The children’s classic nonsense poem from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1871) gets new and colorful illustrations by Rodgers.
The original John Tenniel illustration for the Jabberwock was black and white, but this newly illustrated version of the poem renders scenes in full color, spreading the 28-line poem in snippets over 18 pages. (The final page gives the poem in full.) In his debut book, Rodgers conjures up an alien landscape for “Jabberwocky.” It has some of the primeval feeling of Tenniel’s, whose Jabberwock had the leathery wings of a pterodactyl, but is richly colored and original. A variety of creatures, some blobby, some multilegged, some tentacled, inhabit this lushly verdant world. The young warrior is green and hairless, wearing Bronze Age–like clothing, and of course well-armed with the vorpal sword. He poles himself through swampland, then climbs up to a high clifftop to find his manxome foe. The Jabberwock itself is a frightening creature with its red eyes, lobster-claw–ish horns, and low-set bulk. And its horrible tongue could well burble; Rodgers adds some burbling for effect as the hero lures the Jabberwock to destruction and headlessness. Galumphing, in this case, involves using floating creatures roped to the Jabberwock’s head to transport it home. The father is rather frightening himself, a giant many times the size of his son, but his pride is palpable; an onlooker jumps for joy. Rodgers does a wonderful job opening up the poem, commenting on it artistically, and reimagining its figures.
An engaging interpretation of the poem whose richly detailed pages demand and reward attention.