Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If I Only Had a Rattle

There are many foreign editions of the Oz books here in the Tiger Den. One of the great appeals in collecting these is that the foreign illustrators are usually not as hampered by their preconceptions from the MGM Wizard of Oz film or W. W. Denslow's original illustrations.
But occasionally a foreign edition will stop you dead in yuor tracks - such as this Spanish picture book edition. This eight-page picture book edition of El Mago de Oz was published in 1977 by Artes Graphicas Cobas, of Barcelona in Spain. No one is credited with the abridgment but the illustrations are by Magda.

We all know the story . . .  Little Maria and her dog get caught in a rainstorm and are blown to fairyland where Maria meets a Scarecrow that wants to be a real boy, a lion that wants courage, and a giant green rattle snake that needs a new rattle.

And there is everyone's favorite Oz character pictured on the cover! The giant green rattle snake that lost its rattle!

The boy in the red hat (pictured above) is the Scarecrow after the Wizard grants his wish to be a real boy.

At the end of the story little Maria wakes up from a nap after having played all day in the forest.

It was only a dream! 

A very strange dream . . .

Monday, September 27, 2010

The View-Master of Oz

One of my favorite Ozzy things when I was a kid was my set of Wizard of Oz View-Master slides.

One especially cool thing about the set is that it is based on the book, not the MGM film. So seeing these 3-D photographs was almost like looking at the real Oz.

I recently loaded up my viewer, clicked my way through the story, and I was surprised to see how much the imagery from this set left such strong childhood memories. I loved seeing the "invisible" metal bar in the witch's castle. I loved seeing all of the Wizard's disguises in the background after he's revealed to be a humbug. I liked the photo of Dorothy and the Tin Woodman and Lion peeking through the curtains watching the Scarecrow get his brains.

This set was produced in 1957 by Sawyer View-Master, the year after The Wizard of Oz entered the public domain. I'm sure that is one reason View-Master took such pains to make sure it represented L. Frank Baum's book and not the MGM film. Indeed, the original Sawyer release of the reels was issued as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

I never much liked the View-Master Dorothy - she seemed like the kind of girl I wouldn't much like. But I thought all of the other characters were very successful. Interestingly, the Glinda the Good looks almost exactly like John R. Neill's, from her pink gown to her cylindrical crown and snood!

The Wizard of Oz was also available as part of the "Talking" View-Master series and it was also available in Spanish.

There was one additional Ozzy View-Master set but I'm gonna save that for another blog!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sis Sez Sunday - 13

This Sunday Sis gets caught in the act!
I wonder if Ruth Plumly Thompson used to sing into her broom?

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 15, in June 1937.

See ya next Sunday, 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, September 24, 2010

Ozzy Ups and Downs

Today's blog really does have its ups and downs!

This is a yo-yo I got at the Land of Oz theme park in Banner Elk, North Carolina, when I was thirteen.I'd been begging my parents to take me to the park since I'd first heard of it when I was about six. But we lived in Albuquerque, which is not particularly close to North Carolina! But I did eventually get there while the park was still up and running.

I really should blog about my visit to the park, and I shall in the coming weeks. But for now I guess I'll just have to string you along!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fanny Y. Cory and the Girl on a Tuffet

Illustrator and cartoonist Fanny Y. Cory illustrated two of L. Frank Baum's books: The Master Key (1901) and The Enchanted Island of Yew (1903). She had an extraordinarily long and varied career.

She was born on October 17, 1877 and died on July 28, 1972. She illustrated many books and was a pioneering woman cartoonist - her two major comic strips being Sonny Sayings and Little Miss Muffet.

Last week I blogged on Cory's Little Miss Muffet Big Little Book and showed a few clipped comic strips. But I also own one original Cory drawing for Little Miss Muffet from the strip dated December 24, 1938.

The Little Miss Muffet strip was begun in 1935 and ran until at least 1940. Some on-line sources say the strip continued on until 1956 but I have see no strips that late.

The strip was syndicated by King Features and was almost assuredly meant to emulate Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie. The yellow tone in parts of the strip is rubber cement reside which originally held on the Zipatone which has long since fallen off.

I especially like the maid in this strip - she's always reminded me of Margaret Hamilton. We'll see some more Cory in the coming months - but that's it for today!

