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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Woman and the Shadow

Woman and the Shadow is another of the titles published by Rand McNally with a cover design by W. W. Denslow. I like this one, both for the color combination and the variety of pictorial elements. This was published in 1898 and bears Denslow's seahorse signature. The story is a convoluted Victorian romance featuring sacrifice, bad judgement, and a reasonably happy ending.

This cover seems to have a bit of everything, from the crown/jester's cap on the front to the silhouetted cat gazing at the moon on the rear board. The British pound symbol relates to the overall theme of money in the story, and the leafy vine is a motif seen on some other Denslow covers. Finally, the spine has a great jester's dummy. The colors make me think of the soon to be published Father Goose, His Book.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

1903 Oz

Here's a final little group of images from the New York Public Library digital archive. These feature the stars of the 1903 Broadway Wizard of Oz, Fred Stone and David Montgomery, as well as Anna Laughlin. I don't think I've run across these particular photos of Montgomery (the Tin Woodman), and Stone (the Scarecrow) before. I particularly like the Tin Woodman shot, as he is captured in a much more dynamic pose than I'm used to seeing.

Anna Laughlin played Dorothy, and I think both of these photos have a sense of mischievous playfulness that she must have brought to the role. The picture on the right shows her in costume for the Ball of All Nations sequence from act 2, in which Dorothy performed a cakewalk!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bloomsbury Auction

Last week's auction held by Bloomsbury Auctions in New York featured several rare Oz and related pieces, including original artwork by John R. Neill. But the piece that intrigued me, which unfortunately I didn't win, was this lovely costume design by Caroline Siedle for Babes in Toyland.

I've talked about Siedle here before, as she designed costumes for the Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz among a number of other shows. It's interesting that there seems to be confusion about her name - I've seen Siedle, Seidle, and Siedel used in various places! I don't know which is correct, but her obituary spells the name Siedle. I believe this is also the spelling on her tomb at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York. (After writing this this morning, it occurred to me that the obvious way to figure out the answer is to look at her signature! She spelled her name Siedle.)

This particular design was for the Moth Queen - synopses of the original storyline for Babes in Toyland seem to vary, but I believe the Moth Queen helps to rescue the Babes from the Spider's Forest, a scene that sounds reminiscent of the rescue of Dorothy and her companions from the Poppies in The Wizard of Oz - not too surprising as that was inspiration for this later show! I found the photo shown above, featuring the moths, on an Australian website.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gingerbread Time

This coming weekend my partner & I are having a Christmas party, to celebrate the season as well as 30 years together. As part of the holiday decorating process (we're aiming for over the top), I decided to make a gingerbread house for the desert table.

Trying to give it an Oz theme, I hit on a gingerbread Emerald City palace. I haven't made a gingerbread house in a while, and found it took quite a bit more time than I remembered! Matters weren't helped by the loss of a piece to a small dog named Pepper. After replacing the damaged piece (which was the back of the main tower), things progressed smoothly.

I considered making some John Dough cookies while I was in gingerbread mode, but they may have to wait for another year!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oz in Boston?

Here's another interesting little group of Oz stage photos, once again from the New York Public Library. These are all labeled Boston in the photographers stamp, and it's possible that they may be from the Castle Square Theater production of the show, which debuted in that city in 1911.

Here we have Dorothy, and the Cowardly Lion (who was played by Arthur Hill, the man who created the role in the original Chicago and Broadway productions). A song was added for this production, called "Fraidy Cat" and sung by Dorothy in the third act. Maybe these photos relate to that song? In the library files these are all archived with Babes in Toyland, so it's really anyone's guess.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anna Fitzhugh

While exploring the New York Public Library's archive of digital images the other day, I pulled up a group of vintage studio portraits from Babes in Toyland, the Broadway extravaganza that followed The Wizard of Oz in 1903. I was pleasantly surprised to find several photos from The Wizard erroneously filed with the later show.

