About this project
"The older I grow the more I realize how terribly difficult it is for people to understand each other, and I think that what misleads one is the fact that they all look so much like each other. If some people looked like elephants and others like cats, or fish, one wouldn't expect them to understand each other and things would look much more like what they really are."
DAVID DELAMARE ON ILLUSTRATING "ALICE"
In 2008, after painting an image for an invitational Alice in Wonderland exhibition, I found myself haunted by the characters from the book.
I had long been a fan of the tale. It was, along with Wind in The Willows and Peter Pan, among my favorite imaginative works. But I had never been tempted to illustrate it.
Illustrating Alice in Wonderland is a bit like agreeing to play Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. The quintessential version has already been done. The best you can hope for is to provide the audience with a new lens, a personal one that in its subjectivity might give new entry into a familiar but complex landscape.
Too intimidated to take on the book, but unable to ignore the call of the characters, I determined to paint just a few images. This was the fairytale equivalent of stepping tentatively into the woods, only to realize that the trees had closed behind me and there was no turning back.
I was working on this piece (shown in the film above) when the entire cast of Wonderland characters began to shift in my mind. Specifically, they began taking on animal masks, or perhaps, removing their human ones. The Mad Hatter, for instance appeared as a baboon and the Queen of Hearts as a warthog. Seeing those strange flashes, I was compelled to document them and the book project was born.
Remarkably, I captured these transitions on film, including the discovery of my Alice model. ("Beware the Jabberwock" was only the second painting I had ever documented in this manner.)
Wonderland is a strange and threatening place. But it's also familiar. I find Alice's experiences very resonant. I struggle daily to express ideas in art and writing that are doomed to misinterpretation. Like Alice, I often find the world absurd and arbitrary. And as an artist, my deepest fear is that one day I'll find I can no longer fit through that elusive and tiny door that leads to Wonderland.
I hope you'll find my interpretation of Lewis Carroll's world intriguing and will consider joining us in our tumble down the rabbit hole.
ABOUT THE DELUXE EDITION
Hello, I'm Wendy Ice, David Delamare's wife and print publisher. Long before I ever imagined publishing anything, I fell in love with books. As a child, I received heirloom volumes that were my favorite possessions. They gave me my first sense of books as talismanic objects with a history and a value that transcended their contents. It felt entirely different to read those clothbound volumes than it did to read the slick paperbacks in our home. There was something magical in the experience. When I think about creating this book, it's that feeling that I hope to replicate and share with others.
We thought a long time about whether to offer this book to a mainstream publisher, as we have done in the past, and it's likely we will work with such an entity to produce a trade edition. But before we submit to the challenges and compromises of the marketplace, we hope to create a truly deluxe volume, worthy of Lewis Caroll, made with features common to his time, and fit to become an heirloom. This campaign is our attempt to fulfill that vision.
This deluxe volume will be very similar to the storybooks that were read by Victorian children—with a cloth cover, embossed foil text, sewn binding, and a full color overlay on the front. (Thanks to meeting a $75,000 stretch goal the book will also have a slip case. And thanks to Elizabeth Bourne it will have a sewn-in ribbon bookmark.) This is the image that will appear on the cover:
The first five hundred copies of the deluxe edition (now sold out) will be signed and numbered. They were available in three formats:
Gold Level Book ($200): Numbers 1-25 will each contain an original 8"x10" portrait drawing of Alice. (SOLD OUT)
Silver Level Book ($100): Numbers 26-100 will each contain a set of three giclée prints of colored drawings from the book. (SOLD OUT)
Bronze Level Book ($75): Numbers 101-500 will each contain a single giclée print of a colored drawing from the book. (SOLD OUT)
Standard Deluxe Edition: These deluxe books are identical to the books above except that they are not limited in number and don't include separate drawings or giclée prints.
