Wednesday, November 30, 2011

White Edition Wednesday - LAND

Last week we discussed the "white edition" of Wizard. Today we discuss The Land of Oz. Reilly & Lee's edition of Land from the early 1940s until the 1964 "white edition" was quite unattractive. It had a dreary cover label by a staff artist, and the book had been re-typeset. The illustrations were getting blobby and were showing a lot of plate wear. Dick Martin took the opportunity to give Land a complete overhaul in the "white edition."

For the front cover Dick Martin adapted the pictorial cover label design that had been used by Reilly & Lee from the early 1920s through the early 1940s. He used the original spine illustration of General Jinjur and rendered it in color. The back cover is extremely interesting. It is based on a very rare advertising poster for the original publication of The Marvelous Land of Oz in 1904. The only known copy was preserved in one of L. Frank Baum's personal scrapbooks which Dick Martin happened to own.

There is one major - but not very apparent - improvement for the "white edition" Land of Oz over the mediocre '40s and '50s edition that Reilly & Lee had been peddling. Dick had them reshoot the interior from a good Reilly & Britton copy, thus restoring the original typesetting and greatly improving the reproduction of the line-art illustrations.

A typical copy of The Land of Oz from the period between1935 and 1964 had the following fore-matter: blank endpapers, a generic title page, copyright page, author's note, dedication, list of chapters, small image of Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, first page of chapter one. Dick's design for the "white edition" was somewhat more generous: he gave Land (and all the subsequent "white editions") lovely pictorial black and red endpapers from the first edition of The Road to Oz.

Endpaper design used in all "white editions" except for some copies of WIZARD.

The new fore-matter begins with a mini-essay called "The Famous Oz books," featuring the illustration also seen on page 57 of the "white edition." The next spread features a list of the Oz books and a new ownership leaf..

Dick created the new ownership leaf (above center) by borrowing the rather generic one from Rinkitink in Oz (above left). He eliminated the kids and the rabbit and traced in Glinda from the Land of Oz color plate seen above right. The next spread features the drawing of General Jinjur from the spine and a new half-title page that Dick created by using a portion of the original 1904 endpapers (below).

Dick greatly improved the title-page spread, as you can see in the comparison below. He traced one of the original color plates to create a new frontispiece and he slightly modified the original 1904 title page, removing the word "Marvelous" and the reference to Montgomery and Stone, and changing the publisher's name from Reilly & Britton to Reilly & Lee. 

ABOVE Land of Oz circa 1935-1963.  BELOW: 1964 "white edition."

The next spread is the copyright page and Author's Note. Dick has restored the original 1904 typography for both.

The verso of the "white edition's" Author's Note features a line art version of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman as pictured on the front cover. At this point Dick Martin adds one more page, a second half-title featuring the illustration from page 127 of the "white edition." On the verso of that is a picture of Tip that Dick has traced from the color plate where the main characters meet the Wogglebug.

The Land of Oz  was one of the original eight "white editions" released in 1964. To publicize them, as well as the publication of the "poster edition" of Wizard, Dick Martin prepared a new issue of The Ozmapolitan, the imaginary newspaper of the Emerald City. You can download a PDF of the entire issue by clicking here.

If you look through the paper, it's pretty obvious that at this point Reilly & Lee still had plans to keep all forty Oz books in print. There are news articles in the paper about several later Oz books, including Pirates, Captain Salt, Hidden Valley, and Merry Go Round. By 1965 the decision had been made to let the non-Baum Oz titles go out of print.

This section will be modified as more information on variants comes in 
I suspect that in the earliest "white edition" copies of Land the mini-essay "The Famous Oz Books" appearing on page one lists the number of Oz books at "40" in paragraph two, line three, and that the list of Oz books on the verso lists all forty titles. Please do let me know if you have a copy that does indeed list all forty books and what the number is on page one. The ads at the back of the book are the usual synopses of the fourteen Baum books. One other oddity - my copy has four blank leaves at the end after the last page of ads. Eric's copy has only one blank leaf after the ads. My copy with the multiple blank leaves also has the endpapers printed on a very heavy paper similar to a stiff card stock. I suspect my copy is a later printing of the "white edition."

Next week we'll explore Ozma of Oz!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Adolf Hitler in Oz - A Review

Today we have a guest blogger: Eric Shanower, cartoonist of Oz comics and other stuff.

Adolf Hitler in Oz: A Children's Book for Adults
by Sam Sackett
Published by Xlibris Corporation, 2011
To order:
A Review by Eric Shanower

Talk about high concept! You can’t get much higher than a mash up between one of the twentieth century’s most infamous monsters and America’s favorite fairyland.

