elevates your tea experience.


A group of bottles of Mad Hatter Hot Sauce surrounding a bowl of chips. These are made by Mad Hatter Foods and feature the hot, sweet and spicy flavors of habanero peppers and pineapple for a deliciously deviant way to celebrate Mad Hatter Day.

Teatime may require some snacks – take a walk on the wild side, leave the tarty tarts behind and go for something a little more spicy! A bottle of Mad Hatter Hot Sauce is like adding a dash of Wonderland’s eccentricity to your culinary adventures. This “super-condiment” isn’t just any hot sauce; it’s a versatile flavor enhancer that transforms every meal into an unusual experience. Its universal appeal means it pairs seamlessly with a vast array of dishes, from steaks to pork, chicken to fish, and even eggs.

The Mad Hatter Hot Sauce isn’t just about heat; it’s about elevating your taste buds with a unique blend of flavors. Its zesty, tangy, and spicy profile adds depth to your meals, making them truly memorable. By adding Mad Hatter Hot Sauce to your Mad Hatter Day celebration, you’re not only embracing the spirit of whimsy but also elevating your culinary creations to an entirely new level. It’s a must-have condiment for the mad amongst us!

Hopefully, you found some exciting accessories for your Mad Hatter Day – and if you want more, be sure to check out the Hatter Day Sale on Frankbeddor.com!

Meet the Author:

After cutting her teeth in live sports television production and scripted independent features, Sarah transplanted from her native state of Indiana to LA where she earned her MFA from the American Film Institute Conservatory. She specializes in genre fusion storytelling, with an insatiable devotion to producing high-quality, character-driven sci-fi. She works at Automatic Pictures as Head of Development where she has continued to sharpen her eye for premium content creation.

An Alice in Wonderland Adaptation Could Include These Actors

As was established in my previous blog post, where I discussed hypothetical castings for Princess Alyss Heart/Alice Liddell, The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor is the book that needs a television adaptation. With its fantastically large, magical, world, action-packed and emotional storyline, and the inventive re-imagination of characters we all know and love. It’s the perfect book for a hit show. The character I will be hypothetically casting today is the hat-throwing, acrobatic, globe trotter, Hatter Madigan, Frank Beddor’s version of the Mad Hatter.

This isn’t the Hatter of old though, no. There are no tea parties or mercury poisoning involved with Madigan. Hatter Madigan is a high-ranking member of the Wonderland Military called the Millinery. Hatter is a masterful fighter, his acrobatic fighting style incorporates his blade-rimmed hat and a backpack filled with a seemingly endless amount of knives. Very few have taken him on and lived to tell the tale.

While he is a talented fighter, he also has a softer side, during the coup of Queen Redd, when Ayss’s parents are murdered, he is tasked with protecting Princess Alyss. Unfortunately, during their escape from Wonderland, he loses Princess Alyss in the Pool of Tears. After Losing Alyss, Hatter tirelessly walks the globe for thirteen years, exhausting even the most minuscule of leads in his obsessive search for Alyss.

Hatter takes on an almost father-type role for Princess Alyss. An orphan himself, he understands what it is like to grow up without your birth parents. If I may be so blunt, Hatter is a morally grey badass. In regards to his actions, at first glance, you may not think that the ends justify the means but he is only supposed to follow one rule, protect Princess Alyss, by any means necessary. And when I say any, I mean it.

Hatter Madigan is a complex and powerful role. The correct casting for him is crucial not only for his character but for the overarching story. While I’m no director myself, I mentioned in my last article that I had worked in casting, so if you’ll allow me, I’m going to dawn my “Scorsese hat” and dive into the list.

Tom Hardy 

Image of Tom Hardy, a British actor known for his roles in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Dunkirk, and Marvel Comics' Venom. Could he portray Hatter Madigan in a television adaptation of The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor?

Tom Hardy has a truly incredible catalog of films and TV under his belt, The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max Fury Road, Peaky Blinders, The Revenant, Inception, Dunkirk, Black Hawk Down, Locke, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, etc. He effectively portrays morally complex characters aided by his seemingly gruff exterior.

Behind the gruff exterior in his roles, he masterfully brings out a softer side to the characters he embodies. Along with this, he can perform many stunts as shown in Mad Max Fury Road so the acrobatic fighting style of the Hatter would be a cakewalk for him. Tom Hardy would be a fantastic actor to portray Hatter.

Jason Momoa 

Image of actor and heartthrob: Jason Momoa, known for his roles in Game of Thrones and aa Aquaman in the DC Comics movies. Could he be a good choice to cast as Hatter Madigan in a movie adaptation of Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars?

The Game Of Thrones star, Jason Momoa, would be an amazing Hatter. With his imposing figure and strong frame, it would not be a far stretch of the imagination for him to be a bodyguard. While he may seem intimidating, the reason I truly believe Jason Momoa would be a fantastic Hatter is due to the fact that he brings a certain sweetness to his roles that would fit Hatter perfectly.

Princess Alyss not only has to be physically protected by Hatter, she also has to be emotionally protected, which Jason has shown in his past performances he is more than capable of doing.

Idris Elba 

Image of actor, Idris Elba, from The Wire who could be a good candidate to be cast as Hatter Madiigan in a film or TV adaptation of The Looking Glass Wars, by author, Frank Beddor.

Idris Elba is a man so suave that he was being considered to be the next James Bond. Unfortunately for him, yet fortunate for us, that did not happen. Idris Elba is an insanely talented actor, established from his performance in the hit show, The Wire.

In Hijack, Idris plays Sam Nelson, a corporate negotiator who must use his skills to save everyone on board the hijacked Flight KA29. In this role, Idris brings an exciting resourcefulness as well as a calm demeanor during stressful situations that would translate perfectly to mysterious and competent Hatter. He’s definitely got the chops for the role and would bring so much mystery and intrigue to Hatter.

Henry Cavill 

Image of actor, Henry Cavill from Superman and The Witcher who could be a Contender for Hattter Madigan in 'The Looking Glass Wars' Movie or TV series Cast, which is Frank Beddor's expansion, or adaptation of the events from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Henry Cavill is no stranger to big flashy films and television. From Superman to The Witcher, Henry is a force to be reckoned with. His imposing frame alone would fit well for the powerful bodyguard that is Hatter. What’s more, though he is strong and handsome, he is a massive nerd. He openly talks about his hobbies such as World of Warcraft and Warhammer, which means he understands what it means to fans when something they love gets an adaptation and would give his performance his all to get it right.

In The Witcher, he played Geralt. Geralt is a man who doesn’t really belong in the world he lives in, just like Hatter as he travels the globe searching for Princess Alyss. Cavill will bring power as well as sorrow to the role that makes him a strong contender to be the Hatter. 

Ewan McGregor 

Image of Ewan McGregor, who is known for his role as Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Could he be an Ideal Candidate for Hatter Madigan, in a movie or TV show adaptation of 'The Looking Glass Wars, which is Frank Beddor's Adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?

Obi Wa- Sorry, Ewan McGregor, is a powerhouse. He is instantly recognizable and would bring so much fun and mystery to the calculated and deadly Hatter Madigan. Let’s start with the obvious, to me and anyone in my generation, he is Obi-Wan Kenobi. In Star Wars, Episode One: The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan is a powerful Jedi tasked with protecting young Anakin Skywalker. This would translate over perfectly to the Looking Glass Wars. It’s no stretch of the imagination to say he would convincingly portray a powerful soldier turned bodyguard who is tasked with protecting, then finding, Princess Alyss.

Playing a Jedi also means that he is no stranger to wild stunts and fighting with a “blade” just like he would need to do as Hatter. He fits every necessary part of the Hatter perfectly, I’ve established that he can convey convincing staged fights but he also showed us that he can be a tender and loving caretaker as he did with young Princess Leia in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi show. I can say with no hesitation that Ewan McGregor would make a great Hatter Madigan.

Javier Bardem 

Image of Javier Bardem, known for No Country For Old Men - who could be an Ideal Candidate for Hatter Madigan, in a movie or series adaptation of 'The Looking Glass Wars, which is Frank Beddor's Adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Javier Bardem might feel a bit like an odd man out on this list at first glance, but give me a couple hundred words and I know I can change your mind. All we have to do is look at his performance in No Country for Old Men. Okay, wait, don’t leave, hear me out. Javier’s character, Chigurh in No Country for Old Men is a psychopathic assassin who leaves a wake of dead bodies behind him in his hunt for Josh Brolin.

This on the surface may not seem like the right thing for Hatter Madigan but allow me to remind you of when Princess Alyss is separated from Hatter during their escape from Wonderland and ends up in our world, what does Hatter do? He walks the globe, using every bit of his training from the Millinery to find clues to lead him to the one he was supposed to protect. Remove Chigurh’s psychopathy, the make wake of dead bodies justified killings, and change the end goal from killing Josh Brolin to protecting Alyss, and boom, Hatter.

The laser-like focus, the strong silent type energy, the detective work, to put a perfect cherry on top, Hatter Madigan is a morally grey hero, he is not moralistic when protecting exploited children, he is a trained killer after all… Told you I would convince you. Javier Bardem can and will provide.

Michael Fassbender 

Image of Michael Fassbender - who could be an Ideal Candidate for 'The Looking Glass Wars' Movie Cast, which is Frank Beddor's Adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

It seems as though Michael Fassbender is no stranger to big set pieces, from the recreation of ancient Greece in 300 to the distant planet that is the setting of Prometheus. Big works for Fassbender. But, then I remembered Steve Jobs. A movie that takes place in one location over the span of many years. It is essentially a play. Yet it still feels massive. And that’s when it clicked for me, Fassbender brings the “big.” His performances have that weight. The perfect weight needed for the role of Hatter.

Hatters presence is always felt, even when he is being quiet. Fassbender has the chops to bring awareness of Hatter, without drawing attention. Striking the perfect balance of an assassin. Which Fassbender is already familiar with due to his staring in Assassin’s Creed.

James McAvoy 

Image of actor James McAvoy - who. could be a top Pick for 'The Looking Glass Wars' movie or streaming series cast. Which is Frank Beddor's Alice in Wonderland adaptation.

James McAvoy has the ability to disappear into his roles unlike any other. This skill is highlighted no better than in Split, where James portrayed a man with dissociative identity disorder. Every time his character changed personalities, you fully believed he became a new person. Even though it was the same face.

James is also no stranger to the fantasy world, portraying Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. With his rugged looks and previously mentioned top tier acting chops, he truly has all the raw ingredients to become a perfect Hatter. The only missing ingredient here is him. James, are you reading this? Call Frank Beddor, his cellphone number is [REDACTED].

Alexander Skarsgård 

Actor Alexander Skarsgard - Potential Casting choice for 'The Looking Glass Wars' Movie or TV show Adaptation by Frank Beddor, and based on Alice in Wonderland.

A couple of months ago, my girlfriend was rewatching True Blood. Now, I had never watched this show before, as I’m not it’s target demographic. But, let me tell you, while she was watching the show and I was doing other things, any time Alexander Skarsgård came on camera, I was glued to the screen. I was surprised that a romantic drama about vampires in Louisiana had a performance so nuanced and genuinely unsettling. He (along with my girlfriend) made me watch the whole show.

As shown in The Northman, Skarsgård is no stranger to sword play, masterfully executing the choreographed fights like a true master of the blade. Without a doubt, Skarsgård would bring an incredibly interesting performance to Hatter. Plus he’s got a brother, which would be amazing if he cameo’d as Hatter’s brother, Dalton. Just throwing it out there.

Jamie Dornan 

Image of actor Jamie Dornan, a potential candidate for Hatter M. in The Looking Glass Wars television series adaptation.

Okay, let me address the elephant in the room before I fully get into why Jamie Dornan is a great contender to be hypothetically cast as Hatter Madigan. Fifty Shades of Grey. For those of you who don’t know, Fifty Shades of Grey… How do I describe this without getting in trouble? Oh, I got it! Go ask your mother. Roasted.

