The illustration module I'm doing this year is a year-long brief in which we will produce (after roughs, storyboards etc.) a full-colour dummy book for children. We were to choose either an existing tale in the form of story, song poem or legend, or we were free to write our own. The narrative should be designed to run over 13 double-page spreads.
I umm-ed and ahh-ed over where to find my story from, and eventually stumbled across this brilliant source. I've always loved Lewis Carroll's playfulness with words, and the way in which his tales and poems instantly spark the imagination into working - it's impossible to read any of his work without seeing images running through your head.
The poem I have chosen to adapt is "The Hunting of the Snark" which you can find in full here. It's quite lengthy, but well worth a read if you appreciate nonsense and a playfulness with rhythm and prose. The below illustrations by Tove Jansson are a lovely introduction to some of the characters.
We were asked to write a synopsis of the story we would be re-creating so I wrote this:
"The original is split into eight “fits” or chapters. Each four-line verse within the fits has a rhyming pattern where the third line rhymes with the first, and the fourth with the second. It is written in a playful way, but there is a darkness lurking in the form of the Snark throughout.
We are introduced to a ship's crew of ten, who arrive in a place which is “just the place for a Snark”. We are informed that their aim is to capture the creature, as “you may serve it with greens,/And it's handy for striking a a light.” On arriving, the Bellman (the character clearly in charge) tells the rest of the crew the different signs to look for in a Snark. The Baker also shares a tale told by his uncle – a tale about the danger of “Boojum Snarks”, for when one of these is encountered you will “softly and suddenly vanish away”.
The crew set out to hunt – two characters (the Beaver and the Butcher, who before this event do not get on) explore a valley and come across a Jubjub bird. The Beaver manages to save them, with a strange combination of mathematics and a knowledge of natural history. During the hunting, the Barrister falls asleep and dreams of a strange scenario involving the Snark, a pig, and a court hearing. Finally, the Banker is attacked by a Bandersnatch and loses his sanity – despite trying to pay the creature off. The Baker then disappears off ahead, and the others follow after. They hear him yell “It's a Snark! It's a Boo-” and then silence falls. The suggestion that the Snark he encountered was in fact a Boojum is confirmed by Carroll at the end of the poem.
This story will be edited down so as to form a children's story – elements such as the Barrister's dream, and several of the ten characters will be cut out. The story will still be coherent, carrying the essential elements of the hunting, the encounters with the Jubjub and the Bandersnatch, and the disappearance of the Baker."
That's where I'm at so far - the brief will take all year to come to fruition, so expect to hear more. Next step: character creation.