Most of the misfiled photos feature Anna Fitzhugh, who was a member of the Wizard chorus. According to my February 1903 program from the show, she portrayed a Munchkin Youth, a Snow Boy, a Pierrot Boy, and a Cook . She may well have played other parts in other performances, as I've also seen a photo of her in a Poppy costume - of course, she couldn't be a Poppy and a Snow Boy at the same time! The photos I'm showing include her as a Snow Boy, a Pierrot Boy, and possibly a Munchkin Youth. With the exception of the Snow Boy picture, the photos were all taken in Chicago so they may date from the 1902 version of the show.

After leaving the show, Anna Fitzhugh starred with her own company in Baroness Fiddlesticks, which was not a success. This was followed by a role in Sergeant Brue which was moderately successful . By 1906 she had tried vaudeville, travelled to Europe (where she studied music), and married in Ontario. After returning to the USA she pursued a career in opera, using the name Anna Fitziu, and made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1916. She returned to Chicago and worked with the Chicago Opera, and took up teaching. She died in 1967.

It's amazing how much you can find out about a relatively obscure chorus girl on the internet!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Armageddon

Armageddon, by Stanley Waterloo, is another Rand McNally title with a W. W. Denslow cover. This book's cover is very simple, and at first glance doesn't really make me think of Denslow, other than the lettering which is in his typical style. This was published in 1898, the last year that Denslow designed Rand McNally covers.

But, this is another title with a poster designed by Denslow, viewable at the New York Public Library website. When compared with the poster, it becomes clear that this is indeed a Denslow design. The same cloud profiles are used as the cover motif, and the setting sun on the poster is the main element on the spine of the book.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Update

Last summer, I mentioned that an upcoming project for me was to produce a stained glass window based on the 1930's Oz mural painted by John R. Neill for Marie and Elgood Lufkin. In a nutshell, it hasn't happened yet! Between moving our studio this spring, and playing catch up since then, the time just hasn't been available. But, I do hope to get started and produce something within the next year.

Whether the actual painting still survives is something I've been unable to find out. I did contact the Lufkin family, but they were unable to help. Marie Lufkin had 3 children by an earlier marriage, and that particular branch of the family seems to have slipped off the radar.

The best image of this painting is a nearly finished sketch featured on the cover of Oz-Story #6, published by Hungry Tiger Press. It was also featured in the article on Neill's work published in the Summer 2006 issue of Illustration magazine, but the picture is a bit murkier and not as crisp as the Hungry Tiger printing. This original sketch is still in the collection of the Neill family. Aleph-Bet Books is offering a set of additional sketches for the painting, but none are as finished as this particular piece. In the final painting, Glinda's head was turned to 3/4 view, and her face was a portrait of Marie Lufkin. The only photo of the finished mural that I know of is a not very good black & white picture in the Spring 1965 Baum Bugle.

Currently the window only exists as an unfinished cartoon that I have been working on, for building the final piece. But with any luck, some progress will be made before long. The intention is to place the final window into a window seat in the converted attic of our house.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Marvel

The Marvel Comics edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been high on the New York Times list of graphic novel bestsellers for a few weeks now. The adaption by Eric Shanower, drawn by Skottie Young, is very enjoyable, including many incidents from the original book that would be unfamiliar to fans who only know the MGM film.




The original artwork for this series of graphic novels has been available for sale online for a while, and I finally purchased a couple pieces. With so many pages available, I couldn't decide what I wanted - but as the pages I was interested in kept disappearing, I had to make a decision! In the end, I chose two pieces that deal with the Wicked Witch of the West.

The artwork by Skottie Young is very fun, and takes a fresh approach to the characters. On the original art, the initial sketching is done with blue pencil, which adds nice movement and shading to the finished piece. (See comments below concerning the blue "pencil"). It's also fascinating to see the choices made by the artist as to which lines to ink or ignore. The drawing on the left shows the Witch wearing the Golden Cap and summoning the Winged Monkeys.


