Wednesday, February 22, 2012

White Edition Wednesday - Tin Woodman

As you may recall, last week we found all there was to know about the "white edition" of Lost Princess, so this week we need to slip some grease to The Tin Woodman of Oz.

I think Dick Martin's new cover for Tin Woodman is quite close in spirit to the original cover by John R. Neill. I prefer Neill's lettering though. Other than the lettering, Dick's changes are minimal: he took the tassels off Woot's shoes, added "blades" of grass to the green band at bottom, and dropped the orange fade.

The spine illustration is pulled from the 1908 Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz endpapers. Dick got a lot of mileage out of those!

The very appealing back cover image showing the tin owl and straw-stuffed bear is adapted from one of the original Tin Woodman color plates.

The illustration for the "Famous Oz Books" ad is very interesting! It is actually a previously unpublished drawing Neill had created for Grampa in Oz (1924), and Dick had found it in the Reilly & Lee files (see below).

A fine Tin Woodman drawn by Neill in 1924 was finally published in the 1964 edition of TIN WOODMAN.

In creating the new fore-matter for the "white edition" Dick omitted two drawings from the 1918 edition - the rather boring ownership leaf and a portrait of Princess Dorothy.

The picture of Princess Dorothy seems a loss, but it would have been facing the title page and it doesn't work as a frontispiece very well. So Dick created a new frontispiece based on another of Neill's color plates from the first edition.

Original 1918 color plate (left) and Dick Martin's redrawn version 1964 (right).

Oz and Baum scholar, Michael Riley, pointed out to me that the "white edition" of Tin Woodman was highly-anticipated in 1965 as it restored John R. Neill's original illustrations. In 1955 Reilly & Lee had replaced Neill's pictures with new drawings by cartoonist Dale Ulrey. You can see quite a few interesting comparisons in this previous blog post.

Eric Shanower and I were discussing "white edition" Wednesday last week and Eric pointed out something I'd never heard anyone else mention. In the list of the forty Oz books in many copies of the "white editions," The Royal Book of Oz is credited to Ruth Plumly Thompson, making the "white editions" the first public acknowledgement by Reilly & Lee that the book was solely Thompson's work. Dick of course had been corresponding with Thompson for years by the time he was designing these books, so I wouldn't be surprised if the credit change was totally Dick's idea. I'm sure Ruth was very pleased!

Ruth Plumly Thompson and Fred Meyer circa mid '60s.

Today's "white edition" Wednesday seems a tad short, but it's been a hectic week. Eric is off to Image Expo in Oakland, California, tomorrow. He'll be there (at Booth # 49) all weekend with lots of cool books to sell - both Oz and Age of Bronze - click here for details. Eric will also be at the Cartoon Art Museum on Thursday, February 23, 2012, to attend the opening reception for the museum's new exhibit Image Comics: A Twentieth Anniversary Celebration. For details click here.

So with the Tin Woodman all lubricated, I think we need to just sit back and wait for next week as we try to break the spell of The Magic of Oz!


Sam said...

I think it's better that Dick added a few flowers to the Straw Bear and Tin Owl on the back "White" cover - it makes it a bit more Ozzy. And very appropriate that he removed Woot's shoe tassels - not very practical for a Wandering boy, even in a fairyland.

I don't quite like or agree with how Neill tilted the Tin Woodman's neck, however.

saintfighteraqua said...

I think for once I prefer Neill's original...but that is not to say that Martin didn't manage to improve it in multiple areas, especially the tassel removal.
I love the recolring of the Tin Men, but I think Neill did better on the rest (if indeed he had anything to do with the color choices)The original's lettering is way better too.
All I can say about both that's negative though is Woot needs more purple! :D

David Maxine said...

I also prefer Neill's version this time. I think Dick falls short in his lettering for this title - I thought something looked odd or different with it even when I was little. It just doesn't quite match the feel of the other 13 books. In those, IO can usually see why Dick altered the lettering - here I can't. And some of the lettering choices looks hasty as does the spine vignette. Given all the images available of the Tin Woodman why didn't Dick select an image without that weird decoration so this spine would more closely match the other books? I suspect Dick was in a rush and may have just used some scrap he had on hand.

Interestingly, I think this is probably Neill's most modern cover 0 generally quite in spirit with Dick's "white edition" revamps.

@SFA - you are right the Woot should have been in purple - it would have looked smashing with all that yellow. I wonder is possibly Dick couldn't make a good purple using the three four colors he'd picked? There isn't really much purple in ANY of the "white edition" covers.

Scott Olsen said...

This comment comes in a little late to probably be seen by anyone, but a thought just came to me--that Who's Who in Oz was the probably the first acknowledgement in a Reilly and Lee book that Royal Book was Thompson's work.

David Maxine said...

@Scott - I guess WHO'S WHO does beat the "white editions"to pushing ROYAL BOOK into RPT's column which doesn't really surprise me knowing how much Snow disliked the Thompson books.

Somehow it still seems more obvious in the "white editions" where the titles are presented by author. In WHO'S WHO you can only sort orf find the info buried in the ROYAL BOOK synopsis citation and the slightly murky RPT bio.

saintfighteraqua said...

I never knew Jack Snow disliked Ruth Plumly Thompson, I always assumed he didn't use her characters because she had asked other authors not to.
I learn something knew each time I visit.

I wonder if he disliked her books because she was chosen as a historian instead of him after Baum's passing?