Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crossover Collectibles

While my interest in Baum and Oz has always been book-focused, I do have a certain fondness for Oz memorabilia from the many stage and screen adaptations. I also like the weird, unusual, and unique sort of Ozzy collectible. The document shown at left is such a thing.

It is a contract between Louis F. Gottschalk and Sam Goldwyn, enlisting the services of Gottschalk to write the score for the 1926 film version of Stella Dallas.

Gottschalk is best known to Oz folk for writing the music for L. Frank Baum's musical comedy The Tik-Tok Man of Oz (1913), the scores to accompany the various Oz Film Manufacturing Company movies, and the music for the abandoned Patchwork Girl of Oz "Children's Theatre" musical. Gottschalk was also a close friend of Baum's during the Hollywood years - both men were instrumental in forming "The Uplifters," a social and theatrical enterprise associated with the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Sam Goldwyn is the man who bought the film rights to The Wizard of Oz from the Baum family, beginning the process of developing a certain film starring Judy Garland. Goldwyn is also the "G" of MGM.

I really like that this piece of paper connects to otherwise disparate Oz-related names. It's just kind of neat. While the 1926 Stella Dallas film survives, Gottschalk's score seems to have been lost. This film just barely predates sound on film and the score would have been played live in the theatre by either orchestra or organ, depending on the venue.

On a side note, Gottschalk's daughter, Gloria Gottschalk, had a small part in the film. She played one of the Bridesmaids.

If you'd like to hear some of Gottschalk's music you might consider our CD Before the Rainbow - The Original Music of Oz. You can listen to two different suites from The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, as well as all of the themes from the silent film version of The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

Below is a video clip of the marriage scene from the film. I can not tell which Bride's maid Gloria might have been and I do not think the humdrum organ accompaniment is Gottschalk's original score. Still, give it a watch.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Really Big Find!

A number of years ago I was designing a play on the east coast and was out prop-hunting in local junk shops. In one I spotted a most frustrating treasure - a large stack of bound volumes of the Philadelphia Public Ledger from the era when Ruth Plumly Thompson was writing her weekly "Children's Page." These volumes measured about 18" by 24" and were about five inches thick.

Several years earlier, before Eric and I moved to San Diego, we spent a weekend in the Philadelphia Free Library printing out a complete set of Thompson's "Children's Page" from microfilm, so we had all the RPT material contained in these gigantic books. But still, looking at the crisp clear pages, after so often consulting the splotchy photocopies, made it painful to leave them behind. How could I do otherwise? These monster volumes each weighed 40 pounds and were the size of a coffee table!

In the end I had to have at least one. I bought the volume covering April 1 through May 15, 1919. Each Sunday featured RPT's "Children's Page" and I hoped that just maybe there would be an L. Frank Baum obituary, too. He had died on May 6, 1919. Alas, there was none to be found.

But how to get it home ... I bought a large old suitcase at the same junk shop to carry it in. I lugged it back to my motel, and I lugged it back to New York City, and I lugged it out to Kennedy Airport, and lugged it back to our house in San Diego.

Pyrzqxgl the Cat and I look thru the PUBLIC LEDGER

This blog-post came about because Eric pulled the volume out of the closet (where it lives with several equally large volumes of newspapers from New York City circa 1903) because he remembered there was an RPT mermaid story in one of the "Children's Pages," and he thought it would make a good TIGER TALE for this month on the Hungry Tiger Press website.

Ruth Plumly Thompson's short tale "The Good Little Mermaid" was originally published May 11, 1919, in the Public Ledger. Click here to read it! And if you like Mermaids and Oz, come join us at the Winkie Con 2011. It's less than two weeks away! Our theme is "Oz Under the Sea" and we're celebrating the centennial of Baum's mermaid fantasy The Sea Fairies and the eightieth birthday of Thompson's rollicking Pirates in Oz.

That's it for today!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 48

Well, I'm happy to report that Sis is back after a week's vacation. Sadly, in the two weeks since we've seen her, it seems her relationship with Ted has kinda hit the skids.

