Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Cards - Have a Cool Yule!

I've previously blogged about several examples of holiday cards drawn by the creators of the Oz series. Eloise Jarvis McGraw was known to engrave wood-blocks to print her own Holiday cards (click here). And Eric Shanower drew his own Christmas cards for many years. Here's one of my favorites featuring Percy the Personality Kid. Bill Campbell of the Oz Collector blog recently shared a great collection of John R. Neill's personal Christmas greetings.

Here is a Christmas card drawn by Oz illustrator Dick Martin. It is a commercially produced card designed by Martin in the mid-1950s. Dick created dozens of different greeting cards back then. Many delighted in '50s kitsch, such as this trumpet playing cat lounging in a bowl chair. The front of the card gives little indication this is, in fact, a Christmas card. But as you'll see from the inner spread, it is!

As this cat says, "Have a cool Yule . . . and a real crazy new Year!"

Sunday, December 20, 2015


In 1980 I won the Munchkin Convention's Oz quiz. The quiz had been prepared by John Bell. Both of us were in our mid-teens. This was the first time I won a convention quiz and I was eagerly looking forward to the glory that came attached to such a win. And I had much anticipation for the Ozzy prize that was sure to come with it.

At my first Oz convention a few years earlier, the quiz prize had been a first edition of The Giant Horse of Oz, and I had gotten it into my head that quiz prizes should be substantive. Well, my prize for winning the Munchkin Quiz was a small cheese board, hand-made by John Bell himself. In all likelihood it had been made in John's high school "wood shop" class. It came with this "Certificate of Authenticity."

At the time, I was a bit disappointed in the little cheese board. Perhaps, John, too, thought it was a trifle too little as he augmented the cheese board with an inexpensive Whitman edition of The Wizard of Oz, which he had autographed by Margaret Hamilton, who was the special guest of the Munchkin Convention.

Margaret Hamilton's "Congratulations!" on winning the quiz.

Now, in hindsight a copy of The Wizard of Oz signed by the Wicked Witch of the West sounds very nice, but at the time she was in the same room with me and I'd just had lunch with her and had her sign several other books I'd brought with me.

But over the years this once disappointingly cheesy prize has come to mean much more to me than some book or Ozian collectible would have. John and I are still friends and blogging colleagues. (John writes the Oz and Ends blog as well as the American Revolution blog Boston 1775.) And now, thirty-five years later, I really enjoy knowing that John made that stupid little cheese board for me back when we were both teenagers. And you know, for decades now it's actually been really useful for serving cheese!

[Update] You can read John's version of the story by clicking here!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Blog 500! Happy Holidays!

Well, this is my 500th blog post here. For those that are curious about such things Hungry Tiger Talk has had 239,939 page views and received 1211 comments. To celebrate here is a charming Christmas advertisement from the Indianapolis Journal, December 15, 1902.

Click to enlarge.

This fine advertisement of good books for the holidays back in 1902 promotes two of L. Frank Baum's titles, describing The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus as "a book for which all the little ones have been waiting for generations and generations." The page also advertises Baum's The Master Key saying, "Never was a better story written for boys . . . This prince of story tellers has related a story of adventure so filled with wonders that rare will be the boy who does not find it fascinating."And while Life and Adventures is shown on the Christmas tree above three times, The Master Key isn't shown at all. If you click on the image above you can explore the image in detail.

We have another holiday treat for you over on our sister blog Hungry Tiger Tales, where we present Christmas with the Prince, a Pumperdink story by Ruth Plumly Thompson first published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 21, 1919. Another fun read on the blog is Jack Snow's holiday story, The Animal's Christmas Tree which you can read by clicking here.

And finally, go check out our internet radio station, Emerald City Radio which has been nicely spiced up with some Ozzy Christmas listening including a selection of Christmas carols sung by Stephanie Mills, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" sung by Judy Garland, and "Toyland" which was first sung by Bessie Wynn in Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland. Bessie, of course, created the part of Sir Dashemoff Daily in the 1903 Wizard of Oz just before she created the part of TomTom in Babes in Toyland. Click here to listen  or simply click the "play" arrow in the Emerald City Radio window at the top of the right hand column in this blog.

This blog has been a lot of fun to wrote over the past five years, and I am glad to be posting regularly again. Several blog sequences have proved to be very popular, such as Map of Oz Monday, White Edition Wednesday, and the amusingly critical reviews of the preposterous Bradford Exchange reprints of the Baum Oz books. And there's lots of other cool stuff in these 500 various posts - go explore for a bit!

Happy Holidays from Hungry Tiger Press!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Snow!

I think maybe it's time for a holiday-oriented blog post!

Back in the late 1920s Jack Snow wrote a weekly radio column called "Cruising the Air Channels" for the Piqua Daily Call in Piqua, Ohio. Incidentally, for years I mispronounced the name of this small Ohio town. It's actually pronounced "Pick-way."

