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.

Splash!

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.

HOMBURG MOLLY

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

WEAVER

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.

JACK OF DIAMONDS

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

QUIGLY GAFFER

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.

KING ARCH

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

RIPKINS & BLISTER

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.

THE GLASS EYES

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!)

Celebrate Mad Hatter Day With These Deadly Weapon Hats

Happy Mad Hatter Day everyone, I hope you’re all fully expressing yourselves, wearing weird hats, or eating mercury in an attempt to become a real mad hatter yourself on this most frabjous of days. What am I doing on this day to celebrate? I couldn’t find any mercury, but I stopped taking my mood stabilizers, so the words I type are in God’s (Franks) hands now. Okay, I didn’t actually do that and you shouldn’t either, nor can I actually recommend in good conscious you eat mercury, no matter how delicious it is.

What is one to do on Mad Hatter day you ask? Be weird, be silly, wear crazy top hats, keep changing places at a table or in a car at a red light, I may not know a lot of laws but I think that’s perfectly legal on Mad Hatter day. Just remember, if you wear a top hat, laws don’t apply. On that note, I am not a lawyer. I’m Denholm Afedoj, famously redacted ex-jester for the queen of Wonderland. You’re probably asking yourself, “Denholm, when are you going to finish giving us bad advice and get to the topic of this blog post?” And too that I say, right after this last bit of bad advice. You can pay off your credit cards with another credit card indefinitely, just keep opening new accounts. Okay, onto the topic.

I’m sure you’re all aware of who the Mad Hatter is but here is a reminder. He is a silly man who enables the caffeine-addicted March Hare by throwing wild tea parties to celebrate his, yours, anyone’s, unbirthday. Or so you’ve been told. Remember, Bibwit and I are proof that Lewis Carrol got it all wrong, Alice is actually spelled Alyss, and the Mad Hatter’s real name is Hatter Madigan. The Looking Glass Wars is actually what happened. Hatter Madigan, the inspiration for the Mad Hatter, is the queen’s personal guard, a leading member of Wonderland’s elite security force, the Millinery.

Hatter Madigan Deploys His Hat

Those of you who are not in the know are probably thinking, “Denholm, how did this Hatter Madigan character protect the queen?” Well, along with a multitude of other weapons including a wrist-mounted, retractable blade that would put Ezio Auditore’s (Assassin’s Creed) to shame. He uses his hat, which is fitted with s-shaped blades that retract and can be thrown like a boomerang. I’ve seen him use it in person, you do not want to be on the business end of that throw.

So, today I bring you a list, of six other, hat weapons in popular culture. Remember this is a list of hat weapons, not famous hats. The sorting hat will not be on this list, and you definitely cheated when you took the online sorting hat quiz to get the house you wanted. Okay onto the list.

6. Oddjob’s hat, Goldfinger

Oddjob the silent, bowler hat throwing, henchmen for Auric Goldfinger, is a villain in the James Bond film, Goldfinger. Besides being incredibly skilled at had to hand combat, he is most famous for his bowler hat that is fitted with a knife inside the brim. People like to think that his hat was inspired by the chakram, a round thrown knife, invented in India, that was worn on top of turbans. Us Wonderlanders know the truth though, obviously, Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, was inspired by a Millinery hat that fell into the heart crystal. Unlike Hatter Madigan, Oddjob’s hat was the cause of his demise, after he attempted to retrieve his hat that was stuck in a live electrical cable. When asked about Oddjob’s death, James Bond smoothly quips, “He blew a fuse.”

5. Kung Lao, Mortal Kombat

MORTAL KOMBAT!!! Dun dun dun dun dun-da dun dun dun dun dun du. Ready? Fight! From the famous/infamous video game series, Mortal Kombat, we find the next character on this list, Kung Lao. First making his debut in Mortal Kombat II, Kung Lao is the teleporting, hat throwing, Shaolin monk. Kung Lao’s hat may seem similar to Oddjob’s and this is no coincidence, the creators of the game have stated they drew inspiration from the Bond villain. This means, if you’ve been paying attention and following my logic, Kung Lao was technically inspired by Hatter Madigan. Kung Lao uses his razor blade-rimmed hat to amputate the limbs of those unfortunate enough to end up in a bout against him.

His hat is also prominently featured in his post-fight finishing moves, aka fatalities. My personal favorite fatality is when Kung Lao throws the hat into the ground, where it continues spinning like a circular saw at a lumber mill. Kung Lao then drags his opponent by their feet through the saw, holding up the two halves of what was a person to the camera to celebrate the win. Graphic moves like this are the reason why Mortal Kombat is responsible for the invention of the ESRB game rating system and was awarded the first “M” rating. Does anyone else want to see Oddjob, Kung Lao, and Hatter Madigan duke it out? I’m taking all bets.

4. Peaky Blinders, Peaky Blinders

The calling card of a member of the Peaky Blinders gang is a newsboy hat with a razor blade peeking out of the blinder. Which I’m just now realizing is how they came up with the name. While the two previously mentioned knife hats were welded by skilled martial artists, these hats are used to give the members of the Peaky Blinders a surprise upper hand in a fight. When I wear a hat I’m constantly adjusting it, so I think that if I were in the Peaky Blinders I would have the nickname “Bandaids”. These hats have a hidden third use, they block the sun, have a blade in them, and can be used to shave. Imagine if the screenwriter of Peaky Blinders, Steven Knight, did a Looking Glass Wars T.V. show! Who would play Alyss though? Who would make a good Hatter Madigan? WHO would play me? Who am I kidding, with my track record, I wouldn’t even be an extra…

3.  Inspector Gadget’s Hat, Inspector Gadget

While this hat does not have knives, it does have helicopter blades. I’ve always wanted to use Inspector Gadget’s helicopter hat. This hat can do more than just fly, it has binoculars that lower out of the brim, hands for various necessary hand abilities, a police light, grappling hook, umbrella, and parachute. This hat is truly a Swiss army knife, I wouldn’t be surprised if it has a fish scaler in it as well. While this isn’t a traditional weapon, I felt as though it somehow fit on the list. Also, there are like twenty anime characters with knife hats so this is a nice change. Oh, and evil Inspector Gadget from the 1998 movie has a flamethrower, it counts! Go, go, gadget, write the rest of this for me… Damn… Wait, I got it, go, go, onto the next hat!