If you think that the title is a joke or that author Sam Sackett won’t deliver on the premise, you would be wrong. The story - set, of course, during World War II -  begins in the final days of the war in Europe. Hitler, realizing that the end is quickly approaching, tries to hide that fact from Eva Braun while secretly commissioning construction of a time machine he believes will let him escape.

The tense atmosphere is well defined in Sackett’s clear and comfortable prose, but some of the nuts and bolts aren’t so clear. Whether the time machine can do what it’s supposed to is a question never answered. At first it seems to work, but the German Colonel that Hitler uses as a guinea pig is revealed to be lying about his experience using the machine. Later, Hitler successfully uses the machine to reach the Land of Oz, but this result is clearly not what he expected. No matter, the adventure is off to a fine start.

The first people that Hitler meets in Oz are two bumbling oafs named Stanley and Ollie, who quite convincingly reproduce the familiar screen personas of the twentieth century film stars Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. But when Stanley and Ollie are revealed as residents of Oogaboo I wondered why their names aren’t Jo. I expected Sackett, author of the seminal Oz essay “The Utopia of Oz” (The Georgia Review, vol. 14, p275-91. [Fall 1960]; reprinted in The Critical Heritage Series edition of The Wizard of Oz, Schocken Books, 1983), to hew closely to the Oz established by L. Frank Baum. But Sackett doesn’t.

The story proceeds to raise more questions for anyone familiar with Baum’s Oz. Why is Oogaboo located in the Gillikin County instead of the Winkie Country where Baum placed it in Tik-tok of Oz? Why has Jo Files married Queen Ann instead of Ozga, who isn’t even mentioned? I kept waiting for a big reveal of why things had changed so much in Oz between 1914 and 1945. More than halfway through the book no reveal had been revealed. The story only raised more questions by introducing more inconsistencies with the Oz books. But I’m in the camp that says that inconsistencies are part of the Oz experience, so I was content to continue reading because by that time I was heavily involved in the story of Hitler’s plan to conquer Oz.

Hitler quickly maneuvers into becoming Reichschancellor of Oogaboo. He gains allies from Runnymead, where the inhabitants run races all day long, and he sets the people of Flame City – led by the Red Hot Mama – to making rifles. Hitler’s interactions with the inhabitants of Oz are all very delightful, especially when Hitler's inhumanity bumps up against the innocent natures of the Oz residents. I don’t quite buy Sackett’s characterizations of familiar Oz characters such as Dorothy and the Wizard (no other author has ever quite matched Baum in this, either), but this is a minor quibble since the story doesn’t spend much time with them, instead focusing on Hitler and Oogaboo. And to a great extent the book strikes the right Ozzy tone of gentle humor.

At the last moment Hitler’s plans go awry. And this is where I have a major problem with the book. Hitler is foiled because he lacks knowledge of a significant detail long ago established in the Oz books. I didn’t lack knowledge of the significant detail, but Sackett fails to introduce it at the logical place in his story. As I read, I wondered why he didn’t mention it. Since so many of the other details in the book don’t match the details of Baum’s Oz books – and because this particular detail would so obviously prevent Hitler’s plan from succeeding – I assumed that Sackett had eliminated that detail from his version of Oz. My assumption was incorrect. In fact, Hitler is stopped because of that very detail and I felt cheated by the author for first playing fast and loose with the Oz “facts,” then solving a major problem with an Oz “fact” he’d left previously unmentioned. Not fair, Mr. Sackett. Was Sackett’s intention to mimic Baum’s frequent use of deus ex machina -  such as introducing previously undiscovered powers of the silver shoes, convenient use of the Magic Belt, water that wipes minds, etc.? If so, Sackett’s attempt doesn’t work. It feels like a cheat, whereas I never felt cheated by Baum.

Fortunately Hitler’s failure isn’t the end of the story. The book goes on to relate Hitler’s “incarceration” in Tollydiggle’s jail. I was quite interested to see how that situation would play out, how the Oz system would deal with such a man as Adolf Hitler. I can’t say that Sackett’s conclusion is altogether convincing, but it’s a good try in the face of formidable odds and it brings the story to a satisfying end.

Another connection between Oz and Hitler! An illustration by Frank Kramer for the article "On a Limb" by Anthony Boucher, Unknown Worlds, October 1941. Kramer also illustrated The Magical Mimics in Oz and The Shaggy Man of Oz.

Overall, I found the book an enjoyable and comfortable read. The only thing that keeps me from recommending it more strongly is that Sackett’s garbling of the established Oz mythos creates problems for the story itself. But if the title Adolf Hitler in Oz intrigues you at all, I’d say give it a try.

So what’s next? Idi Amin in Oz? Pol Pot in Oz? How about Jim Jones in Oz?—I’d be first in line to read that one.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 66

Sis just doesn't seem to have a lot of luck with boys - but I suspect this one is gonna get the hot seat if he's not careful!

