Frank Beddor is indeed a renaissance man. He’s a world champion skier, movie producer, actor, best-selling author and all around cool dude. He, along with his collaborative partner Liz Cavalier, recently sat down with Dread Central to talk about their work on The Looking Glass Wars universe.
Since Los Angeles is a mecca of reflective portals to unbounded imagination, it makes perfect sense that it is also home to Beddor (author of the The Looking Glass Wars trilogy, Hatter M. and upcoming Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the Hatbox prose novel) and Cavalier (creative collaborator and co-author of Hatter M). The duo paired with renowned artist Ben Templesmith on the Hatter M. graphic novels (part of which can be accessed for free later in this article), and are currently enjoying an already successful Kickstarter campaign for two new books from their ever-expanding publishing chessboard, Automatic Publishing.
Dread Central: So this is sort of a free form combination interview, art show and peek into the creative process of your longtime collaboration. To get started, Frank, could you explain what was your inspiration for The Looking Glass Wars, and more specifically, the character of Hatter Madigan?
Frank Beddor: The inspiration for The Looking Glass Wars came from a twisting, turning series of events that began when I discovered an incomplete deck of cards in the British Museum. I was wildly attracted to these cards and pursued a line of inquiry that led to the startling realization that Lewis Carroll had not created a work of fiction – but had instead re-written a young girl’s autobiographical account of her exile from Wonderland. This young girl was Princess Alyss Heart of Wonderland – or as history has labeled her – Alice Liddell, the muse of Lewis Carroll.
Hatter Madigan began as a mesmerizing image on a playing card in the Wonderland deck that I was able to assemble with the help of a London antiquities dealer. When I began to uncover the true story of Wonderland it became clear that the Mad Hatter was the mad offspring of Lewis Carroll’s imagination. Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan was far from mad and he loathed tea. I was inspired by his heroic 13-year search for his lost princess and wanted to give a full account of his fantastic, harrowing and at times, even humorous travels in our world.
DC: How long have you been working on The Looking Glass Wars and Hatter M?
FB: We’re celebrating all kinds of anniversaries this year. The 10th anniversary of publishing our Hatter M. graphic novels, the 15-year anniversary of writing the Looking Glass Wars, the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the completion of Royal Bodyguard’s 13-year search (1859-1872) to find Wonderland’s lost Princess Alyss.
Book 5 of Hatter M – Love of Wonder – is the final volume in the series. I sent you 13 pages – one for every year of Hatter’s search – of exclusive preview art from Love of Wonder (also see below). First off, you will see author Lewis Carroll featured in pages illustrating the pivotal moment when Hatter and Lewis met and discussed the whereabouts of the missing Alyss (not Alice). Other pages include a look at many characters and locations readers of The Looking Glass Wars may have long imagined and now get to see in Sami Makkonen’s revelatory art. Those pages can be downloaded here.
DC: But those 13 pages are just the beginning of the love you have spread to Dread Central readers. We understand you are wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign on Sunday and having met your goal are now into stretch goals.
FB: We are. The Kickstarter was to help publish two new books, Seeking Wonder and The Art of the Looking Glass Wars. We hit the publishing goa of $5,000 after a few days and added stretch goals. You can check out The Looking Glass Wars Kickstarter campaign here.
DC: You’ve experienced amazing grace with artists beginning with Ben Templesmith on your initial Hatter M single issues.
FB: Ben definitely gave us a boost onto the comic stage with his visual style and enthusiastic fan base. Ben’s first four single issues comics are now collected into Volume 1 of Hatter M: Far From Wonder. After Ben, I was again super fortunate to find Sami Makkonen, an artist whose style was close enough to Ben’s to not be jarring to the readers while also having its own energy and unique look. Working with Sami continues to be an excellent experience and even though Hatter Madigan is having a well-deserved rest I look forward to future twists and turns for Sami to illustrate.
To introduce your readers to Hatter M. and to thank any long time fans I’ve sent over a free pdf download of Hatter M: Far from Wonder, illustrated by fan-favorite Ben Templetsmith, featuring 176 pages of art. You can download Hatter M.: Far From Wonder here for free until the end of the Kickstarter campaign on March 23 at 10 a.m. PST.