2. Cappy, Super Mario Odyssey

This is the only sentient hat on this list. Cappy is Mario’s magic hat from Super Mario Odyssey that gives Mario the ability to enter the body and take control of whatever he throws the hat onto. Be it Goomba, T-rex, or those orange flexible traffic posts. While throwing the cap does not harm the person or thing you take control of, you can use the fact that you control something else to make them fall off of ledges, walk into spikes, or get electrocuted. You get the idea. I feel as though if Hatter Madigan had Cappy, it would have changed the events of the Looking Glass Wars significantly.

Think about it, he could have thrown Cappy at a jabberwocky, quickly gotten through a bunch of playing card soldiers, and eaten Queen Redd. Oh oh, I know, he could have become a cannonball spider and launched himself at the castle. No wait, I got it! He could have thrown Cappy at a tarty tart that the Red Queen was going to eat, then when he was eaten, taken Cappy off, and the size shift would cause him to explode out of her body. Yup, that’s the most straightforward plan of action.

1. Laszlo’s Witch Skin Hat, What We Do in the Shadows

A cursed hat made out of the skin of a dead witch? Denholm, you disrespected the sorting hat then go with this?” Oh, my dear, sweet, innocent, reader, I can go with whatever I want, I’m the god of this document. Unless Frank says otherwise. First of all, the concept of this hat makes me laugh. For those of you who don’t know, Laszlo from What We Do in the Shadows has this hat made out of a dead witch. It is one of Laszlo’s most prized possessions. It’s also insanely cursed. This hat is canonically responsible for the Great Potato Famine in Ireland. Along with that, one time, when Laszlo wore the hat, he was attacked by a horse, who then tried to mate with him. “That’s all fine and dandy Denholm, but I still don’t see how this hat is a weapon.” I’m getting there!

The thing about this hat is Laszlo really loves it, he thinks it’s cool and makes people jealous of him, there is also another vampire who wants the hat really badly, and he tries to kill Laszlo for it. In a 4D chess maneuver, Laszlo uses reverse psychology to have the other vampire wear it, which ends up being the other vampire’s demise. It’s a far stretch, but in the right hands, a weapon.

We all agree that these hats are cool, but Hatter Madigan takes the cake here. Here are some hats that I wanted to add to the list, but realized that they actually weren’t “weapons”, but have threatening auras that would make Queen Redd take notice.

Chum Bucket bucket hat, from the SpongeBob Squarepants Movie

The Cat in the hats, hat.

Ash Ketchum’s hat, but only when he turns it around backward.

Beer helmets…

Any headgear with a Raiders logo on it!

Most (if not all) Fedoras…

And, last but not least, this…

Okay, this hat is a weapon technically, but it’s lack of efficacy would make any self-respecting Milliner gasp. That this madness is actually a real patented design is insane to me! Do NOT wear this one to any tea parties you attend!

Happy Mad Hatter day everyone!

How You Can Celebrate Mad Hatter Day 2022

Now that we have entered October, all of western civilization eagerly awaits October 6th, Mad Hatter Day. What started as an ode to Lewis Carroll's greatest classic, Alice in Wonderland, has become a cultural phenomenon complete with the quirks and mesmerizing experiences of Wonderland.

But when it comes to things to do on Mad Hatter Day, we have merely put one foot into the rabbit hole. Let’s go all in and explore the fun things you can engage in with your family, friends, at school, or by your lonesome on Mad Hatter day.

Watch the Alice and Wonderland Movie – Both Old and New

Start your day doing something more traditional. Experience the wonderful world of Alice in Wonderland with the movie, but don’t go with just one. If you’re looking for a full-fledged experience of this principal character of Lewis Carroll's novels, both films should be on your schedule.

For a more mature look into Alice in Wonderland with horror elements, go with the old movie. While it was marketed to children, Alice in Wonderland (1951) has some intrinsically dark undertones that might not be wholly suitable for children. But it is a classic – and underrated one at that.

If a more light-hearted movie is more of your cup of tea, you can join Mad Hatter's tea party with Tim Burton's 2010 Alice in Wonderland. This movie has taken a more grounded approach to the character of Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter but you won't be able to notice any of that due to Tim's bombastic approach to directing.

This activity is great at home or at school if you can get permission. The movies are enjoyable, and every student can compare the films with the original Alice text.

Tap Into Madness with Teatime Snacks

Try some traditional Mad Hatter tea party foods. Go with afternoon tea snacks like macarons, pastries, and scones. Fresh fruits are always a good idea if you're more health conscious. But do give these clock-faced macaroons a try!

You can also pick and choose among your favorite snacks from here.

Make Your Own Paper Hats

Get in the spirit of Mad Hatter Day by making a paper hat. Like Hatter Madigan and the other Millinery Academy Cadets can attest—a true Mad Hatter is only as good as their hat!

This most excellent activity is fun for both home and school—the more the merrier. The overseeing Milliner could even organize a friendly competition. Most imaginative top hat wins!

Let your creativity fly. But here are some hat ideas that are extra special for the occasion.

Toilet Paper Top Hat: Embrace true creativity by taking a minimalistic approach to creating a top hat. All it would require is some toilet paper. You can go with craft paper, but we are trying to be a bit frugal here and making it simple. Just grab some toilet paper, scissors, and some black construction paper. Roll the toilet paper under the black paper, cut out two black circles from the remaining paper and affix it atop this roll, and viola, you get a toilet paper top hat. To make it more thematic, stick some playing cards to the side.

Don't worry if you don't have the cards. You make the hat smaller and bring your pet to the party.