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 56, in December 1940. If you love Marge's Little Lulu you're sure to get a kick out of Sis!

Please note that if you click on the image it will expand to a full-size version which will make it much easier to read! All of the other blog images will similarly enlarge.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

MGM on Parade!

I was just sent a super cool link from my Ozzy friend, John Kennedy, of some home movies from the 1939 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

At time marker 1:07 the huge and wonderful Tin Woodman helium balloon goes past. Then there is a short break for a marching band (possibly playing Oz music?). And then comes along a great Scarecrow float! A Scarecrow falls up and down his hay stack and there are quite a few men in Ray Bolger Scarecrow costumes walking the street - presumably shaking hands with the crowd.

It's pretty great! And totally unknown to me until now. I only recently saw the Tin Woodman balloon for the first time a couple weeks ago - to see him in action and in color is a real treat! It's available below from both Vimeo and YouTube.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving with John R. Neill

Happy Thanksgiving!

As a little treat from the Tiger Den comes a full page poem, "The Brew of Thanksgiving Broth," by Ruth Comfort Mitchell. The poem is lavishly illustrated by Oz illustrator John R. Neill. Technically this is a recent addition to Eric's collection - but he said I could share it with all of you.

The page was originally published in the November 1919 issue of McCall's Magazine.

Click on the image below to enlarge it - and here's to the beginning of a happy holiday season!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

White Edition Wednesday - WIZARD

Last week we got an overview of the ever-popular "white editions." Today we begin our look at the books one at a time - beginning, of course, with The Wizard of Oz. This will be the most complicated and lengthiest of these blogs, as this title has more variants and Dick Martin's modifications were much more extreme. The "white edition" shown above was published in 1965. But two other Reilly & Lee editions of Wizard preceded it, and we must pay our respects to them as well.

Martin's jacket for the 1960 Ulrey WIZARD.
The first Reilly & Lee edition of Wizard was published in 1956 and featured new illustrations by cartoonist Dale Ulrey. Her pictures were attractive and were printed in black and red in the early printings. In 1960, soon after Dick Martin started his long association with Reilly & Lee, he drew a new dust jacket design for the Ulrey Wizard. For this 1960 printing, the text illustration colors were modified to help tell the story - just like W. W. Denslow had done in the original 1900 printing. Blue in the Munchkin Country, red in the Poppy Field, green in the Emerald City, etc. I am fairly certain this ink color change to the Ulrey illustrations was done at Dick Martin's urging. I doubt anyone at Reilly & Lee even knew of Denslow's original color scheme. Dick was already a major Baum and Denslow scholar, and tweaking the colors like this is exactly the sort of thing he would have done. I also suspect Dick planted the idea that they needed a totally new edition of Wizard featuring the original Denslow illustrations. And in 1964 a new Denslow illustrated edition was published.

1964 "Poster Cover" edition of THE WIZARD OF OZ

For this first printing of the Denslow edition, Dick Martin prepared a lovely cover based on one of the original advertising posters for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from 1900. Dick also adapted Denslow's 1903 "Poppy Field" endpaper design for the book.

Endpapers of the 1964 Reilly & Lee "Poster Cover" edition of WIZARD

If you compare these to the original 1903 endpapers, which were printed in red and green, you will notice Dick has redrawn the image and extended it at the bottom by almost an inch to accommodate the Reilly & Lee Oz book proportions. The book retained the afterword by Edward Wagenknecht from the 1956 Ulrey edition and got a new foreword which may have been written by Dick Martin:
"W. W. Denslow, the illustrator, was the perfect collaborator for L. Frank Baum. His pictures could no more be separated from the text than Gilbert's words could be taken from Sullivan's music. The same spirit of fun, surprise and mystery held them both in a rare and happy partnership. This sparkling new edition contains all the best of Denslow's illustrations - including many which have not appeared since the original edition of 1900, and several of which have never before been published."

Looking at the chronology of events, it seems likely that it was Reilly & Lee's pleasure in seeing this spiffy new edition that prompted them to ask Dick to redesign all of the Oz books in a new modern format. Alas, he had given this 1964 edition a very unique cover - a style that would be hard to replicate on thirteen additional Baum titles. So Dick copied the style he'd used on Merry Go Round in Oz for the post-Wizard books, and when Wizard needed to be reprinted in 1965 he designed the new "white edition" cover we all know, as seen at the top of this blog post, to replace the "poster edition."