Okay, but seriously, those of you who have watched the movie or at least heard of it might be wondering why he is on this list, that movie (and book) is a lot different from The Looking Glass Wars. And you’re right to think this, but all I need to say is one word to get you on my side, smolder. Those who have seen the movie get what I’m saying. There is a lot of smoldering in Fifty Shades of Grey. Especially from Christian Grey. If we were to remove the BDSM undertones (and overtones) of the smolder and replace it with anger and determination. He’d be a damn good Hatter.

I believe any one of these actors would be a terrific Hatter Madigan. What do you all think? Is there anyone you would prefer to see play Hatter Madigan? Anyone you think I’m incorrect about? I would love to hear your takes on the perfect actor to play Hatter Madigan.

Meet The Author

Jared Hoffman Headshot

Jared Hoffman graduated from the American Film Institute with a degree in screenwriting. A Los Angeles native, his brand of comedy is satire stemming from the many different personalities and ego’s he has encountered throughout his life. As a lover of all things comedy, Jared is always working out new material and trying to make those around him laugh. His therapist claims this is a coping mechanism, but what does she know?

All Things Alice: Interview with Christopher Monfette

As an amateur scholar and die-hard enthusiast of everything to do with Alice in Wonderland, I have launched a podcast that takes on Alice’s everlasting influence on pop culture. As an author who draws on Lewis Carroll’s iconic masterpiece for my Looking Glass Wars universe, I’m well acquainted with the process of dipping into Wonderland for inspiration. The journey has brought me into contact with a fantastic community of artists and creators from all walks of life—and this podcast will be the platform where we come together to answer the fascinating question: “What is it about Alice?”

It is my great pleasure to have Christopher Monfette join me as my guest! Read on to explore our conversation, and check out the whole series on your favorite podcasting platform to listen to the full interview. For the full transcript with exclusive content, join our private Circle community.


Chris Monfette, I’m happy to have you on the show. The title is All Things Alice, except it’s really turned into a podcast about pop culture and creativity.

You’re deep into Star Trek: Picard. I’m curious where you left off with the show, given the strike, and what your state of mind is. Are you on the picket lines?


We were lucky in terms of Picard because Patrick Stewart had only wanted to do three seasons. They knew going into it, because I didn’t come in until the second season, that it would be three and out. So there was a really unique structure to Picard where it was handed off from showrunner to showrunner for three seasons in a row. The novelist Michael Chabon had developed the first season with Akiva Goldsman and was the vision and the showrunner.

In Season 2, they had brought in Terry Matalas, who was my showrunner for 12 Monkeys, and Terry brought me. Because of the crazy pandemic pandemonium, rather than Terry taking the reins completely, season two was split between him and Akiva. Terry didn’t really get the keys to the car until season three, which is really the season that we feel we were allowed to do the kind of Star Trek we signed up to do, and really tell the story that we were longing to tell. And I think we did it really well. I’m very proud of what we did and what our team accomplished and I think folks have received it really well. It’s been really embraced critically; the fans seem to have loved it. I feel like we checked all the boxes and took the right path with that season.

What’s interesting is it started to air concurrently with all of the strike talk. It was very strange. In one half of your brain, you have all this anxiety about, “Oh my God, am I not going to work? How long is this going to go? How am I gonna pay my bills?” Then, the other half, it’s constant praise from the internet being like, “We love this. This is great week after week. This episode is better than the last episode!” There’s this weird feeling of getting all of these rewards that you hope for as a writer at the worst possible time. You can’t put them to use. There’s no show to springboard to right now. I can’t leverage this into selling my own thing or going to work for some show I dreamed of working for.


That’s very entrepreneurial of you to think, I need to leverage success. That’s a big thing in Hollywood, but at the same time, given there’s the WGA strike, there are a lot of folks that don’t have that reinforcement of their work every day. That must be a nice little buffer against the reality of a strike. Are people jonesing for a season four? Is that a possibility?

Featured image for the Star Trek streaming series: Picard. Thisi has a drawn or painted version of the main star, Patrick Stewart's Picard in front of a space background with the starship Enterprise and other outer space elements in a light blue and purple hue.


Just to be clear, it’s not so much leveraging, it’s wanting to continue doing the thing that we love doing, telling stories.

Coming off of season three, there’s been real fan fervor. Terry, in the press, pitched his vision of how Picard could go forward, sans Patrick Stewart, and move into a series that he called in his head, Star Trek: Legacy.

The fans picked up on it and really started demanding it. There’s a petition, a lot of online momentum, to make that show a reality. We’ve never been in a position where we’re more poised to springboard into something like that and to convince Paramount and CBS that it should be the next Star Trek adventure. Yet, we just can’t. All the writers are hungry to get back in the room and tell more stories in this universe with these characters. But everything’s on pause right now.


There’s all that uncertainty of when the strike is going to be resolved but then, it’s the worry of, have you lost that momentum from the fans to use their enthusiasm to hopefully convince Paramount to move forward. Fingers crossed it’ll work out.


I think we can get there. I’m hopeful. And if not, this will resolve itself. There will be other shows and entertainment is not going away. But, the strike is a fight worth fighting.

The strike is very interesting because there are several tiers of writers. Some writers are new to the industry and just got their WGA cards. Some writers are pre-WGA. Some writers have worked, for quite a while, but are not paying their bills off of WGA credits or are staffed on shows. Then you have the middle tier of writers who go from show to show and are also developing. They don’t have other jobs. I’m one of them. This is how we pay our bills. Then you have a whole upper tier of writers, the Ryan Murphy’s, the J.J. Abrams’, the super producers, and even just the very hyper-successful showrunners who have overall deals or have had incredibly successful shows. They can financially weather a six-month or eight-month strike in a way that other writers can’t. It’s rare when you can get all three of those tiers, who have varying degrees of urgency, to agree that this is a fight we have to win, and we have to stick it out no matter how much it pains us to do that. And I think we’re doing it.

Image of Chris Monfette, holding a picket sign as he is participating in the WGAW strike. The Writer's Actors Guild of America West strike in Hollywood. Which focuses on AI so he wrote Skynet in the Paramount logo for his sign.

It seems the middle is holding, which is going to be important. One of the issues is staffing and what the writers room looks like. From 12 Monkeys to 9-1-1 to Picard. How would you describe each one of those shows in terms of how many writers were on staff versus the arguments surrounding the strike about making sure that there are staff writers that are learning their craft and moving the show forward?


I’m of several minds about it. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on shows, whether it was 12 Monkeys, 9-1-1, or Picard where we had eight to 12 writers in the room at any given time. We were really blessed to have full rooms certain seasons, but we never had an empty room. All the shows that I’ve worked on really benefited from all of those voices creatively. I’ve always said this in interviews, Terry Matalas, especially in 12 Monkeys, and Picard really has a talent for conducting the orchestra. He knows how to staff a room of writers, each with unique strengths, and then knows how to get them to play off of each other so that there’ll be certain writers who are better at the comedy, there’ll be certain writers who are really good with the big sci-fi 35,000 foot ideas. Other writers are dialogue people, and we’ll all write and rewrite each other’s script and it’ll be better for everybody’s contributions. Whereas something like 9-1-1, for example, you’re assigned an episode, you write the episode, the showrunner polishes it, then production tells you what’s too expensive, and what’s not expensive. It’s less of a symphonic collaboration of voices because it’s a little bit more episodic with the case-of-the-week structure. So that was a really unique experience as well.

But in all of those experiences, you had the benefit of 8, 10,12 different minds sitting around a table pitching ideas that all complemented each other and ultimately made the work stronger or made the episodes more interesting.

Now, I do totally support the idea of individual auteur writers/directors who have a story to tell they feel can only be told in their unique voice. You look at Aaron Sorkin, you look at Noah Hawley, creators who have very unique and specific voices and visions. I feel there needs to be room in the conversation for singular auteur creators to be able to create, but I do think that to protect the vast majority of shows that really do benefit from the collaboration of voices, there should be a minimum room number so that ultimately the producers can’t reduce what we do to a UK model, where scripts are freelance and you can’t ultimately pay your bills.

If Taylor Sheridan has to put up with a room of three writers sitting around, he’s free not to use them, he’s free to write every script, he’s free to use them for research or to pop in now and then and ask for an idea. Otherwise, let’s just subsidize them showing up to work and eating snacks, and leaving at night. But I do think there does need to be a minimum room size to support what we’re doing in the long term. The amount of shows that have those singular visions are so few and far between compared to the vast majority of the rest of the industry that this is a hill worth dying on.


But also, isn’t it the idea of these mini rooms that you’ve been putting together, where they’re not officially assured it’s moving forward, and yet you’re doing the same work that you would have been doing if it was greenlit? That seems to be a major problem.


Yeah, we need to get more clarity and definition on what constitutes a room, the length of the room, and the population of that room. I think mini rooms started as a potentially interesting idea. Before we greenlight this thing and bring in 10 people, the showrunner wants to bring in two or three of their closest collaborators and really figure out what the thing is before we dive into it. The principle is unique and interesting. But the problem with that model is, all of a sudden, it was, “Okay, well, if you think you can get most of it done with three people in 10 weeks, why are we going to give 10 people and 20 weeks? So the burden falls on too few writers, who then aren’t allowed to go to set, and aren’t allowed to amass that experience and learn how to produce.

I certainly ascribe to the theory that so much of what we’re talking about stems from a lack of smart, creative producing in Hollywood today. When streaming became a thing 10-15 years ago, when it was a kernel of an idea, the thought was always, let’s take the mid-budget movie ($50-$90 million) and amortize that budget across 10 episodes versus two hours. We’ll be able to dig into the character and we’ll tell more story, I don’t think it was, necessarily, this level of spending a billion dollars on The Lord of the Rings IP was the initial thought. When you’re making these big spends that equate to what you spend on a theatrical mega-budget summer blockbuster, you can’t possibly recoup your costs. We’re at a point where shows are spending so much money that they don’t have to spend.

12 Monkeys television series logo, with the words in off-white in front of a dark red monkey face logo with 12 monkeys dancing around it in a circle.

I look back at my time on 12 Monkeys, where I went and lived in Toronto for 18 months, and produced seasons three and four, back-to-back with Terry Matalas and a handful of other writers. That is a unique and rare experience. We produced a time-travel show where the protagonist was going to different times every week and it often looped back on each other. There’d be something in this episode that didn’t pay off for 10 episodes. We crashed a time-traveling city into another time-traveling city. We had spectacle and production value and we did it for $2.7 million an episode. We were really smart about how we produced it because we understood when to go abroad, how to cross-board episodes, how to work with actors, and work with each department to get the most bang for your buck. That is not something we would have been able to do if we didn’t have writers who were emboldened and taught and instructed and had the experience of learning how to keep those costs down so that we didn’t have to do it for $5-10 million an episode when we could do it effectively for less than three.

I think we have to empower power writers to learn their trade and to become good at that aspect of this industry. The more you can keep budgets down, the more that we can keep studios from having to freak out about their bottom lines and having to take content off platforms. The more we can keep writers working, the more shows we can produce for the same amount.


The notion of streaming coming in was that they were going to buy their way into the market. In the same way, Amazon sold books and lost money, but took a big piece of that business, when Netflix came along and spent a lot of money on House of Cards, they bought their way to the top echelon of Hollywood and continued to spend, and everybody jumped on. Now, of course, the market’s been saturated.

What’s going to be desirable, I would think from a studio standpoint, is finding folks like you and that team that did 12 Monkeys and trying to produce shows for more reasonable costs with broader storytelling and hiring more writers and empowering them.


