In 2007, Zenescope took readers down the rabbit hole in "Return to Wonderland," a series following the adventures of Alice Liddle's granddaughter, Calie, in a twisted version of Wonderland worthy of the Grimm Fairy Tales mythos. While Calie's tale has spanned a number of subsequent miniseries, the fate of Wonderland's original protagonist has been remained untold, until now.
This December, Zenescope and longtime "Wonderland" writer Raven Gregory take readers back to the very beginning of the Wonderland saga with "Alice in Wonderland." Starring Alice Liddle, the series, featuring covers by Artgerm, Eric Basaluda and Nei Ruffino, promises to touch on some of the classic elements from Lewis Carroll's original work along with the trademarked twist of "Return to Wonderland."
CBR News spoke with Gregory about the next chapter in his epic story, the mythology of Wonderland, how "Alice in Wonderland" will bridge the gap to "Return to Wonderland" and what the future holds for both Alice and Calie in the years to come.
CBR News: Raven, before "Alice in Wonderland," you had sent your time following the escapades of Alice's granddaughter Calie in Wonderland. In fact, this is the first time you've actually visited the original character of Alice. What prompted the change in focus?
Raven Gregory: We'd been talking about doing the "Alice" story for quite some time, but we all agreed we'd only do it if we had a really good story to tell. After how well the "Wonderland" trilogy turned out, the last thing we wanted to do was to run this thing into the ground. We decided the only way to do it was to wait for the right story to come along, one that would be able to stand on its own merits yet also play into this massive mythology we've developed over the last five years. We've also had some time since "Escape From Wonderland" came out, and the conversations began turning more and more toward Wonderland. We (Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco) all started chatting it up, and the next thing you know, we found a story we all think new readers and long time fans of the series will really enjoy.
You've already put your own spin on so many elements of Wonderland in the "Wonderland" minis. What new aspects of that world do you plan on exploring?
There's such a rich mythology in the Wonderland universe that the sky really is the limit. We'll be seeing characters in a new light as this story takes place long before Calie set foot in Wonderland as well as exploring situations only briefly glimpsed in the "Return to Wonderland" series. Things like the Carpenter and the Walrus, the tea party and croquet game are going to give creepy a whole new name. But beyond that, I'm approaching the series with fresh brand new eyes. I was talking to J. Scott Campbell on the phone about Wonderland and what a cool universe it is and how much he loves fantasy. We got to talking about how part of what makes Wonderland Wonderland is that it doesn't have to make sense. Part of the appeal is the insanity of it all, and that if you're not taking advantage of that aspect, you're really doing a disservice to the story. So, with this series we're stepping outside of the box and trying new visuals and storytelling techniques I've never seen done before in a comic that I think is really going to blow people away.
Alice didn't meet with the happiest ending at the end of "Return to Wonderland." How far will this series go with the character and will we get to see her decent into insanity?
That is a really big part of the story. You know what happens to Alice at the end of "Return to Wonderland." The question is, how did she get there. And why. That's the answer to the question that will really change the way readers look at the original trilogy and put it in a whole new light.
Will this series show a bit more of Calie, or is this strictly about Alice's journey into Wonderland?
This is all Alice. I thought about throwing Calie in there in a cameo or something along those lines, but as it stands now, this is strictly Alice's story.
While many of Zenescope's "Grimm Fairy Tales" books stray pretty far from the source material, they do always have a few major elements of the original work. How much of Lewis Carroll's original story do you take into account here?
With "Return to Wonderland," we actually stuck very close to the source material. But once the mythos we established actually began to take root, much of the story has come about very organically from that versus the source. There will still be those moments that all "Alice in Wonderland" fans remember, but more so from a natural direction of where the story is taking us versus being faithful to the source material.
How new-reader friendly is this book? Will folks that have no prior exposure to the "Wonderland" books be able to jump on here?
I'm hoping so. I'm looking at this series and keeping in mind that when someone picks this up, it might be the first comic they've ever read while also staying true to the essence of the series of what has been laid out before. Longtime fans are going flip for some of the stuff in this series, but it is very much handled in a way that newcomers won't be lost at all.
You've been working in this universe for a while now. Why is Wonderland a place that you continue to revisit?
It has this very enduring quality, this pure sense of fantasy with an underlining darkness that is the backbone of all of the best fairy tales. There's something about that perfect combination that can grab you as a child and stay with you, long into your adult year. And, I love the idea of a world where nothing makes sense. The childlike metaphor for the horror that is insanity. Something about that gets me and keeps me coming back for more.
On a similar note, do you see an end in sight for the over-arching "Wonderland" saga?
There's an ending there. Somewhere. But I haven't found it yet. Every time I think I've found the ending, something pulls me back into this world. Next year, we'll be doing the "Wonderland" ongoing series featuring Calie and her daughter Violet. I can't see an end in sight.
Finally, what have you found most rewarding so far about writing Alice's adventures in Wonderland?
Besides the great fans of the series (and I really do mean that, I have the best fans a fat kid from Arizona could ever have), I'd say it's the characters. There's this place you get to with the characters, where they become almost real in your head. Where they transcend paper and ink and become something more. I've been blessed with living in this universe long enough for that to happen for me each and every time I sit down to write these characters, and even if that might sound quite mad, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.