ABOUT THE DRAWINGS
We have always been struck by the beauty of the pencil drawings created for the book. Without having a specific plan, we felt compelled to reserve them as a collection (not our usual practice). As a result, we are able to offer Kickstarter backers first access to drawing (both during and after the campaign).
We had another bit of unplanned luck. Because of the unusually generous number of full color plates and our desire to tie them to specific narrative content, we felt it was important to print the entire volume in full color. This is an expensive proposition, but it led us to the idea of hand coloring the drawings with watercolor paints, thus creating a look that is reminiscent of the work of Arthur Rackham.
Rather than color the original drawings, which are lovely in their own right, David will paint over gicléé prints based upon them. These colored versions will appear throughout the book, and some will be reproduced as the prints that are available in the limited edition versions.
The one-of-a-kind prints that have been hand-colored by David will be available for sale to backers after the campaign.
As a print publisher, Bad Monkey is able to offer pledge rewards that are more valuable than the amounts pledged. (The large copyright warnings and round monkey logos are not on the reward—they are designed to discourage piracy.)
IMPORTANT CLARIFICATIONS ABOUT REWARDS
1. Every book pre-order (whether limited edition or standard) will include the stretch rewards that have been earned. Your book will include five 9"x12" signed posters and four small cards. You've earned these by supporting this project early, by telling your friends, and by waiting the long months to receive your book.
2. Apart from the stretch goals that come with book packages, each reward level is self-contained and only includes the items described in it. (It does not contain items listed in lower reward levels.)
3. You can select more than one reward. If, for instance you want a standard deluxe book for $60 but also want the four 11"x14" posters at the $50 level, just select one of the rewards, but make your pledge total $110. (You'll later specify how you'd like your funds allocated.)
4. If you have purchased an item marked "limited" it's very important not to change reward levels to add other items because you will lose the limited item. You can still add other items, just don't change your reward level. If, for instance, you have reserved a limited "bronze" book and want to add a standard deluxe book, don't change your reward level. Keep the bronze level, but add $60 to your pledge total.
5. If you have any questions at all about rewards, don't hesitate to message us. We'd be happy to walk you through the process.
11"x14" POSTER REWARDS: (Click to see larger images)
18"x24" GICLÉES ON PAPER, $70: (Click for image options.)
18"x36" GICLÉE PRINTS ON PAPER, $90: (Click for image options.)
Below is an example of an original pencil drawing. (Prints of these drawings will be hand-colored with watercolor and used in the book.)
Backers will have unique opportunities to purchase original drawings both during and after the campaign.
Funds raised beyond our initial goal will allow a larger print run and will fund gifts designed to promote the book and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first edition of Alice in Wonderland.
Please be assured that these goals are chosen very carefully so that they do not endanger the quality or schedule of the book project. Because we are a print publisher and ship every day, we know the exact costs and practical concerns. The posters, for instance, were chosen because we can produce them quickly. They are also very lightweight and will fit in the same-sized box as the books. They add significant value to each book package but will be affordable to produce at these pledge levels. Making them is a safe win-win proposition.
PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD
We are a tiny company and we work on a shoestring budget. The success of this campaign will directly determine what we are able to accomplish in 2014. We hope you'll encourage others to get involved.
This book is dedicated to the memory of our very dear friend, Mark Bourne. We first met Mark many years ago when he approached us at a live theater event (a passion that we shared). He introduced himself and explained that he was writing a story inspired by one of David's paintings. (Years later he would further honor David by choosing his art for the cover of an eBook.)
The warmth, intelligence, and humor that he and his partner Elizabeth exuded were irresistible and we quickly became friends. Mark had an easy laugh, a quick wit, and an appreciation for the absurd. His unique perspective was always informed by his sense of humor. (We will probably never see a Marx Brothers film without thinking of him.) He was a gifted writer who composed illuminating planetarium shows, entertaining museum tours, and some very insightful film reviews (which are still available online). He was also a terrific short story writer and we strongly recommend "The Case of the Detective's Smile."
