Cheshire Crossing

Cheshire Crossing

Coming in July is a graphic novel that sounds quite promising but turns out to be terrible.

The writer of The Martian, Andy Weir, has unearthed Cheshire Crossing. This early project, originally a webcomic, has Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy (from Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan, respectively) put in an asylum together where they escape for battles with each other’s traditional enemies. Since he explains in the introduction that he can’t draw, the publisher, Ten Speed Press, has had Sarah Andersen (Sarah’s Scribbles) illustrate it.

Cheshire Crossing

The authors’ previous works give you a good idea what to expect. Weir spends more time on explaining how various magic spells work than developing any of the characters. The girls all sound alike (and, in a book aimed at 8-12 year olds, curse a surprising amount). Andersen’s designs are cute, but the action scenes are flat, lacking suspense or a good movement flow.

Weir turns girls’ fantasy journeys into a boys’ adventure tale, with battle after battle and little of substance happening between them. I kept losing track of where they were and what they were trying to achieve. The one piece of characterization that will stick with me (not in a good way) is Peter Pan being aged up enough to be horny, constantly talking about wanting to touch Alice. I think their nanny is supposed to be Mary Poppins, but she’s not named (since the character is still protected intellectual property).

I hope customers, particularly librarians, don’t buy this for kids. It’s inappropriate, with unsuitably adult topics (what with all the violence and sex jokes), thoroughly unpleasant, and overall, a muddled mess.



5 comments

  • Eric G

    I remember enjoying this in the original webcomic version; but it’s been years since I’ve read it. The nanny was explicitly Mary Poppins in the original, if I recall.

    I know I came to the webcomic version from Casey & Andy, (Weir’s earlier webcomic) so I wasn’t expecting something kid-appropriate. As you say, the concept is enormously promising; and I definitely found Weir’s take more pleasant (which is not the same as better, necessarily) than LOST GIRLS. (A work I can respect on a craft level but can’t stand.) Weir said back then that he had not heard of Lost Girls when he started the project.

    I was looking forward to this, but after your review I’m much more skeptical. I wonder if I can track down the original anywhere and see how I feel about it now. It’s entirely possible I was enjoying the idea a lot more than the execution back when I first saw it.

  • Lost Girls hasn’t aged very well, has it? A lot of what set me off about Cheshire Crossing was that the publisher is promoting this for kids, which is a terrible idea. If you wanted to aim at young men, that would be a different story (and make a lot of this more understandable). Thanks for sharing your memories of the original.

  • CD

    I enjoyed this book. Granted, I’m an adult, but our library bought it for teenagers. Its more appropriate than lots of other thing s I’ve seen in the Teen section, and I didnt think the crude jokes nor language was over the top for that age group. In fact, I think marketing it for middle school and up is a great idea. I’ve always loved these characters, but the lack of depth didn’t bother me. It was kind of nice to have a more boyish, action-packed comic drawn in a cute, fanciful style. Good for girls like me.

  • Diana

    I have to say that I rather disagree with most of your points here.

    While I do agree that 12+ rating issued by Amazon (I’m not sure where you got 8-12 from) could possibly be revised to 14+, I find that something of a minor point. There is no particularly explicit or disturbing content, and the idea of twelve-year-olds having to be so sheltered from profanity or fictional violence seems puritanical to me.

    I found the plot to be charming and easy to follow, and the characters lifelike and entertaining. I don’t understand how you got the impression of the protagonists sounding identical- each seems to me to have a very different voice. Settings do change at a rapid pace, but I feel this keeps the pace flowing nicely.

    The way you describe the author as changing “girls’ fantasy journeys into a boys’ adventure tale” seems bizarre to me. We don’t live in the eighties anymore- younger girls can like action and sword fights too. I know I did at that age.

    All in all, I find this review puzzling and, honestly, a bit disappointing.

  • Thanks for commenting.

    The 8-12 year rating I’m sure I saw listed somewhere when I wrote this 2 1/2 years ago. Currently, for example, Amazon has it listed as a Best Book for ages 9-12 (so they’re in your camp!).

    Girls can like action, but the treatment of it here falls under my criticism (which you disagreed with) that everything is so generic in voice and treatment.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the book.

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