|Dick Martin circa 1980|
Dick also played a huge part in the early days of the International Wizard of Oz Club, doing research, editing and laying out The Baum Bugle, working on bibliography, and much else including illustrating Ruth Plumly Thompson's final two Oz books, illustrating the McGraws' Forbidden Fountain of Oz (1980), and finally writing an Oz book of his own, The Ozmapolitan of Oz (1986). And at the time of his death in 1990 he had the finest Baum and Oz collection in the world.
Dick was a very private man, very reserved and quiet (he was very hard-of-hearing), and he hated fandom of any kind, despite being a fanatical Oz collector, comic collector, and toy collector himself. I am sure, too, that some of Dick Martin's reserve was because he was gay (but pretty firmly in the closet). It wasn't exactly a secret (at least to other gay people). I suspected Dick was gay the first time I got a letter from him. His tone, his quirky sense of humor, his ultra-dapper author's photo in The Oz Scrapbook (1978) all set my Gaydar off, even though I was a sixteen-year-old closeted gay boy myself.
I'll share more Dick Martin stories in the future, but in today's blog I'm gonna discuss Dick's mischievous side. Dick's illustrations were fairly cartoony, always light-hearted and fun. But he also liked to work in quaint references, little in-jokes for his friends. Sometimes these were Baum or Oz collecting references, sometimes bits of sly innuendo like in this charming illustration from Merry Go Round in Oz showing two cute little boys holding hands in the Land of Good Children. In Oz it seems everyone is a Friend of Dorothy.
|Two Ozzy boys holding hands in MERRY GO ROUND IN OZ|
Or in the illustration of Prince Gules below. Note the placement of the big Easter egg and Gules's excitement at finding that big ring. And if it's not obvious enough what's going on, Gules's right hand signals it quite blatantly.
This "after dark" in Oz streak is most evident in a short bit of Oz fiction Dick wrote for friends in the mid-1960s called Oz ad Nauseum. It was later printed in a fanzine called No, no.10 (June 1972), edited by charter Oz Club member Ruth Berman, and it was included as a premium broadsheet in our own Oz-story No. 6 (2000).
But for your reading pleasure it is also available as this month's free on-line Tiger Tale. I'm sure you'll get a kick out of this very irreverent Oz tale, and you'll get to spend a few minutes with a more private Dick Martin than you get to know from only his illustrations. Go read it!