Cardboard Top Hat: If you want to stay true to the Mad Hatter theme, you can give your students some cardboard and let them craft a more precise hat out of it.

Be careful, though, as it will take a lot of effort. I suggest you don't use it for a competition, but rather as a group project. May the best hat wins.

There is a wide array of hat competitions that you can arrange for your students. If you’re having a mad hatter party at home, you can also bring the contest there. Let's see the adults try it too.

Singing Songs About the Hatter

Nothing beats Mad Hatter-themed music to make Mad Hatter's Day more… madder. For students, you can organize a poem competition. But if you're at home and in the mood to party, you can jam to any Alice in Wonderland Inspired music.

Mad Hatter’s music theme isn’t restricted to children. If you want to get more R-rated with it, Melanie Martinez’s Mad Hatter is a treat with over 100 million views on YouTube. The music is trippy and a perfect dance number if you want to add a party-flare to Mad Hatter’s Tea party.

Listen to some Alice In Wonderland inspired music. The video is no slouch, it perfectly encompasses what Mad Hatter is all about, but it cranks it up to eleven.

Hosting a Tea Party

Let's get a bit more basic – and obvious – here. Mad Hatter Tea party is iconic and a must-do on Mad Hatter’s Day. You can buy all the party accessories from your nearest departmental store and get started. Just make sure you have a room where you can get a long table to get the feel right.

Now, we understand that not everyone has a big home enough to do mad hatter party justice. So, how about going outside and finding a location to party? These places are thematic and have the Mad Hatter aesthetics down to the "tea" (pun intended).

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can join the Mad Hatter Gin and Tea Party in a location near you. The ambiance of this event is legendary.

Telling Riddles – The Madder The Better

No Mad Hatter’s Party is complete without riddles. Practice and come up with the ridiculous riddles you can find and see as your guests scratch their heads trying to come up with an answer.

So, riddle me this – What walks on four legs, then two, and then three? (Hint—ask the Sphinx what the answer is)

Curious Costumes

Alice in Wonderland is all about aesthetics and Mad Hatter Day encapsulates it perfectly. So, why not try a fancy dress party from the Victorian era? Doll yourself up as a dormouse or paint the roses red like the Queen of Hearts. No amount of accessorizing is over the top—you cannot have too much muchness.

Here is a fantastic teatime variant of the Mad Hatter costume, complete with a top hat and gloves.

That is as far as we go into the rabbit hole for now. So, how will you celebrate this most frabjous day of days? No matter your answer, the only thing that matters is to enjoy yourself and your friends and to be as Mad as the Hatter.

The Mother of Alyss Heart, Queen Genevieve

For Wonderland’s Queen Genevieve, (White Queen) even the most festive occasions could be clouded by the less savory aspects of governing. Her daughter Alyss (Alice) celebrating a seventh birthday party at Heart Palace was, by contrast, making all economic worries, political concerns, and military threats feel more acute. 

Especially the military threats. 

Unconfirmed reports suggested that Redd (Red Queen) was growing more powerful, in the final stages of outfitting troops for an attack, and Genevieve was no longer sure that her forces could provide adequate defense. 

Needing a moment of solitude, she slipped away to her private rooms, leaving the guests to their entertainments. In a salon filled with overstuffed couches and giant pillows, she studied her reflection in a looking glass. It wasn’t just the political machinations and constant military strategizing that was bothering her. Alyss’s birthday had made her feel old.

Queen Genevieve Heart

She saw lines at the corners of her eyes and framing her mouth. In the not too distant future, Alyss might also find herself prematurely aged by the responsibilities of being a sovereign, although Genevieve hoped not. She wanted to believe that her daughter would handle the crown better than she ever could—she who, at Alyss’s age, and for a good many years after, had never supposed that she would be queen. Her older sister, Rose, was to have ruled Wonderland. And if only Rose—now known as Redd, for her proclivity to bloodshed, hadn’t been so— 

A plume of blue smoke passed between Genevieve and her reflection, interrupting her thoughts. She smelled a familiar spicy-sweet aroma and turned to see a giant blue caterpillar coiled dreamily around his hookah. Ordinarily, Genevieve would have been annoyed to discover anyone in her private sanctuary without having been invited, but this outsize larva wasn’t just anybody.

He was one of Wonderland’s eight caterpillar-oracles who kept watch over the Heart Crystal—the power source for all creation. Whatever passed into the crystal went out into the universe to inspire imaginations in other worlds. An unexpected visit from an oracle was rarely a good thing, but Genevieve wanted to believe that this was one such exception. 

“Your presence is an honor,” she said. “Princess Alyss will be so pleased that you could attend her party.” 

“Ahem hum hum,” grumbled the blue caterpillar, exhaling a cloud of smoke. 

The smoke formed the shape of a butterfly with extended wings, then metamorphosed into a confusion of scenes. Genevieve saw a large cat grooming itself. She saw what looked like a lightning bolt. She saw Redd’s face. Then the smoke again formed the shape of a butterfly, which folded its wings, and Genevieve awoke on a couch with the smell of tobacco in her nostrils. The caterpillar was gone. Her bodyguard Hatter Madigan and a walrus in a tuxedo jacket were standing over her. 

“You must have fainted, madam,” said the walrus. “I will get you some water.” 

The walrus hurried out of the room. The queen remained silent for several moments. 

“The blue caterpillar was here,” she said finally. “I’m not quite sure what he showed me.” 

“I’ll inform General Doppelgänger and the Millinery,” Hatter said. “We’ll be on alert for whatever’s coming.” 

Just once, Queen Genevieve would have liked to relax the watchful vigilance she was forced to maintain every hour of every day to ensure Wonderland’s safety. The caterpillars’ prophecies were always so vague. Sometimes their visions reflected only possibilities, the dark wishes of those who never planned to carry them out. But she couldn’t take a chance, not when it concerned Redd. 

“Make sure not to alarm our guests,” she said. 

It might have been better to end the birthday celebration, however, and had Genevieve lived, she undoubtedly would have scolded herself for not doing so. 

