Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Winkie Con

This past weekend was the 50th annual Winkie Con, the longest running Wizard of Oz convention. It was a fun filled weekend, featuring panels and programs on everything from L. Frank Baum's connections to the San Diego area (the site of the convention), to examinations of feminism and masculinity in the Oz books. There was a slew of special guests drawn from artists, writers and actors who all have a special connection to Oz. I even served as a panelist!

An exhibit of costumes worn by Judy Garland during her career, including this one from The Pirate (a favorite of mine), was displayed by collector Michael Siewart.
An Oz costume contest is a traditional part of the convention, and a number of contestants turned out in full regalia.
The Saturday evening program was a recreation of the 1913 stage show The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, a production that hasn't been seen in 100 years - the photo below, taken by Atticus Gannaway, shows the cast in action.
An auction of rare and vintage Oz items is also a traditional part of the convention, taking place Saturday morning and afternoon. There were many opportunities to add a new piece to a collection.
On Sunday, an additional event was brunch at the famous Hotel Del Coronado. Baum spent time at this hotel over the course of several years, while working on some of his early Oz books. We also happened to pass the house where Baum and his family lived after leaving the hotel, before they moved to Hollywood. I believe it may be the only L. Frank Baum residence still standing.
At the convention, a new edition of the book Queen Ann in Oz was introduced. This was the first time my partner Irwin and I, illustrators of the story, met the authors Karyl Carlson and Eric Gjovaag (photo below by Jay Davis).  The new edition includes a new story about the kingdom of Oogaboo, and may be purchased through Lulu.com.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Violet Macmillan

Here's a fun little Oz oddity - This is an autograph from Violet MacMillan, one of the stars of the Oz Film Manufacturing Company. Beneath her signature, she lists three productions she was featured in - "KayBee", "Domino", and what appears to be "Branco". Unfortunately, I've been unable to find any record of these films. There is no date, and no mention of her Oz work; perhaps not surprising, as the Oz films were not successful!
Violet played various roles in the L. Frank Baum films. She was the first actress to play Dorothy in a feature length Oz movie - there were previous short films like the Fairylogue and Radio Plays with Romola Remus in the role, as well as the 1910 Wizard starring a young Bebe Daniels. The Oz Company films were full length productions, and Violet appeared as Dorothy in His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. She also played the leading role of the boy Ojo, in The Patchwork Girl of Oz and she appeared as Prince Bud in the adaptation of Queen Zixi of Ix, which was renamed The Magic Cloak of Oz.
In her Oz film work, Violet was billed as "the Daintiest Darling of Them All". Throughout her career, she was known as the Cinderella Girl due to the smallness of her feet - during her time on the vaudeville stage, it was an ongoing claim to fame with a number of mentions in newspapers of the day. In 1913, when performing in San Francisco, she lent a shoe to be displayed in a Market Street shoe store where women could attempt fitting it on their own foot.

Even in June of 1922, the Washington Times reported that she won a contest for the smallest feet in New York, and was awarded a pair of golden slippers - it's too bad they weren't silver, that would be very fitting for a Dorothy! Her foot measured 7 5/8" from heel to toe, and she could wear a shoe measured at 6 1/2" long - a 4" inch heel shortened the footprint of the shoe. According to one article, with such small feet she needed to be careful to keep her weight down to 90 pounds.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The White Elephant

The White Elephant was a short-lived monthly magazine of short fiction, published in the late 1890's. It's best remembered by fans of L. Frank Baum for publishing one of Baum's earliest stories, The Suicide of Kairos, in September of 1897. This is a dark tale of the death of a Greek money lender, at the hands of an upstanding bank clerk. There is no moral retribution to the story, it's a simple tale of a means to an end.

The magazine featured very whimsical color covers, with the namesake white elephant prominently displayed in a wide range of activities. It started publication in June of 1896 as Poker Chips, and changed to White Elephant in December of that year. It survived under that name through September of 1897 before folding. I don't think its failure would have been due to dull cover design!

An interior page proudly announces that the magazine has celebrated its second birthday, which seems a bit premature, and invites submissions for future issues. It even gives some writing tips, such as "Quick action and the "get there" quality in a story will assure prompt acceptance" Stories were to be from 2,000 to 4,000 words in length, and humorous stories were in "especial demand". Baum's name and story title are featured on the front cover of what ended up being the final issue, along with the other authors and their tales - perhaps, if it had survived, additional tales by Baum would have been featured. At any rate, I suppose this may have been the first time Baum was on the cover of a nationally available magazine!

