Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tiny Tik-Tok Time!

The little guy at right is the 3" tall plastic Tik-Tok toy from Disney's Return to Oz film. He was made by Hart รก Hart for sale in Tokyo Disneyland in 1985.

Several years ago I made an animated gif of him. In fact, he used to have a mySpace page of his very own! He's been living on my computer for quite a while and he wanted to come out and play. While his arms are articulated, and he will rotate at the waist, these little Tik-Toks do not actually move by themselves (except at night when you aren't looking)

The same toy company made little versions of the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead and the Tin Woodman as well - in addition to a number of much bigger Return to Oz toys.

Click on either of the two links that follow to check out the large-size Tik Tok and Scarecrow in these older blog posts. I'll try to post a report on little Tik-Tok's three friends in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

He's the Wiz and He Lives in Oz!

A few years ago I happened to be in New York City on the day that Footlight Records, the celebrated musical theatre and cast album store, was going out of business. I bought quite a few CDs, but just as I was leaving I noticed, very high on the walls above the emptying CD shelves, the store had marked lots of old display and poster material for sale. In the very back corner was a poster advertising the release of the original cast recording of The Wiz. Since The Wiz is one of my obsessions, I quickly paid the $25 dollars they were asking and then groaned to wonder how I was going to ever get it back to San Diego. It was over four feet wide!

Click Image to See Detail

This is it! You'll have to click on the image to get a really good look. I initially wanted it because it was a Wiz poster - and indeed a Wiz image - that I had not seen before. Then I noticed that it said: Soon to be recorded on Atlantic Records and Tapes. Wow! This poster predated the release of the album! Then I looked even closer and realized that what I had just bought was actually original art!

The four figures are all painted in acrylics and colored pencils, fine-tuned with an airbrush. See the detail of the Lion at right. The outlines and green lettering are done in acrylics. The white display type was done in white dry-transfer lettering - some of which is wearing off. It's really amazing that someone went to so much work for this one-off poster! Ahh . . . the days before Photoshop!

It was meant for display - it is on heavy illustration board mounted to another piece of very heavy cardboard with hooks on the back. The edges are neatly sealed in black tape.

Perhaps it was created to hang in the theatre lobby or at Tower Records to advertise the forthcoming release of the album? In any case, it eventually made its way to Footlight Records, and from 1975 until 2006 it lived in the bowels of the record shop collecting dust. Now it is mine!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 43

Sis is cutting the rug again! I wonder if Ruth Plumly Thompson went dancing as much as Sis does?

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 40, in July 1939. 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, April 22, 2011

Dorothy's Oz book

My BF Eric got a very interesting eBay win in the mail today. It's a first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, containing first state text and second state color plates. Alas, it is a wreck, it's mostly unbound, it's missing a spine, it's missing three plates - did I mention it's a wreck? No wonder hardly anyone even bid on it.

Anna Laughlin as Dorothy
What makes it especially interesting to me (and makes me glad that this copy has now come to live with us, even if it is technically in Eric's collection and not mine) is that this copy previously belonged to Anna Laughlin who created the role of Dorothy Gale in the 1902 stage musical The Wizard of Oz

The book is signed by Anna Laughlin twice on the front free end paper. The first signature reads: N. Y. City -  S. H. P. May 11, 1902 - Property of Anna S. Laughlin. We don't know who or what "S. H. P." is. Eric chooses to think it is the person that gave her the book. Interestingly, this date of May 11, 1902, is before the show even opened in Chicago, so Anna clearly got the book just before boarding the Chicago train. The Wizard of Oz premiered in Chicago on June 16, 1902.

Anna Laughlin was born October 11, 1885, in Sacramento, California. So she was only sixteen when she got this book and became the first Dorothy. The book is signed a second time with Anna's married name. She married a diamond importer named Dwight Monroe just as she was finishing up her run in The Wizard of Oz. They had one child, Lucy Monroe, who was born on October 23, 1906. Lucy went on to become a popular radio singer. Anna Laughlin died on March 6, 1937.

This book contains one other curiosity. It has Denslow's "Poppy Field" endpapers which were designed for the 1903 Bobbs-Merrill second edition. They seem to have been added to this otherwise first-state Hill printing. Was this a repair job done by Laughlin herself? Did she just adore the new Poppy Field endpapers - the Poppy Scene was a high-point in the show - and get a set from Denslow? Were the Poppy Field endsheets possibly given away as a promotion or on display in the lobby of the theatre in 1903? We'll probably never know. Where this book has been since it left the hands of the first Dorothy Gale is unknown - and how it got so trashed is uncertain. But it has a good home now.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

La Edad de Bronce

Eric Shanower's award-wining Age of Bronze comic series is popular all over the world. It's available in French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Indonesian!

