Robert Sabuda and J. Otto Seibold aren't artists usually mentioned in the same sentence. In fact, the kind of work they are most well-known for wouldn't normally be grouped together (intricate pop-ups for Sabuda, highly stylized picture books with digital art for Seibold), until now. Due out this fall are two takes on Lewis Carroll's classic, pop-up style: Seibold's Alice in Pop-Up Wonderland (Orchard) and Sabuda's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Little Simon).

The idea for working on an Alice story came to Sabuda because he has always been interested in it. "I remember as a boy thinking how mean all the adults in the book were to Alice," he said. "Now, as an adult, I wanted to go back and see if it was true that they were mean to her. Alice and I worked it out," he added with a laugh, "and it turns out that even if you're a kid with adults around, things they say aren't necessarily right."

The tale also appealed to Sabuda because it was a childhood favorite. When reading the book as a child, the artist said he was struck by the wordplay throughout the story. "It was so silly and it was the adults who were so silly, which wasn't common at the time," he said.

Seibold had also been a fan of the Carroll tale, but said the idea to do a pop-up version of the story was his publisher's, not his own. "It's the first time I've done a book where the publisher asked me to do it," he said. "I like the idea of working on a project in the public domain; it appealed to me since there are so many takes on Alice beyond the original."

The experience of working in the pop-up format was brand new for Seibold, and he found the process was more time-consuming than he had originally planned. "I went into it thinking I knew what I was getting into, and it ended up taking five times longer than I thought," he said. "It's a completely different process from the other books I've done before."

Seibold had a close working relationship with the book's paper engineers, which was also new to him, because he's accustomed to working alone and designing everything himself. "It's amazing, the amount of back-and-forth and change that needs to happen in order to make the paper engineering work," he said. "The amount of stuff that you have to compromise on in order to have a piece of paper bow a certain way is a lot."

Sabuda, who has many popular pop-up books already under his belt (including The Movable Mother Goose and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), engineers all the paper himself and chose the scenes to represent with pop-ups by which ones had made the biggest impression on him as a child. "The fact that the baby in the story turned into a pig really stuck in my mind," he said.

For the overall look of the art, Sabuda said he "sort of leaned to Tenniel's original illustrations. If you're paying homage to something, I agree with the adage 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' "

Seibold also took Tenniel's illustrations into consideration when working on his book. "I looked at the original drawings, closed the book, and then drew," he said of his process. "I wanted to do my own style, but then also stay within the iconic style of the original."

Neither artist knew the other was working on an Alice pop-up at the same time, but both feel just fine about the competition. As Sabuda put it, "There are enough people in the world who love Alice that each different take on the story will find an audience."

As for working on another pop-up book, Seibold said, "There are so many other things to work on. Pop-ups take up so much time." He does, however, have a sequel to his 1997 bestseller Olive, the Other Reindeer due out next year, called Olive, My Love (a take-off on a Led Zeppelin song). As for Sabuda, he is working on a pop-up book of landmarks across America.