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 44, in December 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, June 24, 2011

Just a Touch of Humbug

Joe Cascone & David Haines
On Saturday July 9, 2011 the Winkie Convention will be honored with a two-man concert from Joe Cascone and his partner, David Haines. Joe Cascone has been Artistic Director of the Toronto Civic Light Opera for thirty-three years (a company he founded at the age of fourteen). A life-long Oz and Baum enthusiast, he wrote the most faithful stage adaptation yet of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which premiered in Toronto in 2000. Featuring Joe in the dual roles of Baum and the Wizard, and David as the Cowardly Lion, it has been revived twice so far, in 2002 and 2010, to rave reviews and audience reception, opening the original Oz concept up to new audiences. Joe and David recently co-starred in the Canadian premiere of the off-Broadway hit musical The Big Bang which is now planned for a return engagement next season.

Below is an excerpt from a more lengthy interview with Joe Cascone to be published in the Winkie Convention Program Book.

So how did you get into Oz? Was it from the movie, the books?

My earliest recollection of anything Oz was the Saturday morning Videocraft cartoons, Tales of the Wizard of Oz, which (as a five year old) I found rather entertaining. By the time I had reached the advanced age of six, my parents invited me to watch the annual telecast of the MGM movie, which fascinated (and terrified) me. I most remember being enchanted (and terrified) by it. This first viewing of the classic film (in March of 1970) got me onto a major obsession with all things Oz that lasted throughout my childhood.

Some people who love Oz as a child drift away from it as they enter their teen years and then find it again as an adult. Others stay with it for good.
Nowadays, I think that extreme childhood obsessions are understood better than they were  But once I got to my teens and puberty, etc., I managed to put it into perspective and left it for a while, yet always respecting the profound significance that Oz had on me. As a young adult, I started to reclaim much of my lost childhood collection of Oz memorabilia and regained a strong interest and fascination in it all once again. The Oz stories still affect me deeply to this day.  As an adult, I was amazed to find out how many others shared my experience as children and to hear how Oz has informed their lives and life choices.

Had you long wanted to write a new WIZARD OF OZ musical? How did your collaboration with James Doyle come about?
I had actually written a number of stage adaptations of The Wizard of Oz in the 1980s, one of which we produced in 1986. The only thing it was missing was an original score. I was revising the adaptation in 1999 with the intention of presenting it with a collection of Oz songs from the past century (in anticipation of the Oz centennial) to give it a real “journey” feel. In the course of this, I connected with [David Maxine] who put me onto James Doyle as a resource for uncovering more of the original 1902/03 arrangements. Through our tremendous amount of correspondence, I discovered that James had an on-again-off-again Wizard of Oz project he was working on, an original score for a stage adaptation.  We thus rolled up our proverbial sleeves and decided that this “centennial” production would be our own work, based tightly on Baum’s novel and using only theatrical conceits of the Gilded Age to move it along. It proved to be extremely successful in its premiere production in December of 2000.  James and I were working on revisions to the show for a revival when he died very suddenly and tragically in 2002. I did a number of alterations to the script and score on my own and the show was a hit all over again in December of that year.  More revisions were done for its most recent staging in December of 2010, which proved to be even more successful than the first two times.

What was the biggest challenge in bringing Baum’s WIZARD to the stage? What scene or scenes proved the hardest to pull off or were surprisingly easy?

Theoretically, the hardest part of bringing Wizard of Oz to the stage was to convince everyone involved (and to no small extent the audiences) that this was NOT to be a rip-off of the famous MGM film. This was to be 100% authentic to Baum’s book.  You’d be amazed at how many responses we got to the effect of “There was a book, too?” Onstage, the biggest challenges were the different adventures that Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion encountered on their journey. While staging a cyclone offers a multitude of exciting artistic opportunities, how does one effectively stage Kalidahs falling into a bottomless pit? Even bigger was the timing standpoint.

David Haines as the Cowardly Lion and Alisa Berindea as Dorothy

If we had let it, the show could have run four hours as we tried to depict every event in the twenty-four chapter novel. The first production was nearly three hours long. In 2002, we had it trimmed to two and a half, and by 2010, it was much tighter at two hours and ten minutes, still telling all the great story. Along the way, we made some compromises and streamlined several adventures into a medley type number called “Further Along the Way,” and we made some omissions as well (the Witch’s wolves, crows, and bees, as well as the whole Quelala and Gayelette backstory). Otherwise, the story is pretty much all there! And in the end, of the thousands of people who saw it, and the many, many people who took the time to write, e-mail, or call in afterwards, there was literally only one dissenting response from an audience member who felt shortchanged at not seeing a retread of the movie.  Not a bad record!