But the very popular Spanish translations from Azake Ediciones are now going digital! The first issue is now available as a download on the Koomic website. The first ten pages are available as a free sample.

You can go check it out at this link!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 42

Well, Spring is here and Sis is headed to the beach! I think she forgot a bottle of water...

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 40, in July 1939. 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, April 16, 2011

Color Me Ev

We're taking a break from foreign editions in this Saturday's Ozma of Oz blog series. Instead we take a look at one particular illustration by John R. Neill for the original 1907 edition of the book.

This full page illustration on page 221 features the Queen of Ev, who has just been disenchanted by Billina. When I was a kid I always thought the Queen of Ev looked too much like a nun! Anyway, this illustration was only printed in color in the very earliest copies of the first printing in 1907. It is in black and white in all later copies.

The reason the publishers dropped the color is quite evident if one looks closely at the color version. Something has gone very wrong in the magenta and yellow printing plates resulting in a heavy ink build up along the hem of the queen's gown and the lower half of Billina, which results in so much ink that there is a bad paper scuff (right behind Billina) from overly sticky globbed-up ink. It was so bad that the printed pages stuck together as they were coming off the press - that scuff ripped a chunk of text from page 222, the verso of this page (see below).

Red ink offset and scuff of text on page 222.

The bright vermilion border of the illustration is the same color as the ink blob. The border is also badly overprinted with sticky ink - so much so that one can feel its dimension, the ink is so thick. It looks like the problem arose when the printer failed to remove the dot-pattern of the Queen's gown from Billina - thus making Billina look transparent.What caused the main bright red ink blob is unclear. The printing plates must have been so damaged that they were beyond repair and the the color was dropped, leaving the illustration in black and white in all future printings.

I believe the current Books of Wonder reprint of Ozma of Oz restored this image in color, though I do not have a copy of that edition to confirm that. In any case here is the Queen of Ev in color

Thursday, April 14, 2011


There are so many cool Oz comics being published! Today we take a look at the first issue of Friend of Dorothy, a three issue limited-series from writer Brian Anderson with art by Neftali Centeno.

The sepia-tinted story begins when a teenage gay boy named Scott-John attempts suicide.The reasons aren't explicitly stated, but Scott-John seems to be in a funk over another boy, and possibly he's having issues with his parents over being gay. He is saved from death by a male version of Glinda the Good, named Gorlindo. The story bursts into full color, and no sooner is Scott-John presented with a pair of knee-high Ruby Slipper-boots than he is attacked by a group of homophobic scarecrow monsters! Gorlindo also gives the boy a flying broom and he and Dodo (Toto's great-great-grandson) convince Scott-John to set off on an adventure of Ozzy self-discovery.

Friend of Dorothy has a freshness and vitality I hadn't expected. The characters have some complexity, too. I found myself liking both Scott-John and Dodo quite a bit. This is due mainly to Brian Anderson's writing. At first glance I didn't like Centeno's artwork much, but after reading the first issue it has grown on me. It's best in the most straightforward parts of the story, like in the scene below, where Dodo is teaching Scott-John how to fly the broomstick.The more action-filled scenes don't work quite as well for me.

You can view a digital preview of the first eight pages of issue #1 of Friend of Dorothy by clicking here.

If you like Oz and comics, you should consider joining us at this summer's west coast  Oz convention where we will be celebrating several Oz related comics. Our guests will include Eric Shanower (Marvel's Oz series and Adventures in Oz), Tommy Kovac (writer of Royal Historian of Oz), and Kirk Kushin (writer of Ozopolis). Check it out here!

Monday, April 11, 2011

We're Off to See the Zardoz!

For those of you that are fans of the Ozzy and preposterous I thought I'd give you a nudge over to where Ryan Britt has written a long critique of the 1974 John Boorman film Zardoz.

It's a weird and nearly unwatchable movie - though Britt's critique almost makes one want to re-watch it! Here a link to the on-line essay.

Below is the trailer for Zardoz. If you're unfamiliar with the wonky film you might want to watch the trailer before reading the blog over on Then again ...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 41

It's June 1939, and Sis is doing the Jitterbug! I wonder what Sis would have thought if MGM had left "The Jitterbug" in The Wizard of Oz film. For that matter, I wonder what Glinda  would think of Sis wearing a snood?

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 39, in June, 1939. 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, April 9, 2011

Ozma in Japan Strikes Again!

It's Saturday again and we shall continue our series exploring foreign editions and other unusual takes on L. Frank Baum's 1907 Oz book, Ozma of Oz. Two weeks ago we looked at a Japanese picture book edition of Ozma, and today we explore the first full-length Japanese translation.