I also think there’s an interesting thing going on from an audience perspective, too. You’re seeing it with the box office reception to The Flash or even Indiana Jones, for example. Spectacle is so available on every platform. You can go see a billion-dollar, Lord of the Rings fight sequence on TV. Also, the stakes in big-budget, blockbuster IP-driven stories are the end of the world, the destruction of the universe, and the collapse of the multiverse. There’s no respite from these artificial ridiculously high stakes that you can never top.

It’s never been more important for writers to get in there and say, “Look, you don’t have to do a $250 million Avengers movie, where the fate of the world hangs in the balance again. Maybe you can do three $100 million Avengers movies, where the stakes are more emotional and more personal, but the concept is still really high.” What’s Ocean’s 11 with the Avengers? You can find all of these touchstones to make movies that still have all this stuff in them that audiences love, but are more creative about the story, the emotions, and the themes. You can make them cost less too and then the audience will feel like they haven’t seen this in the eight other things.

The one Marvel show I responded to the most, and this isn’t a criticism of any of the shows on their own, but I really liked She-Hulk. Because the stakes weren’t like, “Oh my God, this is the end of the world!” It was, is she going to find happiness? Is she going to find contentment? How is she going to navigate this strange, unique thing that has happened? And how could she do that and keep herself and her family and her friends together? It was written cleverly and warmly and it probably didn’t cost $300 million to make. I found it really refreshing and really original. You need writers more than ever to tell you how to take all the great ingredients that IP gives you and execute them at a high concept level at high quality for less money.

It’s not superhero, or I.P., or blockbuster fatigue, but there’s a certain level of stakes fatigue like we’re telling the same story over and over again.


People are looking for a fresh take. I remember when The Joker came out and it was so dark and so interesting. I did not expect that it would be so successful.

But the great thing about television is, there are so many options. I saw on Twitter, you mentioned Drops of God. I’ve been watching Drops of God along with Hijack on Apple and that’s a really unique, interesting story framed in a way that I never would have expected a story about wine and vineyards to be framed.

Image of 2 people staring each other down, with a table of 3 people looking onwards, judging them. A large portrait of some important man looms just out of focus in the background. From a TV series Drops of God


I loved it. It’s so beautiful and unique. It’s the perfect way to lean into this thing that streamers are looking for now, which is, wanting to make one thing that can serve a bunch of audiences. It figured out a way to tell a French story and a Japanese story in an American way that allowed any of those audiences to plug into it and yet it was emotional and visually interesting. It’s one of my favorite shows this year by a mile because good writers figured out how to execute it well.


It’s a great example of writers having a voice that AI could never replicate. Also, that idea of the multicultural. They have the same thing going on in Hijack, which is pretty exciting.


That show speaks to what we’ve been talking about. We’re gonna build one set, we’re gonna spend our money on that. Then we’re going to tell a seven-episode story. That’s a fairly financially responsible way to make television and if you can execute that at its highest level, I don’t think audiences will find themselves wishing for $100 million on screen. I think they’ll be captivated by what they’re watching.


Your story and your career trajectory are interesting. You started as a journalist. Was IGN your first gig?


I began my career in PR and marketing. I was always a nerd growing up and my first real gig in that universe was working for Microsoft and launching the Xbox 360.


You said you were a nerd. Were you taking your interests and saying, “How am I going to figure out how to work at a cool company that does games?” For those people that are coming out of college and thinking about being in the business, you need a first step. What was your strategy?


Growing up, I always knew that I loved reading, writing, and video games. I loved books. I was a big genre nerd my whole life. I was going to Fordham University in New York, which doesn’t have a phenomenally strong film program but they do have a good communications program and decent screenwriting classes. But that was never going to tip the scales for me so I started writing for the school paper. I didn’t have any money but I still wanted to play video games and listen to music and read comics and I realized I could call companies and ask to review products they’ll send to me for free. So, I really embraced this idea of journalism as a way to get paid to consume and do all the things I love doing anyway and write, as well.

The second strategy that I figured out was that I was going to get more value from internships than from the actual classes. So I started interning for a lot of the same people I was asking for stuff from. I was an intern for Fox’s marketing and PR department. Then I went to Sony and then DreamWorks and I tried to learn as much about the industry as I could and make as many contacts as I could. So, when I got out of college, I was equipped to go do marketing and PR. It wasn’t necessarily my dream, I wanted to be a writer, but it was adjacent to the things that I cared about. After a couple of years, eventually, the journalists I was working with every day said, “Hey, you can make more money over with us playing the video games and watching the movies and critiquing them than you can shilling for them on a PR site.”

I’ve always said to anybody who asked me because there is no one path to success in this business, that the most you can do is put yourself where lightning can strike and cover yourself in as much tinfoil as you can. That’s really what I was doing in the early years of my career. I went from college to that one job which led to another job that was a little bit closer to what I really wanted to do. Then, while I was at IGN, I was able to make all these great friendships and relationships with producers and actors, which five years later paid off with my first staffing gig. There wasn’t a grand master plan, it was a selfish desire to get paid to be the thing that I had been my whole life, which was just a genre nerd.


How were those internships?


They were all basic internships, all unpaid. The college only asked you to do one, but I did three, just to learn and grow and make those relationships and I liked doing them.

My first job as an intern was going to the entertainment section of hundreds of newspapers and seeing if there was an article about something our company had done, physically cutting it out, putting it on a piece of paper, and photocopying it. Then I’d put a book together and make 100 copies of that book and distribute that to everyone. That wasn’t a particularly rewarding job but I became very close with my boss and over three of those internships, I came out with a pretty complex understanding of how the business works.


You also wrote a novel while you were working at IGN, as I remember.

Image of Clive Barker and the main character from the Hellraiser series: Pinhead.


It was a short story. When I was at IGN, I got to meet Clive Barker, who had always been a hero of mine as a kid. I was doing an interview with Clive and we were talking about my upbringing and my love of his work and he goes, “I don’t think you’re a journalist. I think you’re a writer. Pick something of mine and adapt it. I’ll give you the rights.”

He mentored me and I did two movies for his production company. I never made a ton of money, but they were great opportunities to get my start and take my writing to the next level. Through him, I got to do a Hellraiser graphic novel that was eight issues long and this Nightbreed story. It was one of the centerpiece stories at the heart of this collection they were doing. A bunch of great authors were contributing short stories and novellas to a collection based on his Nightbreed universe. That was a joy. He was the first major personality with a reputation in the industry to take me under his wing and see my potential and try to nurture it.


I remember you wrote an episode of Hatter Madigan for me around the same time. You had pitched me the story of Hatter in the Wild West in Death Valley.

But you come across as the kind of person that has a lot of story engine inside of them. How do you see yourself as a writer in terms of your strengths?


My story is unique in the sense that I grew up loving video games, comic books, and all the nerd stuff that a lot of really terrific genre writers grew up with, but my uncle was a theater guy. He introduced me to writers like Sam Shepard, David Mamet, and Arthur Miller. So, I became a fan of really finely honed, character-driven dialogue. I was also fortunate enough to be a teenager in the Miramax years, the rise of the independent movie, where there were all these amazing writers like Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh, with hyper-specific voices were being allowed to make these really interesting films.

Then you had someone like, I know that circumstances have made the name a little passe at this point, Joss Whedon came along and took all this really sharp, stylized, amazing dialogue and applied it to genre storytelling. These people can be talking as cleverly as someone in a David Mamet play or an Aaron Sorkin drama.

I like to think that’s where I bring value to a room. I can do the big swing 35,000-foot sci-fi concepts but then also more granularly, do a great scene with really crackly dialogue and sharp character work. I’ll never write a broad comedy. I’m not funny. We had a writer on Picard, Cindy, who’s tremendously funny. I could never do that and I’m in awe of that kind of talent. But dialogue writers were really my biggest influence in film and TV coming up.


I studied acting for a short time under Stella Adler and one of the things she required was for you to study playwrights like David Mamet and understand where they were coming from so you could really grasp the work. I think I learned more from playwrights and the economy of storytelling and the necessity for great dialogue to make things work. It’s satisfying as an actor, but I was really fascinated with their backstories, the reason they became writers, and how these plays came about. That was very influential to me in writing The Looking Glass Wars.


No one will ever accuse me of writing a scene with naturalistic dialogue. There’s no right or wrong here but I know a lot of writers who want their characters to talk the way people really speak. I’m 180 degrees in the opposite direction. I love words and I want my characters to use those words as best as they possibly can and in the most inventive combinations. I look at shows like Succession, and I’m just in awe of the way they’ll take a simple idea and wrap it in the bacon of this incredible verbiage. Or Steven Moffat on Doctor Who, who has this amazing crackerjack, very twee kind of dialogue, or Amy Sherman Palladino has this machine gun rat-a-tat-tat of words. I really love the mechanics of constructing a sentence with wordplay and rhythms in a way that other writers don’t find value in because, for them, it’s about making the scene as human as possible and as relatable as possible. For me, if I go to the theater and I see a truck turn into a robot, I want the dialogue equivalent of that. I want to go see entertainment in a way that I don’t experience in real life. I want to see people talk at a level I wish I could talk at. That’s my jumble of influences.


With the story you wrote for me, the first thing that I read was Hatter’s interior dialogue. That’s how the story opens. I thought you were able to get into his head and be very poetic at the same time, and then set the story up for a classic villain who underestimated our exceedingly talented and deadly hero who is “the other”.

The dialogue was very poetic and not all that realistic. I think there was a line where the bad guy said, “You have a six-shooter?” because he wanted to draw on Hatter and Hatter responds, “Yeah, it’s under my hat.”

Pages from Hatter M: The Nature of Wonder Volume 3, by Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier & Sami Makkonen. Hatter wearing his long blue coat fights cowboy bad guys -- in a standoff.


I remember when you first introduced me to your world, Hatter was the character that I plugged into immediately because I am such a Doctor Who fan and I’m so deeply influenced by it. Hatter Madigan and Doctor Who are nothing alike but they are these lone heroes unstuck in time and they have the flexibility to find themselves moving through their narratives in these nonlinear ways. There’s something I’ve just always liked about those kinds of stories, whether it’s Sam Beckett and Quantum Leap, or Doctor Who. These characters want, in a weird way, what everybody experiences. They just want to go from Point A to Point B to get the thing that they so desperately want, but because of the way their life is structured, they can’t get there that way. There’s something beautiful and lonely and interesting, whether the character is as serious and action-focused as Hatter or as whimsical as Doctor Who. I’ve always loved those kinds of stories.


I was quite rigid in the story structure with Hatter, not in terms of dialogue, but in terms of following historical events, so that it would feel like the audience could really suspend disbelief in terms of the notion that this was a real place. But in exploring television, and exploring the idea of doing this as an ongoing show, conversations I’ve had with you and other people was, “Why doesn’t Hatter go through a portal to our world in 1871, why shouldn’t you have him time jump and start to create that fish out of water in all sorts of times, and have that contemporary lens?” It’s a really interesting idea, getting into The Looking Glass Wars through Hatter and his time in our world. I just haven’t quite been brave enough to pull the trigger on that, because I keep thinking, “Where’s Alyss in this? Would I be cutting back to Alyss? Or would I just simply leave her until this series runs its course for three, four seasons, and then introduce Alyss and expand it?


You’ve quite purposefully created a world that there are 10 ways into. You could choose any of those and they would be wildly successful approaches.


I don’t know if they’d be wildly successful but maybe if you helped me out, they would be. But I’m exploring that. You and I worked together when we did that mini room to explore the structure of The Looking Glass Wars TV show. The Queen’s Gambit hadn’t come out and I thought it would be interesting to start the show where you have a cold open of the adult character and then you would use the first episode to tell the origin story. But I still think that most people who read The Looking Glass Wars hook into Hatter. He’s the most popular character.