Monday, September 20, 2010

John R. Neill's Home for Sale

It seems that the 1904 home of John R. Neill, the Imperial Illustrator of Oz, is up for sale. I don't find the property on the realtor's website anymore but it was listed by:

The house is in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, on the Delaware River. This is quite possibly the home Neill was living in when he drew the illustrations for The Marvelous Land of Oz in 1904. As you can read in the ad, the house is  "a sensational stone home with stunning panoramic river views and was the studio in 1904 for John R. Neill ... Solarium with fireplace overlooks terrace and Delaware River. Chef's kitchen and cozy tap room with bar. Exquisite master suite with intimate balcony. Inspirational!"

Well, I'm inspired! I'm ready to move in tomorrow! Anybody got a spare million?

[Blogger's note: And now it's back on the market! 10/26/2011]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sis Sez Sunday - 12

Maybe Sis needs to sing about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens? What do you think?

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ first appeared in King Comics, No. 15, in June 1937.

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, September 17, 2010

Harlan Ellison's Typewriter

Today's blog veers a tad from the Ozzy but this seemed too interesting not to mention. Harlan Ellison is selling his original typewriter. You can read the original blog post by clicking here.

Harlan has liked and supported Baum and Oz projects for many years. He wrote the foreword to Eric Shanower's first book The Enchanted Apples of Oz (1986). He gave several strong plugs to Hungry Tiger Press and Oz-story Magazine over the years. And he wrote a short essay for Oz-story No. 6.

Eric Shanower also drew the introductory pages to the various issues of the comic book Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor where he depicted Harlan introducing the comics adaptations of his stories. So let's wish Harlan luck and hope his typewriter finds a good home!

Photograph copyright Steven Barber, Paws Here Productions.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The MARVELous Land of Oz

I had no blog planned for today but...

The Marvel Comics graphic novel adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young isn't supposed to hit the stores until September 29th - but it seems to be available on Amazon already and is listed as "in stock." Hooray!

It's been climbing the Amazon charts all day long! It's currently the #8 bestseller in Marvel books and its not even officially published yet! Might we hope for another Oz graphic novel on The New York Times Bestseller list?

We will not have copies available on the Hungry Tiger site until late October but if you just can't wait go check the book out on Amazon and add to the momentum! Here's the link

[UPDATE] It seems The Marvelous Land of Oz is available two weeks early everywhere! We're getting reports that it's in all the comic and bookstores. Go get one and spread the word!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Marvel WIZARD in Paperback!

Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's Eisner Award-winning Wonderful Wizard of Oz from Marvel Comics comes out in paperback today!

We won't have copies at our on-line store until late next month - but if you can't wait, you can easily find the book at your favorite comic store, many chain bookstores, and on Amazon.

The hardcover spent 23 weeks on The New York Times "Graphic Novel" Bestseller list. Let's get the paperback on the list, too!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Oz

A few years ago I  bought a copy of a proposal for a "Theatre Stage Work, Feature Film, or TV-Animated Series" called The Wonderful Land of Oz by composer and lyricist Ann Ronell. There is no connection to the 1969 live-action film of the same name.

Ann Ronell is probably best know as the co-writer of the song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" from Walt Disney's Three Little Pigs animated short (1933) and her best known song "Willow Weep for Me" from 1932.

The proposal is marked as "registered with the Screen Writer's Guild 1960," but it likely dates from somewhat earlier.The proposal contains a detailed seven page outline, a character breakdown, and lyrics for six songs. The song titles are: "The Wonderful Land of Oz, "The Great Adventure," "Lonesome Prairie," "The Witching Wishes," and songs for the Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodman, and Scarecrow.

Frankly, the outline is sort of weird. Oz is a planet. The light side is ruled by the old Wizard, and the dark side by his son, a young scientist.

There is a "Fairyland Forest" separating the two halves which is inhabited by all the characters from Mother Goose and Aesop's Fables. As I said, it's sort of weird - and pretty complicated for an animated TV series!

Ann Ronell only died in 1993 and it's a shame this proposal didn't come to light a bit earlier. I'd love to know what motivated her to try an Oz project, if she'd liked the Oz books, if she only knew the MGM film, and how her interest in Oz ever came about.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sis Sez Sunday - 11

Apparently the weather was just as erratic back in April 1937, when this installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 13.

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, September 11, 2010

Rob Roy MacVeigh and the AIDS Quilt

Last week on the blog I posted some Oz artwork by the late Rob Roy MacVeigh. While I was going through some papers a couple days ago I ran across a photograph of Rob's square in the Names Project - AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Rob died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of thirty seven. It really was a tremendous loss. So let's take a few minutes to remember him.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nip and Tuck and Click

It's come to my attention that some of my readers didn't know that if one clicks on an image in the TIGER TALK blog it will expand to full size - at which point you can see much more detail and Ozziness!

