Camille Rose Garcia’s Hip Take on ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’

Lewis Carroll and Camille Rose Garcia
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 
Harper Design, 2010

The renowned artist Camille Rose Garcia is the perfect choice for revamping Lewis Carroll’s 1865 classic fairy tale with a modern spin. For one, much of Garcia’s existing work has the look of a twisted fairy tale, with images of decidedly surreal young girls, animals, and fantastic worlds. Secondly, Garcia is a fan of the original illustrations by John Tenniel and early Disney films. In addition, Garcia collects children’s books, and owned three versions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland before starting the project.

Garcia’s distinctive style is a natural fit for the surreal world of Wonderland. (Click here to view a gallery of her artwork.) According to her website, her art is influenced by “William Burroughs’ cut-up writings and surrealist film, as well as vintage Disney and Fleischer cartoons, acting as critical commentaries on the failures of capitalist utopias.”

‘She falls down the hole and no one is really nice to her at all . . .’

Camille Rose Garcia, the caterpillar from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Camille Rose Garcia, the caterpillar from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

What really puts Garcia’s version of Alice at the top is the way she mixes images that are appealing to both adults and children, without sacrificing the darker elements of Carroll’s story. “She falls down the hole and no one is really nice to her at all,” Garcia said in an interview. “So re-reading it I realized I could do a little bit darker of an interpretation than the original illustrations,” she continued.

Garcia said that she kept her illustrations tame, since she knew children would be viewing the book, but she wasn’t afraid to include images that are a little more macabre than what usually passes for children’s artwork:

I feel like American culture in general is very much afraid to show children anything outside of a puppy/marshmallow SpongeBob world. But in the fairytales throughout history it was very important to teach people consequences. Oftentimes kids would die at the end or they’d get shoved in the oven, or they’d be beheaded or turned into a frog. There were always these much darker things happening and I feel like in the American versions of a lot of children’s stories, that element is sanitized out.

And I think the time we’re living in now, it’s really important for kids to be aware of [the fact that there are] bad things in the world happening. There are things to be scared of, but that’s how you grow and mature. You have to face your fears, so I wanted to keep some of that darkness in there . . . People underestimate kids a lot in terms of what they can handle. I know there are things that are appropriate and not, but I think American culture in particular is very sterilized when it comes to children’s literature.

Garcia’s version of Alice is called a “gift edition,” and Collins Design (an imprint of HarperCollins) went all out in making it a beautiful book. It contains more than 50 full-color illustrations, the full-color cover features debossing, it’s printed on high-quality paper, and the text layout is both creative and timeless. The book is the unabridged version of Alice, totaling 160 pages.

If you like Garcia’s Alice . . .

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia

Garcia’s work is categorized as “lowbrow art” or “pop-surrealism.” Some of her work was featured in the book Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art, and there are several books about her art available, including:

  • The Magic Bottle (2006): a children’s “gothic fairy tale” about a world where nature has almost disappeared and everyone takes antidepressants. A little girl who finds a secret world has a chance to save the earth’s last remaining wild animals.

Fans of her version of Alice in Wonderland can look forward to February 2012, when Garcia’s illustrated version of Snow White by the Brothers Grimm will be published.

Behind the Scenes of Garcia’s Creative Process

If you want to learn more about the watercolor and acrylic paintings by Garcia, this video provides a look at the artist’s creative process: