Saturday, May 22, 2021

Denslow Draws Again!

I have discovered some wonderful things in my research for my forthcoming book on the 1903 Broadway Wizard of Oz musical, and today's blog shares two of them. Though, to be fair, it was my husband, Eric Shanower, who actually discovered these a couple years ago while he was helping me track down some information on the production of the stage show. 

So, voila! I'm delighted to share two previously unknown Wizard of Oz illustrations by W. W. Denslow. These fine drawings were published in a newspaper interview with Denslow in the summer of 1904 about the forthcoming Pearl and the Pumpkin musical. In the interview Denslow also discussed his contributions to The Wizard of Oz musical, how he developed his character designs and sold the show to Fred Hamlin. Whether these were pre-exisiting drawings shared with the newspaper, or whether Denslow drew them specifically for the paper is unclear -- though the paper also printed a drawing from Denslow's Scarecrow and Tinman comic page. But now, on to the treasures!

The first new drawing is a playful picture of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman pulling the Cowardly lion's whiskers. This trio was the hit of the show - the lion was one of the favorite characters with audiences; only Fred Stone's Scarecrow and David Montgomery's Tin Man were more loved.

This whisker-pulling might actually be a moment from the musical; there was similar playful banter among the three characters at several points in the show. The lion's pose is similar to one of Denslow's posters for the show. It's also reminiscent of Denslow's lion drawing on the cover of the Wizard of Oz souvenir song book. The Scarecrow's anatomy is more humanly proportioned, a'la Fred Stone, than the character's appearance in the book. The head is more oblong, the legs longer, etc.

The other new drawing is this fine portrait of the Cowardly Lion. Like the Scarecrow above, the Lion seems a bit more inspired by Arthur Hill's Cowardly Lion costume than real lion anatomy: i.e. the lion's rather saggy rear.

The other new Denslow illustration was a picture of Pearl and the Pumpkin composer John W. Bratton and librettist Paul West driving a water wagon, inspired by one of their earlier song hits. I'll share it in a future blog post.

And that ends today's post on some new drawings of our favorite threesome!

Copyright © 2021 David Maxine. All rights reserved.


saintfighteraqua said...

Thanks for uncovering these!

Sam said...

So good to see you posting and blogging again!

I've shared your Oz CDs with my friend Matthew Beveridge and he seems fascinated by the music that he wants a copy, so I'm sharing him your other Vintage Blog and Hungry Links from here!