The story was reprinted in 1954 in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. A couple minor alterations were made, to delete two remarks by the Greek moneylender concerning his Jewish competitors. This time Baum didn't rate front cover space, but he was in good company - the issue also featured stories by Agatha Christie, Jack London, and Erle Stanley Gardner!

Saturday, June 21, 2014


 John R. Neill created images of a variety of dragons for the Oz books - but I think the most memorable is Quox, the dragon from Tik-Tok of Oz. Quox is a large blue dragon with silver scales, who wears a pearl necklace and locket around his neck. He comes from the other side of the earth, and helps to save the day when our intrepid heroes find themselves at the mercy of the Nome King!

This is an original illustration from Tik-Tok that was used as a header for Chapter 15, The Dragon Defies Danger. Quox is shooting flames from his mouth, after being threatened by the evil Nomes. This is another example of an illustration that was printed with an additional half tone in the book - in my opinion, to the detriment of the image. On the drawing, the background is colored a pale blue indicating the areas intended for shading, but I think the grey printing in the book results in a rather muddied image. An interesting side note - the ink blot that appears to the lower right of Quox in the drawing is present in early printings of the book, but disappeared in the 1960's white cover versions.

There are a number of dragons in the Oz books, from the underground den of Dragonettes, tied by their tails to their cavern walls, to the two-headed dragon in John R. Neill's own Oz stories. But my favorite will always be Quox!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Urfin Jus

Last October, I posted a set of postcards illustrating the Russian version of The Wizard of Oz, written by Alexander Volkov, in which Oz is known as Magic Land. Here's a partial set of cards illustrating one of Volkov's sequels to that story, Urfin Jus and his Wooden Soldiers. I think the creation of an alternate Russian Oz is a fascinating phenomenon!
The cards shown are numbers 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12. I'm not certain if this set ends at 12 - the other series had 16 total. So, there are at least 4 cards missing, and possibly 8 - I'll have to keep my eyes open!
In any case, it's fun to see these interesting characters featured, together with a few old favorites!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jack at Home

The recent Marvel editions of the first six Oz books have been an great opportunity for new readers to discover the Oz series - Eric Shanower and Skottie Young did an excellent job of adapting and illustrating the stories. Unfortunately, the series has ended with The Emerald City of Oz; a logical place to stop, as that is where L. Frank Baum originally ended the series, before returning with additional tales. Perhaps Marvel will do the same, and return at some point!

It has also been an opportunity to acquire artwork of some favorite Oz characters and scenes; I've shown several other examples in previous posts. This is Skottie Young's version of Jack Pumpkinhead at home, from The Road to Oz. John R. Neill's version of this scene has always been one of my favorite Oz illustrations, but I think Skottie's Jack looks great! And you couldn't find a more organic home, tendrils and all...

Another character I've always been fond of is the Braided Man from Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. He doesn't play a large role in the story, and we only ever see him once more, briefly, in The Road to Oz. Still, he's a memorable character among the many fascinating people of Oz and its environs. Here he is in all his glory, as envisioned by Skottie Young.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Some Children's Bookplates

Bookplates have always been popular as a means of identifying ownership of favorite books. The earliest examples originated in Germany, and date back to the 15th century. They have also been a popular area of collecting over the years.

Some Children's Bookplates, by Wilbur Macey Stone is a fun little book from 1901, consisting of a brief study of some contemporary bookplates for children by various artists. Most notably, the book contains a tipped in example of a plate drawn by W. W. Denslow, for Edna Browning Wilkins. Incidentally, Miss Wilkins' copies of Father Goose, His Book (containing this bookplate), and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz were sold at auction at Bonham's last December.

350 copies of this book were printed, and this is copy 315. There is a small note from the author, dated 1936, tipped inside the cover, to a Mr. & Mrs. Orleans - as well as a bookplate for the House of Orleans. A copy of Father Goose, His Book is currently being offered online at ABE Books with the same Orleans bookplate - they must have been book lovers!