Hatter, in some ways, is the wish fulfillment. We all wish we could be as cool as that character and as composed and as strong and stalwart. I always loved Alice in the original books because she’s so driven by a sense of curiosity and discovery. I think we all are. We all in our own lives come to a rabbit hole and wonder what’s down there. And it’s, are we brave enough to jump or not? Curiosity, especially for writers, is the best quality you can have. The most important quality you can have is to wonder why and to wonder what and then to go chase those things and experience them and manifest those things in your own life. I think what you’ve done in your fiction is to expand upon that. You have these two central characters and one is about curiosity and discovery and then the other is very much about loyalty. He is on this mission, experiencing this other world, but it’s with an almost singular purpose to get back to where he’s from. He’s not interested in shedding that purpose to discover and consume and learn. He just wants to blaze through the world. I think there’s a little bit of all of those characters in everybody.


Though, the wish fulfillment and blazing ahead, in terms of doing a series, would probably get a bit old if he wasn’t able to have interior difficult problems, that he’s failing, and how that affects his search and his personality and these obstacles that he comes across.

You brought up the word curious. In my book series, I always use imagination. What do you think about the combination of curiosity versus imagination to ultimately create something?


I think imagination is just an extension of curiosity. Curiosity is standing in front of the rabbit hole and imagination is picturing what might be down there and the reality is, whatever you’ll discover when you jump.

I have traveled more than this but, maybe you’ve never been to Europe before and you’re curious about it, and you want to break out of your American view of the world. So you get your passport and you go to Europe, and you taste the Netherlands and you see Paris and you see Italy and you experience all these wonderful cultures and foods. Imagination is taking that experience and saying, “Okay, what if that happened in a fantasy world? What if that happened in a sci-fi world? And you’re able to write those stories better because you’ve empathetically, as a human being, shared that same degree of experience in your own set of contexts and life.”  The key is coupling that sense of real empathy for what is out there in the world and then applying imagination to it. Curiosity and imagination are inseparable.


There are levels. It’s also research and curiosity, immersing yourself in whatever that thing is that you’re interested in, and then trying to imagine what you’re going to create and then working on creating that. It’s all a part of this zone that we’d like to get into where those two come together and give you some inspiration.


I think some writers can do both and some writers have made wonderful careers out of doing one. Certain writers have their things. Carl Hiaasen will always write books about Florida. He knows one thing and he’s gonna drill down until he’s explored every nook and crevice of the one thing that he knows well. Other writers will say, “Well, I want to experience the world and I’ll go write that.” Both are fine because they’re driven by a curiosity to understand either many new things or better understand the one thing that you find yourself around. It takes the same quantity of imagination to tell the smallest, most granular story as it does to tell the biggest, most fanciful.


Were you introduced to Alice in Wonderland through the novel, the Disney movie, or something else?


Through the books. Growing up, my grandfather always really encouraged me to read. He would go to yard sales and tag sales and people would just throw books out on their tables for a quarter. So my grandfather would always come back from the sales with a paper bag of books that he found for me. A lot of those books were older. Doc Savage novels, which still predated me by 20-30 years. So, at a pretty young age, I was reading John Carter of Mars, old Doc Savage books, and pulp stories that he would pull from these tag sales. Eventually, he brought home a really beautiful hardcover version of Alice in Wonderland. I can’t remember exactly what age I was but I remember it being really formative for me. I really enjoyed it and then I think the animated versions came after that.

My experience with Alice was unique in the sense that my first visual of it was whatever I made up in my head. I wasn’t cobbling it together from cultural reference points.


Which most of us are doing now because it’s so deeply seated in culture. Have you seen it much in television? I see images of Alice popping up. I think it came up in Stranger Things.


It’s gotten to a point now where you’re like, “Yeah, okay, we get it.” It’s a staple but if I hear “White Rabbit” as the soundtrack to a given scene ever again it’s, “I get it, guys.” Alice is a universal story in the sense that every story, whether it’s Star Trek or Lord of the Rings, it’s the hero’s journey. We’re leaving home, we’re going to a strange place where we’re going to find out things about ourselves and that change in us will allow us to complete our journey and hopefully come home. That structure of storytelling shares inherent DNA with Alice so it makes sense that it pops up everywhere.


Do you have a favorite? Whether it’s a song or a movie or any piece of art of Alice that resonated with you along the way?

Illustration from the graphic Novel: American McGee, Alice. Based on characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, or just Alice in Wonderland. This is a painting of Alice sitting at a table, having tea with the Mad Hatter.


The American McGee Alice games because I like horror a lot. It was great to see someone step in and do a darker, horror-driven take on these things. I like that game quite a bit and there’s been talk ever since it came out about there potentially being another so it gets refreshed in my gaming zeitgeist every couple of years. I remember that making an impression upon me in terms of one of the first adaptations of that material that was really interesting and cool and visual and unique and spun it in a way that it wasn’t just telling the same story. It was telling a different story from a different point of view, which I liked a lot.

But I’m of the opinion that the best adaptation of Alice in Wonderland has yet to be made. I go back through all the various ones that I’ve seen, and I don’t think I love any of them. The Disney ones, whether it’s the Johnny Depp one or the original, they’re so polished. I’m waiting for Guillermo del Toro to try it or Tarsem Singh, or a filmmaker who weirdly uses practical and CG in an interesting way because so much of Alice to me is tangible. Other parts of it are very painted and illustrative. None of the other adaptations I’ve seen get the balance that I’ve pictured in my head for so long.


It’s also a struggle, because she’s 13, and it’s seemingly episodic. Everybody that’s done a take on it, including myself, tries to find a structure that allows the reluctant hero story to play out in a way in which you can suspend disbelief and buy into it.


Stranger Things is an Alice in Wonderland story in a weird way. We went into the upside down, and they cast those kids young and they made it work.


But in television, you have a little bit more opportunity, and certainly, when you have a show, and even movies that have both young characters and adult characters, you have those four quadrants. That show can be nostalgic as an adult and it can feel completely fresh for my 13-year-old.


There’s a weird Ouroboros effect with these IPs. With Alice, the book is published and it comes into the zeitgeist, and it inspires all these other works. There is an Alice in Wonderland quality to all of these other different stories that are being told in different genres. It gets absorbed into the zeitgeist in other ways, whether it’s a poster in the background or a music cue that nods to their roots in Alice. Then, eventually, it comes back around to, now we want to remake the thing that inspired all the things that inspired us to remake it. Do we remake it using all of the iconography of the things that it inspired? Do we use the visual language of all of the different iterations? Or do we have to find some new visual language to tell that story again? Because otherwise, it’s a song that’s singing itself.

That’s what you’ve done so well with creating your world. You found another way into it, that visualizes it differently and contextualizes it differently. It feels like Alice without feeling either too dissimilar or too similar. I think that’s what you guys have been doing brilliantly in your world.


Thank you. I’ve been trying to push outside of what people know as Wonderland. Whether it’s bringing Wonderland to another culture, another timeline, or expanding the geography of Wonder nations. I’m looking to expand with other writers and other voices who can see the world in a way that, having done this for 20 years, I might not be able to do or see. It’s been interesting and exciting to talk to other creators about handing over the universe and saying, “What would you do with this?”

That whole collaborative effort, whether it was working with you in the room, collaborating on a graphic novel, and now working on a game, it’s very exciting to have a world that is big enough with a bright enough canvas that attracts other creators.

Cartoon illustration of Mumbatton East Indian Spider-Man, as seen in the latest installment of Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse.


Even looking at something as recent as Across the Spider-Verse. Even just that little section where they dip into Mumbatton. For 10 minutes of the movie, we’re going to show you what Spider-Man through an East Indian lens looks like. There’s a lot to explore there and you realize, even just telling the same story with a slightly different aesthetic, or cultural view, gives it all these new layers. It’s not just a quick glow-up. It gives it a real depth. I could have spent two hours in just Mumbatton alone learning what that kind of Spider-Man story would be like. It’s great that you give other authors voices to explore these things from other angles because there’s a lot to find there.


I know you have a lot of original work. You’re obviously on this big show but you’ve written a lot of pilots. I know before the strike, you were pitching projects. Tell me where you’re at with some of your original work. I remember you did something called The Survivors.


I had a run there where I would write these pilots that I would send to my reps, and they would go, “Yeah, no, I don’t think anyone wants to do anything with that.” Then, a year later, some other version of it would be huge. I had written a script called Survivors, back in 2014, which was about a support group for the survivors of various horror movie scenarios. At the time, I was patting myself on the back for having such an original idea. But my reps were like, “Oh, this is a little meta. I don’t know if it’s gonna work, blah, blah, blah.” Years later, how many seasons deep are we into American Horror Story? Also, there’s a terrific novel called Final Girl Support Group that came out a few years later that touched upon the same concept.

Still to this day, the pilot that I’m proudest of is a restaurant drama. It’s about two brothers who couldn’t be more different, forced to come back together after the death of their father. But, at the time, my reps were like, “Nobody wants a food show.” Now you have The Bear.

All you can do is write what you’re passionate about writing and keep writing, which is the problem I’m struggling with now. The strike is such a stressful time that it tempts you to take a break. You think, “I’ll put my pen down because I can’t do anything with what I make anyway, or blah blah blah.” But that muscle can atrophy. So, you have to pick up the pen and work at it every day.

I’ve got a horror feature I’m working on now, which I can’t say too much about. But every day I go to write it and I kind of shake my head and think, “Why am I this insane?” This idea is crazy. Hopefully, there’ll be some life in that at some point. Terry Matalas and I have a number of things on deck that we’d like to do, and hopefully, we’ll be able to do once the skies clear and the strike is over. We have a retelling of Phantom of the Opera that we’ve been wanting to do forever and we’d love to find a way to make that happen. Terry certainly wants to keep on exploring the world of Star Trek and hopefully, the powers that be will let us do that. It’s writing a new pilot, writing a new feature, and then hoping when this all resolves itself, we can get back in a room because that’s really where I love to be. I love sitting in a room with smart people coming up with cool stuff.


In the room we put together you always were the first to jump in almost every time.

CM :

It’s ‘cause I’m obnoxious.


Yes, you are very obnoxious, which is such a superpower. I wish I was a lot more obnoxious having witnessed you jumping in but you were a driver of the room. It was super helpful to be fearless in sharing an idea that people could jump on and start to riff off of so you need that. It’s no surprise that you’ve gone from show to show and that you and Terry have a strong partnership and understanding.


I’m starting to believe this, and maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like it has a lot to do with having worked on a time travel show. Because when you’re working in time travel, not only do you have to have these big creative sci-fi ideas and couple that with emotional character-driven ideas but you have to think, “Well, if we do this, then it undoes this because it goes back in time so that wouldn’t work.” Your brain teaches itself to iterate really quickly, to have a really good idea, explore it, realize if it contradicts something else in the time travel, and if it does, throw it out and go back because you can’t lose the time. Then if it works, great, go to the next idea.

I found that a lot of the writers who came from 12 Monkeys have all described entering subsequent rooms and feeling like they’re going faster than everybody. They’ll pitch 10 things and maybe other people in the room have pitched one and they feel like the asshole, like, “Oh my God, I am bullying my way into the room? Am I being too loud? Am I pitching too much?” And I think it’s just because we’ve taught our brains to iterate and calculate the math of a story beat in multiple timelines, and it makes your brain faster. It really is a testament to the more you do this, and the more you do it with great people who challenge you, the better you become. You can take half of your idea and half of their idea and make something that’s better than either idea. It’s an amazing feeling. There’s nothing I love more than working with great writers.


I have had a delightful time chatting with you, reconnecting, and talking about the business and your career, and fingers crossed for the strike and fingers crossed for this new idea.


Thank you for having me. I always love reconnecting with you and it’s great to be able to have a long-form conversation and really dig into it. This was a blast.

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Imagination, Caterpillars, and Light: How the Magic of the Wonderverse Works

How does magic work? That might seem like a silly question. Magic is defined by its ability to bypass the laws of our terrestrial world. It transcends rules. That’s the point, right? Well, not quite. Storytellers fixate on the rules and forms of magic in their worlds, consistently aware that one misstep might cause them to lose their audience.