The partygoers were enjoying tea and wondercrumpets in the South Dining Room when a kitten (you might know as the Cheshire Cat) trotted into the room and transformed into a muscled humanoid with a feline head and claws as long and glinting as any blade from Hatter Madigan’s arsenal. The room shook from an explosion, and Redd sashayed in amid a welter of dust and rubble, followed by a mob of rejects from the Wonderland Decks—the platoons of card soldiers that made up a large portion of the queendom’s military.

General Doppelgänger ran behind a curtain and pulled a lever attached to a crank half buried in the floor; the black floor tiles of the room flipped over to reveal a cadre of chessmen—knights, rooks, bishops, pawns—who faced off against the invading card soldiers, blades swinging and bodies falling. 

With a flick of his wrist, Hatter Madigan (the Mad Hatter) flattened his top hat into a series of S-shaped rotary blades, which he sent slicing through the enemy, while Queen Genevieve—out of her chair, sword drawn as soon as she saw The Cat—engaged against Redd’s soldiers two and three at a time, conjuring knives, sabers, and spiked clubs for herself whenever one was knocked from her grip. ---

She was always armed with four weapons at once, her imagination swinging two of them, to fend off attacks from behind. If, solely by the power of her imagination, Genevieve could have imagined the invaders dead, piled in a heap in the center of the room—her sister included—she would have. But by imagination alone, nobody could kill a creature that had the will to live.

Which was too bad, because Redd, unharmed in the midst of battle, lifted Princess Alyss out from under a table, held the girl aloft by her hair, and wrinkled her already wrinkled face as if she were clutching some detestable pest.

“Let her go,” Genevieve said, stalling, knowing that Redd wouldn’t. “Please.”

Redd scoffed and spat out words that Genevieve hardly heard, alert for the slightest opportunity to free Alyss, but then Redd conjured a scene—silent, moving phantoms on a screen of red smoke: Genevieve’s husband King Nolan, on his way home from negotiations with neighboring Boarderland, had been ambushed and killed by Redd.

Genevieve lost control of herself. She imagined eighteen dagger-sharp cones into existence and directed them toward Redd; she imagined double-edged spears cartwheeling toward Redd: all of which her sister easily relegated to dust.

Redd had always been the more imaginatively gifted, as Genevieve well knew.

“Ah!”

Redd dropped Alyss, who had stabbed her forearm with something on her necklace.

Queen Genevieve and Princess Alyss

Genevieve grabbed her daughter’s hand and ran to her private rooms, knowing that she wouldn’t survive but also that she didn’t need to—not for Wonderland’s sake—if Alyss could be kept alive.

The humanoid feline pounced at them, seeming to come out of nowhere, but before he could swipe them with a single claw— thwip! — he fell to the floor, a blade in his chest.

Hatter Madigan stepped up to the fallen assassin and pulled his top hat blades free of the mortal wound.

“Take Alyss and go,” Genevieve said to him, pointing at a looking glass. “As far away as possible. You must keep the princess safe until she’s old enough to rule. She’s the only chance Wonderland has to survive.” 

Genevieve knelt in front of Alyss. “No matter what happens, I will always be near you, sweetheart. On the other side of the looking glass. And never forget who you are. Do you understand?” 

“I want to stay with you.” 

“I know. I love you.” 

“No! I’m staying!’ 

Alyss threw her arms around her mother. 

A wall crashed down and there stood Redd, a platoon of card soldiers at her back. “Aw, how sweet. Let’s have a group hug,” she said, hardly looking like the hugging type. 

Hatter picked up Alyss and jumped into the looking glass. Genevieve smashed the glass and turned to face Redd, unable to believe it when, in her peripheral vision, she saw The Cat, on the floor with a gaping hole in his chest, open his eyes. His wound healed and he sprang at her. She conjured a white bolt of energy from her imagination and thrust it into him, killing him a second time. 

Redd laughed derisively and pulled the jagged bolt out of The Cat. The bolt turned crimson in her hand, and she slammed it into the floor; dozens of black roses sprouted from the point of impact, their thorny stems wrapping themselves around Genevieve, pricking and binding her. 

“Well, Gen, what can I say?” Redd seethed. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m tickled to see you go.” 

Pulling the energy bolt out of the floor, she swung it at her sister’s neck. 

Genevieve’s headless body slumped to the floor, her crown rolling along the polished stone tiles like a dropped coin.

The House of Hearts: (from left) Princess Rose Heart, Queen Theodora Heart, King Tyman Heart, and Princess Genevieve

Princesses Genevieve and Rose Heart had once been inseparable, their different temperaments complementing each other. Where Redd was opinionated, undisciplined, and flirtatious, Genevieve was quiet, studious, and proper. Both were intelligent. Both were gifted with powerful imaginations, though Redd’s was stronger, and it required little effort for her to imagine into existence what Genevieve had to regularly practice.

Genevieve naturally looked up to her charismatic older sister. She didn’t agree with everything Rose did, but she often wished to be more like her—freer, publicly confident, treating life as if it were a game she’d already deservedly won.

But Rose was heir to the throne, and as the time for her accession drew nearer, the differences that had once brought the sisters together began to push them apart. She became increasingly arrogant and contemptuous. Her lack of discipline, which had seemed like a cavalier disregard for stuffy conventions, evolved into a general unruliness that included more than just dabbling in illegalities.

Again and again, Genevieve found herself trying to defend her sister’s behavior to their mother, Queen Theodora, (Queen of Wonderland). Again and again, she made excuses for Rose’s non-appearance at royal functions, lying for her sister, saying that Rose was sick in bed when she was actually out with sleazy characters, lolling in some artificial crystal den (an opium den of Wonderland).

She frequently tried talking Rose out of her bad behavior.

“Perhaps you shouldn’t doubt Mother in front of her advisers,” she once said. “It comes off as if you’re questioning the queen’s authority, which many see as undermining it.”

