Saturday, March 28, 2015

Graphic(al) Children's Books

Children, of course, are the one group of readers for whom we always assume that a graphical story would be appropriate; from board books to early readers to YA fiction, there's no shortage of illustrations, and indeed a special award, the Caldecott Medal, is given year for the finest illustrations to a children's book.

And yet, bringing the sensibility of a graphic novelist to to the endeavor inevitably produces some strange new possibilities: re-illustrating Struwwelpeter, an already-disturbing lesson book filled with severed tumbs and gun-toting rabbits, with even-more-distrubing seriagraphs; depicting the Wonderful Wizard of Oz with 3D dioramas that re-purpose dolls and household items, and an Alice gallery by artists that run the gamut from underground comic legend Kim Deitch to psychedelic collagist John Coulthart -- not to mention a shadow-puppet Jabberwocky that's quite a contrast with the silly-symphony version of Disney's 1951 Alice.

Oz, and Alice's looking-glass worlds, were already among the most richly illustrated of all children's books. The original artist for L. Frank Baum's masterpiece was W.W. Denslow, whose singular style so perfectly suited the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion; he and Baum had a falling out when Denslow spun off the figures as newspaper comics. The second "Royal Illustrator of Oz," John R. Neill, worked on all of Baum's 13 further Oz books, as well as those of his successor Ruth Plumly Thompson; after her retirement he wrote and illustrated two of his own. Alice was definitively brought to life by Sir John Tenniel, a regular illustrator for the British humor magazine Punch. But this hasn't stopped other illustrators from having at it, from Ralph Steadman to Moomintroller Tove Jansson to Lisbeth Zwerger and even Salvador Dali.


  1. Children’s Literature is always fascinating, in a way that gives wonder to what lesson the author is trying to convey to children. Sometimes it’s as wonderful as loving every one no matter they look like. Then there are stories that are just plain creepy, like the storybook collection: Struwwelpeter. These stories are just plain weird.

    One of the stories in Struwwelpeter is a strange one, The Story of Little Suck-a-thumb. It’s about a boy who is told not to suck his thumb or else this man with giant scissors is going to snip them off and of course the little brat sucks his thumb, and of course the man with the scissors cuts his thumbs off. There are a lot of problems with this story, including the lack of house security in the home of the kid, but it isn’t as creepy as some of the other stories.

    Comparing the original illustrations to the adapted ones in Graphic Canon, the newer ones make the stories even creepier. It also looks like the original author did the newer illustrations as well. The scissor man has scissors as a face, giving him a bird like appearance.

    Another creepy rendition of a children’s work is Wizard of Oz. The Diorama adaption has a creepy vibe, the creepiest part is there is no dialogue between characters or in scenes. I don’t know why that feels creepy but it does; no dialogue gives this eerie feel to the adaption. It takes the same feel as Beowulf (That was also creepy as well.)

    I guess these three adaptions have a common theme: Creepy because the Jabberwocky is also a creepy adaptation. The shadow figures make it look like it came from the video game Limbo, it also has a this Tim Burton feel to it as well.

    I don’t know what is with this theme between the stories, Two of the stories were intended to be a little creepy but I never though Wizard of Oz would be as creepy as these adaptions. Regardless of their eerie vibe, I enjoyed the adaptions, my favorite is the Jabberwocky, I love a good story with a cool sword.

  2. Some children’s literature is so memorable that people keep it with them there whole lives. Children’s literature provides kids with some of the simplest life lessons that can be learned. Of course, while we are children we don’t understand these messages necessarily, but as we grow older we do. Graham Rawle adapted the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and it is very weird to say the least. The style of the photo-dioramas is just odd. I felt like I was looking at an I-spy book rather than a piece of children’s literature. Rawle’s adaptation really didn’t do anything for me. I think that the original is better. I feel as if a child were to look at this, they’d have no clue what was going on and lose interest. As for the adaptation of Alice, which was recreated by many different people, it was just as peculiar. I don’t know if I liked the gallery of Alice. I never pictured Alice, the mad hatter, the cat, or the queen to look the way they did in some of these adaptations. I’m not saying that it was bad; it was just different. This gallery is different from The Wizard of Oz because it doesn’t try to tell a story; therefore, it isn’t really wrecking the original. I would have to say that after seeing these, that maybe adapting a piece of children’s literature isn’t the greatest idea. I believe that it takes away from the message of the story and it provides the reader with questions of the adaptation and the story in general.