So what’s your favorite Oz book?
How do you choose your favorite child?  Of course, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is far and away my favorite for its subliminal messages throughout, even though I do believe that Baum didn’t necessarily recognize that they were there as he wrote “solely to pleasure children of today.”  I have much admiration for the excitement he concocts in The Scarecrow of Oz, and I really enjoy the entertaining (if slightly gruesome) prequel aspects of The Tin Woodman of Oz.  For a favorite non-Wizard Oz book, though, I’d have to say Ozma of Oz because of the fun that the story has with revisiting all our friends together again for the first time and in a believable and new scenario.  It also shows us the first time that Baum really took us in the direction of a “series,” even though the book stands alone well, too. 

So how do you feel about coming to your first Oz convention?

I’m actually amazed that it’s taken me this long to get to one.  As a member of IWOC for nearly thirty years, the stars have never quite aligned until now.  I’m very excited at the prospect of connecting with other Ozophiles and experiencing an Oz Con first hand.  And of course performing some wonderful music in our retrospective of the past hundred and ten years of Oz is an exciting and humbling challenge that David and I both hope will be as enjoyable for the audience as it has been for us.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Today is the one year anniversary of the beginning of this blog. On the whole I've quite enjoyed it. With the exception of a couple very busy weeks, here and there, I feel like I've kept it up pretty well, too.

From what I've heard, people seem to like the blog. But interestingly, it is the odd-ball blogs that have received the most attention. The number one blog post has been Ozma Meets the Lorax with over 1200 views!

This last weekend Eric Shanower and I had a party to celebrate our 21st Anniversary (though the actual date was June 1st). Anyway, we had some friends over and our pal, cartoonist Joe Phillips, brought us this fabulous Tin Woodman he had made.

In addition to his comics and art books Joe makes these incredible paper sculptures. Yes, Nick Chopper there is made of rigid water-color paper carefully constructed and painted by hand. Joe has had several gallery showings of these paper sculpts. He often does things like fish, reptiles, and insects, things that adapt themselves well to the medium. His most recent show was full of fish and seahorses - I wish we could get Joe and the giant paper aquarium to this year's Winkie Convention; they'd fit right in to our "Oz Under the Sea" theme.

That's it for today. I hope you've enjoyed the first year of Hungry Tiger Talk. Happy Anniversary!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Easin' Down the Eight-Track

As you may have read in previous posts, I have a fondness for The Wiz. While my affection is far more tightly focused on the Broadway version, I was quite excited for the release of the film version back in the day as well. I had also just gotten my first stereo and it had an eight-track tape deck built in.

My dad was an audiophile and I'd been raised to look down on eight-track. I only ever owned three eight track tapes in my life and all were different versions of The Wiz.

The first acquired was a weird knock-off recording of cover versions of most of the big songs from the film as performed by "The Detroit Players" (see image at right). I remember liking parts of this recording, but I've not been able to play it since 1980 and I've not found it on LP anywhere. Anyone have it?

 This was quickly followed by the original Broadway cast recording of The Wiz with Stephanie Mills. Back then I would usually play my LPs, but the eight track did have one advantage - it would play as a continuous loop, repeating over and over. No need to turn it over (like an LP) and I could set it on low volume and use it as going-to-sleep music.

Eventually I picked up a copy of the movie soundtrack on eight track as well. I'm not sure why, except perhaps to be a completist. I liked the soundtrack okay - but I don't have any memories of ever playing this tape. They seem to have gotten the entire two-album set onto the tape. I didn't think eight-tracks could hold that much.

So this is my Ozzy eight-track collection. Anyone have any others? Did the MGM soundtrack make it to eight-track?

That's it for today.

Easin' on down...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Hunt for Pirate Gold

One of the unique traditions of the Winkie Convention is the Treasure Hunt. It is a light-hearted affair, which prompts both old and young to make fools of themselves looking for little things among the plants, wood-bins, under chairs and under teacups, and even sillier places, too.

