Four designers storyboard their favorite scenes from Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s tale of talking animals and overturned social mores has
been linked to vibrant imagery ever since Alice’s Adventures in
was published in 1865 with John Tenniel’s wood-engraved
illustrations. It was Tenniel who gave us our image of Alice: the long
hair, the Mary Janes, the pinafore. Film, born as a medium shortly
thereafter, embraced Carroll’s wild, visually tantalizing narrative in
live-action productions, and the animated ones—Disney’s 1951 version
being the best-known—soon followed. The newest incarnation of Alice, from the artist currently on view at MoMA, Tim Burton, opened in theaters over the weekend.
For our latest issue, we asked
four motion-graphics artists to storyboard their favorite scenes.

Design and concept: Tavo Ponce; art directors/designers: Per Christian
Balay, Juanma Mota; photographer: Paloma Rincón; producer: Ana Raya;
additional assistance: Carmen Rodríguez Mazo; styling: RebeR (; hair and makeup: Rebeca Lombardo (LOREAL Proffesionnel & MAC); Alice dressed by: Inés Naveros; jewelry for the Red Queen: Yomime by Suik (; Alice: Beatriz de la Parte; Red Queen: Ana Raya.

The Queen’s Croquet Ground
Tavo Ponce, choosing which scene to storyboard was easy. “The Red Queen
is my favorite character. I cannot help it—she is so powerful!” he
says. “But I think the Disney movie was not especially fair with her.
It was my opportunity to try and show her in
all her power and control.” That said, the Disney Alice is still dear
to his heart. “When I was a child, I was absolutely impressed with the
movie. The animation was so new, quick, and fluid, and the story was
awesome, also. I had the sudden realization
that there were ways to express other worlds, other aesthetics—other
narratives were possible. An epiphany, really!”


Photographer/illustrator: Brian Gossett; model: Lauren “Bean” Boylston.

The Pool of Tears
Brian Gossett thought that casting Alice would be the
greatest challenge of creating his storyboard. Not so. “Luckily, my
friend Brumby’s daughter Bean made for the perfect Alice. She honestly
made it so easy for me,” he says. After that, his stylistic treatment
flowed naturally: “I had a lot of ideas for how her tears could be
illustrated, and I liked the idea of creating a lot of elements by
hand, such as the waves, the bubbles, and the animals.” Gosset says
he’s looking forward to seeing Tim Burton’s Alice. “I’m a huge fan of
his, and think he is one of the only directors making feature films in
the U.S. who could do it justice.”

Designer/illustrator: Sebastian Onufszak.

Advice From a Caterpillar
As a kid, Sebastian Onufszak watched an Alice
unfamiliar to most Americans: a Japanese TV series directed by
animators Shigeo Koshi and Taku Sugiyama. Still, he refers to Disney’s
version of the caterpillar scene with admiration, mentioning the beauty
of “the dialogue between the characters and typography,” which is used
as a design element. “The scene I chose is also an imag-inative trip, a
mazy play of poems, words, and letters,” he says. Regarding the novel’s
attraction for filmmakers, Onufszak says it has “many exciting scenes and characters, numerous satirical
references to society, and a considerable richness of detail. The
techniques of today’s postproduction allow you to present the tale
completely differently than [you could] 60 years ago.”

Designer/illustrator: Mara Smalley.
Down the Rabbit Hole

When we asked designer Mara Smalley why she
relates to Alice in Wonderland, she touched on an element of the story
that’s seldom highlighted: It’s about a girl. “I think it’s impossible
for women and girls not to feel a special connection and relatability
to Alice,” she says. “Young, courageous female leads are few and far
between.” She thinks the story’s universal theme is what makes it a
good fit for filmmakers: “Every child—and adult—secretly hopes to come
across a hidden world, garden, or universe. It has all the right
elements for a great movie.”