Camille Rose Garcia visits a different ‘Wonderland’

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Are you ready for a trip down the rabbit hole? Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Disney are adding a strange new chapter to the Lewis Carroll classic with their ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ a film that presents a young woman who finds herself in the world of the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Red Queen. She is welcomed as a returning visitor -- but is she, in fact, the same Alice who roamed the trippy realm as a child? Time will tell. Here at the Hero Complex, we’re counting down to the film’s March 5 release with daily coverage.

More than 100 variations of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ have been published since Lewis Carrollpenned his tale in 1865 inspiring numerous comic book adaptations as well as several Manga versions in recent years. But its Camille Rose Garcia’s recently released interpretation that is resonating with readers and climbingthe L.A. Times bestsellers list.

Perhaps its her painting style, often depicting creepy cartoon children living in wasteland fairy tales, an approach that may be resonating with young fans curious about the Tim Burton-directed film that seems to be on every billboard and bus across the country. Liesl Bradner chatted with the Orange County native about her love for Children’s books and all things Disney and future hopes to modernize their inaugural princess, Snow White.

LB: Describe your vision of Alice.


CRG: The original John Tenniel illustrations were always some of my favorites and those were definitely lodged in my head.

I wanted to stay true to his vision but I’m so influenced by Disney. I loved the backgrounds in their early movies, (“Snow White,” “Pinocchio”) so I watched a lot of those films to try to get more of a color feel. They were all done in the 30s with watercolor which has that very classic touch. It did occur to me to give Alice black hair, make it more edgy and unique but I wanted to stay true to the classic feel of the book. Using watercolors referred back to the Tenniel work but I added a little bit of a modern gothic touch as well. That was my vision for the work.

LB: As a longtime fan of ‘Alice,’ how has its influenced your work?

CRG:I always liked the themes of Alice and playing with the idea of landscape being somewhat surreal, cartoonish, not totally based in reality. The story lends itself to the kind of work I do anyway. The sort of shifting of realities.

LB: Was the book your idea?

CRG: Actually Harper Collins came to me. One of the editors was aware of my work and knew the movie was coming out. A few years ago I was in talks with Disney to do a reinterpretation of Alice for merchandising so I had already done some extensive thinking about this subject.

LB: Why do you think your interpretation is connecting with readers?

CRG: The response has been incredible and very unexpected. Maybe its the familiarity as the story remained exactly the same –its the entire unabridged version. That was a challenge. I didn’t want to divert too much attention away from Tenniel’s illustrations and do an homage to his work with my twist, of course. I can also see the connection with Tim Burton’s vision of the film. We both work in that same dark, goth genre. That quality is resonating with a lot of young people today. The times we live in are very tumultuous, a lot of unknown and frightening things. Its something kids are relating to.
LB: Of the more than 50 illustrations, do you have a favorite?

CRG: The Lobster-Quadrille. It was new and totally original. Tenniel has never illustrated that scene- a dance where Alice and friends fling lobsters into the sea. It was a totally virgin experience for me where I had all the other scenes registered in my head. And I managed to sneak a narwhal in the background.

LB: Any plans to update other fairy tale characters?

CRG: I would love to do Snow White. That’s my dream project. I love how he (Disney) interpreted those old Germanic fairy tales and put his twist on them. I thinks its time someone reinterpreted his reinterpretations.

L.A. EVENT: Garcia will be signing copies of her book at ‘Down the Rabbit Hole,’ a book release party and exhibition of original artwork from ‘Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland,’ March 6 at Merry Karnowsky Gallery(170 S. La Brea Ave).

-Liesl Bradner


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Images: Top - Cover illustration. Top right- ‘Advice From a Caterpillar’. Bottom left- ‘The Lobster Quadrille’. Credit: Camille Rose Garcia