For the most part the interior of the "white edition" is identical to the earlier 1964 "poster edition." But there were a few changes. The illustration color scheme was improved. In the 1964 "poster edition," the first two 32-page gatherings had blue text illustrations. In the 1965 "white edition," the first 16-page gathering has illustrations printed in gray, better suiting the story. The "white edition's" final gathering of 16 pages also changed to illustrations printed in gray and added eight more pages to the end of the book. To fill these extra pages Dick cut the three-page ad [see comments] listing all forty Oz books as well as two illustrations that appeared in the "poster edition." He replaced them with a multi-page ad - featuring the plot synopses of the Baum Oz books from Who's Who in Oz - plus two additional illustrations. Many copies of the "white edition" Wizard have the Kansas illustrations printed in chocolatey brown rather than gray. The brown can be seen in the illustration of Uncle Henry sitting on the stoop further down this blog.

Before we get into looking at how Dick Martin adapted the Denslow illustrations it is well to point out one feature I only recently noticed. The typography of the Denslow edition is that of the Dale Ulrey edition. Dick Martin simply replaced her illustrations with adapted Denslow illustrations

Note that the text, page numbers, and running titles are identical in both editions. Martin has simply adapted two of Denslow's images to replace those of Ulrey. He also deleted the chapter number. In the foreword quoted above it mentions that this edition includes several illustrations which "have never before been published." That refers to these two images:

The image at left was discovered in a 1954 Metropolitan Life Insurance advertisement. In 1964 Dick still believed this was an unknown Denslow illustration. It isn't. It dates from 1954. The Lion (above right) is from Denslow's 1905 "Scarecrow and Tin Man at the Flower Festival in California" comic page.

It must be pointed out that while I am calling these Denslow illustrations, most of them have been heavily adapted and some have been completely redrawn by Dick Martin. He did this both to simplify Denslow's elaborate two color design and to create images the right shape to fit the Ulrey layout. Let's take a look at some examples:

Original Denslow on left - Dick Martin on right. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Above, you can see how Dick modified Denslow's original illustration to serve as a stand-alone full-page drawing. I like that he preserved Denslow's aesthetics by allowing the sunflower to break through the frame. Yet once one realizes these "white edition" images are Dick Martin tracings it's easy to spot his work. In the right hand picture, the simple, cartoony silhouette of Aunt Em doing dishes is much more Martin than Denslow.

Below are several examples of the clever way Dick cobbled together different Denslow illustrations to meet the needs of fitting into the Ulrey edition typesetting.

Original Denslow on left - Dick Martin on right. CLICK TO ENLARGE
You can see that Dick kept the initial S to start the chapter, but he needed to remove the Munchkin hat and some of the wildflowers. However, the raised position of the S created an empty space above the type, so he replaced the original seated Dorothy with a standing Dorothy pulled from the illustration below.

Dick reused the Toto from this picture on the chapter title below. Note, too, that Dick replaced almost all of Denslow's solid blocks of color with zip-a-tone line patterns. The line pattern was easier to print reliably and probably added a subtly modern feel to the book. 

Original Denslow on left - Dick Martin on right. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Many of Denslow's color plate drawings were reproduced fairly accurately, though printed in a single color. However, the other illustrations were almost all Dick Martin tracings. Sometimes Dick's tracings were quite close to Denslow's original lines. At other times Dick's lines couldn't help but display his own style. And a few times Dick made deliberate changes to Denslow's linework.

W. W. Denslow above - Dick Martin below.

This section will be modified as more information on variants comes in

While the 1964 printing of the "poster edition" of Wizard had "poppy field" endpapers, it is probable the earliest printings of the "white edition" also have "poppy field" endpapers. But the vast majority of Wizard "white editions" I have seen have the Road to Oz "crowd of Ozian celebrities" endpapers. (These endpapers were also used in the rest of the "white edition" Oz books.) I'd be most curious to hear what endpapers are in your copies of the Wizard "white edition." If you know when you bought your copy or it has a presentation date, that can be useful information, too. The earliest printings have the front and back cover properly centered. The later printings (probably from the mid-late 1970s) used smaller boards, 6" wide as opposed to the 6 3/8" inches of the earlier printings, as shown below.

Note how the cover on the right is off-center due to the smaller boards.

I have several copies of this book here in the Tiger Den - one of which seems somewhat atypical. I bought it new in 1979 at F. A. O. Schwartz when I was a kid. It has the smaller 6" boards, so the cover doesn't wrap well, but it does have the "poppy field" endpapers printed in black and red and the Kansas illustrations are printed in gray. The smaller board size and known purchase date indicate this is a later printing. So clearly the gray Kansas illustrations and "poppy" endpapers do not automatically indicate an early printing date.

Examples of both the gray and chocolate brown ink colors.