This year the Oz Treasure Hunt celebrates the eightieth anniversary of Ruth Plumly Thompson's Pirates in Oz. It seems that Captain Salt and Ato and Roger the Read Bird were at Asilomar last weekend.

When it was time to depart, Captain Salt told Ato to haul the pirate luggage (and the many bags of golden treasure) to the Crescent Moon, which was anchored in the parking lot. And Ato was a little careless with one of the bags of gold, and he spilled and lost a great many gold coins - nearly half of Captain Salt's treasure!

Captain Salt really wants his treasure back! So he has asked all of the fine folks attending this year's Winkie Con to help him find the lost coins. He has even offered a reward. So if you're attending this year's Winkie Con, check out your Con Bag and get all the details on how you can help Captain Salt recover his golden treasure! There will be many a reward for its speedy recovery. If you haven't made plans to join us yet, it's still possible.You can download registration forms by clicking here.

And what better way to hunt for Captain Salt's Pirates in Oz gold than in an official Ozzy Pirate t-shirt from the Winkie Con Boutique! Click on a product of interest below - and you'll fit right in!

Shop for a personalized gift at Zazzle.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another Novel Idea

Yesterday I posted about an unusual Italian "novelization" of the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz. Today you get to read about an unusual Japanese "novelization" of Disney's 1985 Return to Oz.

Perhaps this book isn't really a "novelization" but, at 97 pages of text, the story is much more substantial than a picture book. This dust-jacketed hardcover was published in 1986 by Kodansha. It measures approximately 6"x 9" and has a photo from the film on almost every page - some are in color, most are in black and white.

 The book also features very nice illustrated endpapers showing characters from the film (see below). There is, in fact a real Japanese "novelization" of Return to Oz - a tiny paperback translation of the Joan D. Vinge American Return to Oz novel. But I'm saving that for another blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I recently acquired an Ozzy foreign edition I had wanted for a long time. It is the 1948 Italian "movie" edition published in Rome by Societa Apostolato Stampa. This publisher had first released a translation of Baum's Wizard of Oz in 1944, under the title Nel Regno di Oz.

But in 1948 the publisher released the volume seen at left - Il Mago di Oz - profusely illustrated with stills from the MGM Wizard of Oz film. I had come close to getting the book when I was a late teenager, but the dealer wouldn't part with it for some unexplained reason. Back then I had flipped through the book, so I knew it was handsome and that I wanted it. So when the chance arose to finally get one recently, I was most pleased.

When the book arrived in the mail last week, I was surprised by two things. First, the book was even more heavily illustrated with photos form the MGM film than I had remembered. It has thirty tipped in black and white images, as well as a color frontispiece showing Judy Garland as Dorothy. Some of the images are from well-known stills, some are from publicity shots, but a few are seemingly taken directly from the film. They are very handsome and clearly reproduced, such as the one below showing Dorothy in the Wash and Brush Up Co.

The other big surprise was that the book is not a translation of Baum's story but a "novelization" of the film by Maria Rosaria Berardi. Thus, Miss Gulch and Professor Marvel and the Horse of a Different Color are all featured in the text. I think this is probably the first-ever "novelization" of the MGM film.

The book must have done well, as later in 1948 they issued lovely oversize translations of the first five Baum Oz books. I'll tell you a bit more about them in a future blog. Ciao!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Debbie Does Dollars

Eric and Dorothy and Me.
Last weekend Eric and I drove up to Beverly Hills to see the preview for Debbie Reynolds's auction of her vast - and utterly amazing - collection of Hollywood costumes and memorabilia.

The highlight for Oz folk is a chance to see the legendary - if unusual - pair of Ruby Slippers owned by Reynolds. The so-called "Arabian Test Pair" one of several unused slipper designs. Also on display is Dorothy's plain non-gingham dress, as well as a jacket worn by one of the Emerald Citizens. This dress was used during the first two weeks of filming under Director Richard Thorpe. When Thorpe was replaced by George Cukor, all that footage was scrapped and Dorothy (and her dress) got a make-over.