There's quite a contrast between the drawing, and the printed image which has been colored. The color adds a lot of depth and atmosphere to the scene, but after seeing the original, I think a lot of Young's lovely line work gets lost.


The second drawing shows the events leading to the melting of the witch. Both drawings have a nice darkness to them, in contrast to some of the lighter, cheerier images in other parts of the story. But I have to admit, I can't help thinking of Sam Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes when I look at Dorothy's face in the final panel!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Book Collectors Guide to L. Frank Baum & Oz

Earlier this year I men- tioned my excitement and anticipation for this new guide to the works of L. Frank Baum and later Oz authors. Having written a review for the Baum Bugle, I decided to wait a bit before reviewing the book on my blog; but now that the Bugle review has been published, I'll post a capsule review.

In a nutshell, it's a lovely book filled with all kinds of information concerning the works of Baum, his successors, and book publishing of the period. Every title is shown in full color, as well as significant binding changes, and the information for identifying editions and states is clearly presented. A number of rarities are shown, certainly a number of things I've never seen before, and there are essays throughout that juxtaposition Baum's life with his books. The portions dealing with non-Oz books by Baum are particularly handy, as this information hasn't been available in a single source before.

Paul Bienvenue and Robert Schmidt have done a fine job in assembling this book - anyone interested in Oz, Baum's writing, or collecting Oz and related books will find this a very enjoyable resource. It's as entertaining as it is informative, which isn't something that can be said for a lot of bibliographies!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Judy

In honor of the 70th anniversary of MGM's Wizard of Oz, here's a wood engraving by Barry Moser of Judy Garland as Dorothy. I'm afraid this is a little late for all the 70th anniversary hoopla that was held a couple weeks ago! This portrait was commissioned by Books of Wonder in 1987, prior to the 50th anniversary of the film. 600 prints were produced from the original woodblock.

Moser illustrated The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with a suite of wood engravings in 1984. In the book, he included a portrait of Judy Garland as the China Milkmaid in the Dainty China Country.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wonderful People of Oz

Today I'm showing the newspaper page which was a preview to the Queer Visitors From the Marvelous Land of Oz comic series. This was published on August 28th, 1904, a week before the comics began. Quick summaries of the various characters are presented, to familiarize the readers and prepare them for the stories ahead. Illustrations by John R. Neill from The Marvelous Land of Oz were used, even though the comic page characters would be drawn by Walt McDougall.

The story summary given is interesting, as it seems to imply that the comic adventures take place during the time of the character's escape from the Emerald City in the Gump. Of course, this doesn't make sense in terms of story continuity, as Tip is not included in the comic pages. I don't know if this page was written by Baum - I suppose it may be. References are made to the stage show of The Wizard of Oz, and the siege of the Emerald City is compared to the Russians at Port Arthur!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Oz Hats

Earlier in my blog (here) I mentioned that I once had two hats from the 1981 Children's Theater Company production of The Marvelous Land of Oz. I worked at the theater while I was in college at the time, and after the show was filmed for video some of the costume pieces were tossed. These hats were disposed of, and I latched on to them.

I passed them on to my nieces, and assumed that they had long since fallen apart and disappeared. However! My sister recently visited, and as proof that she reads my blog, she delivered the two hats. I should have realized that they would still be lingering somewhere in her house. Here they are - 28 years later, somewhat worse for wear but still recognizable. The question is, what do I do with them now?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nomes

The other new piece of Oz artwork by John R. Neill that I've recently added to my collection is this fantastic copyright page from Tik-Tok of Oz. Tik-Tok is one of the few Oz books with the majority of its artwork surviving, and many of the Oz pieces I have are from this book.

As always, the scale of Neill's artwork is wonderful, and in the case of this drawing, the characters are quite large. I have a weakness for drawings that include lettering, and I love the fact that L. Frank Baum's name is included in the drawing. Unfortunately, it's not also signed by Neill — but most of his Oz drawings from this period were unsigned. These same two nomes pop up again at the end of the book, toting a gun over the caption "The End".

