Why Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” is the Ultimate Piece of Alice in Wonderland Content

I’ve said it in countless blogs before and I’ll say it here again, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has surpassed popular culture and has reached a different level – it is culture. We use Alice-isms such as, “down the rabbit hole” or “wonderland” in our everyday language without even thinking of the source material. Due to the cultural impact that Lewis Carrol’s novel has had and continues to have on the world, it should be a surprise to no one that there have been a lot of Alice references in media. From art, such as Salvador Dali’s illustrations of Wonderland, to films like The Matrix, to songs like Wonderland by Taylor Swift. Alice is everywhere. But I won’t talk about any of those media pieces today. No, today I’m going to be talking about arguably the most recognizable piece of Alice-inspired pop culture that has ever been made. Today I’m talking about Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”.

For those of you who don’t know the song by name, you still know the song. You’ve definitely heard it. Have you seen any movie ever? Ever watched TV? Great, you’ve heard it. The song is used so much in film and television that if I were to list all movies and TV shows it’s in, you wouldn’t be able to read this blog as Frank wouldn’t be able to afford it. I think I found a good way to sum up how many credits it has. The song is featured in both the Oscar-winning Platoon, a powerful and harrowing anti-Vietnam war film, as well as the non-Oscar winning The Secret Life of Pets 2, which needs no introduction as the title is quite self-explanatory.

What gods amongst men could have created such a lasting piece of media? Who are these modern-day Prometheus… Prometheses? Promethei? Regardless, Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band that was formed in the 1960s in San Francisco. Like many 60’s rock bands from San Francisco, they partook in psychedelics. The writer of “White Rabbit,” Grace Slick, admitted that she came up with the song while hallucinating on LSD. Which I find pretty unfair because the one time I took acid, I didn’t come up with a hit song or create Apple computers or cool drawings. No, I just sat in the fetal position quite positive that what I had just done to my brain was permanent. While the permanence of the self-inflicted damage is up for debate, this song’s references to illicit substances are not. The line “Feed your head” is about expanding your mind with psychedelics along with the suggestion to read more books. Interestingly, this song is one of the first hit songs to reference and suggest the partaking of illicit substances without raising the suspicions of censors.

Black and White image of Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick, circa 1969.

Grace Slick often read both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass as a child and found the books had a lasting effect on her. She enjoyed the fact that Alice was the rare children’s book that did not have a prince charming saving the heroine, that it followed a little girl in a strange land being driven forward by her curiosity which, to Grace, was represented by the White Rabbit. She thought that the message of the story could be taken and used by women to push their own agenda. I believe that during the ’60s, pushing an agenda was not thought of as an annoying thing to do.

Almost every line in “White Rabbit” references the world Lewis Carroll had created. Starting with the first verse, “One pill makes you larger/and one pill makes you small/and the ones your mother gives you/don’t do anything at all/Go ask Alice/When she’s ten feet tall.” I mean, besides the one line about mothers giving placebos, which might be about how parents are often thought of as not knowing what is going on in teens and not having the right “medicine” for them. I don’t know, I’m not Googling it. The first verse is literally Alice’s first action in Wonderland.

Psychedelic illustration inspired by "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" of Alice looking up at the Blue Caterpillar who is smoking on a mushroom. Work by artist Howie Green.

The next verse, “And if you go chasing rabbits/and you know you’re going to fall/Tell ‘em a hookah-smoking caterpillar/Has given you the call/Call Alice/When she was just small.” I’m not going to point out the references in this verse because, well you know them, but I believe this verse is about going on a metaphorical adventure and giving advice on what to do if you think you would fail. Think of Alice and allow your curiosity to drive you along.

“When the men on the chessboard/Get up and tell you where to go/And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom/ And your mind is moving low/Go ask Alice/I think she’ll know.” The third verse might be about people telling you what to do or how to be. The line about mushrooms and a low mind is probably just about taking psilocybin mushrooms and these people bringing your trip down. Then for the second time, telling the listener to, “ask Alice” which to me means that you should follow your curiosity, but in this instance, if you were on a hallucinogen, allowing your curiosity to pique is actually good advice for someone having a bad trip.

