Dan Wickline Heeds the "Call of Wonderland" for Zenescope

Zenescope has spent years building its horror-filled comic book universe by twisting the madness of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland with the insanity of H.P. Lovecraft's mythology. While Zenescope launched "Wonderland" (the first ongoing series in Wonderland lore) in July, it also debuted the "Call of Wonderland" miniseries currently hitting stores to introduce new readers to the dark fantasy's mythology.

Written by Dan Wickline ("Sinbad," "Shadowhawk") with art by Matt Triano and Nacho Arranz, "Call of Wonderland" features a new twist to the Wonderland mythos and follows protagonists Julie Sands and Salome Grey as they fall down the dark rabbit hole of Zenescope's twisted Wonderland.

Wickline spoke with CBR News about "Call of Wonderland," its additions to the overall Wonderland lore, new spins on classic Lewis Carroll characters, the appearance of gothic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft in the series and playing with Wonderland's "screwed-up toys."

CBR News: Zenescope's Wonderland is obviously a very different one from Lewis Carroll's original novel or the Disney animated version. How would you explain the series mythology to a new reader?

Dan Wickline: If you think of the Lewis Carroll novel as being written from the eyes of a naïve child, then this "Wonderland" series is seen by a young woman who has knows the darkness of the real world. This version amplifies the horror aspects embedded into each character and the underlying insanity of the whole situation. This isn't Alice's journey through the looking-glass, it's her daughter's fight against the world her mom forever changed. Wonderland isn't just a land of dreams, but of nightmares as well.

What can you tell us about Julie Sands, the first issue's central character of "Call of Wonderland?"

Julie is one of two main characters in the mini-series, but she gets all of issue one. Julie is a literary student in college and extremely introverted. She bounced around between foster homes for most of her childhood, never finding a place of her own. The real world scares her so she spends her time hiding in the works of writers like Lovecraft. But it's her love of Lovecraft's work that gets her pulled into the shadows of Wonderland.

The second character is Salome Grey. We don't meet her until the first pages of issue two, but she is just as important as Julie. Salome grew up poor with a single mom. Her escape wasn't the written word but rather the drawn picture the she herself did. Her art was the key to taking control of her life and it plays a major role in what is about to happen to her.

Where does "Call of Wonderland" start and how does it tie into the ongoing 'Wonderland' series?

"Call of Wonderland" fits in between the "Alice" miniseries and the new ongoing series. Where the ongoing follows the further adventures of Callie, ["Call of Wonderland"] and the two follow up mini-series will focus on what is missing in the realm. Nature abhors a vacuum and so does Wonderland. Where Raven Gregory is telling the main narrative of the series, my job is to reset the table for him. Put some toys in the toy box so to speak. But keep in mind, both Raven and I like some really screwed up toys.

Which toys are you most looking forward to playing with this in this story?

There are three existing characters I get to play with in this series; one of which is relatively new to the main story, one I put into Wonderland myself two years ago and the final one has been a major player since the beginning. I don't want to say who two of those are because it may give away too much of the story.

The one I can mention is the Red Knight. This spins out of two of the "Wonderland" annuals. In 2009, we saw a family move into the Liddle House, a family that included a young boy with SCIDs (Severe combined immunodeficiency). The boy was forced to live in a sterile room his whole life. Wonderland creeps into the house again and destroys the family, leaving the boy alone. In 2010, we got to see what happened to the boy afterward and how he tied into the Red Knight.

Will "Call of Wonderland" put new spins on specific stories or characters from Carroll and Lovecraft author not yet seen in the comics?

It's not a coincidence that the series is titled "Call of Wonderland." When Raven called me up and asked about doing a mini-series, I had already been playing with a concept based on Lovecraft's work, or more specifically his craft. Our conversation quickly turned to bringing in aspects of the writer's more famous stories and how we could merge the two worlds. It was long before I realized that the best thing to do here was to bring Lovecraft himself in as a character. This allowed me to focus not only on what he wrote, but the how and why. And that easily melded into the very backbone of the Wonderland series.

What do you enjoy the most playing in Zenescope's Wonderland-verse?

Wonderland is a staple in a lot of people's mind and they think of it as a children's story, but when you really look at the elements you realize that it's a horror story told through innocent eyes. Readers tend to cling to their first impressions, so when you write you can use that innocence as the high point the twist the hell out of it to hit the true horror. It makes the stakes much higher and as a writer, that's a fun world to play in.

"Call of Wonderland" #3 by Dan Wickline, Matt Triano and Nacho Arranz hits stores August 15.

Altered Carbon: Download Blues HC

More in Comics