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Alice in Sunderland

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,587 ratings  ·  238 reviews
Sunderland! Thirteen hundred years ago it was the greatest center of learning in the whole of Christendom and the very cradle of English consciousness. In the time of Lewis Carroll it was the greatest shipbuilding port in the world. To this city that gave the world the electric light bulb, the stars and stripes, the millennium, the Liberty Ships and the greatest British dr ...more
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Dark Horse Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  1,587 ratings  ·  238 reviews

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Paul Bryant
'I should understand this book far better,' said Alice to herself, 'if I started at the beginning again. But how curiously it twists! It's more like a corkscrew than a book! Well, this turn goes to Sunderland, a large northern English city, and this goes straight back to Lewis Carroll! Well then, I'll try it the other way.'

And so she did: turning page after page, back and forth, but always coming back to Sunderland or Lewis Carroll.

'It's no use talking about it,' Alice said, looking up at the
MJ Nicholls
This queeriarse and queeriarser creation from comics legend Bryan Talbot isn’t so much an “entertainment” as a documentary in GN form, interweaving the history of Sunderland with the history of Lewis Carroll and Alice in her fictional and factional forms. An epic work, this seems to have been conceived as an historical and regional-interest-type production (as the back-of-book bitterness about the author’s lack of council grant testifies), a dizzying mixture of cheesy tourist guide to Sunderland ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I should state from here on out that I intensely identify with Lewis Caroll's Alice and that I've considered her as a fictional counterpart, most especially Alan Moore's re-imagining of this character in Lost Girls. Last year, while working late night at our student publication's office, I came across a manual for artists which belong to the art section, and it listed Bryan Talbot's Alice in Sunderland as one of the references. I was immediately intrigued because it was an Alice-based graphic no ...more

-This was a bit of mixed bag — some parts were engrossing and other parts were messy and boring.

-At times it felt like I was watching a play or documentary and other times I felt like I was sitting in a science or history class. Which wasn't always a bad thing when the topic that was focused on was
interesting, but when the subject was dull it made for rubbish reading.

-There were a number of things Alice in Sunderland covered — the history of Britain, local Sunderland history, literature
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Although Alice in Sunderland is marketed as a graphic novel, it is not really a novel so much as a portmanteau of a history text, a Ken Burns-style documentary, an ontological conundrum worthy of Tom Stoppard, a biography, an art lesson, and a literary analysis. And "portmanteau" is an appropriate word, as it comes directly from one of the main subjects of the work: Lewis Carroll and the Alice books. Although this book has plenty to say (both directly and indirectly) about Carroll, his works, an ...more
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Alice in Sunderland is technically a “graphic novel,” but an unruly, bursting, whimsical one that makes the experience of interacting with it engaging and fun. It often forgoes the frames of traditional sequential storytelling in favor of busy scrapbook-like collages that reinforce the intricate, intertextual, interwoven, self-referential story about a story about a story (ad infinitum) motif that defines and dominates this graphic novel. It is a reading experience unlike any other you’re likely ...more
May 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: comic-books
I can honestly say I've never read anything like that before.

Alice in Sunderland is essentially a history of the North East from Saxon times to the modern day, mixed with a study of Lewis Carrol's forgotten (or, if you are feeling paranoid, 'surpressed') links with the area.