  3. Yes, when one thinks about an illustrated book he or she will associate the thought with children. Children’s books are illustrated, but that doesn’t mean that all illustrated works are for children. Cartoons are an excellent way to support this opinion: there are copious amounts of cartoons is circulation, but I want to focus on a particular channel, Nickelodeon. Nickelodeon is a cartoon channel, therefore,is it a children's channel? Yes and no. There are certain cartoons that are meant for a younger audience, like Doug and the Rugrats(forgive me as I date myself). It is an appropriate cartoon for kids. BUT, what about Ren and Stimpy? The latter is grouped with the other animated cartoons because it is drawn in a similar fashion as all of the other cartoons. Yet, the content is not appropriate for children. So, just because something is illustrated doesn’t mean its for children. Oh, as a later note, the show Archer is most definitely not appropriate for children even though its animated.
    What do these cartoons have to do with the illustrated adaptations? The cartoons just support the fact that even though a piece is illustrated doesn’t mean its target audience is children. The Stuwwelpeter is just an odd story.I understand it’s meant to teach children a lesson, but the adaptation was nothing like the original format. The original was more of what one would expect with the scissors and an adult figure warning the child of its doom. The adaptation looks like the artist tossed in a few lion’s manes, venus fly traps, and dead tree branches around faces. I had no idea what it was even about! I had to read the original and then go back and look at the adaptation.To no avail, I couldn't get past the cluster of randomness. Alice was a story written for a child, but there are darker components in the story which can make one question if the targeted audience should be children. But, Disney adapted it so now there are no ifs ands or buts about it because its been forever locked into the children’s category. For Alice, I believe it does possess a darker component but as the Alice Gallery has proven its all up to the artist to cast the shades of color and meaning. Some depictions looked light and dark and some looked like they meant to send a deeper message. For example, the black Alice and the Alice posed like a high fashion model…The graphic novel is a new way the artist can change the way one views a piece bc without words, then their interpretation is all the reader absorbs.
    So, cartoons can be for both children and adults but its up to the content of the material and how the artist decides to depict it that will eventually categorize the piece as child appropriate.

  4. The adaptations done for "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" are both interesting, different and complex. The dioramas made for "The Wizard of Oz" are not only creepy but spectacular. These dioramas were definitely not made for children's eyes which I think is ironic because "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was first a children's book. It soon became a popular movie that adults today remember as the first movie they experienced in color. The dolls used for the dioramas are dirty and old looking which gives it an eerie feel. The random objects makes the scenery of the dioramas but it also adds texture to them.
    As for "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", I think there is just too much to look at. I thought maybe this adaptation would have bright colors and "trippy" illustrations but the text that surrounds the illustrations clutters the page. I think that it doesn't represent the story well. I feel like there is too much to look at. Sometimes that can be a good thing but everything in these illustrations I feel blends together. I'm not sure if Darcy intended her audience to read all of the text placed within the illustrations or have it just to add texture to her illustrations. If she intended for her readers to read the text I feel like she should have made the text easier to read and to have it stand out more. I mean the illustrations tell the story well but I just feel like she could have gone about it differently so that it would be easier for the reader to understand.

  5. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" adaptation immediately reminded me of the claymation tv shows from the 90's. This adaptation definitely brought back strange memories, as I remember watching this movie as a young girl. The green colors of Oz is exactly how I pictured it in my mind. But the half plastic/half human old man definitely creeped me out a little bit. This is a confusing piece as the artwork is not consistent, yet its still entertaining at the least. In regards to "Alice in Wonderland" I do agree with Cailee. I think that there is just too much going on to really grasp the story. I was expecting crazy colors and more exuberant, but it was just in plain old black and white. This was a downer, as when you think of Alice in Wonderland, you think of trippy designs and wacky illustrations. It was just overwhelming to read.

