{ feuilleton }


• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


Humpty Dumpty variations


Humpty Dumpty by EB Thurstan (1930).

A preoccupation of the past couple of weeks has been Lewis Carroll’s Alice books as I’ve been working on an Alice in Wonderland project which I’ll unveil shortly. Looking around at some of the numerous visual interpretations of the stories I came across two portfolios I hadn’t seen before by comic artist Frank Brunner. These are from the late Seventies, and typically for that decade they work an erotic twist on the books by adding ten years to Alice’s age whilst depriving her of clothes. Nudity aside, Brunner’s drawings don’t depart from tradition very much—or add much, for that matter—but I did notice that he’d based his Humpty Dumpty figure on an earlier version by illustrator EB Thurstan.


Humpty Dumpty by Frank Brunner (1978?).

The reason Thurstan’s Humpty is so familiar is that I’d borrowed it myself for one of the many appearances by the character in the Lord Horror comic series, Reverbstorm. Humpty’s presence there would involve too much explanation so you’ll have to be satisfied with the character who explains Jabberwocky remaining inexplicable. As for Brunner’s drawings, you can see coloured versions on his website.


Humpty Dumpty from Reverbstorm #3 (1994).

Previously on { feuilleton }
Alice in Wonderland by Jonathan Miller
The Illustrators of Alice



Posted in {art}, {black and white}, {books}, {comics}, {fantasy}, {illustrators}, {work}.

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9 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Evan


    Made me think of the loathsome phallic Jabberwocky in Lost Girls.

  2. #2 posted by John


    You know, I’d actually forgotten about the Jabberwock’s appearance there. I read the books through then let a friend borrow them and haven’t seen them since.

  3. #3 posted by Andy Paciorek


    You’re probably familiar with the site -
    but if not, it’s worth a look.

  4. #4 posted by Sude


    Am looking forward to the unveiling of your Alice Project.

  5. #5 posted by John


    Hi Sude. It’ll be a few more days before it’s finished yet, other work keeps intervening.

    Andy: Thanks, that’s one of the places I’d looked at earlier. Thurstan’s work seems pretty obscure, the only pictures of his I’ve found are the ones from the Illustrators of Alice book.

  6. #6 posted by Andy Paciorek


    I went to see an exhibition of Tenniel’s original prints – the blocks were smaller than I imagined. You’re right John, that they dominated the appearance of many future versions, but apparently Lewis Carroll kept finding faults with the work and put Tenniel off book illustration. I also saw an exhibition of Rackham’s Alice works (alongside his Peter Pan pictures) – Very Good.
    I think Barry Moser’s interpritation of Alice is interesting, there doesn’t seem to be many of the images from it posted on the web though.
    Also Bryan Talbot’s ‘Alice in Sunderland’ is an interesting visual take on Lewis Carroll’s life and work http://www.bryan-talbot.com/alice/
    Wonder what Marilyn Manson will end up producing?
    Good Luck with the project.

  7. #7 posted by John


    I love Tenniel’s illustrations, they’re so precise and he caught the characters so well. I have a nice 1908 copy of the two books in one with very sharp and clear printing, a lot better than many later reproductions, and also the facsimile of the original hand-written book so it’s possible to compare Dodgson’s drawings with Tenniel’s. It’s surprising to find that the Mad Tea Party was added when he re-wrote the story for publication.

    I’ve known Bryan Talbot for a long time. Last time we met was in 1999 when we went for a walk along the stretch of Sunderland coast that Dodgson used to visit.

    My version is almost done but still taking longer than I wanted. As of writing I’m up to the Lobster Quadrille.

  8. #8 posted by Andy Paciorek


    I’ve only had contact with Bryan through e-mail, even though a number of places in the Alice in Sunderland book are very familiar to me in my stomping ground of County Durham. Bryan comes across as a really good bloke. As a child I was very taken with Nemesis the Warlock.
    Look forward to your visions of Alice :)

  9. #9 posted by Goetz


    As an artist, http://www.snrk.de/HolidaySnark.cgi (also http://www.snrk.de/HolidaySnarkOld.pdf) and http://www.snrk.de/MillaisHoliday.pdf may be interesting for you. However: That is about “The Hunting of the Snark”, not about Alice. And it is about ‘borrowing”, but in an open way, as Holiday probably intentionally left clear “pointers” in his illustrations to previous artwork.






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