Below you will find excerpts from two different columns, both from December 1928. I'm not quite sure why Snow found this issue of multiple Santa's on the air waves so troublesome. To me, it seems no more problematic than the usual logic issues of how Santa gets to all the various houses to deliver all those toys from one sleigh in one night.

But it's still fun to read about the relatively young medium of radio, and Snow mentions "nomes" and uses Baum's spelling. So get ready to lock down your radio tuner and enjoy some Christmas Snow!
December 17th 1928

This is the season of the year when every radio studio has its Santa Claus. Actually if you want to preserve the illusion of the bewhiskered Saint for your small son or daughter, the only thing to do is to pick a strong station and lock the controls of the set. For if the youngster starts hunting Santa of his own accord, he will discover the air to be thickly beset by the benevolent old gentleman. The child will make the alarming discovery that Santa can hop from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati and to St. Louis and and back again as fast as he can turn the dial. Apparently Santa is possessed of a tenor voice in St. Louis, a bass tone in Cincinnati, and a mellow baritone in Pittsburgh. This state of affairs is confusing to say the least, and has been known to elicit some embarrassing questions that parents are not always capable of answering.

All the Santas are jolly and beneficent so there is not really much choice. The thing to do, therefore, is to pick the strongest station and then stand guard over the controls of the set while the young hope is absorbing the Christmas spirit. Otherwise the radio as a means of child education is going to prove just a trifle too successful.

December 24, 1928
Illusions Lost

Our worst fears are realized. Either the whole Santa Claus story is a gigantic hoax, or Santa himself is a deceiver of the worst sort. How, are we anxious to learn, aided by even the swiftest airplane can Santa be in Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, and Cincinnati as fast as we turn the single dial of our set?

And oh, the companions and merry little helpers of Santa, their member is legion. There are nomes, elves, princesses, fairies and all manner of what nots that roam through the pages of the charming child books. The main difficulty, however, in all this pleasant phantasia to entertain the younger members of the radio audience is the lack of consistency. Even in fairy tales, and imaginative stories, the author must be believed - he must be consistent. but not so your bland studio director, he asininely bites off several more hunks than he can choose, and proceeds to lose seven-eights of the illusion that the microphone, more happily handled, might create. Here again, we have a crying need for competent radio dramatists.

Now, why not head over to our sister blog Hungry Tiger Tales and read Jack Snow's The Animals' Christmas Tree.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

Edward Einhorn, Eric Shanower, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, & David Maxine.

Today would have been Rachel Cosgrove Payes's 93rd Birthday. She is, of course, the author of Hidden Valley of Oz (1951). I began corresponding with her in the late 1970s, and we finally met for a visit in 1985. But in the early 1990's Rachel became a much bigger part of Eric Shanower's and my lives. Eric had begun work illustrating Rachel's second Oz book The Wicked Witch of Oz (1993), and she began attending the Munchkin Conventions on the east coast. Soon after Wicked Witch came out Eric and I moved to New Jersey and I began Hungry Tiger Press. I asked Rachel for a new Oz story for the premiere issue of Oz-Story Magazine and she wrote one for me!

Eric and I had Oz-story publication parties and Rachel and her husband Norman would attend, always bringing a bottle of wine, maybe some cookies, and usually Rachel would make us an elaborate greeting card.  She also gave us a "Statue of David" refrigerator magnet that still adorns our fridge. The photo at the top of this blog post is from the Oz-Story No. 3 Party in 1997.

Rachel R. Cosgrove - 1942
In thinking about what I might share with you on Rachel's special day, I realized I had never seen a youthful picture of Rachel, so I hit up my genealogical resources and located a few. Here she is at nineteen, in the 1942 West Virginia Wesleyan College yearbook (she graduated in 1943).

I recognized Rachel immediately without having to go to the name index on the photo spread. She has the same wonderfully friendly but very determined look I so well remember her for.

There were a few other images in the yearbook, too. I especially like the image below showing Rachel relaxing on the campus lawn. The photo, presented in the fore-matter of the year book, is captioned: "And Rachel finally gets some E's . . ." Alas, I have no idea at all what that means!

Rachel R. Cosgrove at West Virginia Wesleyan College, 1942.

She can also be seen in the Sigma Alpha Sigma photo. Rachel is in the upper left.

Rachel died October 10, 1998. She was only seventy-five.

You can read quite a few other blog posts about Rachel and her books by clicking here.

Happy birthday, Kiddo!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Eloise Jarvis McGraw - Happy 100th!

Eloise McGraw and me picnicking on Mount Hood, Oregon, summer 1984.

Today would have been Eloise Jarvis McGraw's 100th birthday. Eloise was not only the author of three Oz books, Merry Go Round in Oz (1963), The Forbidden Fountain of Oz (1980), and The Rundelstone of Oz (2001), but she was also a close friend and a very important part of my life in my teenage and young adult years. Click here for previous blog post. Indeed, I was privileged (and a little intimidated) to be the editor and publisher of Rundelstone, which turned out to be her final book. 