Psychedelic illustration of a multi-colored mushroom forest set against trees and sky.

The final verse, “When logic and proportion/Have fallen sloppy dead/And the White Knight is talking backwards/And the Red Queen’s off with her head/Remember what the dormouse said/Feed your head/Feed your head.” Okay, so this verse is about how if the world has gone crazy the best thing you can do to remedy the situation is to “feed your head,” a.k.a. learn, be it from books or illicit drugs. Grace Slick’s words, not mine.

This song is essentially a retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland where the story beats of the book and the metaphorical beats in the song actually line up quite well. This might have something to do with the staying power of the song. Perhaps Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’s staying power rubbed off on Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”. With references to the White Rabbit, the Blue Caterpillar, Eat Me and Drink Me, The White Knight, and of course the Red Queen, it’s easy to see how this is a quintessential piece of Alice media.

Promotional photograph taken in 1967 of the members of the psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane - Grace Slick, Marty Balin, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden, Paul Kantner, and Jorma Kaukonen

The question still remains though, why is this song everywhere? I’ve come up with a theory. Along with the song’s catchy tune and well-written lyrics, the meaning of the song and its trippy vibe slot in perfectly to many different situations. Any time a character makes a big change in their life starts an adventure, or stops taking their meds, this song fits. I’m ignoring people not even caring about the meaning of the song and just putting it in a scene where someone is doing drugs because yeah of course it fits there too.

Regardless if you like the song or not, there is no arguing that Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” is the quintessential piece of Alice media. It has staying power, it has infiltrated everything we know without us noticing, and people like to take acid and listen to it. Which is to say, it’s essentially a baby Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I like the song, but that might have to do with the fact that it played during Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch, which is not my favorite movie but does hold a special place in my heart because it was the movie that was playing the first time I made out with a girl.

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 egos 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?

Changing Realities: Tubi’s Rabbit Hole and the Evolution of an Iconic Phrase

a long dark vertical cave with screens lining the walls shows a floating Alice slowly descending through the middle portray a modern take on the wonderland rabbit hole

During halftime of Super Bowl LVII (57 for those not well-versed in Roman numerals), viewers were treated to a commercial in which giant anthropomorphic rabbits kidnapped people and threw them down a rabbit hole lined with TVs. No, this wasn’t an ad warning the public about rabbit-perpetrated abductions. It was part of a brand-new marketing campaign by Tubi, an ad-supported video-on-demand service owned by the Fox Corporation, which was urging viewers to “find rabbit holes you didn’t even know you were looking for.” Tubi’s allusion to Alice’s entrance to Wonderland was just the latest example of how the term “down the rabbit hole” continues to permeate more than 150 years after Lewis Carroll originally put pen to paper. In fact, Tubi’s rabbit holes show a recent shift in how the concept is viewed in pop culture.

The Infamous White Rabbit

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland kicks off, of course, with Alice following the rushing White Rabbit down a rabbit hole into Wonderland. This portal to a world of whimsy and strangeness eventually took on a metaphorical meaning. The current operational definition, per the Oxford English Dictionary, is that a rabbit hole is a “bizarre, confusing, nonsensical situation or environment, typically one from which it is difficult to extricate oneself.” The negative, foreboding connotations in this definition can be seen in how “rabbit hole” was used in such diverse media as The Matrix, former Playboy Bunny Holly Madison’s memoir, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, and, most recently, in the Paramount+ spy thriller series, Rabbit/Hole. As used in these examples, going down a rabbit hole has come to mean entering into a labyrinthian world with danger lurking behind every unknowable corner.

promotional shot with yellow background for the show rabbit/hole with keifer sutherland on paramount plus

Of course, everyone knows what someone means when they say they went “down a YouTube rabbit hole” last night. Pulitzer Prize winner Kathryn Schulz, writing for The New Yorker in 2015, explored how the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland had come to signify extreme distraction, specifically in respect to internet usage. Schulz, in wondering why rabbit hole has become so pervasive in public consciousness compared to elements in other fictional worlds, makes an important observation. “As a metaphor for our online behavior…the rabbit hole has an advantage,” she writes, “it conveys a sense of time spent in transit.” There is a further connection to Lewis Carroll’s world in that the digital rabbit hole also seems to transcend time and space. Often, we watch YouTube videos or read Wikipedia articles for what seems to be a short time, only to look up at the clock and find that what seemed like a walk around the block was actually a transcontinental flight. An internet rabbit hole may have even caused one to be late for a very important date from time to time.

