johnminnion.com

Fantasy and nonsense

The Mad Hatter’s Teaparty

Around the time I was chucked out of teacher training college in 1970, there was a vogue for black-and-white Beardsleyesque posters, especially if they had a druggy slant to them. This was fortunate for me, as I had drawn a few scenes from Alice in Wonderland and I could just about afford to print them as posters and hitch-hike around the country hawking them to little shops and door-to-door around college halls of residences.

The Mock Turtle’s Story

Considering these posters were my bread and butter for several years – I sold thousands – I have been remiss in allowing them to disappear from my life without retaining one or two in the files. The best I have managed is these rather poor images courtesy of Google.

Alice meets the Caterpillar
The Mouse tells his Tale

At this point my biggest ambition was to illustrate a complete Alice in Wonderland, and I even had a publisher interested. But although I felt I made a decent job of Wonderland’s whimsical inhabitants, I never really managed to draw Alice herself well enough. Looking back it is obvious my figure drawing was very poor then.

Nevertheless I seem to have preoccupied myself with Lewis Carroll throughout most of the 1970s. Here’s the man himself with his alter ego:

Lewis Carroll aka Charles Dodgson was an early practitioner of the art of photography. The Dodo is generally considered to be Dodgson parodying himself and his stammer (Do-do-dodgson).

My biggest-selling poster at that time was more loosely Carrollian, the Cheshire Cat Tree. It seems, insanely, that I really believed the only way to draw a tree was to draw every leaf.

My posters brought me to the attention of the Lewis Carroll Society and sometime around 1973 I found myself doing posters and fliers for a wonderful exhibition in Blackheath. I remember researching 1860s type styles in order to letter Lewis Carroll’s name. I was already on a path to becoming a type nerd.