This edition of Ozu no Ozuma Hime (Princess Ozma of Oz) was published in 1975 by Hayakawa Shobo of Tokyo. It had been preceded by translations of The Wizard of Oz and The Land of Oz, and Hayakawa has since published the entire series of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. The fourteen uniform volumes are each translated by Takako Sato and each features illustrations by Sonoko Arai.

These Japanese Oz books are very attractive. They are small size paperbacks about six inches tall. Each comes in a full-color dust jacket, has a full-color double-page frontispiece, a map, and many black and white illustrations. Each also has an afterword featuring more information about Baum and Oz.

Arai's black and white work has always seemed a little flat to me. The line weight is too uniform, and the pictures can feel a little lifeless and static. But the character designs are good; even if the humans characters seem a bit generic and WASPish. (At right) you can see Sonoko Arai's black and white illustration showing Dorothy meeting Tik-Tok.

I like Arai's color work much better. Indeed, her double-page color illustration of the Wheeler (see below) is one of her best efforts in the Japanese Oz series. It's strong and dynamic; and the use of white space in the background and in the road feels very Japanese.

You can check out the previous Ozma of Oz posts by clicking here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eisner Nominations!

We are happy to be able to announce that Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz has received two 2011 Eisner Award nominations! Eric and Skottie are nominated under "Best Adaptation from Another Work" and Skottie is nominated as "Best Penciller/Inker".

Woo Hoo! Congratulations to all concerned!

Dorothy of Oz

Another cool thing Eric brought back from last weekend's WonderCon was the cool preview of the new Dorothy of Oz comic book series.

The press release states: "The comic, produced by publishers IDW and Summertime Entertainment, is the first in a series of five progressive books carefully designed to bridge the gap from the classic L. Frank Baum Wonderful Wizard of Oz tale to the upcoming 2012 release of the animated New Dorothy of Oz, based on the book by his great-grandson Roger Stanton Baum.

“There’s a lot of overlap in the worlds of Oz-lovers and comic book fans, so we figured this was an ideal medium to help set the story framework for where next year’s New Dorothy of Oz film will begin,” said Dorothy of Oz Transmedia Producer James Jones.

“The comic series will continue to reveal what happened in Oz once the wicked witch was gone, and its people fell under the control of a new menacing villain. The film will essentially pick up where the last comic left off.”

Let's hope for more cool Dorothy of Oz freebies at other cons this summer! Here's a link to one of last summer's freebies.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shh! It's Christmas in April

My partner Eric Shanower returned home from WonderCon 2011 in San Francisco, California, last night. It sounds like he had a great time and he sold a lot of books.

He also came home with some new Ozzy treasures: comics, books, and this charmingly Ozzy portrait of the Patchwork Girl in a Santa hat! This cute original ink and colored pencil artwork of Scraps was drawn by Kevenn T. Smith.

You can see more about Kevenn on his website, and while you're there you can take a look at his on-line store, too, where his colorful art is available on notecards, prints, and more. Kevenn's art will be featured in the Winkie Convention Program Book this summer, as well.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 40

This week Sis goes to the 1939 New York World's Fair. I don't think I realized Sis lived in New York!

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 39, in June, 1939. 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, April 2, 2011

Ozma Goes to Belgrade

Ozma of Oz continues her tour of the world, and today we find her in a rare Yugoslavian edition.

This edition of Ozma od Oza was published in 1976 by Nolit of Belgrade. The full-length Serbian translation was made by Zoran Stanojevic. The book is illustrated in black and white by Vlada Stolikovich. There is a companion edition of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz but seemingly no other Oz books in this set - not even a Wizard of Oz.

I'm not quite sure whose fingers Billina is standing on in the cover illustration. Perhaps it is the Nome King, symbolically emerging from underground?

The illustrations are very odd and very 1970s. I quite like them because they are just so weird and unusual. The simple ink work is enhanced by many different types of Yugoslavian zip-a-tone, which is often used to great effect. The occasional moiree patterns are deliberate, not from my scans.

I especially like seeing how very different foreign illustrators portray our well known Oz characters. This is certainly one of the most original Tik-Tok designs! Almost all of Stolikovich's illustrations are decorative portraits. Few actually illustrate exact moments in the story. Oddly there is not a single picture of Ozma herself.

More Ozma of Oz next Saturday!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Eric Shanower at Wonder Con

Eric Shanower will be at Wonder Con in San Francisco this weekend, April 1 - 3, 2011 at the Moscone Center. Eric will be set up in Artist Alley at table #AA72

If you are a fan of Eric's Age of Bronze comic, Adventures in Oz, or his Marvel Oz comic series, you should stop by his table, get a book or an autograph, and say hello!

Eric will also be appearing on the Graphic Novel panel at 6:00 PM on Friday.