In an article in The Collector from July, 1901,  reviewer W. G. Bowdoin was not very impressed with Denslow's work on this particular plate. The chief complaint was the lack of a "bookish" element, together with a concern that "the average Chicago policeman is not always as courteous as we should like him to be". I couldn't help thinking that this particular reviewer was writing from personal experience, as he also states:

"... and after a man, innocent of the infraction of the law, has been pushed and hauled, if not clubbed, by a policeman such as is portrayed on the Wilkins plate, the most resentful and antagonistic feelings are apt to be aroused by the realism of the drawn subject."

Overall, he clearly felt the subject matter was quite inappropriate! On the other hand, Wilber Macy Stone felt that "this plate quite fulfills the requisites of an ideal child's plate, which is praise enough."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Scraps and Scarecrow!

The past six months or so have been an unusual and surprising sort of golden period for me, in the acquisition of original Oz artwork. A drawing by W. W. Denslow of the Scarecrow and Tinman, pieces by John R. Neill from Marvelous Land of Oz, Road to Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, and this most recent illustration from The Patchwork Girl of Oz, have all found their way into the collection, from a variety of sources. It's a bit overwhelming, but also quite exciting!

This drawing was used as a double page color spread in the published book, and the artwork is quite large at 16" x 24". It's a striking picture of two of the favorite Oz characters, the Scarecrow and Scraps the Patchwork Girl, meeting for the first time. The addition of color in the printing of the book made this a very vibrant image!

This piece popped up quite unexpectedly on eBay recently, much to my surprise. It's a drawing whose existence I've not been aware of although many, if not most, of the illustrations from Patchwork Girl do still survive.

Monday, April 7, 2014

New York Again

Last Autumn I posted about an exhibition at the New York Public Library called The A B C of It: Why Children's Books Matter - the photo on the right is from that post. The show has been extended beyond its initial run, and I stopped by for another look when I was in NYC last week.
I was happy to see that the display of W. W. Denslow illustrations from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  had been changed from those I viewed previously. This time, two chapter titles and one color plate drawing were on view. According to Michael Hearn, in The Annotated Wizard of Oz, the drawing for the Chapter Three title page was originally intended for Chapter Two. This explains the paper overlay with the inked title. It's always fun to see these things in person!
I was also pleased to be able to view a special copy of the Wonderful Wizard at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. In December, Bonham's auction house sold a beautiful example of a first state, primary binding Wizard inscribed by both L. Frank Baum and W. W. Denslow, with a sketch by Denslow. This copy was for sale at the fair - I believe for $240,000. I didn't buy it. But it was lovely to see!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Completing a Facsimile

Here's a piece I picked up on eBay recently. This is a facsimile dust jacket created by John Anthony Miller, for the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Very few examples of the original jacket have survived the years, and I'm not certain if a complete original jacket is known. The chances of my ever owning one are quite slim; so this will have to do!

It fits perfectly on the recent facsimile of the book offered by the Bradford Exchange; it could also be used on an original George M. Hill first edition. It even works on the earlier facsimile produced by Books of Wonder - although it was just a bit wide for my copy. It's a fun touch to complete the appearance of the book!

Don't forget, the Kickstarter campaign for this year's production of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz is still running - any contribution will help to make this an even more memorable occasion. Here is a video plug for the show!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Kick Start

There is a fascinating Kickstarter project running currently, aimed at this year's Winkie Convention in California; a production of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz is being put together for a one night only performance, with full cast, sets and costumes. It's a unique chance to see a production of a vintage musical entertainment, that isn't likely to ever be revived on a wide scale. L. Frank Baum wrote the book as well as a number of the song lyrics, and this show was the inspiration for the 1914 Oz title Tik-Tok of Oz.

The initial goal has already been reached, but this is certainly a case of the more the better, in order to be able to flesh out the show more thoroughly - after all, this is supposed to be a Fairyland Extravaganza! Here is a link to the Tik-Tok Man of Oz Kickstarter campaign; any contribution helps, and there are some nice premiums being offered at the higher pledge levels!