So come on! Give it a try! Here's a panel from John R. Neill's beautiful comic strip The Adventures of Nip and Tuck that you can practice with. Just click on it and it will reopen as a much bigger image!

See? Wasn't that easy? And don't Nip, Tuck, and their dog Dingleberry look an awful lot like Dorothy, Button Bright, and Toto?

So now that you know about this clickey technique you can go back to the beginning and look at every image in the entire Tiger Talk blog all over again!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Big Little Miss Muffet

Have you ever thought your copy of The Laughing Dragon of Oz was lonely in your Oz collection? Well, get it a companion! There is another Big Little Book with an Oz connection! It's Little Miss Muffet (1936).

Little Miss Muffet is based on a long-running newspaper comic strip by Fanny Y. Cory, who illustrated L. Frank Baum's The Master Key (1901) and The Enchanted Island of Yew (1903). Cory was a prolific illustrator, but she was also one of the first woman cartoonists. In the mid 1920s she began a one panel newspaper cartoon called Sonny Sayings, and in 1935 she began a new comic strip called Little Miss Muffet for King features.

Little Miss Muffet had nothing to do with the Mother Goose character, but was instead a comic strip designed to compete with Little Orphan Annie.

Cory wrote and drew the strip for several years but apparently she never really liked it all that much.

There were three comic book compilations as well as the Big Little Book shown above. For the Big Little Book,  the comic strip was rewritten and reformatted into prose. You can see one of the original format Little Miss Muffet newspaper strips reproduced below.

We'll be seeing a lot more of Fanny Cory in the coming months - but this is it for today!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Upgrading the Dragon

One of the Oz books I most desperately wanted when I was a teenager was The Laughing Dragon of Oz (1934) by Frank Baum. Those of you who know your Oz know that the author is actually L. Frank Baum's eldest son, Frank Joslyn Baum.

The book was published by Whitman as one of their Big Little Books and it caused all kinds of trouble. Frank J. had some notion that he wanted to continue the Oz books after his father's death. But his mother, Maud, had already signed a contract with the Oz book publisher, Reilly and Lee, to have Ruth Plumly Thompson continue the Oz series. It all got very messy. Because of the various rights and contracts, Reilly and Lee forced Maud to sue her eldest son for copyright violation. Laughing Dragon was never reprinted (and probably withdrawn from sale) and it is thus a fairly scarce book, as it is collected by both Oz folk and Big Little Book collectors. One could blog about the sordid legal issues for days - but I wanted to talk about two copies I have owned.

I finally got a copy when I was about nineteen. Longtime Oz collector and film maker Rob Roy MacVeigh was upgrading his copy and he sold me his old copy for $25. It was in good condition except for the teensy blemish that it had no cover! Rob made me a color xerox copy of the cover and I made a new cover for the book. It turned out quite well. A few years later I got a very nice copy of the book (with a cover!), but still had a strong sentimental attachment to my first one with my homemade cover.

In 1988 Eric Shanower and I were "engaged," but not yet cohabiting. Since Eric had no copy of Laughing Dragon at all I gave him the copy I'd made the cover for as a Christmas present. So it was out of MY collection but INTO my boyfriend's collection (so it's still in the family).

I doubted I'd ever be upgrading again as I get very attached to all my books and I had a really beautiful copy of Laughing Dragon. Then about five years ago an Oz friend steered me toward a copy I desperately wanted. But there was a catch - it involved my trading away my really nice one as part of the deal. And the copy I was trading for was not in as good a condition as mine. And it had been scribbled in! So why make the trade? Because of who had scribbled in it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

David and Eric and Road

This blog is a bit more personal and less Oz-related than usual, but so what, here goes.

In June, Eric Shanower and I celebrated the twentieth anniversary of our moving in together. We had a group of friends over to celebrate and one of our nearest and dearest, cartoonist Joe Phillips, presented us with a small drawing of Eric and me and our dog-child, The Road to Oz. We lost Road on Labor Day, a year ago, at the age of sixteen and a half. He was the finest dog either of us ever had. But Joe made sure he was in the picture just the same. He also put me in a Wizard of Oz t-shirt.

Thank you, Joe :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sis Sez Sunday - 10

It's Sis Sez Sunday once again! And while the play may be the thing, Sis thinks blondes are having more fun!

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's comic page originally appeared in King Comics 13, April 1937.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Babes in Toyland

In addition to Oz collecting I have a strong interest in  early musical theatre - both Ozzy and otherwise. A particular favorite is Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland (1903).