What if Harry Potter suddenly just started Force Choking Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows? Okay, that might be kind of cool. But it’d be weird (and a massive copyright infringement). The act of making a clenching motion to invisibly choke someone is not part of the Wizarding World, where magic is channeled through wands, incantations, and concoctions derived from plant and animal matter. It would damage the story, by breaking the rules of the magic system.

Frank Beddor’s Wonderverse has an interconnected web of elements and rules which fuels Queen Alyss and Hatter Madigan’s exciting adventures in Wonderland and beyond. It’s the reason Alyss was able to escape to London when Queen Redd took her crown and why Hatter was able to finally bring her back to Wonderland to reclaim her birthright.

Wonderland’s magic powers everything in the realm and beyond, including Hatter’s ever-reliable top hat. So, how does it work? Let’s explore what makes The Looking Glass Wars’ intricate and exciting magic system rank among the A-listers of our favorite fiction works.

First, the primal source of all magic in Wonderland is Light. From the Everlasting Forest to the Chessboard Desert, Light makes Wonderland wonderful and fuels the two chief pillars of its magic: Imagination and Caterpillar Thread.

Illustration of Hatter Madigan using magic -  appearing as yellow ropes or lightning bolts in Wonderland, or the Wonderverse as seen in Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars, based on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.


Imagination, as it exists in the Wonderverse, is an immensely powerful form of magic, created by the Great Light of the First Wonder and the White Butterfly. In many ways, it is similar to the Force in Star Wars. Imagination is an energy current within every being that those who are trained in its use can manipulate to create almost anything. The key is not to use it selfishly. This is where we get to Light Imagination and Dark Imagination.

Light Imagination is reflective and generous, sharing and spreading the energy it uses. Dark Imagination, however, does not give, it takes. It hoards and absorbs Light, utilizing it for selfish purposes and never sharing the energy with the rest of Wonderland.

Light Imagination the basis of almost every magical item in Wonderland: looking glasses, pools, shards, and crystals. The latter two are the main receptacles for Light Imagination and their uses and creation are heavily studied and monitored by the Millinery. The most important source of Light Imagination is the Heart Crystal, which radiates the energy across the Queendom and into different realms of existence (like Earth).

A consideration to always make when crafting a system of magic, is to bake in dichotomy. This interplay between oppositional magic is the everlasting source of conflict and tension in good fiction. For instance, Imagination is not inherently good or bad, its morality is determined by the user. This allows for not only Light Imagination to play against Dark Imagination, but also the mixed shades of grey that will complicate matters at every opportunity.

Be it two school magic systems like those of The Looking Glass Wars, Harry Potter, and even Warhammer 40,000, or multi-faction systems such as the elemental powers of Avatar The Last Airbender—the strength of the conflict generated by magic is contingent on the interplay between oppositional powers. Remember, these points of fiction can even exist within a single group, spurred by differing philosophy on the usage of their magic.

Caterpillar Thread:

Much like the tension and conflict created by the diametrically opposed Light and Dark Imagination—Caterpillar Thread introduces a more tangible mode for magic to be utilized in Wonderland. Similar to the potions of Harry Potter or the Alchemy of The Elder Scrolls, Caterpillar Thread is an expression of magic that can be manipulated physically—and in almost infinite combination.

Simple systems with well thought out interconnected relationships of strengths and weaknesses create a web of possibilities. Not only can users specialize based on their personality and style—but this world building can be the foundation of endless dramatic tension. Leave no element of your magic system without an opponent that can genuinely threaten it.

Legend states that Wonderland was woven using Caterpillar Thread from the First Caterpillars. Now spun by the caterpillar-oracles deep in the Valley of Mushrooms, Caterpillar Thread is the tangible, tactile counterpart to Imagination. A condensed, physical form of Light, Caterpillar Thread has a plethora of uses ranging from the construction of magical gadgets to even imbuing life into an inanimate object. But first, to understand how Caterpillar Thread is used, we need to understand the different types and their unique properties.

The Caterpillar from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars. 3 images of caterpillars in blue, yellow and green.

Blue – Connection

The Wonderverse’s answer to cell phones and glasses, Blue Thread is used to communicate across long distances and enhance one’s senses through goggles or earphones, for example. It is highly useful for the spies and bodyguards trained by the Millinery while the Blue Caterpillar is so attuned to the Thread’s abilities that he can even see into the future and make prophecies.

Yellow – Energy

Yellow Thread is an essential item in any Milliner’s wardrobe, yet it can be very dangerous if not used correctly. When used with good intentions, Yellow Thread can power objects and be used as an electrical self-defense device (like a taser). Yet, in less scrupulous hands, the Thread can be used to drain energy from other lifeforms.

Green – Growth

The favorite salve of the Milliner Medics (the Green Berets), Green Thread closes wounds, heals burns, and can also be used to mend a Milliner’s gear. A multi-faceted fabric that can heal the living and inanimate alike.

The Caterpillar from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars. 3 images of caterpillars in orange, red and indigo.

Orange – Strength

Orange Thread is the perfect item for a Milliner who wants to upgrade and reinforce their equipment. For example, if a Milliner weaves Orange Thread into their hat, they can turn it into a buzzsaw through their mastery of Imagination. Pretty handy if a ball turns into a brawl. 

Red – Imagination

Red Thread enhances the Light Imagination of which a Milliner is already a master. It takes our earthly concept of visualization and turns it into reality. If a Milliner wants to jump over a broken bridge or outrun a herd of stampeding horses, they only have to imagine it using Red Thread.

Indigo – Consciousness

The most advanced and mysterious Thread that only the most learned Milliners can use, Indigo Thread is the spark of identity. It’s essential to the construction of a Milliner’s hat, imbuing the headwear with “life” so it can help and advise its wearer. Indigo Thread can be dangerous, however, as it can be used to manipulate the consciousness of living beings.

Hatter Madigan's hat, flying through the air, with blades coming out of the brim of the hat along a blue background.

Using Caterpillar Thread:

How a Milliner can incorporate Caterpillar Thread into the execution of their daily duties is just as varied as the types of Threads themselves. There is a wide range of Thread Spells such as knots, hems, lacing, darts, and buttons, all tapping into the power of the Thread (or a combination of Thread Types) according to the Milliner’s needs.

The most iconic example of the use of Caterpillar Thread in the Wonderverse is certainly the Milliner’s hat. Just as important as a Jedi’s lightsaber or a wizard’s wand, and much more versatile, the Milliner’s hat is woven from a combination of different Caterpillar Threads and features a vast array of capabilities.

As mentioned above, the use of Red Thread gives the hat sentience, with its red eye that can survey the surrounding area, alert a Milliner to danger, and execute the transformations ordered by the Milliner. Such transformations include acting as a shield, smothering assailants, projecting illusions to confuse the enemy, and protecting their Owner from heat or cold. Above all, the hats know to whom they belong, and, no matter how far-flung, they will always return to their Milliner.

Caterpillar Thread and Imagination combine to form the twin pillars upon which the magic of Wonderland is built. Light, channeled through either the ethereal or the tangible, can be harnessed by the attuned and used to defend and enhance the Queendom. Yet, when used for selfish purposes, Light becomes Dark and saps Wonderland of its energy.

It is this eternal conflict between Light Imagination and Dark Imagination that caused the civil war that ravaged Wonderland before the events of The Looking Glass Wars and it was Queen Redd’s obsession with Dark Imagination that drove her bid to steal Alyss’ crown.

This final point illustrates the golden tenant of Magic System Creation: always think of narrative integration first! Cool magic will win big style points, but if the small details and the sturdy rules of the system don’t serve the emotional journey of your characters—you may need to rethink how you are building your story.

Enjoy the ride of creating your own universe, and never fear sharing your work with the world. Sometimes the boldest ideas are the most terrifying and uncertain… and ultimately the best. Your imagination is the finest tool you will ever wield, and it is worth the work to manifest your own magic system.

If you enjoyed this article listen to the All Things Alice Podcast with guest David Sexton for a great discussion of Magic Systems!

Meet the Author:

An itinerant storyteller, John Drain attended the University of Edinburgh before studying film at DePaul University in Chicago and later earned an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute Conservatory. John focuses on writing mysteries and thrillers featuring characters who are thrown into the deep end of the pool and struggle to just keep their heads above water. His work has been recognized by the Academy Nicholls Fellowship, the Austin Film Festival, ScreenCraft, Cinestory, and the Montreal Independent Film Festival. In a previous life, John created and produced theme park attractions across the globe for a wide variety of audiences. John keeps busy in his spare time with three Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and a seemingly never-ending stack of medieval history books.

How to Cosplay the Mad Hatter for This Year’s Comic Con

Let me set something straight right at the top of this blog post. If you, like my mom, are of the mindset that cosplay is just, “adults playing dress up”, allow me to learn you a thing or two. First off, cosplayers design and create their costumes from scratch. While this came from the necessity that their favorite niche characters most likely don’t have a costume you can grab off the shelf at Spirit of Halloween. On top of this, if there is a costume available at a store, they are usually of terrible quality. In constructing their cosplay, they hone their craft and the cosplayer can reach whatever level of quality they want.

They need to know how different fabrics lay on the skin, stitch together, how to work plastics and metals for armor or masks, and in a lot of cases, also how correctly apply a full face of movie quality VFX makeup. So no, cosplayers are not just, “adults playing dress up” cosplayers are costume designers, make-up artists, seamstresses, and performers, who also like to play dress up.

With convention season right around the corner, cosplayers from all over the world will travel to show off their creations. What’s interesting is that no matter what convention you go to, through the droves of Marvel superheroes, one will always find an Alice in Wonderland or Looking Glass Wars cosplayer. There will be a new take on the incredible Alice in Wonderland characters wandering the convention center halls, weaving through a sea of Spider-Men, women, and children. If this does not convey the impact and staying power of Alice in Wonderland and The Looking Glass Wars, I don’t know what will.

While Alice is an obvious choice for cosplay, today I’m going to focus on another incredibly popular cosplay character from the Alice in Wonderland/Looking Glass Wars universe, the Mad Hatter.

I learned, while listening to the professional cosplayer Chad Evett’s episode of Frank Beddor’s podcast, All Things Alice, that a big portion of why someone decides to cosplay a specific character is that they either see a part of themselves in a character or see a quality of a character they want to embody. This is why the Mad Hatter/Hatter Madigan are such popular choices.

Just on the surface, the Mad Hatter is a fun and energetic character who does what he thinks is right and hides nothing. Whereas Hatter Madigan is a powerful anti-hero bodyguard, with more hidden weapons than a doomsday prepper. Guided by his one duty to find and return Princess Alyss to Wonderland. He is an unstoppable force, trekking the globe in his lonely quest. To be reductive, he’s badass.

To start us off on this cosplay inspiration guide, we have to start at what is arguably the most popular iteration of the Mad Hatter.

Tim Burton’s Hatter, famously portrayed by Johnny Depp:

Here we see Chad Evett’s cosplay of this version of Hatter—a top tier version of costume, but worry not, you too can look this cool! I think the draw with this specific character is that visually it makes an impact. The multitude of different fabrics, the bright red hair, the pale makeup reminding us that he has mercury poisoning, and of course the top hat. What I love about this cosplay is that while it’s a wonderful collage of different colors and textures, it’s actually much more attainable than one would think.


With a glue gun, a basic understanding of stitching, and an eccentric trip to the thrift store, one can find all the necessary components to make this cosplay as detailed or understated as one wants. The clothing consists of a colorful blazer (Johnny Depp wore a brown one and a blue one, and even a sweet maroon exploring jacket—so choose your favorite!), an equally as colorful patterned shirt, and an ascot or spotted bow tie.

The hat is always the hardest part to source, I found some cheap ones online but they don’t look quite right and to get them as “mad” as they need to be will take a bit of creativity. Chad’s advice is “layer layer layer” to get that really quirky vibe just right.