How Does Alice Get To Wonderland?

But what about this idea of transit? In Alice in Wonderland, Alice travels through the rabbit hole on her way to Wonderland. She doesn’t spend time exploring every nook and cranny of the subterranean burrow. “The modern rabbit hole,” writes Schulz, “unlike the original, isn’t a means to an end. It’s an end in itself.” Remember those TVs lining the dirt in the Tubi ad? They weren’t just for entertainment while traveling to a wondrous, surreal destination. The rabbit hole is the destination. The journey, the experience of endless exploration, entertainment, and enlightenment is the goal. The wonder and magic of Wonderland can now be found in the trip through the rabbit hole, the permanence of a fixed point replaced by the emotional, intellectual, and sensory fulfillment of the itinerant digital traveler.

animated vortex showing alice in wonderland objects such as playing cards, clocks, tea pots, books and flowers

The current usage of going down a rabbit hole also promises individualization, that the experience is fully tailored to the individual. Indeed, Nicole Parlapiano, Tubi’s Chief Marketing Officer, stressed this point when speaking in reference to their Super Bowl ad campaign, saying the streamer has a “deep and diverse content library that allows people to dive into their own personal content journey…that might just lead them down the perfect rabbit hole for them.” Now, you’re not going down a rabbit hole, but your rabbit hole. One that conversely promises both discovery and familiarity. Jim Rutenberg, a writer at large for The New York Times, recently alluded to Alice in Wonderland in a piece titled “How Fox Chased Its Audience Down the Rabbit Hole.” In it, he discusses how Rupert Murdoch and Fox News created a personalized rabbit hole for their viewers, one that reflected the world they wanted to see. Of course, this has had dangerous political consequences but Rutenberg’s usage of rabbit hole shows the continued power that the term has with the public consciousness. Additionally, it is yet another example of rabbit hole being used to refer to a set of experiences and events rather than as a means of transportation.

The Rabbit Hole Has Changed

It’s clear that the usage of rabbit hole has transformed from a conduit to a destination, but Tubi’s commercials also herald a shift in the way in which a rabbit hole is viewed. As stated earlier in this article, the term rabbit hole has commonly been used to imply something negative. Going down a digital rabbit hole often implies a loss of something – a loss of focus, a loss of sleep, a loss of time which could have otherwise been used in the pursuit of something productive. Yet the Tubi spot promises viewers that going down their rabbit hole will result in a sublime experience in which all their entertainment desires will be satiated. While one can be skeptical of Tubi’s assertions, there is a kernel of truth in their promise. Rabbit holes can be enlightening and entertaining, an expression of someone exploring their individuality. Going down a YouTube or Wikipedia rabbit hole often takes place within the context of someone achieving fulfillment through researching their interests. Going down a streaming rabbit hole can introduce viewers to content that will entertain, thrill, and comfort. Though certain particulars have changed over time, the modern usage of rabbit hole, promising enlightenment and happiness, is far closer to Lewis Carroll’s original meaning, invoking the sense that like Alice, we can all discover our own Wonderland.

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.

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

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

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

These are the facts behind Lewis Carroll’s fabrications:

Bibwit Harte (The White Rabbit)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Doppelgänger (Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frog Messengers

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

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

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

The Walrus

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

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

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

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

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

Following Hollywood’s White Rabbit Into Wonderland: Curtis Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me during a “Director Moment” after I collected enough business cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

From Script to Finished Page!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Curtis Clark

About the Author:

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