“If she makes a dumb decision, I’m supposed to let her?” Rose had answered. “I should just sit back and be quiet and let her compromise my inheritance? Our inheritance, I should say,

although you won’t have the burden of running the queendom.”

She’s spoiled, Genevieve thought, wondering how Rose came to be that way when she herself wasn’t. Their parents hadn’t been particularly indulgent, had sought to instill in them a reverence for Light Imagination, the principles of which were guided by love, a sense of justice and duty to the well-being of others. Genevieve and her sister had grown up surrounded by wealth and privilege, but Genevieve could not help thinking of those less fortunate, whereas Rose seemed to take wealth, privilege, and authority as her due.

Quietly disappointed in her sister, Genevieve still never expected Rose to be removed from succession. Nor did she long for it. She wasn’t grasping or envious; she had no desire to be queen. Yet Genevieve considered it the responsible thing, appropriate to her title and station, to be schooled in swordplay and all things martial.

Besides, it couldn’t hurt for a woman to know how to defend herself.

So, she trained as warrior queens of earlier generations had done, and exercised her imagination daily, gaining impressive control and nuance in her conjuring’s.

Then things worsened: Rose was pregnant and refused to identify the father.

Embarrassed by such disdain for social norms, for the well-being of a child born out of wedlock, Genevieve was ashamed of her sister. But she felt protective, too; Rose—with child, physically sensitive, hormonally wrought—was at her most vulnerable.

Rose gave birth to a healthy girl, but Queen Theodora, enlisting Genevieve in the subterfuge, convinced her that the baby hadn’t survived. Genevieve, who felt guilty about lying to her sister, hoped that the “loss” of the child would induce Rose to improve her behavior. And it’s possible, though doubtful, that it would have, if Theodora hadn’t done what she did next. Genevieve found out only afterward, Rose raging, her voice echoing throughout the palace. 

The eldest Heart daughter had been removed from succession, replaced by the younger. 

Rose burst into Genevieve’s rooms and accused her of having connived for the crown all along. 

Denying this, Genevieve said, “I want the best for you, Rose. I always have. Do I wish that you’d be less stubborn in your refusal to abide by anyone’s rules but your own? Yes, but—” 

Rose swore vengeance. 

“Your inclination for vengeance is part of the problem,” Genevieve tried, but too late; her sister was stalking out of the rooms. 

She did want the best for Rose and believed that she always would, but all scrap of sisterly love disintegrated after Rose sneaked into Theodora’s bedchamber one night and placed a fatal mushroom on her tongue. 

For the good of the queendom, Genevieve was coronated. Furious, Rose threw off her given name in favor of “Redd,” promising that unbridled bloodshed would splatter the doorstep of every Wonderlander. Both sisters gathered their followers and Wonderland succumbed to civil war, during which Redd lived up to her promise. Genevieve proved victorious only because of the superiority of her army. She banished Redd from the realm, and the daily life of Wonderland returned to what might be called “normal.” 

Queen Genevieve ruled judiciously, guided by the precepts of Light Imagination, but never for a second—and especially not after she gave birth to Alyss—did she forget that dark forces were at work in The Chessboard Desert, where Redd had ensconced herself in a bleak fortress dubbed Mt. Isolation. Sooner or later, Genevieve knew, Redd would attack the queendom, and it would require all of her imaginative powers and then some to ensure its survival... and Alyss’s.

The Mad Hatter’s Missing Brother: Dalton Madigan

Dalton Madigan had worked hard to be a Milliner for the ages, and his skillset—that of a ninja, US Army Ranger, Navy Seal, MI6 agent, and KGB operative rolled into one—now surpassed his instructors’ expectations, their estimates of his potential, as high as they had been, having proven too conser­vative. Yet technically, Dalton was still a student, a cadet at the academy where generations of select Wonderlanders had trained in hopes of becoming members of the queendom’s most accom­plished security force.

The morning of his graduation, Dalton spent his last hours on campus walking the grounds in quiet contemplation, every sight a touchstone to memory. There, next to the sprit-dane topiary, was where he’d tended wounds that his younger brother Hatter had suffered while toying with a wrist-blade. ---

There was the patch of grass inside the service gate, which Dalton had fre­quently used as his own private training area, spending count­less hours perfecting hand-to-hand combat fundamentals. And there—the curving path to the kitchens that he and Hatter had first taken eight years earlier, when they had been brought to the Millinery to live as its wards after their parents Belmore and Lydia were killed on a mission.

“He’s so little!” Cook exclaimed of Hatter.

Dalton placed a protective hand on his brother’s shoulder. “He’s the son of two of the greatest Milliners in history.”

“Of course!” Cook said and gave them each a plate piled high with jollyjelly scones.

Dalton strolled on, past the banquet hall and the Wonder­ground practice field. The Millinery had, unsurprisingly, become more than just an institution to him; it was home. But every­body had to leave home some time.

At only twenty years old, Top Cadet in his class, Dalton Madigan had been awarded the post of Queen Theodora’s per­sonal bodyguard, the highest possible honor a Milliner could receive in Wonderland.

Dalton Madigan deploys his Milliner Blades

Carrying a dusty old box, Dalton found Hatter (aka the Mad Hatter) in his newly assigned dorm room. It was a small, minimally furnished space, but a decided improvement over the basement apartment where he, too, had lived before formally beginning his education.

“I might not have a chance to see you alone again before I go,” he said.

Hatter merely nodded, shy around the queen’s new bodyguard.

Say something about how you’re going to miss him, Dalton prodded himself. Tell him you’d rather not leave the only family you still have.

Dalton pulled a battered stovepipe hat from the box he was carrying. “It belonged to Dad,” he said, offering the hat to his brother. “It’s the first one he ever wore as a Milliner. I was wait­ing to give it to you until you started your education.”

“Dad’s?” Hatter faintly echoed, his lips twisting in either per­plexity or displeasure, Dalton couldn’t tell which; and belatedly, the older Madigan realized: unimpressive as the hat was, it was nothing if not a stinging reminder of their parents’ absence.

