cover image Wonderland


Tommy Kovac, . . Disney, $19.99 (159pp) ISBN 978-1-4231-0451-3

This wonderful graphic novel offshoot from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland need not worry those concerned about some crass Disney effort to strip-mine yet more revenue out of a beloved children's classic. Author Kovac and artist Liew's six-chapter novel is a droll and urbane imagining of the story behind a very minor character from Carroll's tale: Mary Ann, the White Rabbit's maid, who was mistaken for Alice. In Kovac's telling, dark-haired Mary Ann is a compulsive cleaner and follower of rules, who cares not a whit for the legendary “Alice monster,” as everyone terms the rebellious blonde, whom Mary Ann sees as little more than a “back-talking, stuck-up little prat.” Mary Ann tromps through Liew's lusciously colored landscapes, encountering all the expected characters (Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, Jabberwock) and getting into trouble with most of them. Although the mood is correctly tea party surreal, Kovac manages to add in unexpected elements, from courtly intrigue to fanaticism (Alice even has her own cult, known as “the Curious”), while never losing track of Carroll's hyperactive gamesmanship. It's a rare piece of literature that's been inspired by another yet deserves its own prideful place on the bookshelf. (Mar.)