But, maybe you’re not a Tim Burton fan. Maybe, you want something different. Maybe, you like Hatter but wished he had a little more edgy hero quality about him. Well then, here is a Hatter cosplay that definitely will turn heads and start a conversation. The dark and mysterious Hatter Madigan from the Looking Glass Wars book series/Hatter M graphic novels. Also my personal favorite version of the Hatter.

How To Cosplay Hatter Madigan:

This Master Milliner wears the classic uniform of his trade as a royal bodyguard to Wonderland’s royalty—a long navy-blue coat, dashing body armor, hidden weaponry, and a hat that Just. Wont. Quit. I mean look at the cover for the second volume of the Hatter M. series and tell me he isn’t cool.


I’m going to break down this cosplay and give some ideas on how you could pull it off yourself. Let’s start from the top and work our way down the outfit.

The Hat:


Okay if you can find the right style hat you’re already there. But, if you want to kick it up to the next level you could add retracting blades in the rim. It’s actually quite simple. Once you source or make your (fake) blades, you make a baseplate out of plastic or foam core poster board, then drill a hole where you want the blades to pivot through the hat, baseplate, and blades. The final step is using a small bolt or pin to hold the blades into place.

Cut a Christmas bobble in half to create the signature “red eye” of Hatter’s sentient headwear. In lieu of caterpillar silk you could even use a touch of shiny fabric or metallic wrapping paper to give the shimmer of imagination to your creation – no matter what do you, just have fun with it!


The Coat/shirt/pants:

Step one, find a navy or dark trench coat. Step two, buy/barter/borrow without asking for the aforementioned navy trench coat.

As for the shirt, any dark shirt will work here, if you want to, a double vested vest will add more texture and details. Don’t be afraid to get fancy with it – while Hatter Madigan is a fighting machine, he is also a ROYAL bodyguard. Add some swank to you Hatter look like this guy who dressed to impress in Heart Palace:

And finally, a pair of navy blue trousers, with a belt (or five) will work perfectly here.

The Armor:

There is a simple way around the armor if you’re strapped for time and materials. Button up the coat. But, if you have the skills and mental fortitude, you can make it yourself. I would think going with a foam board would be the easiest way to make the armor. Carve carefully and add a little weathered paint to get that signature battle-tested Madigan style.

The Blades:

Now, again you can make a choice here, you don’t have to have any blades. The costume is basically done here. But a sense of danger will really ramp up this cosplay into high gear. Throw some blades on his belt, in the lining of the coat, have a small dagger on your ankle. If you think of a cool place to hide a blade, do it, it will only make the cosplay cooler.

For his wrist blades, one could use wrist guards or a wrist brace, and attach blades to them. Or you could adapt the hidden blade from an Assassin’s Creed costume into this one.

The Backpack:

The sky’s the limit here. It could be simple, a backpack with blades sticking out of it. Or you could go complex and build the metal arms with affixed blades that go over the shoulder and under the arms. In the photo here, the backpack looks to be the size of a camelback. Which would make a great base to build from.

The Boots:

Finally, to tie it all together, a pair of black, square-toed, cowboy boots will bring it home. If you want you can use silver paint on the stitching to make it really pop.

From complex to simple, the cosplay looks awesome no matter what because they are an extension of you. I can’t wait to see all the incredible Alice in Wonderland, Looking Glass Wars, and Hatter M cosplays this convention season. If you have an Alice in Wonderland-related cosplay that you want to show off, please send it over. Who knows, you might end up in one of these blogs!

Meet The Author:

Jared Hoffman Headshot

Jared Hoffman graduated from the American Film Institute with a degree in screenwriting. A Los Angeles native, his brand of comedy is satire stemming from the many different personalities and ego’s he has encountered throughout his life. As a lover of all things comedy, Jared is always working out new material and trying to make those around him laugh. His therapist claims this is a coping mechanism, but what does she know?

The Graphic World of Wonderland – 8 Alice In Wonderland Comics You Need To See To Believe

Lewis Carroll’s writing prowess allowed him to craft Wonderland, a world whose very name conjures vivid imagery in the mind’s eye.  The unique realm was so singular in its appearance that the author had to invent a few words, and augment a few more, just to capture a fraction of his own creation (though of course the wise among you readers will know he was merely a conduit for the truth behind the fiction as told to him by Princess Alyss).

Many find words on a page to fail at conveying the full magic of Wonderland. Artists of every stripe use the template Carroll laid down to express themselves. Among the multitudes of media, Alice in Wonderland-inspired comics and graphic novels stand out as incredible adventures. Here is a collection of some of the most inventive reworkings and remixes of our favorite story not all in the Disney universe:

The HATTER M. Graphic Novel Series (Automatic Publishing)

The Hatter M Series
Hatter M. Graphic Novel Series

In classic fashion, one reimagining begets the next. Frank Beddor’s New York Times Bestseller The Looking Glass Wars left readers hungry for more Hatter Madigan—and Frank delivered. Illustrated by Ben Templesmith the graphic novel series catalogs the exploits of everyone’s favorite Milliner, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan (The Mad Hatter), as he traverses our realm and beyond in search of the lost Princess Alyss Heart.

Templesmith’s iconic style brings Hatter to life as he rubs shoulders with some of history’s greats (meeting Jules Vern and Abe Lincoln among others). Following the glow of imagination is the guiding principle for Hatter, and his only hope of tracking down his lost liege. This “reimagining” of Alice in Wonderland is both identifiably Alice, and yet uniquely its own.


Alice Ever After

A grimy and harsh vision of Alice’s adventures on Earth, this graphic novel iteration of the Wonderland story presents an addiction-burdened Alice coping with a harsh London underworld as her obsession with the realm beyond the looking glass could be her respite or her ticket to the asylum.

Through the Victorian London fog, familiar faces re-emerge as the colorful crooks and naughty nobility of the mundane realm of Earth. Though the eyes of Alice both worlds start to bleed together like staring into the Pool of Tears after too much flugelberry wine.

If you have the nerve and interest in tales from the underbelly of society, then this tale of Alice through the gaslight and London fog might just give you some perspective on the true difference between that realm and our great Wondertropolis.


From Zenescope, the creators of the “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” universe, famed (or infamous) for its mature re-imaginings of classic fairy tale worlds as well as its buxom rendition of their heroines.

Here we see a familiar tale of an older Alice/Alyss, her mind and outlook on the world influenced by her childhood experiences in Wonderland only to return to the mad world once thought to be a mere fantasy.

Though not nearly as horror-genre oriented as the previous entry, this rendition does live up to its namesake with the very frank depictions of violence and other “adult themes” in the world of Wonderland.

WONDERLAND (SLG, 2006-2009)

Though the characters and kingdom are clearly inspired by Mr. Carroll’s stories, the “politics” of this comic series does hit close to home. As the White Rabbit and Mary Ann have to contend with a vengeful Queen (of the Redd variety) who suspects the pair of harboring sympathies for the absent Alice.

Fanciful but not lacking teeth, this comic book series offers a unique glance into the wondrous adventures of Wonderland’s residents both big and small, great and terrible.


Set in a bizarre boarding school, this graphic novel follows three young girls: Alice (Alyss), Wendy, and Dorothy meet years following their inter-dimensional travel to realms beyond mere Earth imagining. [Perhaps the Pool of Tears can lead to worlds that we in Wonderland have yet to fully imagine.]

The author Andy Weir is of The Martian fame, while the artist Sarah Andersen is the creator of the popular web-comic series Sarah’s Scribbles. With characters from the lands of Oz, of Neverland, and of course our own Wonderland, there is no shortage of madcap characters and adventures on every page.


From famed graphic novel scribe and possible wizard, Alan Moore, and illustrated by underground comix legend Melinda Gebbie; this tale of Alice’s adventures brings the familiar heroine in to the same “real world” Earth shared by Wendy of Neverland and Dorothy of Oz.

However, unlike the previous entry on this list, the creators of this (very) graphic novel had much more “adult adventures” in mind. While not something for younger audiences, there is a lot to be gained from this story as it conveys just how much these young women shaped the imaginations and personal lives of so many in such profoundly intimate ways.

It would be recommended that one reads this work with a full understanding of the creators’ intentions in light of the sometimes awkward, sometimes scandalous, and sometimes shocking nature of these human experiences.


Written by Landry Walker with art by Kieth Giffen & Bill Sienkiewicz as part of the greater Detective Comics Batman universe, the Joker’s Asylum series present individual tales of some of the Caped Crusader’s most infamous rogues.

This comic book details the origins of Batman’s Mad Hatter, a criminally minded man by the name of Jarvis Tetch who would be obsessed with an Alice of his own as well as bizarre millinery-based weapons and mind-controlling hats.

Perhaps what makes it most interesting is that we are very aware in the format of this story, all the information, all the tragedy, is being fed to us via the unreliable words of a madman whose dark imagination would make Queen Redd shudder in disgust.


Continuing deeper into the realm of Gotham City, we see Jarvis Tetch held within the infamous Arkham Asylum. While this Mad Hatter is most certainly a more vile personality than some of the other milliners seen in this list, he is but one card amongst a whole deck of disturbed versions of a familiar face.

Deeper still, the whole structure of this one-off graphic novel feels very much like the dreamy dive into the darker imaginations of Batman and his villains, a rabbit hole of the hero’s own. Not lacking in grit, the story takes familiar notes of Carroll’s original world, and twists them into a scenario only Batman could contend with.

What a weird and wonderful list of Wonderlands.  We have seen colorful panels paying homage to the original tale crafted by Lewis Carroll, and the evolution of that story as Earth writers and artists begin to imagine Alyss and Wonderland closer to their true selves.

Meet The Author

Marco Arizpe

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.

The Looking Glass Wars, Season One Outline: Part II

Hatter re-energized and refocused, certain that Princess Heart is alive and in need of him, Hatter regains himself, as it were, and we see his awesome martial ability in a glorious action-escape set-piece. He summons his extraordinary hat back to him and fights through an army of orderlies and guards, dishing out a bloody revenge to those who have imprisoned him. 

Again, setting out in search of Princess Heart, Hatter sails to the Far East. He ends up in a battle against CHING SHIH, female commander of the Red Flag Fleet—a pirate armada and the terror of the Asian Pacific. Valuing Hatter’s skills, Ching suggests an alliance. But what starts as a practical partnership between Hatter and Ching quickly blooms into romance grounded in a shared background of loss (past loves).

Hatter’s hunt for Alice is further diverted when he hears rumors of another Milliner on Earth—one who turns out to be his older brother, DALTON MADIGAN, whom he thought had died more than a decade ago.

The brothers’ emotional reunion at first bolsters Hatter’s hope for finding Princess Heart, but Dalton’s loyalties are soon questionable; he’s suspiciously interested to learn that Redd is Wonderland’s monarch. (Dalton has always loved Redd, and his unwitting participation in the murder of her mother Queen Theodora spurred him to jump into The Pool of Tears to avoid disgrace.)

The Madigan brothers’ complex Cain-and-Abel relationship will play out over the course of the LGW’s first season, but soon after reuniting, they come across a fantastical tome entitled Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Determining that its author Lewis Carroll must be in contact with Alyss Heart, Hatter and Dalton head to Oxford, England, where…

Alice is more than petticoats deep in the complexities of Victorian courtship, budding love, and palace intrigue. Still in faltering denial of all things Wonderland, she presses on with her goal of founding an orphanage, desperate to protect children from hard labor, starvation, and violence. Her noble, though decidedly unladylike actions, have thoroughly drawn in the hearts of both Prince Leopold and REGINALD HARGREAVES, a gentleman suitor first met at the party that introduced Alice to society. Throughout the season, we’ll explore a love triangle between Alice, Leopold, and Hargreaves, but it’s with Prince Leopold that most of the drama lies.