  6. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of graphical adaptations is children books. This is because most children books are illustrated. They are easier to understand and more entertaining to read, especially for those who are just learning how to read. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is such a well-known book that having different illustrations is hard to imagine. Since this adaptation is based on real-life items and pictures, I think it just different enough to make it fit in. My favorite part of the adaptation is the picture of Emerald City. I love how Rawle combined the green with sparkles to make it shine like the city is originally described to be. It looks exactly like I imagined, even with the little green people surrounding it. I think all of the pictures look crazy and abstract, just like the story. They're weird and colorful, which is what I picture in my head when reading the story. I enjoyed how odd and confusing each picture looked and finding small details of the kitchenware or other household items that were used. I think this adaptation worked well with the story.

  7. I was very interested to see what the children's literature would have in store. With 'The
    Wonderful Wizard of Oz', I was taken back a little with the way this particular adaptation was recreated. I do not care for the lack of dialogue, as well as the old toys. It gives the piece an eerie feel as many commenters have stated. I also think back to when I was a child. I would have absolutely hated this piece. However, it does allow the reader to almost make up their own storyline. Also, I think it is very interesting how the artist placed the toy characters in front of very realistic backgrounds.
    As for 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', Darcy incorporates both literary as well as graphical content. The fact that there is quite a substantial amount of text makes it rather hard to read. I do not feel as if this is a book a child would have an easy time getting through. The artwork is also creepy just as Oz, but with a more Gothic feel.
    With 'Jabberwocky', the feeling is eerie just as the original was portrayed to be. Finished in black and white, the author truly captures to essence of the beast. This rendering is also very easy to read along and understand. The drawings are very straight-forward with the paralleling text.
    All three renderings are peculiar in their own ways, and completed with different artistic styles.
    The type of child and age group is what will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether these pieces are up to par with children's graphics.

  8. Often when you think of children's books, movies, and TV shows, you think of a colorful, abstract cartoons filled with appropriate moral lessons and harmless jokes. However, if you look a little deeper inside the fantasy world of some of these “children” texts and animations you will see this not to be true. The Wizard of Oz and Alice's Adventures are clear examples of the cynical side of children's literature both in the books and on the screen. They both give very eerie vibes to their story, and have underlying meanings. The Wizard of Oz takes you inside a creepy fantasy world that has some adult content jokes. The Wizard of Oz rendition also creates an unsettling dialogue between the characters, making the animals not only seem scary, but the illustrations make the straight up vibe of the text weird. Alice's Adventures again create a unsettling feeling while flipping through its texts, while also the whole story line portrays no moralistic values for children. Alice's Adventures was also finished in black and white contrary to the movie which I thought made the rendition even less appealing to children. So I guess it goes back to what makes a movie or book “children” appropriate?

  9. I found these adaptations of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland very strange. I have never been a fan of either of them while growing up. They always sort of freaked me out. These adaptations had the same effect on me. Though I found them as a very interesting approach to the stories, I did not really enjoy the style and approaches that were taken to portray these works.

    With the Wizard of Oz adaptation, the lack of text and the style of the illustrations were dissatisfying. The doll/puppet-like characters were somewhat scary and non kid friendly. I think of The Wizard of Oz as a children's story so this style did not make sense to me. It does not seem like it would attract children.

    The Alice in Wonderland adaptation is all over the place. The text was not easy to read, which I feel like is very important in a short adaptation. The author wants to make sure the reader gets the summary of the plot line of their adaptation because it is so short, and I don't feel like this was done here. The style was inconsistent, and I just did not see the point of it. It was very overwhelming, and I did not enjoy it.