So I'd be most curious if any of you can share info on whether the Kansas scenes in your copy are gray or brown, and if you have Road endpapers or "poppy" endpapers. Also if there are ads in the front or back of the book for either 14 or 40 Oz books. You can leave info in the comments section.

As I mentioned last week twelve of the fourteen "white editions" were also available in paperback form through Rand McNally. Their paperback Wizard printed all of the illustrations in black and white.

That's it for today - next week we'll tackle The Land of Oz!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ruby Slipper Adventure

Last Tuesday I set out on an unexpected journey to Los Angeles to see the Ruby Slippers for the first time. This wasn't just any pair of Ruby Slippers - these were the "Witch's Shoes," the best preserved pair, the pair used in close-ups, the pair worn by the dead Wicked Witch of the East, and the pair worn by Dorothy when she clicks her heels three times to go home.

I arrived at the Solange Azagury-Partidge jewelry gallery on Rodeo Drive. I spotted the slippers in a four-sided glass case at the back of the small gallery and approached them, these magical icons of Hollywood and Oz, and, well, they were just shoes.

I sensed no magic, my heart didn't race, they were just shoes. I felt an Ozzy exhilaration when I met Margaret Hamilton. I felt excited the first time I got to see the rotting remains of a flying monkey miniature from the film. But why nothing special for the shoes? Maybe I'm just not into feet. Or perhaps the idea of the Ruby Slippers is just so magical that the real thing can't help but disappoint with the loose sequins, the splitting seams, scratches on the orange paint on the bottoms. These aren't magical shoes - they didn't go to Oz. They're a half pound of leather, cloth, and cardboard, a pocket full of glass geegaws, and they're gonna sell for over two million dollars in a few weeks.

They also looked really old and not nearly as pristine as legend would report. I wondered if there was a protective layer of cloth or plastic over the sequins, as they looked so faded and gray. There wasn't. But they sure looked like they needed a good dusting!

Interestingly, the shoes have come out much redder in my photographs than they looked in person. And, of course, they were designed to be photographed, not to be studied with a magnifying glass. Who am I to complain of sloppy sequin work on the heels when the shoes were never meant to be seen up close from the back? And when I got home and looked at my photographs, I started to feel some rush of magic - the shoes sparkle and the color deepens, they start to work their enchantment.

I really had a wonderful time and I can think of no better way to see the slippers. The gallery set up a very attractive display so the shoes could be viewed from any angle. The store was empty the entire time I was there, so I could look and study and take pictures to my heart's content. The store itself with its bright red interior, carpeted in a rainbow of stars, couldn't have provided a more lovely setting.

When the staff saw how interested I was they started talking to me. They couldn't believe I'd driven up from San Diego only to see the shoes. The publicist came out and talked with me for a while. They brought me a Coke and a chilled glass, and we chatted a bit more. The gallery even took a few additional photos for me with their good digital camera (mine in this blog were taken with my iPhone). As I was leaving, the store offered me a few parting gifts - a handsome hardcover gallery catalog and a 2012 Solange datebook.

It was a magical afternoon!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 65

Sis and her horsey friend are having a lot more fun this Sunday than they did on last Sunday!

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 55, in November 1940. If you love Marge's Little Lulu you're sure to get a kick out of Sis!

Please note that if you click on the image it will expand to a full-size version which will make it much easier to read! All of the other blog images will similarly enlarge.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bridge to Yesterday

I recently read Bridge to Yesterday (1963), a science fiction novel written by a certain E. L. Arch.

If you've been eating your Magic Muffins and using your memory you probably know that E. L. Arch is in fact Rachel R. Cosgrove, author of The Hidden Valley of Oz (1951). E. L. Arch is an anagram of "Rachel."

Rachel wrote quite a bit of SF in the early 1960s under this pseudonym and a fair amount of short SF under her own married name, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, throughout the 1970s and '80s.

A few passages in Bridge to Yesterday really jumped out at me. Early in the book the two main characters go to Jupiter's moon, Ganymede, in search of a man working on a cure for cancer. Ganymede is covered by a dense jungle. One of the characters quickly discovers that he is literally taking root in the Ganymede soil - the scene is clearly inspired by Rachel's memories of the Magic Isle in The Magic of Oz when Trot and Cap'n Bill start to take root. With no "magic" to rescue the hero the only solution is the one Trot and Cap'n Bill were so fearful of - he has to be pulled out by brute force, tearing the roots from his feet. What's particularly resonant if one knows much about Rachel's life is the fact that someone was on Ganymede looking for a cure for cancer. A few years before she wrote this book Rachel had a serious battle with cancer herself - she survived by undergoing a very early form of chemotherapy. The chemo saved her life, but did serious damage to an ankle and foot.