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 hers with gang-leader Jesus Jones?

Jesus and his men—our version of the Peaky Blinders–have been, with the palace’s tacit approval, snatching children off the street to sweat tirelessly in workhouses, providing a cheap labor force to support the aristocracy that Victoria strives politically to maintain.

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 Jones’ 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. As Queen Victoria works to undermine Alice, we’ll chart Quigly’s arc from nefarious gangbanger to one of Alice’s most vital comrades, defying the ruthless queen at the price of his own safety.

But what of The Cat, Redd’s emissary of death? He’s been closing in on the princess all this while—murdering his way to her, so to speak, and assuming the forms of his victims. Independent of Redd for the first time, he’s rather enjoying his decadent lives as various notables of the aristocracy, which accounts for his not yet having fulfilled his duty to Redd, though he remains an ever-present threat to Alice. And he will fulfill his duty…perhaps after the next soiree.

Arriving in Oxford, Hatter and Dalton Madigan make an unnerving impression on Lewis Carroll, through whom they find their way to Alice Liddell. Hatter’s appearance is, to say the least, a major shock to Alice—undeniable evidence that her so-called visions are indeed something more. Yet she rejects Hatter’s insistence that she must return to Wonderland to fight for the throne and rescue the realm from the tyranny of Redd and Dark Imagination.

“But Queen Genevieve, your mother…” Hatter tries, relating the deceased queen’s belief that Alyss, once of age, would be Wonderland’s only hope.

“My mother, a queen?” Alice scoffs, more troubled than angry because the designation sounds right.

Rejected, Hatter and his brother revisit Lewis Carroll. The author explains how thoroughly shed of her true identity Alice has been—and how he, regrettably, is largely to blame. Hatter and Carroll: two men Alice once trusted who, despite their best intentions, failed her.

Dalton offers to keep watch on the princess, and though Hatter’s none too trusting, he travels to Wonderland through a puddle where no puddle should be. He knows that if he can’t convince Princess Alyss to return, there is Wonderlander who, if still alive, might be able to: the best friend and innocent love of her earliest years, DODGE ANDERS.

Earth’s blight and troubles are mere echoes of Wonderland under Redd. Dark Imagination has cast a pall. The populace is beaten down, paranoid, hunkering into themselves to draw as little of the authorities’ notice as possible. Only a small group resists the tyranny—the Alyssians, a rebel group named in honor of Princess Heart, believed to have been killed by The Cat the night of Redd’s coup.

Dodge Anders, Rebel Portal Runner
Dodge Anders, Portal Runner for the Alyssian Rebels

Twenty-three-year-old Dodge Anders, the son of a former guard at Queen Genevieve’s Heart Palace: as a boy, he had spent countless hours with Princess Alyss, and he’d been at her birthday celebration when Redd and her mercenaries burst in and started killing everyone. He witnessed The Cat’s murder of his father, and the four parallel scars on his own cheek (courtesy of The Cat) now serve as constant goad in his rebellion against Redd and her forces. Dodge is a leading member of the Alyssians. Impulsive, daring—suicidally brave, some might say—he’s largely responsible for the Alyssians’ success over the past thirteen years, helping them avoid detection while conducting surgical strikes against her soldiers.

But Dodge is no longer convinced of Princes Alyss’s death. He’s heard rumors that Redd, unable to see the dead princess in her imagination’s eye (a sixth sense), sent The Cat into The Pool of Tears after her. And while it’s true that Redd had made a show of parading around with the princess’s head, she hadn’t gloated as much as was her custom. As if maybe, she didn’t want anyone to notice that the head had been conjured from her own imagination.

Hatter’s surprise emergence from The Pool of Tears, his news of Princess Alyss—these give fresh confidence to Dodge and the Alyssians. Though Dodge has retained every tender feeling he’s ever had for Alyss, he’s too hardened by circumstance, and too concerned with all that’s at stake, to dwell on them.

To be continued…

Read Part One: The Looking Glass Wars, Season One: Part I

For More on the World of the Looking Glass Wars:

Part One: Wonderland’s Imagination Empowers

Part Two: Wonderland Beginnings

Part Three: Roadmap To Phantasia

The Looking Glass Wars, Season One Outline: Part I

Cold Open:

A seven-year-old girl, clutching the hand of a man dressed in a long, flaring coat and top hat, runs through the dark woods. An overly muscled humanoid-feline with a nasty grin pursues them, leaping from tree to tree, all of which seem to whisper and whine in complaint. The girl stumbles. The man picks her up and races out beyond the edge of the woods to a cliff overlooking a swirling, rainbow-colored pool. He holds the girl tightly in his arms, jumps as—
Behind him, the feline beast lunges from the trees, arms outstretched, dagger-sized claws gleaming.


Man and girl plunge into the pool’s depths, deeper and deeper. Panicked, the girl flails, causing the man to lose hold of her. We stay with the girl as her bodyguard—for so the man is—shrinks to nothing in the liquid distance. Currents shift. The girl starts rising, ever upward until she comes flying out of a puddle in the middle of Victorian London.

Alyss and Hatter separated in the Pool of Tears
Alyss and Hatter separated in the Pool of Tears

Oxford, England. 1872.

ALICE LIDDELL (20) jolts awake in bed, scraps of this troubling dream still flashing through her head as her sisters EDITH and VIOLET, singing “Happy Birthday,” enter her room with a cake. Though Alice enjoys local fame from having been Lewis Carroll’s muse years earlier, she appears to be an ordinary middle-class young lady of the era, though in temperament—and in so much else, as we’ll learn—she isn’t the least ordinary.

In Wonderland, Alice (or rather, Alyss) would have been ascending to the throne on this, her twentieth birthday. In our world, the day proves hardly less weighty, her adoptive sisters and mother busying themselves with preparations for a party that will introduce her to society—and, more particularly, to potential suitors.

While others work to marry her off, Alice strives to better the lives of “street urchins” and of children in orphanages/workhouses. Her plan: to open an orphanage that values children’s welfare above profits. In this, Alice is motivated by her own experience (after landing in our world) of living on the streets as a child, then in a foundling hospital, and by her knowledge that not everyone was as lucky as she, to be adopted into a loving middle-class family.

But hallucinations keep plaguing her. Burning eyes and the angry hiss of a cat. Card soldiers being dealt over a palace wall. A queen in white yelling for her to run.

Alice’s persistent visions cause her to think of LEWIS CARROLL, from whom she’s been estranged for years. She long ago suppressed the reasons for their estrangement, but the restless truth still resides within her: that she felt Carroll had betrayed her. Why? When the awful facts of Wonderland were still clearly in her mind, before they had been questioned, denied, and finally driven from her consciousness by the necessity of surviving in this new world, Alice had confided to the shy, retiring Oxford don who worked for her adoptive father. Carroll had seemed to believe that she was indeed a princess of a realm in which imagination was a magical, palpable force. He had seemed to mourn with her over the violence and murder that had upended her formerly charmed life, forcing her and a bodyguard to flee to Earth through The Pool of Tears the night her aunt Redd seized control of Wonderland.

Lewis Carroll Sanitized Alyss's Story With Good Intention
Lewis Carroll Sanitized Alyss’s Story With Good Intention

But then Carroll, who had actually thought Alice’s tale the result of traumas she experienced as an orphan and believed he could rid her of such demons by rendering them as laughable figments, had turned her history into drivel and published it to great popularity.

Living chessmen, a woman in gown of writhing, toothy, roses—

Alice tries to shake off these visions, and as she strives to make her kinder, gentler orphanage a reality, she angers members of the clergy overseeing foundling hospitals, makes an enemy of gang leader JESUS JONES, yet unwittingly gains the support of PRINCE LEOPOLD, Queen Victoria’s youngest son.

Leopold is a fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Sickly in his youth, the prince had spent much his childhood isolated from the world, gazing out of the castle windows, and imagining an adventuresome existence. He had lived vicariously through Carroll’s characters; meeting the woman he knows to have been the author’s muse, he can’t help being instantly captivated.

Spinning blades caught by an expert hand. A man with a top hat disappearing into a liquid distance. Alice finds herself more and more troubled: there’s something familiar about her visions, that she can’t quite place—or perhaps, deep down, refuses to. Which is particularly problematic because, back in Wonderland, Queen Redd becomes aware that her niece Alyss Heart, whom she had supposed dead, is alive.

To eliminate any future threat of Alyss vying for the throne, Redd sends The Cat, a shape-shifting assassin, to Earth through The Pool of Tears. Like the Terminator on the hunt for Sarah Connor, The Cat begins the hunt for Alyss Heart as…

Thousands of miles from Oxford, in a San Francisco asylum, a dirty, disheveled figure rots slowly in a dark cell. Shadows seem to move, and we recognize HATTER MADIGAN, the man in top hat and flaring coat from the series’ opening scene.

Hatter is a soldier in the Millinery, Wonderland’s elite security force. He formerly possessed astounding martial abilities, but ever since he emerged from a puddle where no puddle should be in the Namib Desert, alone, his skills have steadily lessened.

In his cell, Hatter mentally relives the night of the coup, when he abandoned Queen Genevieve (at her urging) to Redd’s wrath, promising to save Princess Alyss so that she might one day return to Wonderland and rule it by the principles of Light Imagination. We get only glimpses of what he remembers. Throughout the season, we’ll see snippets of the coup through the eyes of the characters who were there—just flashes of scenes, giving us hints of that event’s horrific violence without a clear picture of how it all went down. Not until we near our season finale, when Alyss remembers the coup, will we see it in full, from her POV.

Hatter and Alyss Escape Redd’s Coup While Genevieve Fights Back

For now, Hatter’s recollections of that night provide us insight mostly into his own psyche.

He had failed to protect Princess Alyss, his sworn charge, losing her in The Pool of Tears. He had searched the globe for her, following the glow of imagination. Yet lack of success, and years of self-laceration took their toll; the longer he lived with his failure, the more the best parts of him were eaten away until he was weak enough to be subdued by authorities. As a menacing individual spouting insane tales about a lost princess, he was locked in this west coast madhouse.

Hatter’s top hat, the sidekick of a weapon that he can flatten into coptering blades with a flick of his wrist and send slicing through enemies, is essentially locked in its own cell elsewhere in the asylum.

But with the gradual return of Alice’s Wonderland memories comes her power of imagination (the magic of our series). She inadvertently calls forth this power in a tense scene in an old theater, illegally used by Jesus Jones’ gang, that she intends as her orphanage.

And like entangled quantum particles, a supernatural sequence reveals to us that Alice and Hatter are imaginatively entangled. Haunted by her visions of Wonderland and Hatter, she presses a hand directly through a looking glass; half a world away, in Hatter’s cell, that delicate hand emerges from a small mirror.

“Alyss!” Hatter cries.

To be continued…

For More of the World of the Looking Glass Wars, Read These:

Part One: Wonderland’s Imagination Empowers
Part Two: Wonderland Beginnings
Part Three: Roadmap To Phantasia

Friends and Foes of Alyss Heart In Wonderland

Inside the world of The Looking Glass Wars:

While Alice Liddell (or is it Alyss Heart?) has no shortage of antagonism to contend with during her time on earth in Victorian London, she will find upon her return to Wonderland there is a colorful cast of both friends and foes waiting to make her (re)acquaintance. As she rediscovers her royal roots and ascends to the throne with the might of her Imaginative powers these unique characters shall be the shoulders she stands on, the friends she walks beside, and the adversaries she must surmount.


Daughter of Hatter Madigan and Weaver, Molly is a halfer (half Milliner, half civilian). Like all halfers, she bears the mark of her birth just below her left ear: a small “h” tattooed in indigo blue ink. Born in an Alyssian camp in the early part of Redd’s reign, she’s thirteen years old when Alyss Heart, long thought dead, returns to Wonderland with Hatter, who’s disdainful of halfers and doesn’t know that he is her father (neither does she).

