Monday, October 13, 2008

Hatter M In Paperback

This week, Automatic Pictures is releasing their first book: Hatter M. This is, in fact, the same Hatter M that was published by Image Comics back in 2005 as a four-issue limited series. This is the first time, however, the book's been released as a single trade paperback, having previously only seen a hardcover treatment in 2007.

The comic is a spin-off from Frank Beddor's prose trilogy, The Looking Glass Wars. In that story, the famous Alice (more correctly spelled "Alyss") of Alice in Wonderland was a princess of Wondertropolis, until her parents were murdered by her Aunt Redd, in an effort to seize power. Alyss was banished across dimensions to London, where she was eventually adopted by the Liddell family. Although she told many people of her plight, no one believed her. Her tutor, Lewis Carroll, even felt the story imaginative enough to pen it as a work of fiction, changing some of the details for the sake of storytelling. While Alyss was trapped away from her home, Hatter Madigan, former bodyguard to Alice's real mother, spent over a decade scouring the earth for the girl in the hopes that she would help be able to defeat the ego-maniacal Queen Redd. The comic details Hatter's search on earth.

Like the hardcover, the TPB reprints the four issues of the original series. Unlike the hardcover, it also includes material from the 2.5 issue, reformatted for a more pleasing visual. Plus, there're sketch galleries from artist Ben Templesmith, as well as a text preview of the third book in Beddor's prose trilogy. The book's presentation is solid -- it's physically a little shorter and narrower than an average comic book, but it's a comfortable size. Good paper stock for both the cover and the interior pages, and there's even a classy, but subtle, varnish on the cover.

As to the story itself, it's a surprisingly solid read given this is, I believe, Beddor's first attempt at writing sequential art. Liz Cavalier is listed as co-author and veteran Ben Templesmith handled the art chores, so it's a little unclear who contributed how much to the actual storytelling. But, in any event, it's a smooth read and -- while it does tie in with The Looking Glass Wars -- it's not critical to have already read any of those books beforehand.

(I will note, however, that I initially read the comic before the novels. But it was only after I read the first book that I gained a much deeper appreciation of the comic.)

Templesmith turns in classic Templesmith work. If you don't like his illustration style generally, you're not likely going to like this. If you do appreciate it, you won't be disappointed. Those of you who are ambivalent or undecided, I think, will generally appreciate the work in the story, as his style adds a decidedly mystical flair to the story. I believe he also did all (or at least many) of the character designs, which are now being used throughout the license.

The book is a must-read for Alice fans. I'm also sure that anyone who's read The Looking Glass Wars will want to get their hands on this. Templesmith fans will enjoy it. In fact, the only people I imagine won't enjoy it are Templesmith haters and Carroll purists.

The trade paperback is due out on October 16, as is the paperback version of Seeing Redd -- the second book of the prose trilogy.

1 comment:

bombtrak said...

Wait, there's such a vile, ignorant, worthless beast as a Ben Templesmith hater??? What kind of messed up world do we live in?