If you like old movies and can get to the preview, do! It's a walk through Hollywood history. You can see Charlie Chaplin's bowler hat, Harpo Marx's wig, Marilyn Monroe's subway-blow dress from The Seven Year Itch, costumes and props from Ben Hur, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Planet of the Apes, Casablanca . . . and more and more and more.

You can download the sumptuous catalog for free - it's a real treat!

Eric Shanower and Shirley Temple's dress from LITTLEST REBEL and the Oz Costumes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 47

Sis looks none too happy at having to get her picture taken - poor thing... Smile, Sis, smile!

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 43, in November 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, June 11, 2011

Big Bash in Baum’s Birthplace

Today Hungry Tiger Talk presents the following guest blog by Eric Shanower, cartoonist.

For the past thirty-three years the village of Chittenango, New York, has held an Oz festival each spring. Why Chittenango? Well, in 1856 L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz books, was born there. Last weekend, June 3-5, the folks in Chittenango and the surrounding area celebrated their native son with Oz-Stravaganza! 2011.

Oz-Stravaganza! 2011 guests, left to right, front row: Eric Shanower, Michael Siewert, Karl Slover, Margaret Pellegrini, Myrna Swenson, Clare Baum, Robert A. Baum, Caren Marsh-Doll. Back row: Gwendolyn Tennille Adams, Ron Baxley Jr., James C. Wallace II. Photo © 2011 Jennifer Baum.

I was invited as a special guest because of the Oz comics I’ve written and drawn and the many other Oz works I’ve been associated with. The other guests included Grand Marshall Caren Marsh-Doll, who was Judy Garland’s stand in during the filming of the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz motion picture; Robert A. Baum, great grandson of L. Frank Baum, and his wife Clare Baum; Margaret Pellegrini and Karl Slover, Munchkin actors from the ’39 movie; Myrna Swenson, the wife of Munchkin actor Clarence Swenson; Michael Siewert, prominent collector of Judy Garland’s movie and stage costumes; and as emcee for the weekend, Oz expert John Fricke.

Other authors featured at this year’s Oz-Stravaganza! were Paul Bienvenue, author of the spectacular Collector’s Guide to Oz and L. Frank Baum; Paul Miles Schnieder, author of the novel Silver Shoes in which L. Frank Baum is a secret agent; Rick Ewigleben and Joe Shipbaugh, who debuted their new Wizard of Oz Coloring Book; Dennis Anfuso, author of The Astonishing Tale of the Gump of Oz and other books; and Ron Baxley, Jr. and James C. Wallace II, co-authors of Of Cabbages and Kings and Even (Odd) Queens, along with that book’s illustrator, Gwendolyn Tennille Adams.

The event organizers Barb Evans and Colleen Zimmer asked whether I’d be interested in making presentations to local schools on the Thursday before Oz-Stravaganza. I’m used to speaking to adults about Age of Bronze. Speaking to kids I find a little nerve-wracking, but I know that if I just start drawing for them, they’ll be interested. So I said I was willing to do it. Barb didn’t tell me until a few days previous to the event that the school visits were confirmed. And when she did, I understood her to say that I’d be doing four school presentations. But when I got to Chittenango and saw my schedule, there were six!

Well, despite the fact that my hay fever had kicked into high gear as soon as I arrived at the Syracuse airport, so that my throat was scratchy and my sinuses clogged, I tackled the school visits and made it through them. The first one was a little rough, but by the time I got to the sixth, they went pretty smoothly. The kids were great—especially the fifth graders at Boliver Elementary. When I asked a class at Chittenango Middle School whether they were going to be attending the Oz festival over the weekend, a significant number said they weren’t. “Are you too cool for it?” I asked. They confirmed that they were. No big surprise, but I found it amusing.

Friday I had an interview at a local radio station, along with Michael Siewert and Colleen Zimmer, then a signing with the other guests and some vendors at Chittenango High School, followed by entertaining interviews on stage with all the guests. I was particularly impressed with Caren Marsh-Doll, who’s ninety-two years old, looks fabulous, and has all her wits about her.

