Friday, 11 November 2011

Hatter M the Looking Glass Wars Vol. 1

Series: Hatter M the Looking Glass Wars
Words: Frank Beddor with Liz Cavalier
Images: Ben Templesmith
Issue Number: Volume 1
Release Date: 2007
Format: Trade
After reading all these super hero comics Hatter M is a great pallet cleanser. It combines quite a few things that I adore. Alice in Wonderland. Twisting old stories to give them a new life and a new feel. Beddor feeds off of his version of Wonderland from his books the Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd. Like in that universe Wonderland exists and is powered by imagination. Princess Alyss flees Wonderland through a seemingly one sided portal connected to our world after her aunt Redd stages a coup killing her family. What we know of as the story Alice in Wonderland comes from Princess Alyss retelling her story to Carroll and him writing it down.

Unlike Beddor's young adult novels Alyss is not the main character. The main character is Hatter Madigan, royal bodyguard ordered by Alyss' mother to protect the princess. While in the portal he is separated from the Princess and the graphic novel explores his journey trying to find her. Of course along the way searching for Princess Alyss Hatter manages to save other children with powerful imaginations.

I enjoyed volume one of the graphic novel more then I did the book series that it came out of. The one difficulty an author runs into with me and Alice in Wonderland is that I have been an Alice in Wonderland fan since I was all of three. I have annotated versions, I have collected versions, I have versions with different artwork inside. I have seen movie adaptations. I have seen T.V. Adaptations. I have played the video game. For me Alice in Wonderland is serious business and the standards I hold things to are high. So when I first read Beddor's young adult novel it did not suck me in quite in the way I was hoping. I think that it is a story that translates well to a graphic novel format. I like that Bedder and Liz Cavalier used it as a chance to expand their universe and characters instead of just adapting the existing story.

It is a fairly dark fantasy graphic novel. Both in terms of the story and in terms of the art work. Most of the colours in the graphic novel are muted. There is a lot of greys and browns. The rare flashes of bright unmuted colours are shocking and they stand out. A butterfly here. A rainbow there. A shocking flash of red hair. Ben Templesmith's art jumps from being amazingly simple but effective to huge levels of details depending on what the story requires at any given point. While it is not art I would hang on my wall it does aid the telling of the story and setting the tone or mood of the graphic novel greatly.
I like that it is a graphic novel that in a few years I can share with my niece. I am always trying to find things to read and share with her as well. It is a story that I wont mind rereading a few times in the future.

Now that Beddor and Cavalier have the stage set and Hatter on his quest I am excited to read more. Luckily for me I just got vol. 2 and 3 as an early birthday gift!

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