Dalton opened his mouth to say—what? That the stove­pipe might inspire Hatter to accomplish great things, as it had inspired him? It felt like a lie. The hat had inspired him, but more from negative connotations than positive ones. The brothers hadn’t resided long at the Millinery before Dalton started hearing rumors that Belmore and Lydia had compromised themselves somehow, not only abandoning Millinery procedures, failing to perform up to the level of its least impressive graduates, but possibly engaging in treason.

Dalton, just twelve at the time, might have imagined worse than the truth. But since he never learned the truth, throughout his teen years he waffled between missing his parents, revering them as he had when they’d been alive, and being angry with them for having, by their deaths, abandoned him and Hatter— though not before compromising the Madigan reputation.

And Dalton’s worst assumptions were still with him. Which was why he’d worked so hard to excel at the Millinery Academy, to ensure that the Madigan name would again reverberate in people’s heads with respect, awe.

He must know the rumors, Dalton thought, watching Hatter wipe dust from the crown of their father’s hat. They hadn’t talked about it, but . . . he must know.

“I wish I could be around for you,” Dalton offered.

The words sounded false to his ears. Like many such orphaned siblings before him, he had tried to be everything to his younger brother—mother and father, all while keeping on top of his stud­ies. An impossibility. No doubt he hadn’t always been around when Hatter had needed him, and here he was, pretending he could make up for earlier neglect with a futile comment about the future.

“I wish . . . ” Dalton started again, but his voice petered out.

He knew that everyone at the academy thought him as emo­tive as a quartz slab. Not infrequently, he longed to bust free of the rigid exoskeleton under which he stowed all feeling.

Stepping forward, Dalton awkwardly put an arm across Hatter’s shoulders, unable to remember the last time he had touched his brother with more than a handshake.

The Hat of Belmore Madigan, passed down to Dalton and Hatter

It would be his last act as a cadet: to impress upon the incoming Millinery class a sense of what they might accomplish if they put in the effort.

Outfitted with his full complement of gear, Dalton stood in the open space of the academy’s Holographic and Transmutative Base of Extremecombat, a state-of-the-art training arena commonly called the HATBOX.

Floor, walls, ceiling: all were checkerboards of large blue and white tiles. Temporary bleachers had been erected at one end of the otherwise barren room, and the new cadets—Hatter among them—took their seats and waited in anxious silence for . . . they didn’t know what. Expressionless, immobile, Dalton also didn’t know what he was waiting for— not exactly. He had asked not to be told in advance, wanting to react instinctively to adversaries.

A sound like escaping steam came from the bleachers, the audience gasping in near unison as—

Zzmp.

Fourteen white floor tiles flipped to reveal a platoon of card soldiers from the Diamond Deck. The soldiers charged Dalton, and he shrugged to activate his Millinery backpack; it sprouted an array of blades—C-blades, J-blades, daggers, corkscrews— all of which he put to excellent use. ---

Succumbing to Dalton’s weapons, soldiers folded in on themselves. Only two were left. Leaping over the Four Card, midair, Dalton threw a dagger into its vitals. Landing, he dodged left to avoid the sword of the Three Card, whose life he deftly ended with a J-blade to the heart.

Breathing heavily, Dalton stood in the ringing silence, no longer aware of the bleachers’ worth of cadets holding their collective breath. He was alive only to his own survival.

Zzmp.

The tiles supporting the dead card soldiers flipped; up came a set of white chessmen—pawns, knights, and rooks—and they raged toward Dalton. In a single fluid motion, he snatched the top hat off his head and flicked it flat into spinning rotary blades, which he sent slicing into the nearest pawn. The blades took out two more pawns and a rook while—

“Yah! Ugh!”

Dalton defended himself against a pair of knights, the wrist-blades of one hand activated—a centrifugal blur of Wonderland steel that served as a shield against the knights’ thrusts. He lifted his free hand to catch his spinning hat blades as they boomer­anged back to him.

Thuuunnk!

A cannonball dropped from the ceiling—so close that it took out one of the knights. Dalton staggered backward, unable regain solid footing before the ball doubled in size, morphing. Nodules protruded. Panels retracted. Eight long mechanical legs unfolded. Dalton found himself backed toward a wall by what we on Earth might describe as a giant steampunkish arachnid. Like all cannonball spiders, this one had pincers capable of sev­ering a Milliner in half.

Dalton slashed his way through a converging scrum of chess­men and ran to meet the advancing spider, diving head first between its legs and taking up position underneath its “belly.” The spider scuttled about, trying to get out of its own way, as it were, its pincers clacking air.

Thuuunnk! Thuuunnk!

More cannonball spiders dropped from the ceiling. A pro­jectile the size and shape of an ordinary playing card whizzed past Dalton’s head, shot from a rook’s AD-52—an automatic dealer capable of shooting razor-cards at the rate of fifty-two per second. Dalton pulled a tab on his backpack’s shoulder strap; a complex of rods and blades telescoped up and out of the pack, arranging themselves into a horizontal propeller that whirred over his head, lifting him into the air.

Kkkrrchkkrchkchk.

It wasn’t the smoothest liftoff, ascending through the body of a cannonball spider. The propeller jammed more than once. Dalton veered at chest height amid chessmen, kicking at them to get free. A spider’s pincers tore off half a trouser leg, but then . . . up, up he went, pulling his knees close to his chest, extending his arms below, and flexing his fists to activate his wrist-blades as shields from the chessmen’s razor-cards and crystal shot.

The cannonball spiders started to climb the walls. Dalton, nearing the ceiling. deactivated his wrist-blades, and a hand again went to his shoulder strap. The propeller retracted, his backpack returned to its everyday innocuous appearance, and he punched his belt buckle to open the sabers at his midsection; the longest blades he possessed flicked out out from all sides of him.

He let himself drop, spinning like a blender into the chess­men below.

Swink, swink, swink, swink!

Pieces of pawns, rooks, and nights lay all around him. AD52s and crystal shooters littered the floor.