On top of that you have interviews, reviews, polemic, politics, biography and tenuously linked sidebars. The characters include the Author (playing three parts), Sid James, George Formby, Alice Liddel, The Lady in Grey, local
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no migraine suferers
Shelves: graphic
This book makes my brain hurt. I'm not much of a visual reader, this I know, but this book actually made me a bit dizzy. The artwork is amazing--very stimulating; collage-like and colorful. The story is probably good too; sort of a history of England and the world of fiction, focusing on Lewis Carroll. The two pieces together, though, are like a giant strobe light in my linear, text-based mind. If you like graphic formats, and are comfortable reading them, this is probably ok. Graphic formats ar ...more
2.5 stars - The book didn't turn out as dull as I expected; "not-as-dull-as-it-seems" being the only praise one can reserve for this graphic novel of jumbled info-dump. ...more
Apr 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What I learned? My head was blugeoned open with the sheer volume and spread like a fine paste. You'll need Ritalin to stay with it and your eyeballs should fall out at the end if you've done it right. Which is perfect in the context. There's history, gossip, literary allusions, art and anything else you could want, just wait a few pages. ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book of facts related to Alice in Wonderland and even some loosely related items. This is a very thorough and sometimes the author goes on a tangent but I found it interesting.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, history
What a strange, ambitious book. The idea presented on the cover is that Talbot will be writing about the various influences Sunderland had on the Alice books. And that happens, sure. But really, the book is far more concerned with presenting a rambling history of Sunderland itself, only occassionally going back to what is meant to be the main topic. I got the impression that Talbot was originally inspired by Alice, and became absorbed in the history of Sunderland. And it is interesting, at least ...more
George Siehl
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
My first graphic novel, this seems more like a closely illustrated history text. Talbot uses full page illustrations, collages, or comic strip panels to present the story of the city of Sunderland in North East England. This history begins with the peopling of the area and subsequent invasions and wars as well as its economic and cultural development. Myths and legends play their role, but Talbot's main purpose is to show the role the area played in the development of Lewis Carroll's famous work ...more
I give this five stars not because I loved the book.
I gave this five stars because I admire (and was amazed by) the innovation in the medium and form.
It feels like an annotated Alice in Wonderland, without the original text, in comic form. Plus all kinds of historical background on the region and context for the story. Basically a big lovesong to Sunderland, a region in England.

One quibble I have is that the author occasionally uses the term "the East End" to refer to the place, and that made
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in England or Lewis Carroll
Recommended to Tim by: I spotted it the public library
This is my first read of a book in the Graphic Novel style since the Classics Illustrated comics of the 1950s. There is very little fiction in this book. It is a combination of the history of Sunderland, England and one its famous residents, Charles Lutwidge Dodson, best known by is pen name of Lewis Carroll. Oh yes, and a girl named Alice Liddell -- the young girl that Charles (Lewis) used tell stories. When Lewis Carroll finally wrote a story modeled after Alice -- Alice's Adventures Under Gro ...more
Cheryl A
Jun 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
...And you thought Alice in Wonderland was a trip!

Author Bryan Talbot has given us a mind boggling, eye popping tale of the culminative history of influence on the creation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. From the beginning of history of Sunderland (wood weevils and limestone) to the restoration of the docksides (doors to the future and steps to the past), the audience of the Sunderland Empire theater (audience of one, plus a couple of ghosts) and the reader are randomly informed of the
Bob Mccow
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fairly bonkers local history of Sunderland. Must go visit the place some day.
Oct 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
What is there to say about Alice in Sunderland? Off the top of my head I can say that I’m happy I finished it finally. When I reached that ending, an ending that felt like it was miles away no matter the closer I got to it, it felt like a great relief.

It isn’t that Sunderland isn’t interesting, it is, but it makes you feel like you’re being bombarded by information left, right, and centre, because you are.