There are a couple other Oz-related Kickstarter projects running at the moment. The Shadow of Oz - A Tarot Deck, which ends on Monday, is a unique Tarot deck designed by a number of talented comic book artists, and Who Stole the Ruby Slippers? is a documentary on the still unsolved 2005 theft of a pair of original ruby slippers, from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Jack Restored

Last fall I blogged about a drawing from The Marvelous Land of Oz that I purchased at auction. This happens to be one of my favorite Oz books by L. Frank Baum, and I was happy to be able to add an illustration from the book to my collection. It's a lovely image of Tip admiring the newly created Jack Pumpkinhead, and it was used as a color plate in the published book. Sadly, the original art had seen quite a bit of wear and tear, and there was extensive damage with a number of cracks in the illustration board. Nevertheless, it was an opportunity to acquire one of John R. Neill's first Oz illustrations, from 1904.

Last week I picked up the newly revived Jack Pumpkinhead, and I'm very pleased with the results of the restoration. I worked with an art conservator based at the local museum, and she did a fine job of bringing Jack back! No one can put this piece back into its original condition, but the damage has been greatly minimized. Restoration of this sort is not an inexpensive proposition, but I felt this piece was well worth preserving for future years!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Denslow Scarecrows

In my last post, I showed a piece of original art by W. W. Denslow featuring the Scarecrow and Tin Man, from Denslow's 1904 comic page. Just a week and a half ago, a very rare original drawing from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was sold at Swann Galleries in New York. This is one of only a handful ever offered at auction - most of the original art from this book is in public collections. I would certainly have loved to add this piece to my own collection!

The illustration is from the opening of Chapter 4, and shows the Scarecrow being created by a Munchkin farmer. In the book, the drawing is printed primarily in light blue, with text covering part of the image.

Denslow drawings of Oz characters don't turn up very often, but the last two months have been surprising! Between this piece and the four that were offered at Bonham's in December, the Scarecrow has been a popular fellow -  those four pieces can be seen below:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Denslow's Scarecrow and Tin Man

In 1904, W. W. Denslow produced a comic page called Denslow's Scarecrow and the Tinman, which ran for 14 weeks. The strip showed the comic pair traveling to various places and encountering adventures, with mixed results. Two episodes were taken from his 1903 picture book of the same name, and the remaining 12 were new stories for the characters. Sadly the strip wasn't a great success, and it disappeared and faded from memory. Fortunately, some of the original comic page artwork survives, and when Bonham's auctioned a few pieces this past December, I was one of the happy winners. It isn't easy to find original Denslow art of this famous duo!

Denslow and L. Frank Baum owned a joint copyright on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, making it possible for either man to make use of the characters as he wished. They do pop up in several of Denslow's picture books, but I'm a little surprised that the artist didn't do more with them!

The original comic page art was cut into panels in the late 1950's by bookseller Charles Sawyer, in order to sell it more easily in his shop. Sawyer's bookstore in New York City was a favorite stop for early Oz collectors eager to find a piece of artwork, until the entire stock was bought up by one or two clients. Only one complete uncut page of artwork for the comic survives.

Sunday Press Books included all the episodes of this strip in their oversized compilation of Baum's Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz comic pages. These were running at the same time as Denslow's effort; I don't think either strip is Oz at its best, but they are fascinating examples of marketing for the series and the characters. The color page above, which includes the drawing in my collection, is from this book.

For a more affordable version of just the Denslow stories, Hungry Tiger Press also offers the comics in book format, with line artwork that has been cleaned up and printed in black & white - just like the original drawings!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Here's Tik-Tok!

Happy 2014! In honor of the 100th anniversary of the book Tik-Tok of Oz, here's the original artwork for a lovely portrait of the mechanical man himself, by John R. Neill.

Tik-Tok was first introduced by L. Frank Baum in 1907, in Ozma of Oz. The storyline of the 1914 Oz book, Tik-Tok of Oz is very reminiscent of that earlier title, due to being adapted from a 1913 theatrical production which was largely based on the 1907 book. The show was reasonably successful in California, but never made it to Broadway. It did provide early work for two well known actors, Charlotte Greenwood and Charles Ruggles.

This particular drawing was used as the heading for chapter 19, King Kaliko. A number of the illustrations in Tik-Tok, including this onehad half-tone shading added in the printing process. On the drawing there are notations indicating that the figure was to be filled with dot pattern 433, and some light blue shading on the facets of the jewels showed that these were also to be toned. Sadly, the grey tone in the printed version tends to obscure the illustration, rather than enhance it. It's nice to see the drawing clearly for a change!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Once again, the Oz characters celebrate a holiday! Be sure to click the image for a larger view.