The cannonball spiders jumped from the walls as Dalton armed himself with an AD52 in one hand and a crystal shooter in the other. He aimed between their pincers, sending missiles down their mechanical gullets. Most of the spiders burst into pieces. Some wobbled, then folded their legs, forever inert.

Dalton again stood, out of breath, in a ringing silence.

Zzmp.

The HATBOX floor tiles flipped, clearing the arena. The exhi­bition was over. Every cadet in the audience, having ducked or crouched to avoid cannonball spider shrapnel, now sat with their eyes wide and their mouths hanging open, the name Madigan reverberating in their heads with respect, awe.

Dalton Madigan Rides a Spirit-Dane

The life of a queen’s bodyguard: constant vigilance, but so far, for Dalton at least, no combat. He told himself that he wasn’t get­ting soft, that just because he spent his days amid the splendors of Heart Palace, where royals sipped tea and strolled in gardens while Queen Theodora occupied herself with diplomacy—none of this meant that he was falling out of top Milliner shape, phys­ically or mentally.

He wasn’t entirely convinced.

More and more, as he stood discreetly within sight of the queen while she confabbed with the Lords and Ladies of the Diamond, Club, and Spade families, Dalton would be flanked by the Heart princesses, Rose and Genevieve. Was he always so stiff and somber? Rose would tease. She was a constant flirt and decidedly less conventional than her sister.

“How can you effectively fight against Dark Imagination if you don’t know what it feels like?” she asked one time.

“I don’t need to be a criminal to thwart a criminal,” Dalton answered. “An assassin to thwart a murder—

“But you are an assassin when called upon to be one, aren’t you?” Rose laughed.

His brain always went fuzzy in her company. He tried not to notice the way her tongue poked out deliciously from between her teeth when she was privately amused. He tried not to notice the curves of her body, so tauntingly outlined by the tight dresses of jabberwock-hide she favored. But he couldn’t help it; his head, his thoughts, kept turning in Rose Heart’s direction.

It wasn’t instantaneous but a gradual wearing down of his resolve. Dalton came to feel that he didn’t have much choice; he surrendered to Rose and let himself be seduced. Having an affair with the princess, the daughter of the queen he’d sworn to pro­tect: he could be expelled from the Millinery for such a breach of ethics.

He had no intention of being like his parents, sabotaging his reputation, and he vowed to himself to end the relationship. But every time Rose called for him, he went to her, and he soon discovered that he liked secretly breaking the rules. As long as no one found out, he wouldn’t be like his parents.

He knew that Rose dabbled in Dark Imagination, and more than once, as he guarded Queen Theodora’s rooms at night, she messaged him, asking him to retrieve her from some illegal establishment that she’d sneaked off to visit, too far gone on artificial crystal to make it back to Heart Palace on her own. The more wild Rose became, the more he liked her. She was so unabashed, so disregardful of etiquette, norms, expectations, so unafraid to just be. He “liked” her? No, he loved her.

Then something happened. Queen Theodora quarantined her eldest daughter. It wasn’t like Rose to tolerate such treatment, but Dalton couldn’t get any information out of Genevieve as to the reason for the quarantine or for Rose’s tolerance of it. When, after what felt like an excruciatingly long time, he saw Rose again, he didn’t know that she had given birth to a girl, allegedly stillborn. But along with everyone else in Wonderland, he did know that, on account of Rose’s rebellious behavior, Queen Theodora had removed her from succession to the throne.

“How are you?” he asked tenderly.

“Glad I won’t have the burden of ruling,” she said with seem­ing nonchalance.

A few nights later she messaged him, needing him to bring her home from an artificial crystal den. As always, he didn’t ask for a palace guard to cover his post because this would have been a public admission that he was shirking his responsibilities. He secreted himself off to the crystal den, but Rose wasn’t there, and he very soon discovered why: she’d used his absence to sneak into Theodora’s rooms and murder the queen, swearing that she would wear the crown.

With shock, anger, dismay, Dalton understood that he’d been an accomplice in the queen’s death—unwitting, but an accomplice, nonetheless.

He didn’t say goodbye to anyone—not to Rose, whom he couldn’t help loving despite all, and not to his brother Hatter. He jumped into The Pool of Tears, a portal presumed to take those who entered its waters to other worlds, though no one had ever returned to verify it.

Dalton’s impulse to run, his unwillingness to face the conse­quences of his actions, surprised him. But he refused to live with his disgrace reflected in every Wonderland eye that deigned to look at him.

The Pool of Tears

Earth is a gray and primitive place compared to Wonderland. But Dalton, going through his days as if serving a prison term, thinks it appropriate; he doesn’t deserve better. He has spent years working as a mercenary for the unscrupulous and power-mad. His self-hatred and constant proximity to corruption have smashed what was left of his moral compass. Now, unknown to him, Wonderland suffers a violent convulsion, and his younger brother jumps into The Pool of Tears.

Now, not one but two Madigans wander the earth; each lost to themselves, they might yet find each other.

Chad Evett, Mad Hatter Cosplay Master at SDCC 2022

To all my Wonderland fans enjoying a trip down the rabbit hole of San Diego Comic-Con, be sure to keep an eye out for the cosplay king and Master Hatter (not to mention my friend and Wonderverse collaborator) Chad Evett. My understanding is that he will be dressed as Doctor Strange today.

Chad will be participating as a pro costume designer in several panels on Friday and Saturday at the convention center. However, on the final day I know he will be cutting loose as the Mad Hatter, and will be joined by his glorious gang The League of Hatters. You will all be happy to know our very own Hatter Madigan will be among their ranks—and I absolutely cannot wait for the pictures to start popping up!

To help pass the time—take a look at this conversation I had with Chad about his amazing cosplay craft.


Q: Frank Beddor

What is Cosplay?

A: Chad Evett

Cosplay is a slang term for the phrase ''Costume Play,'' which is the art of dressing up in costumes and going out into the world. This can mean you embody the character and act like them, or perhaps you just like dressing up.

