Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th and Happy Birthday Alice!

As some of you may recall from last year, not only is this Independence Day here in the USA, but it is also the anniversary of the day when the Rev. Dodgson first told the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to the Liddell girls in 1862.

To commerate that occasion I present to you a rather odd piece of Disney Alice ephemera. This is a British postcard featuring Alice characters - drawn loosely in the style of Tenniel - by an artist named Mendoza. The card was made by Leslie Lester Ltd., of Hurstpierpoint, Sussex (say that three times fast).

I hear you saying 'but Matt, that doesn't look Disney at all', and you'd be right, it doesn't look Disney - but it is. On the back is this notice.

My guess is that either this was based on concept art or that Disney had tied up the rights to Alice somehow that necessitated the license as stated on the back.

This is one of an entire series of cards, I don't know how many there are in the series, but I have 12 different cards, all with the same license notice on the back. Most are more traditional scenes taken from the Tenniel illustrations, but a couple, like this one, are just plain weird.

I particularly like this card because it features characters that you rarely see renditions of - the Lion and the Unicorn.


Eliza said...

The context is of the characters at a fair is interesting. I've never seen anything like it.

Brian Sibley said...

This is one of a series of cards, Matt, I've got some others somewhere all by Mendoza and when (er... that is if!) I can find them, I'll send you images. I think (or, at least, seem to remember) that they are all 'seaside' pictures.

In the late 'twenties, when Disney was first contemplating a feature version of Alice in Wonderland (this was before he decided to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs instead) the original John Tenniel illustrations were still in copyright and, since Disney planned to base the character designs on Tenniel, the studio bought the rights to the pictures.

Various Alice items produced around this period carry a copyright credit for the studio.

As you know, following the success of Snow White Disney was, once more, going to put Alice into full production when Paramount announced its star-studded live action version with Charlotte Henry as Alice and W C Field, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Edna May Oliver, Edward Everett Horton and others (including Sterling Holloway) as assorted Wonderlanders.

Disney was still planning to make Alice and his other long-running project Peter Pan when Pinocchio was made, which is why the two books beside Jiminy Cricket's volume of Pinoke's story in the opening sequence are Alice and Peter Pan...

Matt said...

Wow, thanks for all the great information Brian, that certainly clears up a few things.

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