Not only does Babes in Toyland have a superb score, but it was also the show that replaced the 1903 Wizard of Oz musical after its initial run at the Majestic Theatre in New York. In the photo (at left) you can see workers painting out the Wizard of Oz signage on the side of the Majestic and replacing it with Babes in Toyland.

Many things in Babes parallel Wizard: elements of the plot, the comic animals, opening the show with a pantomime and a storm. Babes was also produced by Fred Hamlin and Julian Mitchell who had produced Wizard. And Bessie Wynn, who played Sir Dashemoff Daily in The Wizard of Oz, went on to play TomTom the Piper's Son in Babes in Toyland where she introduced the still-remembered song "Toyland."

I have a lot of Babes material; but my pride and joy is an original 1903 poster from the show that I got off eBay about ten years ago. It had some problems: a few rips and tears, scotch tape, staining. But Broadway lithographs over 100 years old are pretty rare in any condition! The image on the poster represents the "Birth of a Butterfly," an especially beautiful moment in the show.

A couple years ago I finally splurged and had it professionally restored. The restorer liked my poster so much he made a great little video about the project. I thought you might like to see it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Color Plates and Smoke Alarms

Many Oz folk have an assortment of Ozzy Collector's plates. I drew the line after the 1970s' Knowles set. Factory-produced, limited edition tchotchke just isn't usually my thing.

But I do have three Ozzy plates that are unique and kind of special to me. They were hand painted by Rob Roy MacVeigh. He was a long time Oz Club member and a Seattle-based film maker and animator.

All three of these were painted at the 1983 Winkie Con. Rob was often struggling for money. And to defray his convention costs he was trying to make a few dollars by doing little Oz paintings.

Rob usually did more elaborate drawings on illustration board. But he was tired and wanted to do something fast and easy. He had recently stumbled on the idea of painting on these very thick and sturdy disposable paper plates. They took watercolors beautifully, they were rigid and east to paint on, and were also very easy to transport.

He had made about ten for the convention and they'd quickly sold. He'd only asked five or ten bucks apiece. I hadn't bought any and they were gone. But during the Saturday night party at the con Rob pulled out his watercolors and a stack of fresh plates and started to do a few more. I asked for a Scarecrow and a Cowardly Lion. We sat side by side on the hotel room floor and I watched him paint the two plates I was buying.

This 1983 Winkie Con was the last one held at the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite, California. In Oz club circles this con has become kind of legendary - especially the 1983 Saturday night Winkie Con party! Sometime after midnight, after Rob had painted quite a few additional plates for folks, he said he couldn't do any more. But Rob just enjoyed drawing and after awhile he started another plate for his own amusement. Rob had been drinking and smoking for a couple hours, and he was very mellowed out. He began to paint a plate in honor of the 1964 Rankin-Bass television movie Return to Oz.

Rob painted Rusty, Socrates, and Dandy. And around the rim of the plate he added a few lines from Dorothy's song in the film: "Oz just can't continue without me - I gotta go back, I gotta go back, I gotta go  back!" I thought the plate was kind of darling; and Rob gave it to me.

Oh, but that party! Thirty or so Oz fans were crammed into an old Victorian hotel room. People had been drinking and smoking and everyone was very Ozzy! Party guests included Royal Historians Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Lauren Lynn McGraw. And one Oz club member had taken it upon himself to sing Stephen Sondheim's "I Never Do Anything Twice," despite the fact that he'd sung the song many times before!

But around 1:00 AM a security guard came knocking and said the talking was too loud and to please keep it down. Some old judge had the room above and apparently he was not amused. So we all hushed up and talked much more quietly.

All was well until the smoke from the cigarettes and a pipe set off the room's smoke alarm! A well-meaning Oz fan climbed up on a chair and was half way through pulling the battery from the screeching smoke alarm when we all realized the security guard had returned and was standing in the open doorway. The party was over. Except for the half dozen of us who relocated to Eric Shanower's room and things got so crazy that at one point a slice of cold pizza flew across the room. Incidentally, this was the Oz con where Eric and I met. It really was a great party - and I still have my plates!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Forbidden Fountain Turns Thirty

It only recently occurred to me that 2010 is the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Lauren Lynn McGraw's second Oz book, The Forbidden Fountain of Oz, which was published by The International Wizard of Oz Club.

Pictured at right are author Eloise McGraw and the illustrator of the book, Dick Martin. This photo was taken at the Ozmopolitan Convention in 1980 where the book was launched. Between them is the celebratory cake, decorated to look like the book's cover.