Monday, February 27, 2012

Alphabeasts: T is for Tove

I'm writing this in the wee hours of the morning, as usual, and this time I'm a little tired, so maybe I'll keep it brief.

For this week's Alphabeasts entry, T is for tove. You know, from "Jabberwocky," in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass.

What do we know about toves, aside from the fact that they gimble and gyre, that they're typically slithy, that they make their nests at the base of sundials, and that they subsist on cheese? Well, Humpty Dumpty tells us that they're something like badgers, something like lizards, and something like corkscrews.

There's one canonical illustration of the toves (along with the raths and the borogoves, which I've clipped out for the sake of clarity), and there's no way I could improve on it (though I have been happy to swipe it already). I tip my hat in sincere respect to John Tenniel.

Given that I knew I couldn't outdo Tenniel, I started trying to think about ways that Humpty Dumpty's description could fit a different-looking creature. That led to some false starts: what if it were a squat little chameleon with a curly horn? What about a little horned-toad sort of thing? How can something be like a badger and a lizard at the same time? And so forth.

I even tried a pose that involve a little more gyring (whirling in circles) along with the gimbling (drilling holes as with a gimlet), but I couldn't bring myself to ink it because it looked so awkward and wrong.

Anyway, there you have it.

Next week, a sea monster from the Earth Nation.


Curious Art said...

Oh now, this guy is really dear to my Alice-loving heart. I quite like the last pose actually, but all are delightfully screwy!

Isaac said...

Screwy is the right word, isn't it?

Loops O'Fury said...

I like the manic energy of that last pose.

The corkscrew shadow in the finished drawing is a nice touch.

Isaac said...

Maybe I should have inked the other drawing instead. I just couldn't get some parts of it (the limbs, the head) to make sense to me. (As if a hodgepodge critter like this would ever make sense.)