Immediately following the program a gentleman introduced himself to me. He was Michael Montgomery, great nephew of David C. Montgomery, the actor who starred at the Tin Woodman in the 1903 Broadway Wizard of Oz musical extravaganza. He was a nice guy and his three kids, who were there too, seemed really sharp.

Along with John Fricke, Bob Baum, and Michael Siewert, I was raffled off as brunch companion for the next morning. I didn’t set my hotel alarm clock correctly and was awakened Saturday morning by my driver, the attentive Theresa Vincelette, knocking on my hotel room door. Jumped in the shower, dragged my clothes half on, grabbed some food from the hospitality room, and finished eating and dressing in Theresa’s car. The highlight of the brunch was one of the raffle winners, a teenage boy with Down’s Syndrome who loves all aspects of Oz. He was there with his parents and the three of them were a joy to experience.

The weather was a little drizzly, but by parade time it cleared up. Everyone connected with Oz-Stravaganza had been telling me for weeks that my biggest fan in the world was an Oz-Stravaganza committee member who was dying to meet me, Marc Baum (no relation to L. Frank). The build-up to my meeting Marc that folks had been giving me was over the top, so when Marc and I finally shook hands, it seemed perfectly low-key. He drove the go-cart-type vehicle that I rode in the parade. When we were instructed to get into line, Marc tried several times to start the vehicle, but the ignition didn’t make a sound. While he went to find someone to help, I decided to give it a try. Turned the key, gave it a touch of gas, and it started right up. Marc drove us into parade position where we waited for it to begin as the light rain cleared up. Michael Siewert was in the car ahead of us, a Volkswagen beetle. I went over and asked Michael how he rated an actual automobile while I just got the golf-cart thing.

Eric Shanower and Marc Baum. Photo © 2011 Louis Berillo.
When the parade started, Marc tried the ignition. It wouldn’t work. Tried several times. He was getting a little worried. I tried it—but my magic touch didn’t work this time. I started to worry that the engine was flooded. Marc put it into nuetral—that was the trick. I tried the key again and the engine caught. Off we went!

It’s funny being in a parade because one doesn’t get to see any of it. At the judges stand a local radio station had sent a reporter to interview the guests as they passed. I answered the reporter’s question by speaking into a microphone someone stuck into my face. The echo from the sound equipment was really startling—I hate that sort of thing—so the distracted answer I gave probably made me seem like an idiot.

More signings in “Glinda’s Magic Tent” on Chittenango’s village green. Did that on Sunday, too. I ended up selling out of all the books I’d brought. I hadn’t brought much to sell because the previous time I’d been to the Chittenango Oz festival—back in 1996—David and I hadn’t sold much at all. But this time the merchandise was just enough and I sold the last book toward the end of the signing on Sunday.

During the closing ceremony the local high school woodwind ensemble played a medley of Harburg/Arlen tunes from the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie version. While they played “Over the Rainbow” I was impressed by the thought that L. Frank Baum was born in that place in 1856 and now 155 years later some kids who never knew him were playing music inspired by his creations to a crowd gathered to celebrate him and his influence.

One thing more to mention—in downtown Chittenango there’s a brand new museum and shop called All Things Oz. The Oz-Stravaganza Committee worked hard during the past month to get it ready for the festival. Artifacts from all aspects of Oz and L. Frank Baum’s career are featured there—from tchotchkes featuring imagery from the 1939 movie to a reproduction of the contract between Baum and W. W. Denslow for the book that became The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to The Last Egyptian to Return to Oz to Wicked. It’s just a start on what the village of Chittenango hopes will become a major Oz and L. Frank Baum center, serving those with a casual interest, serious scholars, and everyone in between. The Chittenango Oz festival has for a long time centered mostly on the 1939 MGM movie version of The Wizard of Oz. But there have always been those who realize that Oz is a whole lot more, and now they’re trying to show all that Oz is. All Things Oz is a great start to honor the entire massive phenomenon that Chittenango’s native son began. I applaud it and the efforts, intents, hopes, and dreams of those behind it.

The Gift Shop section of All Things Oz. Photo © 2011 Blair Frodelius.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Wow, two blogs in one day! That's quite a change from the last two weeks, huh!

I simply couldn't wait to share Skottie Young's cover for the first issue of Marvel Comics's adaptation of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz which will be hitting the stands in October.

