Alice in Sunderland: An Entertainment is a graphic novel by comics writer and artist Bryan Talbot. It explores the links between Lewis Carroll and the Sunderland area, with wider themes of history, myth and storytelling.
Sunderland! Thirteen hundred years ago it was the greatest center of learning in the whole of Christendom and the very cradle of English consciousness. In the time of Lewis Carroll it was the greatest shipbuilding port in the world. To this city that gave the world the electric light bulb, the stars and stripes, the millennium, the Liberty Ships and the greatest British dragon legend came Carroll in the years preceding his most famous book, Alice in Wonderland, and here are buried the roots of his surreal masterpiece. Enter the famous Edwardian palace of varieties, The Sunderland Empire, for a unique experience: an entertaining and epic meditation on myth, history and storytelling and decide for yourself – does Sunderland really exist?
Guardian Review by Michel Faber
“delightfully trippy history mashing”
“A fascinating pastiche of history – of England, Sunderland, and Alice in Wonderland. Alice has roots in the east coast of England, not just Oxford, and this book proves it, with excursions into the history of the light bulb, the Venerable Bede and a million other things along the way.”
“This book is, as far as I’m concerned, a towering masterpiece of the graphic novel form. It’s a stunning work whose existence convinces me that comics may have reached a “golden age”, because ALICE IN SUNDERLAND pushes the boundaries of what can be done with the form.”
“I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like that before.
Alice in Sunderland is essentially a history of the North East from Saxon times to the modern day, mixed with a study of Lewis Carrol’s forgotten (or, if you are feeling paranoid, ‘surpressed’) links with the area.
On top of that you have interviews, reviews, polemic, politics, biography and tenuously linked sidebars. The characters include the Author (playing three parts), Sid James, George Formby, Alice Liddel, The Lady in Grey, local historians, artists and writers, as well as many historical figures, both famous and obscure.
All of that is crammed into just over 300 pages of oversized, beautiful art. It needs and bears close reading, although to try and absorb the whole thing in one sitting would likely burst your brain. Seriously.
It is a remarkable achievement. Read it. Please.”