Later in the book the two main characters must go undercover in a prison. To my mind, the prison seems vaguely reminiscent of Tollydiggle's prison in the Emerald City. It's presented as a rehabilitation resort and treatment is referred to in the slang as "the rest cure." There are no fences or bars, and each prisoner wears a special robe and is assigned his own special guard called the "friend."  But the "rest cure" is presented as a form of torture in many ways. One is supposed to just rest and think about the crime one has committed. The prisoner is to do nothing but relax and meditate - period! The "friend" takes the prisoner out for a walk on the grounds every afternoon - but the prisoner is on a stretcher, lying prone, wheeled around by his "friend."  Even meals are spoon fed by the "friend." While on one level this seems like a parody of Tollydiggle's Oz prison - it also must surely be a satire on Rachel's long weeks in the hospital while she battled cancer. She no doubt hated her own "rest cure" with a passion.

There's another curious bit. Several times Rachel uses the phrase "shrinking violet."  This must be a phrase she liked, as "shrinking violets" became a plot device in one of her final Oz short stories, "Percy and the Shrinking Violet," published in Oz-story No. 1. 

The germ of the story was interesting, and it was an easy read, yet I couldn't help feeling frustrated that I was several steps ahead of the characters a lot of the time - especially for the last third of the novel.

A strong editor could have helped Rachel turn this story into a much better and tighter book with little effort. Alas, I suspect there was no editor and I know Rachel was paid a flat fee of only $300 to write it. Despite the fact that the book was probably written very hastily, I felt I could see Rachel enjoying herself: sometimes engaging in word play, writing a few subtle jokes, perhaps showing off some of her background as a biologist in describing the medical laboratory and the effects of the cryogenic process on the human body. 

Rachel must have enjoyed SF to some extent. I don't know for certain, but I suspect she attended several World Science Fiction Cons. She told me once that she felt very dismissed as a Science Fiction author. But she added, with a chuckle, the only time she was ever treated with respect - and a little deference - in SF circles was when her SF writing colleagues learned that she had written an Oz book.

You can read a blog review of E. L. Arch's The Deathstones by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

White Edition Wednesday

In the last few months a couple friends and I have begun discussing late Reilly & Lee bibliography - mainly that the books have never been properly described or even discussed in detail. A couple weeks ago I blogged about the little-known CBI/Regnery paperbacks (the last editions of the Oz books issued by the original publisher), but today I'm going to begin an in-depth look at the Reilly & Lee "white editions." Indeed, I suspect it will be "White Edition Wednesday" for the next fourteen weeks.

Dick Martin circa early 1960s
If you grew up in the 1960s or '70s, chances are you discovered and first read the Baum Oz books in the "white editions." Virtually identical paperback versions of the white editions were published by Rand McNally throughout the 1970s, too.

Reilly & Lee was bought by the Henry Regnery Company in 1959, mainly to acquire the Oz books. The top-heavy series had begun falling out of print and Regnery put a lot of effort into revitalizing it. For their first Oz project they accepted a proposal from Dick Martin to repackage Baum's Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz comic page into a picture book, The Visitors from Oz (1960). In 1961 they put out picture book abridgements of the first four Baum Oz books, illustrated by Dick Martin; the first Baum biography, To Please a Child (which featured a Martin dust jacket); and in 1963, a new Oz book.

For this fortieth Oz book, Merry Go Round in Oz by Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Lauren McGraw Wagner, Dick tried a fresh new Oz book design. Instead of a plain cloth binding and dust jacket, Dick created a four-color stamping design to be printed directly on white cloth. This gave a very modern feel to the book, and Reilly & Lee decided the format would suit the rest of the Oz books very nicely. They could even eliminate the costly and easily torn dust jackets, saving money and hassle in the warehouse. Dick Martin was asked to begin redesigning the covers.

He designed new covers, often based on original color plates or endpapers which had not been in the books in decades. He searched through his collection and the Reilly & Lee files and found marvelous little bits to add to and enrich each volume. If you've never sat down to compare the white editions to the original editions, you may be in for a surprise exactly how much Dick Martin tweaked and augmented each of the titles.

To launch the revamped Oz series Reilly & Lee pulled out all the stops. They prepared bookmarks, a new issue of "The Ozmapolitan" (an imaginary Oz newspaper used periodically as a publicity gimmick), and a marvelous poster advertising the redesign of the series.

On a side note, this poster was one of the things I most wanted for my collection. I finally got one about five years ago. It is reproduced in black and white on the cover of the 1964 "Ozmapolitan." One thing the poster clearly indicates (based on the Ozzy names in the border) is that Reilly & Lee probably had plans to issue all forty books in the new format. In the end, perhaps because sales of Merry Go Round in Oz were disappointing, they decided to issue only the fourteen Baum books and allow the rest of the series to go out of print.