We miss Mark terribly and are reminded of him daily. We don't have the talent to write a tribute worthy of his memory. Perhaps no one does. Like all great souls, he was far larger than any description can encompass. But we can make a beautiful book, written by one of his heroes, and dedicate it to his name. We'd much rather have him back, but for now, this will have to do. (To read more about Mark, see Update #8.)
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF ANGELS
A few individuals have already provided significant support:
The Portwood Family (of Bob's Beach Books & Robert's Bookshop in Lincoln City) first suggested Kickstarter and gave us terrific ideas and moral support. (Honestly, it's impossible to imagine launching without them.)
J.B. in New York, who has supported the project from the start with multiple painting purchases and encouragement.
The Edwards Family who are our constant local champions, who support us with painting purchases, travel with us to Ashland to see Shakespeare, and take us to dinner when we can't afford it.
Ulysses Dickerson a talented artist (watch for him on Kickstarter) ultimately talked us into taking the plunge, sent us dozens of research articles, and provided a constant stream of much-needed late-night email pep talks.
Jesse and Darya Greene have been a huge help. Jesse shot footage of "Alice" for an upcoming campaign video and Jesse and Darya personally pounded the pavement distributing thousands of postcards. Jesse is our local source of unlimited energy and enthusiasm.
Elizabeth Bourne who proofread our original Kickstarter page (now much modified) then later bumped a stretch goal in Mark's memory, giving all the books ribbons bookmarks and a copy of a story by Mark.
Our Families who are always there with support, sound advice, rides for errands (we don't drive) and love. We wouldn't be anywhere without them.
Working with individuals like this is the huge hidden reward of launching a Kickstarter campaign. You suddenly realize, when you put yourself out there on the high wire with no net, in pursuit of a seemingly impossible dream, that no matter what happens, your friends really do have your back. Thank you Kickstarter staff and community for helping us to appreciate them more fully.
Thanks so much for your overwhelming support! We're looking forward to getting to know you better in the months to come.
Risks and challenges
A PROGRESS REPORT
David has spent five years working on the art for this book. At the beginning of the campaign David had completed 24 full color paintings and 37 pencil drawings along with thumbnail sketches of page layouts. (We'll post more about the process during the campaign.)
The number of drawings was based upon the story and no other consideration, but it turns out that 37 is the same number of illustrations that Carroll drew for "Alice's Adventures Under Ground". As we begin to lay the drawings out with the text, we see that we'd like to add a few more. This is going to be a very heavily illustrated book with substantially more images than are usually included.
Almost all of the art has already been professionally photographed by Pushdot (in Portland). The next step is for David to hand color prints of the drawings.
We will then lay out the book with the help of a skilled graphic designer, work with a typesetter to perfect the text, enlist at least two proofreaders, check with Carroll experts about punctuation oddities, and finally oversee printing and binding. These are not small tasks, but they are minor in comparison to the creation of the artwork itself. In other words, as we launch this campaign we are nearing the home stretch.
Once we've received the books, we will inspect them, David will sign them, and we'll ship them to backers. Fortunately we have a well-oiled shipping operation in place, so this part will be a snap. The result is that you should receive a beautiful signed book (or books) in plenty of time for the 2014 holiday giving season.
A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR (BOOK COLLECTOR) FRIENDS...
We are fortunate to be surrounded by friends who are discerning book collectors. We will be consulting with them to make sure that our deluxe edition becomes a favorite contemporary volume.
Our greatest risk was not getting funded. Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing funding policy. If we hadn't reached our goal—even if we were only one dollar short—we wouldn't have received any funding at all. That was terrifying, because putting a campaign together involves a tremendous amount of work. That said, the fear is highly motivating. We've been working 12 to 16 hours a day since we decided to launch. It's not just that we want to reach our goal; we want to earn your trust. We are hoping that this will be just the first of many exceptional projects that we will create together.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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