  10. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a well-known famous story. Even though it was only pictures that were shown the characters are so well known that one automatically knows that it is a story of the wizard of oz. The pictures were very interesting even though there was no real story behind it. The“Jabberwocky” on the other hand reminded me of classic tales were boys go and slay monsters. The art was very dark and I thought was very interesting because most tales that have a boy slaying a monster have a lighter themed art. I also liked the small details that were put into the story, I think this is my favorite story so far.

    Bryant Ayala

  11. Corey Carvalho

    I really enjoyed the Struwwelpeter. The stories were entertaining, even though I do not advise children to be exposed to them. Parents should not teach their kids that horrible things will happen to them for their bad habits. How can you effectively teach children the importance of honesty without being honest as parents.

    Jabberywocky is one of my favorite stories. It was first introduced to me in high school by the choir. I believe that this is a great story to read to children due to the child conquering the monster.

    Alice's Adventures was open in my lap for all of five seconds before I closed it. I did not like the overly intricate illustrations with the words being part of the picture. It looked like too much work was required to read this, and I immediately decided I did was not interested. While I do not do this often, I feel as if it was acceptable in this case.

  12. When I think of children's literature, I automatically think of a book or story mostly told through the artwork. Some literature for children is goofy and funny while some is strange and kind of creepy.
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptation was very creepy in my eyes. I think it had to do with the use of dolls and the way they were photographed. I don't think these types of graphics would go over well with most children. Some may enjoy them, while others would be sort of scared by them. I did not particularly enjoy this adaptation.

    The images that are included in the Alice Gallery range from boring to very intense. A few of the illustrations included in this gallery are very colorful or very detailed which are interesting. I enjoyed looking through this gallery at all the different artwork from various artists.

    The Alice in Wonderland adaptation is, like others have said, all over the place. I did not enjoy reading this adaptation because too much was going on and it is not what I had imagined. I would have thought that the artwork would be colorful and almost trippy since that is what usually comes to people's minds when they think of this story. I feel like it could be better in a different art style.

  13. Brandon Men

    Alice in the Wonderland adaptation stood out to me the most because it is such a well known story but the pictures I feel like didn't make any sense to the story its self. I agree with amber because i also felt like it was all over the place and it didn't make sense to what I was reading. If it was done another way I feel like that adaptation would of been a lot more enjoyable.

  14. This is the first encounter that I have had with the stories of Der Struwwelpeter and I found them very interesting. The stories of Der Struwwelpeter as opposed to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland deal with the very real idea of punishment. Each one of the stories adapted by Sanya Glisic display the result of the punishment for a particular bad behavior. If the original point of these stories was to discourage children from performing a particular bad behavior then I believe Glisic’s adaptation to be a very effective one

    Glisic’s adaptations provide the full text of the original story on one page followed by a graphic image of the resulting punishment on the next page. Glisic’s illustrations of each punishment take on an abstract form as opposed to a realistic one. In her adaptation of The Story of Little Suck-A-Thumb, instead of children having their thumbs cut off for sucking them by a man with scissors, the image Glisic provides is of a bird like creature with the legs of a man and scissors for a beak. Part of what makes Glisic’s illustrations great is the detail of them. For example, the scissors that form the beak are serrated which give them a particularly painful look. Also, the creature is carrying a bag containing freshly severed thumbs. This detail along with the concrete nature of the stories made the stories of Der Struwwelpeter stand out to me.

  15. This is my first time reading a piece by Der Struwwelpeter and I am can say I am very fond of his writing. I do know the story of Alice in Wonderland and I love the idea behind it. Struwwelpeter's idea pf punishment for wrong behavior was shown. The adaptation is all over the the place and is very difficult to follow as others have said. I feel that the only reason the adaptation stands out is because it is such a well known story

  16. This is my first time reading a piece by Der Struwwelpeter and I am can say I am very fond of his writing. I do know the story of Alice in Wonderland and I love the idea behind it. Struwwelpeter's idea pf punishment for wrong behavior was shown. The adaptation is all over the the place and is very difficult to follow as others have said. I feel that the only reason the adaptation stands out is because it is such a well known story


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