Eloise Alton Jarvis - senior portrait, 1932
Eloise Alton Jarvis was born on December 9, 1915, in Houston, Texas. When she was five her family moved to Oklahoma City, where Eloise graduated from Classen High School in 1932. She was not only in the Honor Society, but won the Senior "Literary Award."

She wrote the "Class Poem of 1932" for her senior yearbook, but she had also written a poem called "Marsh Reeds" for the her junior yearbook when she was only fifteen years old. This is, I believe, McGraw's earliest published writing, and we are pleased to share it with you as a Hungry Tiger Tale. You can read it by clicking here.

Eloise Jarvis married William Corbin McGraw in January 1940. Her first children's book, Sawdust in His Shoes, was published in 1950. She went on to have a stellar career as an author of children's fiction. She wrote nineteen books for young people (three of which were Newbery Honor titles), as well as a book on fiction writing and Pharaoh, an adult novel set in ancient Egypt.

On June 16, 1958, Eloise appeared on Willard Espy's radio show Personalities in Print to discuss her new adult novel Pharaoh, which had just been released by Coward McCann.

Happy birthday, Eloise!

The Rundelstone of Oz
by Eloise McGraw

Cloth-bound hardcover, pictorial endpapers and dust jacket.
Profusely illustrated by Eric Shanower

Join the living marionette, Pocotristi Sostenuto -- better known as Poco -- on his desperate search for the magical Rundelstone in order to rescue his fellow puppets from Slyddwynn, the sinister Whitherd of Whitheraway Castle. Discover the hidden multi-colored Oz kingdom of Fyordi-Zik. And how does all this concern one of Ozma's ladies-in-waiting? This beautiful hardcover book is illustrated by Eric Shanower (with many NEW illustrations!) and comes in a full-color dust jacket. This exciting full-length Oz book by Newbery honoree Eloise Jarvis McGraw (author of Merry Go Round in Oz) will keep you thoroughly enchanted! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Merry Christmas from Gimbel Brothers!

Happy Holidays! How'd you like to read a little-known chapter in Oz history? Well, it is presented below as written in a beautiful full-page ad for Gimbel Brothers' Department Store in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 12, 1920.

Well, well, Boys and Girls - the "secret's out" - Santa Claus rented, no borrowed, no, was given a great big part of the Land of Oz on which was the biggest cave you ever saw, and there he worked for three hundred days to make your Christmas toys. Then he said to the Wizard of OZ, "All's ready. Let's go," and the Wizard summoned Mombi, the Witch, who went to the Cave and sprinkles the "Powder of Life" over the toys, lifted her left hjand with its little finger pointed upward and mumbled: "Weaugh - Teaugh - Peaugh" and goodness me! those toys cried out: "We live - We live! - We live!!

Then the wizard waved his hat and all of the Land of OZ was swept through the air just like Dorothy and Zeb and the horse were, and down, down, down the people and toys fell. After three days and three night they came to the Gimbel Land of Toys and took possession - and are to stay 'till - Oh! I almost forgot, I promised the Wizard and Santa Claus not to tell.

The Joy of the Land of OZ is Eternal Youth

Everybody is young. Mombi has a new charm, the "Powder of Youth," which she uses on every old grouch she can find. Here ten is ten, and seventy years fall away from eighty just like the Wicked Witch melted away. We're all boys and girls together.

And everybody's here - all your old friends - dear Jack Pumpkinhead, the brainy Scarecrow, the good-hearted Tin Woodman and Dorothy and the Wizard and Tip and Toto - oh, just everybody to welcome you, to walk with you, to play with you in this fairyful Land of OZ.

I must tell you about Santa Claus and the Royal Ponies and the others - it's something like this -

There is a lot of other fun stuff to read in this great vintage advertisement. Click on the full-page image below and it will expand to an easily readable size. I am wondering if this might be the earliest Oz writing of Ruth Plumly Thompson. She was still writing her "Children's Page" the the Public Ledger so she was working at the paper when this ad appeared. The writer clearly knew the Oz books, despite a few inaccuracies in the ad copy. I am not sure if Thompson had signed her contract with Reilly & Lee yet either. If she had already signed on, I think it even more likely she might have written the ad copy.

Despite my wishful thinking, I don't think it sounds particularly Thompson-like. But it's a fun and pretty spiffy ad! Look at the six little drawings above the six boxes in the middle of the page. They almost look like "give-away" pins!

A few other things to notice: The ad lists and promotes The Wizard of Oz right along with the rest of the Oz series despite being available from different publishers. And the main drawing at the bottom of the page is adapted from the endpapers of Glinda of Oz which had only been published a few months earlier on July 10, 1920.

Oz advertisement in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 12, 1920 - Click to enlarge.

They sure don't write ad copy like they used to! Happy Holidays!