The new white editions began to be issued in 1964. The first batch included The Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, The Scarecrow of Oz, and The Lost Princess of Oz. The other six Baum titles would not be released until the following year.

We'll go into each title individually in the coming weeks, but before I close for today I thought I'd share another quirky bit of Dick Martin's sense of humor. In the early 1960s while Dick was designing the "white editions," several people were in heated research-mode trying to work out the complex bibliography of the Oz books. One topic receiving much debate concerned which ampersands dated from what years on what books. An ampersand, for those that don't know, is the character or sign standing for the word "and," as in Reilly & Lee. One of the fellows involved in the debate was James E. Haff, Baum researcher and cartographer of the Oz Club's maps. In a sly mood, and as a little joke to make Jim Haff pull his hair out, Dick Martin put a different ampersand on each title of the fourteen "white editions."

On that note, I will see you next Wednesday when we'll tackle the "white edition" of The Wizard of Oz.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Soup! Soup! Soup!

I've been cleaning house and sorting boxes of Oz crap and recently ran across a drawing I did for Eric a very long time ago, back when he was editing the Oz Calendar.

In previous years I had done several drawings for the Oz Calendar and I'd not been terribly happy with any of them. I don't like drawing line art all that much, but I do like painting, and Eric suggested I try painting a calendar picture instead of working in pen-and-ink line art. So I did. The theme was to be "The Villains of Oz," as I recall. I was quite pleased with my picture - a silly drawing of the Roly-Rogues from Baum's Queen Zixi of Ix (1905). After I'd finished the drawing the "Villains" calendar theme was abandoned and the drawing was never published.

But the Roly-Rogues were getting hungry after all these years, so I've let them loose on the blog.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 64

Poor Sis - Last week she fell off the hay wagon and this week Mr. Paul tears her down. What's a girl to do?

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 55, in November 1940. If you love Marge's Little Lulu you're sure to get a kick out of Sis!

Please note that if you click on the image it will expand to a full-size version which will make it much easier to read! All of the other blog images will similarly enlarge.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Comical Land of Oz

We’re off to see the Wizard! The Cartoon Art Museum celebrates The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with an exhibition featuring vintage newspaper tearsheets and original artwork spanning over 100 years of classic comics. The exhibit runs from November 12 - April 25, 2012. Click here for details.

At the dawn of the 20th century,  L. Frank Baum created a world of wonders that was to hold a permanent place in the culture of America: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz . Then in 1904, to promote his second book, Baum, along with master cartoonist Walt McDougall, brought his famed characters to Earth in a new medium, the comic strip.

Famed Oz illustrators W.W. Denslow and John R. Neill also launched their own syndicated comic strips in the early 20th Century.  The Cartoon Art Museum’s exhibition will include a selection of tearsheets from these talented artists: McDougall’s Queer Visitors from Marvelous Land of Oz, Denslow’s Father Goose and Billy Bounce, and Neill’s Nip and Tuck, courtesy of historian and publisher Peter Maresca of Sunday Press.

Acclaimed writer and artist Eric Shanower’s first Oz comic, The Enchanted Apples of Oz, was published in 1986, beginning his 25-year (and counting!) association with Baum’s characters.  This exhibition will feature highlights from five of Shanower’s Oz graphic novels, as well as a selection of art from his latest series of Eisner Award-winning Oz adaptations for Marvel Comics illustrated by Skottie Young.  Additional collaborators include Anna-Maria Cool and the legendary Ramona Fradon.

Presentations and booksignings featuring publisher Peter Maresca and writer/artist Eric Shanower are in the planning stages. Information on these and other Oz-related events will be available soon.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Horsing Around with John R. Neill

In celebration of the current serialization of Eric Shanower's and Skottie Young's comics adaptation of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz from Marvel Comics, I thought I might re-share this fascinating Oz piece that I first published as the back cover of Oz-story No. 3 in 1997.

Eric Shanower discovered the piece the first time he visited Joan Neill Farnsworth (Neill's youngest daughter). We made plans to borrow it and have a transparency shot the next time we were both going to visit her.

This is an unused color plate created by John R. Neill for the original 1907 edition of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. It is not known why it was rejected. The image, as you can see, shows Zeb, Dorothy, and Jim the Cab-Horse falling through the earth to the land of the Mangaboos. Neill's original painting is not know to survive; but what does survive is a proof copy still in the Neill family archives. The proof is printed on the same paper as the published color plates.

The most likely scenario is that the publisher rejected this image and asked for a new one. The original edition of Dorothy and the Wizard had sixteen color plates and I doubt it was ever meant to have had more.

