Friday, June 10, 2011

Il Castello in Fondo al Mare

David in Venice with a bag of books (1989).
In 1989 Eric Shanower and I went to Europe. It was the first time for both of us - the year before we moved in together. As you have seen elsewhere on this blog, I have a certain fondness for foreign editions of the Oz books and in Italy I hit the jackpot. Every town seemed to have a children's bookstore and in each I looked for and found different and interesting editions of L. Frank Baum's ll Mago di Oz.

However, in Milan, Eric had keener eyes and spotted an unusual title with Baum's name on the spine. It turned out to be an Italian edition of The Sea Fairies titled Il Castello in Fondo al Mare. The book was translated by Vincenzo Brinzi and had been published by Mursia in 1988. Mursia had already published an edition of The Wizard of Oz in 1985.

I’ve often wondered if the choice to publish this edition of The Sea Fairies was possibly inspired by the forthcoming release of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989). The wraparound cover design (shown above) features a lobster playing the violin and the big fish on the back cover is bright yellow, like Flounder in the film.

When Eric and I started flipping through the book we were surprised to see that it included Neill color plates - but they were not reproductions of Neill’s original color plates. Instead, eight of Neill’s full-page black and white drawings from the book had been newly colored by Raffaella Zardoni, who also designed the book - which includes many of Neill's black and white illustrations as well.

There are two other foreign editions of Sea Fairies, but I'll save those for a future post.

1 comment:

John W. Kennedy said...

Being a big fan of Boito’s Mefistofele, I can’t help being a little creeped out by the phrase “fondo al mare”, though I suppose an Italian wouldn’t notice.