Undisciplined in temperament, Molly is remarkably skilled with her signature weapon—a homburg she can flatten into a knife-edged disc. Alternating between defiant pride and self-doubt on account of her halfer status, she’s eager to prove herself in and out of combat. When it comes to Alyss fulfilling her destiny, Molly is nearly as integral as Hatter, who, learning that she’s his daughter and recognizing his former prejudice against halfers as stupid, wants nothing more than to be with her.

Homburg Molly
Homburg Molly


The childhood friend of Hatter Madigan who, in adulthood, is the secret love of his life and—unbeknownst to him for years— the mother of his child. Intelligent, empathetic, circumspect, Weaver delays telling Hatter about her pregnancy, knowing how guilty he feels about breaking Millinery protocol by loving her, a civilian (not of Milliner blood). Only when she’s not going to be able to physically hide the truth for much longer does she decide to tell him. Unfortunately, she never gets the chance.

During Redd’s coup, Hatter jumps into The Pool of Tears with Princess Alyss, emerging on Earth unaware that he’s to be a father. During his absence, Weaver gives birth to a daughter, Homburg Molly, in an Alyssian camp. An alchemist of great ability, Weaver is eventually abducted by the king of neighboring Boarderland, used as a bargaining chip in certain negotiations, and eventually killed while protecting her daughter.


Princeling of the Diamond family. Once a spoiled child with a great love of pretentious wigs and a vast superiority com­plex, he is now a spoiled, entitled adult. Jack’s conniving mind serves him well in Redd’s Wonderland—a society where only the shrewdest, most opportunistic, most selfish, and least loyal to friends flourish. He doubles his family’s fortune by pretending to be, in secret, an Alyssian while publicly remaining a Redd loyalist.

One of his methods for increasing his coffers (others are more labyrinthine): he sells supplies to the Alyssians, which Redd allows him to do so long as he provides her with intel regarding their military maneuvers. But Jack always leaves out important details, since if the Alyssians are exterminated, he’ll lose a most profitable revenue stream.

Pictured on the left: Jack of Diamonds, with his family the Royal House of Diamonds
Pictured on the left: Jack of Diamonds, with his family the Royal House of Diamonds


The first friendly person Alyss meets in London, a boy about her age wearing grey breeches patched at the knees and thighs, an overly large frock-coat and cracked leather boots with no laces. As Alyss introduces herself as Princess Alyss Heart of Wonderland, he introduces himself in kind as Prince Quigly Gaffer of Chelsea. He offers her aid and the promise of dry clothes because, amongst other things, she seems a bit brighter than a everything else around her.

Of the band of children that he introduced her to, she thought he was the nicest as he made an effort to keep everyone’s hopes up and he was attentive to everyone. His parents were murdered when a couple of thieves set upon their coach, he would have been killed as well if he hadn’t escaped while they were taking the rings from his dead mother’s fingers. He’s been living on his own, mostly on the streets of London ever since.

When Alyss makes a flower sing in his presence, he gets the idea to turn that trick into a show to earn them coins on the streets with which to buy food. Unfortunately, since he thinks of it as a trick and not Alyss using the power of her imagination, Quigly doesn’t understand when, after a while, she isn’t able to do it anymore. …

Alyss is pinched when they’re stealing food from a shop and Quigly sees her in trouble, but for whatever reason chooses just to keep on running and save his own skin rather than risk saving her as well. It’s the last time she sees him. Until Alyss turns twenty.


Boarderland’s sovereign. A neighboring kingdom of Wonderland, Boarderland is a sprawling place with large, unpopulated tracts between nomadic settlements. It’s a tribal country, and except for clashes, every tribe is self-contained and, to a small extent, self-governing. Arch lets tribes do what they wish in “trivial matters” such as healing rituals and marriage ceremonies. …

He even allows them to choose their own leaders so long as they acknowledge him as their king and abide by certain edicts, most of which have to do with a male’s superiority over females (he doesn’t believe in queendoms).

Arch was Redd’s lover when she was an unruly princess, and the two maintain a flirtatious rela­tionship throughout Redd’s reign as Wonderland’s queen. Arch doesn’t know that he was responsible for Redd’s pregnancy as a teenager, which finally caused her to be removed from offi­cial succession. When it comes to political machinations, Arch would give Machiavelli a run for his money.

King Arch of Boarderland
King Arch of Boarderland


King Arch’s top bodyguards. Prodigies when it comes to tradi­tional modes of combat, though they don’t limit themselves to the traditional. When Ripkins flexes his fingertips, glinting saw teeth push out of the skin in the exact patterns of his finger­prints. Without a wince of emotion, with hands moving as fast as Hatter’s spinning blades, he can reduce anything to shreds, after which the saw teeth sink back into the skin of his fin­gers.

And Blister? Well, let him press the tip of his pinkie finger against the exposed skin of your forearm and you’ll clench your entire body, sweat profusely, and your entire arm will blister. It will be worse, much worse, if Blister touches you with, say, his index finger or—God forbid—an entire hand. Both Ripkins and Blister are martial rivals to Hatter, and their periodic bouts with him quickly become that of legend.


An artificial race created by Redd that have enhanced sight, strength, and speed. Indistinguishable from ordinary Wonderlanders except for the implants of reflective colorless crystal in their eye sockets. They were built for hand-to-hand combat and were typically employed by Redd to patrol the Crystal Continuum and annihilate suspected Alyssians during her tyrannical 13-year reign in Alyss’ absence.

Following Redd’s eventual defeat at Alyss’ hands, Arch sends his bodyguards into the Chessboard Desert to find and capture a Glass Eye which he then successfully reverse-engineers. A factory is then constructed in Boarderland and a good deal of Glass Eyes are manufactured, the nefarious purpose of which is not hard to guess when speculated upon with knowledge of King Arch’s usual conniving.

The Glass Eyes
The Glass Eyes

How Johnny Depp Brought To Life Alice In Wonderland’s Mad Hatter

The Top Hat of Hatters and my personal friend Chad Evett is back to share with us another compelling peak through the looking glass. This time, he breaks down Johnny Depp’s iconic Mad Hatter costume (on which he has a Master Milliner’s worth of knowledge) and examines how the famed actor used the attire to embody one of the best known characters in literature.

Of all the characters from Alice in Wonderland, perhaps the most memorable and recognizable is none other than the Mad Hatter. He has been featured on merchandise, been replicated in media, and has been the symbol of High Tea the world over. He’s been a rock singer, a villainous clockmaker, a bodyguard and an assassin. In Lewis Carroll’s original novel, the character is referred to simply as “the Hatter.’’ He’s the only Male Human character Alice meets (all others are either animals or playing cards,) and has a small cameo as a pun in ‘Through the Looking Glass.”

In 2010, director Tim Burton sought to recreate the denizens of wonderland with his own signature style. It was natural that he would offer the role to famed actor Johnny Depp—with whom Burton has collaborated on numerous films from Edward Scissorhands (1990,) Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005,) and Sweeney Todd: the demon barber of fleet street (2009.) There are more but if you don’t already know what they are google is your friend!

Hatters in the 19th century were victims of the terrible work conditions that existed before unions. As such, the materials and the chemicals that were required in the process of hat making were incredibly toxic. Glue had very high mercury content, the fumes of which caused milliners to acquire “mad hatter syndrome,” the symptoms of which included slurred speech, tremors, irritability, depression, as well as a myriad of other issues. Their eyes would be sunken, and in extreme causes their hair would take on a fried look and the skin on the hand would crack and peel.

Depp as a consummate performer is notorious for coming to the table with research. Famed makeup artist and Oscar winner Ve Neill collaborated with Johnny on characters such as Scissorhands, Jack Sparrow, and Sweeney Todd (among others). “Johnny came in with ideas in his head, thoughts on who these people could be, and he’s a wonder with collaboration,” she said. The Hatter was no different.

“I thought his emotions should be very near the surface, like a human mood ring. I started seeing the guy…” Both Burton and Depp, independently of each other, did watercolors and drawings of who the hatter could be. “We compared our notes,” said Depp, “And they weren’t far off. Tim is halfway around the world doing his own drawings and they weren’t dissimilar.”

Depp’s hatter appears to have the hallmarks of mercury poisoning, but almost as if it’s been put through a Wonderlandian lens. Bleached white skin coupled with fantastically orange hair, frizzed to perfection. His eyes are outlined in corals, blues, pinks and greens—framed with white lashes and punctuated with vibrantly green eyes. “I wanted him to have electrified kind of eyes, as if the mercury—the madness—is coming out of them. We also had one pupil painted ever so slightly off. So, he’s never looking right at you.” Said Depp, “he’s always looking a little further.”

Patti York was the makeup artist tasked with translating the elements if Burton and Depp’s ideas into reality. “After all the pieces come together, and the costume goes on,” she said, “the transformation is complete. He is the Mad Hatter.”

The Mad Hatter’s Combative Blue Coat

Multi Oscar winning costume designer and textile rockstar Colleen Atwood was the magician who redefined the look of a Milliner in war-torn Wonderland. “His coat changes color based on his mood, so we made multiples.” She said, “his coat is made from a silk, with layers of sheer silk on top that we burned away to create a shifting effect.” This particular garment had five iterations in the film, ranging from depressed grey to a bright combative blue. In flashbacks his coat is teal, and when he attends high tea, it sits a deep chocolate brown.

The Mad Hatter’s Chocolate Brown Coat

“His tie is a joke tie, when he frowns it wilts down and when he’s happy it perks up like a butterfly” she says with a cheeky smile. On one side his coat has ribbons that can be pulled to make a hat, he was a bandolier of antique silk spools, chainmailled together, and he’s got a clutch of scissors on his hip. We didn’t want his tools off on a shelf somewhere, so we incorporated them into his costume.  We all know Johnny loves a bit of jewelry, he has a pincushion ring, and thimbles on his fingers.”

In the original novel, the hatter laments that he has had a row with Time himself and has been trapped at tea for ages. The costume Atwood devised had elements that reflected this torturous punishment: “He has embroidery on his pants that he may have done when he got bored, and his boots have words scratched in them. Tim {Burton} likes to draw on his shoes so that’s where that came from.”

The Mad Hatter’s Shoes, inspired by Tim Burton’s habit of drawing on his own footwear

The grand centerpiece (and the most difficult to find) of any hatter costume is his Topper. The symbol of the hatter demands respect, and Atwood came to it with gusto. “The original hat was done before we did the sketches, but it was right.” Deep mottled green leather that has been laser-cut with an elaborate almost paisley design; the hat was then embroidered in patches with bright gold embroidery thread. “We ran a blowtorch over it, which gives it its age but also makes it look like it has survived a catastrophic event.” She is referring to the loss of the Hatters family at the hands of a mad Red Queen and her Targaryen-esq malefice the Jabberwocky.

The Mad Hatter’s Centerpiece Hat

It is this loss that fuels the hatters need to aid Alice in the saving of the soul of Wonderland (called Underland in this version,) which adds an entirely new layer to the interpretation of the character. He’s always been seated at tea with the Hare and the Dormouse, and while in the book he remains a guest who showed up and never left (not like he had any options, thanks Time!) he now becomes a loner who is seeking his tribe. In literary history he’s insulting and ride, but here he seeks Alice as a kindred spirit. “Alice and the hatter complete each other. Like a brother and a sister—She is his sanity, and he is her Muchness.”

Lewis Carroll’s work has such a potential for interpretation, and more importantly reinterpretation. One wonders who will be the next great re-imaginer of this eternal work. Who will be the newest performer to personify the madness and morph into the Mad Hatter?

Perhaps the next great performance will be an embodiment of Hatter Madigan himself, but by whom?

Could Tom Hardy Be The Next Mad Hatter?
Could Tom Hardy be the next Mad Hatter?

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 (when he isn’t rubbing shoulders with celebrities like Tim Burton!)