In any case, Neill redrew this image as a pen-and-ink drawing for the book. The ink version is much stronger. It has a better composition, the addition of the rocks up top and the clouds below give a better sense of place, and Dorothy is a bit better drawn. All this leads me to believe the ink version was created after the color version.

I do have a pet theory for why this color plate might have been rejected.  In some books (not usually Oz books) color plates are sometimes viewed sideways, in landscape mode. If this image is looked at sideways it kind of looks like there's been a buggy accident and little Dorothy is gaping open-mouthed at their dead horse.

The falling rocks and clouds of the ink version make it clear that buggy and horse are falling. Also note that Eureka (in the birdcage) has been moved from the luggage area in back of the cab in the color version, to the more prominent spot at Dorothy's feet in the pen-and-ink version.

That's it for today's Oz history lesson! Remember to check out the hit new comics adaptation of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz at your local comic book store. And don't forget that we have copies of the first three Marvel Comics collections available at our online store. If you'd like to get them autographed by Eric Shanower just ask in the "Special Instructions" field during checkout.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bradford Exchange - Hit the ROAD, Jack!

I must say that I had some hope that the Bradford Exchange facsimile Road to Oz would be a lovely and pleasant surprise. It's not. It is probably their worst effort so far. The two-color pages in Ozma of Oz were uglier, but some of Ozma was pretty - especially the cover. In the Bradford Road to Oz nothing is pretty, nothing attractive, nothing well done.

In the previous BE releases I could at least praise the cover stamping. On Road they've missed the sandboat. The artwork is reduced in size so that it doesn't fill the full cover area, the spine is very crudely redrawn and reduced even more, and the color of the cloth and the stamping inks is way off.

1st Edition at Left - Bradford at right. CLICK TO ENLARGE

The cloth is a horrid anti-freeze green (the scan above doesn't do it justice!), nothing whatsoever like the original. The light butterscotch brown used in the donkey-headed Shaggy Man has been replaced with a bright sunshine yellow. The copy we received is badly off-register, too. Not only are the colors not well aligned, but the printed inks don't match up with the blind-stamping. (BTW, I am not at all convinced the Oz books ever had any blind-stamping. I think this is probably just a Bradford technique for faking quality cloth-stamping.)

There are some serious printing errors in the text as well. The images of the text and running title are almost all way too high on the page and they are not uniform with one another. In the example below, look how high the text sits on the right-hand page.

There is nothing like this in any of the three first-state copies I have access to as I write this. In all of them the running titles are uniform in height and the text is positioned in the center of the page. One minor quibble, the BE version is much thicker than the three first-states here in the Tiger Den. Perhaps BE couldn't match the paper for both color and thickness? They also chose to leave the edges of the book un-tinted. Personally, I think the blue page-edging is much more attractive than just seeing the rainbow paper. The blue-edging makes the rainbow paper a surprise!

The reproduction in the BE edition is truly horrid. How bad is it? It's so poor I can't find anything to compare it favorably to. Books of Wonder is far better, the 1970s "white edition" is far better. Shockingly, the Del Rey mass market paperback has better reproduction of some illustrations.

The BE illustrations are all muddy and lacking in detail. And for some reason the ink is gray, not black, which only makes the illustrations even harder to see on the colored paper stock. They are just visually dead. I can not stress enough how terrible the BE reproduction is. Below is a good example from the endpapers - one of Neill's greatest Oz drawings ever. This example features a section of the endpapers showing BE on the left, a 1st state at center, and the 1970s "white edition" at right. This quality of reproduction is pretty typical throughout the BE facsimile.

Before anyone starts saying, "Oh, but the original is so hard to reproduce; it's printed on that colored paper!" all I can say is "Balderdash!" I have worked with these illustrations quite a bit and it's not hard to reproduce them adequately. In the example below you can see a scan I just made from the 2009 Winkie Con program book. To create it, I scanned my first state copy of Road, generated a PDF, had it printed by a Print-on-Demand printer in the Winkie program book, and then rescanned it tonight from the program book as my blog example. Why is my quick and dirty scan on the left, printed by a POD printer, better and more detailed than BE's crappy facsimile on the right?


The Road to Oz is generally considered John R. Neill's finest Oz illustration work. Many consider Road the most beautiful Oz book. This should have been the easiest facsimile for BE to pull off. There are no color plates, no arcane printing needs like Wonderful Wizard requires. Yet BE has given us a uniformly ugly book, with gray, blobby illustrations throughout. The book is corrupted with mis-positioned pages and off-register cover stamping. When this printing rolled off the press someone at BE should have taken a look, demanded a do-over, and pulped this entire printing. When some of the illustrations in a $60 facsimile can be bested in reproduction by a Del Rey mass market paperback printed on newsprint, something is seriously wrong.

Don't cha come back no more, no more . . .