Sunderland is a graphic novel of information overload based around the history and connecti
N.J. Ramsden
An odd book. It lunges wildly from one thing to another, often with no real narrative link; the illustration is a mixed bag - some is dizzying, some is beautifully crafted, some looks more like a photoshop filter mess; the material is by turns fascinating and thought-provoking, and lightly-skimmed, half-baked rubbish. Overall, Alice in Sunderland feels like a very personal project that has grown out of hand, and although there is much to like about it, there is also much to be frustrated with. O ...more
Feb 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Dark Horse laid one with Talbot's Alice In Sunderland. I would recommend this book only for series Alice and Carroll enthusiasts because most of the text is a dry recitation of history with different images Photoshopped together into a background. Talbot does try to create 3 versions of himself to tell the "story" behind Carroll's life and Sunderland's ties to history but their interaction seems forced at best. There are a few highlights to the book, such as learning about "The Wasp In A Wig", b ...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
Absolutely superb!... and you know, the shame of it is that so few people will read it because they're snobbish about "comics".
This is a tour-de-force journey through the North-East, or more specifically, the Wear Valley with its focus on Sunderland and the amazing people that made/make up its personality. It is also an astounding series of interconnections and coincidences that link George Formby with Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll, amongst so many others. It is an amazing cornucopia, a fount
That was rather splendid, even though as a Geordie by birth, I'm the natural target for humour from the Mackems, something mentioned frequently in the text! This is a great and glorious madcap gambol through the history and folklore of Sunderland and the wider Tyne and Wear region, hung around a narrative skeleton based on the life and works of Lewis Carroll, and was well worth the read. ...more
Stefan Grieve
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Full of entertainingly displayed facts and stories related to Alice in Wonderland and Sunderland, (including it's history and influences,) this is a fun, if information dense, book. ...more
Gary Butler
Feb 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
19th book read in 2017.

Number 580 out of 584 on my all time book list.
I have been meaning to read this graphic novel for so long and I don't know what stopped me! This is a beautiful love story to Sunderland and to Alice in Wonderland. Talbot, an adopted son of Sunderland rather than a native, have penned and illustrated the most schizophrenic yet meticulous history of the oft forgotten City in the North East of England and all of its connections with Lewis Carroll and his famous children's books and poems.
As a Mackem myself, I was fascinated to read about facts
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a strange book. A good book, but strange.

Alice in Sunderland is Talbot’s sprawling paean to his home region of Sunderland, England, with specific attention to its association with Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known as Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll). The story takes shape as a surreal stage show being offered for the benefit of a lone, philistine patron, but it is almost impossible to succinctly summarize; it folds in on itself over and over, jumping around chronologically
Lars Guthrie
Jan 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
I came across this book in librarian Nancy Pearl's latest "below-the-radar" offering on NPR. I already knew a little Bryan Talbot, from his estimable 'The Tale of One Bad Rat,' an odd little graphic novel that stuck in my memory. Pearl intrigued me: 'I...realized, while reading Talbot's work, that the term "graphic novel" is just not descriptive enough to categorize illustrated books like this, and how the word "reading" fails to capture the totality of the experience of poring over a work like ...more
Owen Watts
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bryan Talbot's 2006 tome is quite a dizzying prospect. A history of Sunderland and the surrounding area, Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, Alice Liddell herself, the author, sequential art and everything in between. It is extremely dense and definitely benefits from reading over several sittings - the structure is dreamlike (which is explained in the narrative) and is largely stream of conciousness. Talbot's artwork is similarly kaleidoscopic, drifting between styles from the heavy use of coll ...more
Apr 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: heavy Alice fans, history buffs, comic book fanatics
This graphic novel is a whirlwind of history and legends of the people and places related, sometimes to a questionable degree, to Alice Liddell, Lewis Carroll, and his famous novels. It's one of the most creative things I've ever read, but it's really not for everyone. The history can get dry, and you often wonder why you're reading about these obscure people from the 11th century.

It jumps around a lot, which keeps the energy high but the comprehensibility kinda low. It also takes forever to end
Nov 13, 2011 added it
Shelves: library
A history of Sunderland that in itself involves telling of story of invasions of Britain by Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings and most brutal of all - the Normans. It lists trivia and achievements of antecedents of Mackham (people of Sunderland). By and large, this was also the place where Lewis Caroll's muse Alice Liddel lived and how story of 'Alice in Wonderland' evolved.

So far a very interesting read - it tells the truth about death of Sidney James onstage. Henry Irving ---

Graphic style is unc
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Talbot began his comics work in the underground comix scene of the late 1960s. In 1969 his first work appeared as illustrations in Mallorn, the British Tolkien Society magazine, followed in 1972 by a weekly strip in his college newspaper.

He continued in the scene after leaving college, producing Brainstorm Comix, the first three of which formed The Chester P. Hackenbush Trilogy (a character rework

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