And that free download, Dreaddies, is just for showing up. Enjoy.
DC: Liz Cavalier, what are you currently working on now that the final volume of Hatter M is completed?
Liz Cavalier: Well, our ever-expanding publishing chessboard must be tended or else chaos ensues. On a weekly basis I write the Wonderland Portal, our email bulletin from the Other Side of the Looking Glass. It is put together every Monday and sent out at midnight. If anyone would like to receive this you can sign up here.
Since Frank and I love to think up fun ideas to help share our books with readers we are always engaged in various schemes to get the word out and those words must be composed. Just this past week we sent out a Wonderland Crate to Lootcrate stuffed with all the books and Wonderland artifacts, and had our own Mad Hatter (Mad Chad) visiting Meltdown Comics in L.A. bearing gifts. Talented Mad Chad also designed a pair of shoes for Whoopi Goldberg who has proven herself an ardent supporter of Hatter M. After Whoopi’s Wonderland genealogy revealed a lifetime as the Queen of Clubs and Redd’s devoted gal pal we included Queen Whoopi as a character in Love of Wonder. Frank imbued the shoes with a dose of imagination before we shipped them via a Puddle Where No Puddle Should Be.
FB: Tell him about Tsunami Surf Sisters, your new book series for Automatic Publishing.
LC: Sure. There’s a new wave in town. Tsunami Surf Sisters is a totally new book series and not connected with Wonderland (that we know of so far). Of course in order to fit the publishing slate at Automatic it does manifest fantastical energy and links to the unknown. Four ultra competitive girl surfers form a super hero team to protect the oceans. Book one in the series will be the genesis of our heroes and their first adventure as a team lead by Luna, a mysterious and powerful mermaid. As the series begins, the storm of the new millennium rages around the planet. It’s the last stand to save the Oceans and a tsunami wave is sent to claim the chosen ones. Selected from around the globe, the surfers ride the crest of the monster wave, barely visible through rain and mist as they approach an uncharted, secret island. As the storm clouds clear the surfers are revealed to be quattro robust crazy-haired teenage wahines in board shorts and bikini tops! Will these four teen tweens be able to do the job?! Luna and the Surf Gods are betting on it and so are we. The origin of this series is as labyrinthine as the events that lead me to collaborate with Frank on Hatter M.
DC: How did you and Frank get together to work on Hatter M?
LC: While Frank had uncovered a great deal of information regarding Hatter Madigan’s search during his ongoing investigation of the story behind the Wonderland cards, I had discovered even more. My lifelong passion of tracking the myth of an otherworldly warrior who appeared in France in 1859 to crisscross the planet for 13 years dovetailed perfectly with Frank’s discovery regarding the truth of Wonderland. Over time, I had collected the maps and coded diaries of a truly mad traveler in search of something profound. But two questions remained. Who was this man and what did he search for? With the publication of The Looking Glass Wars I found my answers. Upon reading the book I immediately contacted Frank and strongly suggested we meet. He agreed.
DC: How is Tsunami Surf Sisters possibly as labyrinthine as that!?
LC: Some time ago, we received a large envelope covered with foreign stamps. It had traveled a long, long way to reach us in Los Angeles. No return address. Inside we found handwritten pages stained with sea brine informing us of the Surf Sisters and their very barreled adventures. The writer felt the world needed to know how hard the Sisters and Luna were working on behalf of all of us to save the oceans. The stories were written in a simple, direct style and the letter was signed, Dojo Gee. By utilizing the resources of the Hatter M. Institute for Paranormal Travel I was able to track this envelope to a sea cave on a lost coast. I met Dojo Gee and camped in the sea cave while helping her turn her stories into the first novel in the series. It was truly mind blowing and enormous FUN. Frank and I plan to publish a Surf Sisters adventure every year until the oceans are once again pristine.
DC: Do you have any closing messages for our readers?
FB: We do. Our Kickstarter ends Monday. In addition to Seeking Wonder, we’re offering The Art of the Looking Glass Wars. This art book features amazing concepts from artists such as Stephan Martiniere (Guardians of the Galaxy), Vance Kovacs (Thor), Doug Chiang (Star Wars), Chris Appelhans (Coraline) and many more. Check it out here.