Advice from a Caterpillar.
Posted by: Meg Hunt
Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (purchase on Amazon)
(click to enlarge)
The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.
Who are YOU? said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation.
So apologies for the out of order posting–this illustration directly precedes last month’s. I’m a little behind schedule but more Alice is always a good thing!
In tackling the scene with the caterpillar, it was very hard not to fall on established imagery for the Caterpillar. (Indeed, I drew a lot of sketches of caterpillars and it took quite a while to come up with its look. The first time I tried including it in the project , which you can sort of see at the lower left here, I made it a little too close in relation to the original Tenniel illustration. Not to mention the scene– Disney of course did a delightful thing with the smoke as letters imagery, and it was tempting to revisit that idea but I decided to nix it in the end. And of course every illustration with the Caterpillar illustrates Alice on her tiptoes peeking up at it, so maybe I’m being a little less traditional here. But I always find this scene kind of interesting, as Alice tries again to make sense of her surroundings and gets very flabbergasted in the process. Even well known rhymes tumble out wrong, perhaps from Wonderland or even perhaps from the smoke. The Caterpillar is a haughty, opinionated creature, and I liked the idea of Alice trying to keep her head afloat both in the conversation and quite literally in the plumes of smoke it spins about her.
But for all its annoyed tone, I don’t really find the Caterpillar to be mean; I don’t think it really cares all that much about her as an entity. In the beginning, it is not unlike the smoke from its hookah– slow, eloquent but a bit rude all the same. But of course where there’s smoke there’s fire, and Alice eventually sets the Caterpillar off by insulting their mutual height of merely three inches.
Next month we’ll be getting back into full color (don’t worry, there will be more illustrations in this palette soon too) and experiencing the after-effects of Alice’s nibbling upon the mushroom. Three inches no longer, but she still manages to ruffle a few feathers in the process! Thanks as always for spending time in Wonderland with us and do check back throughout the week for more scenes from our lovely contributors!