"When is a cosplay not a cosplay?" queried the Mad Hatter, sipping lukewarm tea from a cracked and leaking cup. "When it's pay-per-use stock photography that someone put up for sale in case someone felt a pressing need for shots of a woman dressed as the lead character from American McGee's Alice: Madness Returns?" I reply.
In my never-ending quest for entertaining video game stock photography I've come across all sorts of strange and glorious photo shoots, but this set, posted by photographer Kiselev Andrey Valerevich across several of the more popular sites, takes the cake and grows much larger than it has any right to be.
The model isn't quite perfect for the role, but she definitely has a firm grasp of the various moods that tend to strike American's vision of Lewis Carroll's creation.
One moment she plays the bloodied innocent, tipping some tea into the cup of a decidedly off-white rabbit. The next she's sprawled across a convoluted killing floor, staring up at the sky and wondering what lies beyond (madness, and more madness beyond that).
Normal things for a rather adult-seeming girl to be doing, but when you turn your head just so; when your eyes are at the very edge of seeing, the innocent facade begins to fray.
At first it seems a playful smirk, but then you notice the too-wide eyes, alive with blossoming insanity.
Write it off as your imagination. You're reading too much into this woman-girl and her Sharpie-marked apron. She's just another soul trying to make sense of this strange world; another traveler on the path towards understanding. There are stumbling blocks, to be sure, but she'll make it there. She'll be right behind you, all the way.
Right behind you.