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Alice in Camille Rose Garcia's wonderland

March 6, 2010 | 10:15 am


Artist Camille Rose Garcia's lovely, creepy illustrations are known for their kohl-eyed girls, their fluid lines and their flirtation with the gorgeously unpleasant (one of her ladies comes with two heads). She is, in short, the perfect illustrator for a new edition of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. Although the book's release is timed to coincide with the release of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" movie, Garcia's images embody a completely different vision.

For our sibling blog Hero Complex, Liesl Bradner interviewed Garcia about what it's like to illustrate a book that has appeared in more than 100 different versions. An excerpt:

Hero Complex: Describe your vision of Alice.

Camille Rose Garcia: The original John Tenniel illustrations were always some of my favorites and those were definitely lodged in my head. 

I wanted to stay true to his vision but I’m so influenced by Disney. I loved the backgrounds in their early movies, ("Snow White," "Pinocchio") so I watched  a lot of those films to try to get more of a color feel. They were all done in the '30s with watercolor which has that very classic touch. It did occur to me to give Alice black hair, make it more edgy and unique but I wanted to stay true to the classic feel of the book. Using watercolors referred back to the Tenniel work but I added a little bit of a modern gothic touch as well. That was my vision for the work. ...

HC: Of the more than 50 illustrations, do you have a favorite?

CRG:  The Lobster-Quadrille. It was new and totally original. Tenniel has never illustrated that scene -- a dance where Alice and friends fling lobsters into the sea. It was a totally virgin experience for me where I had all the other scenes registered in my head. And I managed to sneak a narwhal in the background.

Garcia's illustration of the Lobster-Quadrille is above, right. Angelenos appreciate the work of the former resident, whose edition of "Alice" has made the L.A. Times bestseller list. Her book release party is on Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery on La Brea, where original illustrations from the book will be on display.

-- Carolyn Kellogg