Monday, June 11, 2012

Alphabooksbeasts: D is for Dodo and Duck

This week's non-Donjon Alphabooks characters both come from one of the books that got me through junior high and the early years of high school: Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Yes, D is for the Duck and the Dodo.

("The Duck and the Dodo," by the way, would be a killer name for an English-style pub. I'm just putting that out there.)

(You'd better click and enlarge, for the joke.)

You may not remember the Sea Pool of Tears that Alice falls into after she shrinks in the first few chapters of the book. This incident happens before the really memorable incidents like the Mad Tea Party, the run-ins with the Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat, or the croquet game, not long after Alice peeks through a little door and sees a beautiful garden that she cannot reach.

Anyway, everyone's quite wet when they come out of the Sea of Tears, and the Mouse (not pictured) starts reciting a chunk of very dry Medieval English history to dry everyone out:
William the Conqueror, whose cause was favoured by the pope, was soon submitted to by the English, who wanted leaders, and had been of late much accustomed to usurpation and conquest. Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, [...] declared for him: and even Stigand, the patriotic archbishop of Canterbury, found it advisable —

At this point, the Duck interrupts, asking what the archbishop found.

"He found it," the Mouse says. "Of course you know what it means."

And that's how we get to the dialogue that I quoted in my drawing. It still makes me chuckle, and I think I probably say "When I find a thing, it's generally a frog or a worm" once or twice a month. Mike can probably confirm that for you.

This was an easy drawing for me to put together. I think I must have drawn my share of ducks and dodoes in the past.

Next week: a little tribute to one of my "Always Fun to Draw" bros. (Aw yeah.)


Curious Art said...

Delightful DoDoDodgson denizens! I love the Dodo's facepalm, the duck's declamatory gesture too... as well as his quip, of course! Alice is so full of little tossed-off sentences that are purely absurd at first glance, but open all sorts of windows into linguistics, math, philosophy...

Mike said...

When you sent me your preliminary doodles, Kaiser, I thought I saw shades of Herriman's ducks (Mock Duck, Mrs Kwakk-wakk) in your sketches. While the finished art is more purely Catesian [does not rhyme with "Cartesian"], I imagine you wouldn't mind a little bit of Garge in your doodling.

Isaac said...

Give me a few more weeks, Mike, and you'll get your wish. I've got plans for a little Herrimaniana.

Leah, I'm glad you like the duck's gestures. I went back ad forth about the question of whether to give the duck hands—only the Dodo seems to have them in Tenniel's original picture—and I was feeling a little awkward about the possibility of a "hand of death" gesture there.

Mike said...

May I say, those hands? Weird. (Though if Tenniel's Dodo is really someone in a costume, à la the Mock Turtle--hello, Mock Duck?!--it might account for the extinct bird's survival. [Now everybody laugh at the lunacy of trying to rationalize a study in illogic.])

But also: since my prior post, I remembered that there already IS a Herriman version of the dodo from Krazy Kat! Rather unlike Tenniel's, as I recall...

Isaac said...

Wait. Do you mean I drew them weird, or it was a weird idea for Tenniel to give the Dodo hands?

Mike said...

Weird of Tenniel to give them hands in the first place.

I'm reminded of another weird two-in-one creature image, from Miyazaki's film Ponyo. In the run-up to my favorite scene (visually) in the movie, the magical fish-sisters of the titular Ponyo are streaking upwards like rockets of light when they turn into big fishes that seem to be made of dark water. But they don't do this by having their own heads flatten out into fish heads, say; rather, the fishy bodies engulf their girlish bodies by emerging from the lower halves of their bodies complete with heads that ride up over their shoulders and effectively swallow up the girlish heads. It's like they eat themselves; really weird!

Mike said...

And by "give them hands" I mean "give the Dodo hands," since, as you say, it was your idea to draw the Duck similarly endowed.

Ben Towle said...

I recently read this book with my daughter. What a great scene the Sea of Tears is. It doesn't seem to make it into many of the Alice adaptations for some reason, though. I guess if one has hands, they might as well BOTH have hands!

Isaac said...

Ben, your comment just made me realize that I'd called the Pool of Tears by the wrong name. (It sounds like there should be a Sea of Tears somewhere. Is it on the moon?)

What's a pedant to do? I must correct myself, but I'll leave my error in the post, crossed out, in a self-flagellating gesture.