Friday Cat-erpillar Blogging: Character Sketches

Among the caterpillars who appear as literary characters is the famous caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland that Alice manages to insult. Illustrating caterpillars as characters who interact with humans is difficult. Caterpillars do not have human-like eyes, an important feature to communicate feelings. Caterpillars have 3 pairs of short legs next to their head. Drawing caterpillars holding anything is challenging.

Caterpillar With Hookah

Caterpillar With Hookah Original Alice in Wonderland Drawing by John Tenniel

The original drawings for Alice in Wonderland were by cartoonist, John Tenniel. Tenniel was famous as a political cartoonist for Punch. Blind in one eye, Tenniel memorized his characters and drew from memory. He must have spent some time studying caterpillar form because he gets a number of features correct, including the placement of the legs, the prolegs and the shape of the head. The style of his illustrations has influenced later illustrators of Wonderland characters.

Tenniel resolved the difficult problem of facial expression by placing the point of view at an angle behind the caterpillar so that the head is obscured.

How the caterpillar would hold the hookah was another problem. For this, Tenniel added a human-like arm and hand to the side of the caterpillar, partially obscured by a cloth. Pure fantasy, but so is the book.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Art, by jjneal, Caterpillar Blogging. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Friday Cat-erpillar Blogging: Character Sketches

  1. Pingback: Friday Cat-erpillar Blogging: Character Sketch II | Living With Insects Blog

  2. Pingback: Friday Cat-erpillar Blogging: Character Sketch III | Living With Insects Blog

  3. Pingback: Friday Cat-erpillar Blogging: Character Character Sketch IV | Living With Insects Blog

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