April 2, 2019

J is for Jubjub Bird

        My theme for this year’s April A-Z Blog Challenge is fantastical creatures, celebrating my upcoming book, On the Virtues of Beasts of the Realms of Imagination, which will be released by the end of the year.  Please visit my Kickstarter Campaign for the project!

        The basics of the Jubjub bird, discovered by Lewis Carroll, are discussed in
So today I’ll discuss how I designed my version.  One of the fun things about the Jubjub is that the description of it is quite vague and sparse, and since Sir John Tenniel never gave us his version to set the canon, it remains very much up to each artist to envision it as she wishes.  In the versions shared in the link above, one artist gives us a picture in which the Jubjub bird barely shows at all, so that it remains a mystery and we still don’t know how to imagine it.  The other gives it clothes, since Carroll says “Its taste in costume is entirely absurd - it is ages ahead of the fashion.”  I didn’t want to dress my Jubjub in clothes, so I contented myself with giving it gaudy plumage.  Almost the only other thing we learn about its appearance is that it has a “symmetrical shape,” which explains my composition.
We know it lives "in a perpetual passion," so I imagined it throwing a bit of a tantrum.  And finally, although Carroll’s description ends up sounding, on the whole, merely ridiculous, the one thing everybody does know for sure about the Jubjub is that we must beware it.  For this reason I gave it big, fierce talons like a velociraptor to hint that it really could be quite dangerous.  How do you imagine the Jubjub bird?

[Picture: Beware the Jubjub Bird!, rubber block print by AEGN, 2018.]


Sue Bursztynski said...

“Beware the Jubjub bird and shun the frumious bandersnatch!”

I hadn’t realised Carroll had written about his creatures. Now I will have to chase it up. Well done to the art!

C Is For Isobelle Carmody


Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Yup, everyone knows to beware it! =)
Thanks for stopping by, Sue.

Allison said...

I love this theme! My friend and I were so obsessed with Alice in Wonderland (specifically the Jabberwocky) in 4th grade that we had "code names": she was the Jub Jub Bird and I was the Tum Tum Tree! This inspired me to read more into those creatures!

- Allison

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Allison, what great code names! I used to recite the "Jabberwocky" with great melodrama to the entertainment of my friends in high school and college, but never had another friend who loved it as much as I did.

Deborah Weber said...

How fun to see your Jubjub. I do think your fanciful plummage suits him perfectly, and portraying him as a bit fierce is certainly a fine way to remind folks to beware.

Kristin said...

I never imagined the Jubjub bird before, thinking more about that Bandersnatch. I think you portrayed him well.

Jade Li said...

I like your rendering and your explanation of why it was created as such.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Honestly, I love your design :)

The Multicolored Diary

Sue Bursztynski said...

Here’s a link to me reciting Jabberwocky. 🙂


Geoff Maritz said...

Hi Anne.
Very interesting post. I've never heard of a Jubjub before. I do like your description of what this bird is all about and I like your interpretation very much, Well done.
Blessings from Geoff in South Africa.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Sue, I enjoyed your recitation! You noted that you were interested in Carroll's coining of "chortle." Well, he coined a number of other words, as well. Here's a post about that... O Frabjous Words!

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by!

pax said...

Another girl and I would sit in the back of the school bus and recite the Jabberwocky and a few other Lewis Carroll poems on the way home from junior high school. We never inquired whether the other students appreciated and were uplifted by our efforts to share Culture with them.