So congratulations to Eric Shanower and Skottie Young on their continued success!

Il Castello in Fondo al Mare

David in Venice with a bag of books (1989).
In 1989 Eric Shanower and I went to Europe. It was the first time for both of us - the year before we moved in together. As you have seen elsewhere on this blog, I have a certain fondness for foreign editions of the Oz books and in Italy I hit the jackpot. Every town seemed to have a children's bookstore and in each I looked for and found different and interesting editions of L. Frank Baum's ll Mago di Oz.

However, in Milan, Eric had keener eyes and spotted an unusual title with Baum's name on the spine. It turned out to be an Italian edition of The Sea Fairies titled Il Castello in Fondo al Mare. The book was translated by Vincenzo Brinzi and had been published by Mursia in 1988. Mursia had already published an edition of The Wizard of Oz in 1985.

I’ve often wondered if the choice to publish this edition of The Sea Fairies was possibly inspired by the forthcoming release of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989). The wraparound cover design (shown above) features a lobster playing the violin and the big fish on the back cover is bright yellow, like Flounder in the film.

When Eric and I started flipping through the book we were surprised to see that it included Neill color plates - but they were not reproductions of Neill’s original color plates. Instead, eight of Neill’s full-page black and white drawings from the book had been newly colored by Raffaella Zardoni, who also designed the book - which includes many of Neill's black and white illustrations as well.

There are two other foreign editions of Sea Fairies, but I'll save those for a future post.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ozzy Mug Shot

One of the perks of writing this blog is that on occasion folks send me nice things. These two mugs arrived in the mail recently. They're very handsome. The artwork wraps nearly the entire mug, and each mug comes with a cork-bottomed yellow brick road coaster.

The artwork is by Don Peters who has exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the National Pastel Society of New York. He began his career in Hollywood in 1953, where he worked with Walt Disney, MGM, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Columbia, and Filmation. In 1964 Don won the Venice Film Festival award for his screenplay, The Soldier. Also, in 1966 Don received the Academy Award Nomination for the original screenplay and story Naked Prey. But of special interest to Oz fans is that Don was a Background Artist for Journey Back to Oz.  Don Peters passed away in Hollywood Beach, California, on October 4, 2002, at the age of eighty-one.

These two mugs (and another still), as well as a limited-edition lithograph, are available on-line from Diane Click here to check them out!  Diane will also be attending the Winkie Convention next month and, of course, she will have these great mugs available at the convention, too.

So, that's the blog for today - I'm off to have a cup of tea in my Ozzy new mug!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Programs, Get Your Programs!

I've just finished editing and assembling this year's Winkie Convention Program Book. It's the biggest yet at 164 pages. In addition to all the useful stuff, like the schedule of events, maps, and convention info, the book has lengthy interviews with our special guests Tommy Kovac (writer of Royal Historian of Oz) and Kirk Kushin (writer of OZopolis), as well as a lengthy interview with Joe Cascone of the Toronto Civic Light Opera Co. Joe and his partner, David Haines, will be entertaining us on Saturday night with a concert of Oz music.

The program book is packed with beautiful illustrations by John R. Neill and essays on The Sea Fairies and Pirates in Oz by Michael Riley, Judy Bieber, Kathleen Krull, Michael Cart, Peter Hanff, Eric Shanower, and others. We also have a pin-up gallery featuring Ozzy art by Joe Phillips, Kevenn T. Smith, Dick Martin, and Vincent Desjardins.

The front cover (at left) was specially prepared by Eric Shanower, and we have a terrific back cover painting by OZopolis cover artist Sylwia Smerl.

If you are not going to be able to join us at the WINKIE CON this year, but you would like a copy of the hardcover Program Book, they are available for a limited time at $25. All profits go toward this and future Winkie Conventions. To order your copy, please send $25 plus $5 for Priority Shipping to:

Hungry Tiger Press
5995 Dandridge Lane #121
San Diego, CA  92115

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sis Sez Sunday - 46

Well, I hope you've been worried about Sis for the last two weeks with no Sis Sez Sunday on the blog...

Turns out Sis got lost on public transportation but she's found her way home at last!

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 43, in November 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.