There are cosplayers who make their own costumes, but this isn't necessarily a requirement. It’s all about going out and having fun.

Chad Evett holding the Queen of Clubs' shoe

Q: FB

How did you get into it?

A: CE

I had always had a love of dressing up and playing about in costumes, who doesn't? Originally it was all about Harry Potter, dressing up and going to the movies or the book releases. From there, it sort of spilled over into any movie or event---let’s dress up, it'll be more fun! (and more work!)

I ended up teaching myself to sew with the help of my mother (an award winning quilter) and the local seamstresses who did costumes for the various theater productions I was involved in. (incidentally, Hi Rebecca! Hi Barbara!)

Q: FB

How did you get into designing? Were you designing for cosplay or were you designing other things first?

A: CE

It had always been costumes. Most of the plays I directed were original productions, so it was a necessity to imagine and then realize fully formed characters. I have a ton of original designs, but those I tend to keep secret. I've had ideas stolen before, so I usually only post my replica work online. (Replicas are a great way to learn new techniques) It was my replica work that got me out to California.  

Q: FB

What's your background?

A: CE

My background is predominantly in theater. I have been acting since I was a child, usually in local productions, and then when I got out of high school I started directing. I originally wanted to be a director, and by directing shows and organizing productions, I took on the role of scenic and costume designer.

 I had always been interested in costumes, but I didn't know how to sew. By doing theater, especially the grandiose fantasy shows I was writing, I was sort of forced to learn this trade because the wonderful, WONDERFUL seamstresses working to build costumes for my shows sort of taught me as we went along. Then one thing led to another and before I knew it I was actively participating in cosplay. Which is a slippery slope!

Chad's Design Sketches

Q: FB

How did you approach creating Whoopi Goldberg's character, The Queen of Clubs?

A: CE

The Queen of Clubs came a little naturally to me---whereas Redd needed to be decadent and a little seedy, Clubs needed to be, in my opinion, classier and regal and refined. I always thought that she would approach her position with dignity, she may not be THE queen, but she is still a queen. So I looked at fabrics that felt royal and regal, but slightly subtle. Also, I felt that Redd would want to Rule the world, but Clubs would want to Explore. So all of her fabrics are eclectic and foreign, the main fabric is a Chinese brocade, that I laired under black crystal organza. Her robe is the same organza, and that ties the look together. ---

By using something like organza as well, the shimmery nature of the fabric aided in making the gown look regal. Also, the fabrics I chose catch the sun rather than reflect it, creating a ''glowing'' effect. All of the crystals and embroidery on the front were done by hand, and everything glass is actually Swarovski crystal. I did 4 different sketches before deciding on the look we did, simply because all of them didn't look quite right. She vaguely resembles a chess piece, thereby subconsciously reflecting the power struggle between Clubs and Redd.

My Mother inspired me. A woman who brings a sense of dignity to everything she does, and how, in my mind, that is the ideal queen. Someone with intuition who works from a sense of kindness and the greater good. So using that as a jumping off point I was able to dress the Ideal Matriarch.

The Queen of Clubs, Inspired by Whoopi Goldberg - Costume Created by Chad Evett

Q: FB

Queen Redd was an audience favorite, how did you create the flesh-eating roses?

A: CE

Those Roses! I found silk roses in downtown LA, and then crafted all of their Maws using a clay that turns slightly transparent when baked. That way the teeth looked natural and the gums looked shiny and fleshy.

Redd, the Red Queen of Wonderland

Q: FB

Hatter Madigan revealed his top hat transformed into blades, was that a magic trick? Or…?

A: CE

That hat was an antique silk top hat that was collapsible, and we re-skinned it to make it look like the blue caterpillar silk of the books. The Transforming Brim was crafted for us by Mr. Pinski Props, and all of the blades are etched with the various Royal Suits of Wonderland. It may not be a Magic Trick but it is definitely a Hat Trick!

Hatter Madigan standing on the Mad Hatter Statue in New York

Q: FB

Tell us about Warrior Alyss and your costume, Dodge Anders.

A: CE

Dodge and Alyss need more on them----they are a prime example of how costumes tend to grow into being. You work on something and tweak it into existence. Alyss was done specifically to look simultaneously hardcore and Mellifluous. All of her fabrics are bridal fabrics, because they have body but can flow. Her color scheme is designed to reflect the ''glow'' of wonder: the power of imagination. Her buckles and fittings are gold, reflecting her royal nature.

Dodge is the regal captain of the guard, but we kept him specifically dark. His fittings were all done in silver, keeping him noble but one step below Alyss (Alice) on the hierarchy. Both of them will have more work done to prep them for further events, but I am really proud of how they are coming along!

Queen Alyss visiting the Alice in Wonderland statue in New York City

Q: FB

Lastly, the shoes Whoopi was wearing on the show - those of her character - what is the story behind them?

A: CE

I knew Whoopi was a fan of shoes, and I knew Whoopi was a fan of the Looking Glass Wars books. So when Frank revealed to me that Whoopi had contributed and become a character in the books, it made sense to combine the two. Her shoes are designed to be something the Queen of Clubs would wear, but realized on fabrics and textures that are regal and royal. They directly match the dress---the same fabrics, colors, and crystals.

I worked with American Duchess in Nevada to create them, they are French court shoes made in black brocade, and they were made specifically For Whoopi. Once I had them I did the handwork and glammed them up, and fitted them with Club shaped Cabochons and crystal work to create something sparkly and immaculate. The soles of the shoes are also stamped with the Looking Glass Wars Logo.

They just sparkle on screen, and I adore them. I want a pair for me! I had so much fun making them for Whoopi, and I hope to do more items for her in the future. The View is such a joyous program, and it makes so many people feel good, that it is an honor and a privilege to do items for those incredible ladies. They ARE royalty!

Queen of Clubs Shoes - Made for Whoopi Goldberg
The Looking Glass Wars Cosplayers on The View -- See Whoopi's Shoes!