This October, Frank Beddor, the New York Times bestselling author of “The Looking Glass Wars” trilogy, and newcomer artist Sami Makkonen bring readers back to Wonderland with “Hatter M: Mad With Wonder.”
A spin-off of Beddor’s “Looking Glass Wars” novels, “Hatter M” delves into thirteen years of wandering by Wonderland royal bodyguard and expert fighter, Hatter Madigan, in an effort to recover the lost queen of Wonderland, Alyss Heart, who is lost in our world after escaping a violent coup from the evil Redd Heart. After jumping into an interdimentional gateway known as the Pool of Tears, Alyss and Hatter have been thrown to different corners of our Earth.
“Hatter shoots out of a puddle and he ends up in Paris. He’s a royal bodyguard, he comes from the Millinary, his sworn duty is to protect the Queen. This is the worst thing that could ever happen to him – he’s lost the person he’s most indebted to take care of.” says the author. “He goes on a mad search for thirteen years to find her. The graphic novel is his story. He’s this fish out of water with this crazy hat that has all these powers, and what he encounters, whether it’s real life characters, or fictional characters, or mythical characters, or urban legends, he finds himself in historical moments, and he’s searching for this girl. His story is the parallel story of the thirteen-year search that I, in my first book, simply tell the beginning and the end of. This fills in what happened.”
Although Hatter Madigan’s exciting exploits are in full swing, Beddor’s creation of this new Wonderland came from humble, yet intriguing, beginnings. “”Ten years ago, I was in England for the world premiere of a movie I produced, ‘There’s Something About Mary,'” says Beddor. “I had a day off and I went to the British Museum. It just so happened, there was this exhibit of ancient cards. For instance, Napoleon hired artists to depict his numerous victories in battle [on cards], and I thought those were really cool. What caught my attention was that at the end of the exhibit was the only incomplete deck of cards. On these cards were hand-painted, beautiful images that reminded me of Lewis Carroll’s fairy tales, except they were really dark and kind of gothic and twisted. I wondered what the deal was with these cards. I became kind of obsessed about it, and wondered if there was a game, and where they came from, and where the missing cards were.”
Beddor was then directed by a friend to Mr. Buffington, an expert on antiquities specializing in cards. “It turns out that he has the remaining cards to the incomplete deck. Ten days later he invites me over to his flat,” says Beddor. “We have a cup of tea and he’s really eccentric. In the middle of chatting, he just walks out. He doesn’t even say anything! He just leaves. He walks back with this box, and in this box are the cards that I was so interested in. I go to open the box and, literally, he slams the box back on my hand and says, ‘Listen, before you open that box, I have to give you a word of warning. In this box is not a fairy tale. In this box is a story of murder and revenge and betrayal. Can you handle that?’ He opens up the box and he shows me all these cards. They have the same art from the museum and he starts telling me this mythical story. I thought it was unbelievable. It took me two years and almost all the money I made on ‘Mary’ to convince him to sell me the cards and the box. That became the jumping off place for my series of books.”
Since then, Beddor has written the novels “The Looking Glass Wars” and “Seeing Redd” with the final installment in the trilogy, “ArchEnemy” being released on the same day as “Hatter M: Mad With Wonder.” While “30 Days of Night” artist Ben Templesmith illustrated the first volume of “Hatter M,” for Volume 2, Beddor has a brand new artist up at bat. “I think he’s terrific! The collaboration has been terrific and really consistent,” says Beddor. “We’ve been able to do make changes and edit as we’ve been able to go along. I’m probably most excited about introducing Sami Makkonen, his artwork and his style, which is like a cousin of Ben’s [style], but it’s not an imitation. I was looking for someone who had their own voice and their own style and tone. I really feel good about our partnership and our collaboration. Ben helped me establish the world and the text because he was famous and known. I’m hoping that the story and the character will carry Sami into the zeitgeist of the comic world.”
“Hatter M: Mad With Wonder” features Hatter Madigan’s adventures in an insane asylum as well as real historical events, including the American Civil War. “I’ve noticed fans like the tailing of actual historical events with the fiction,” says Beddor. “I think they’ll really enjoy the Civil War component of the story. Then, he’s thrown into an insane asylum. The twist on Hatter Madigan and Mad House and Mad Hatter they’ll appreciate, and I hope will entertain.” The graphic novel also includes an appendix from the Hatter M Institute for Paranormal Travel, featuring an art gallery, a process gallery, a preview of “ArchEnemy” and pages from the diary of Princess Alyss Heart during her exile on Earth.
Although “ArchEnemy” marks the end of “The Looking Glass Wars” trilogy, Beddor knows this isn’t the end of his Wonderland. “‘Hatter M’ is probably going to be four or five volumes,” he says. “I’m working on volume three, I pretty much know what four is. I have this crazy idea about doing a time travel component, and I just don’t know if I have the courage to do it or not. I’m contemplating whether I can make that work.”
Additionally, Beddor’s online Looking Glass Card Game, based on the Japanese game Go, launches in conjunction with both “Hatter M: Mad With Wonder” and “ArchEnemy.” The online MMO will pit player against player using the armies of the different card suits of Wonderland. Players can play for free at http://www.cardsoldierwars.com.
As for another prose foray into Wonderland, plans aren’t quite set. However, Beddor does have tentative plans. “I’ve been talking to Penguin about doing a series on a young Hatter and his time in the Millinary academy training to become a bodyguard, and the competing Milliners or facilities for the other suits,” he says. “Each of the other families have their own bodyguards and their own Millinary. They train, and they’re all vying for power. There are a lot of other things to do as well. It’s nice to get back in the world again!”
“Hatter M: Mad With Wonder” is in stores this week and “ArchEnemy” will be available on October 15, along with the online exclusive Looking Glass Card Game.