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Alice in Sunderland is not a typo, but actually a hugely popular – and absolutely insane – 2007 graphic novel from comics writer and artist Bryan Talbot. And given Lewis Carroll’s source material, involving flamingo croquet and anthropomorphic turtles, that’s really saying something.

The perennial kiddie’s favourite has many connections with the North East and, in particular, South Tyneside. These are being celebrated at Wonderlands: The UK Graphic Novel Expo on Saturday 30th May… a very important date, if ever there was one.

Alice In Sunderland was written by Talbot to explore how the city inspired the original 1865 masterpiece. He has pooled together an impressive plethora of well-known authors and publishers to exhibit and discuss their work throughout the day – part of the year-long Alice Is 150 celebrations in Sunderland.

Long before Tim Burton’s 3D Johnny Depp abomination ruined our childhoods, the bonkers fantasy novel started off the ‘literary nonsense’ genre with all the subtlety of an alarm clock ringing in a white rabbit’s hand. Alice was a real little girl (Alice Liddell), with connections to the region; Hylton Castle and Blackhouse Park are both believed to have provided inspiration for the stories. Meanwhile, Victorian gent Carroll is said to have penned two of his trippiest works, Jabberwocky and The Walrus And The Carpenter, partly on Whitburn and Sunderland beaches. Whatever he was on back then, it seems it’s still alive and well and thriving amongst the graphic novel masterminds of today.

If you’re a buff of graphic novels, entering the rabbit hole will have you grinning like a Cheshire Cat. Panel discussions, presentations and round table discussions will take place across the day, in addition to workshops and artist-led masterclasses. You’d have to be as mad as a hatter to miss this kind of party. Anyone for tea?

Wonderlands graphic novel expo takes place at University of Sunderland on Saturday 30th May.

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