The back of this drawing has a very rough simple sketch of a fireplace. Neill was frugal with his illustration boards and often used the backs for sketches, but this particular piece doesn't seem to bear any reference to an Oz drawing. The other marking on the back is a penciled price of $20 — I assume this is from an early Oz Convention, when apparently it was possible to buy original art for that price. How things have changed!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mary and her Lamb

W. W. Denslow illustrated the rhyme of Mary and her lamb in 1901, as part of Denslow's Mother Goose. In 1903 - 1904, he published a series of 18 picture books, some of which were also based on Mother Goose rhymes. On the left is a copy of Mary Had a Little Lamb from this series - this is a later printing, as first printings of this book had a blue background on the cover.

In the illustrations for this book, Denslow clearly used the same Mary and lamb that he had created for the 1901 Mother Goose, shown on the right. The picture book gave him an opportunity to use an expanded version of the rhyme, with more illustrations. Although Mary and her lamb are the same, Mary's teacher is a woman in the picture book - in Mother Goose, Mary was taught by a man. Looking closer, the woman seems to be the same teacher used by Denslow for the rhyme "A Diller A Dollar" in Denslow's Mother Goose - maybe Mary changed classes!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dale Ulrey

In looking back, I've found I never posted this drawing by Dale Ulrey for Reilly & Lee's unpublished version of Ozma of Oz. It's an interesting piece, particularly due to the changes that were made to it.

This illustration is of Ozma and friends coming across the Giant with the Hammer, a mechanical creation by the firm Smith & Tinker, the same craftsmen who created Tik-Tok. Illustration art is often adapted, or changed, or corrected before being published - unfortunately, this isn't always done with long term results in mind. There are drawings that print beautifully, but in person have had so much reworking done that they aren't very attractive. In the case of this piece, it was clear that an entire background had been thickly whited out, and the covering was flaking. I decided to have it removed to see what the original version of the drawing was, and this was the result. Not only was there a whole mountain range, but the tail of the Hungry Tiger appeared as well.

On the left, I've digitally removed the background that was hidden, as well as some browning near the Giant, to show the final intent of the drawing. In this form the image is more dynamic, with a strong diagonal thrust. The drawing could be returned to this state, but I think it makes an interesting example of the changes that illustrations go through. Also, since graphic editing is so simple to do by computer, there's no real need to physically cover the unwanted parts of the image.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Neill Art

It's always an exciting time when new pieces of Oz art by John R. Neill come into the collection. Due to scarcity and expense, this doesn't happen too often! Today I'm showing a piece that I first saw 6 years ago, and have finally managed to obtain. This drawing is from page 63 of Tik-Tok of Oz, and is the illustration of Ozga, the Rose Princess, being exiled from her kingdom due to the other rose's desire for a King. As always, Neill's line work is amazing and his ability to suggest detail through apparently random pen strokes floors me. There is also a nice contrast between fine lines and bold brushstrokes, creating a sense of depth in the drawing.

Tik-Tok involves a lot of character displacement in the course of the story line; Shaggy Man has left home on a quest to find his brother who is missing, Betsy, Hank and Polychrome have been left to wander through shipwreck and accident, Queen Ann and her army have left home and been magically misplaced, and the Rose Princess and Nome King are both exiled from their kingdoms. Even though Tik-Tok is in many ways a rewritten version of Ozma of Oz, I think it's an important book in the Oz series due to this last point — this is when the Nome King becomes the disgruntled wanderer who figures in so many other Oz books.

The roses of the Rose Kingdom are a result of L. Frank Baum's theatrical interests, and are direct de- scendants of the chorus girl Poppies from the stage show of The Wizard of Oz. Tik-Tok of Oz was based upon another venture in the theater, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, and the success of the Poppies in the earlier show must have influenced the creation of the Roses. Baum's second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, was also written with an eye to the stage. This time the magic flowers were enchanted sunflowers with girls faces. When this book became the stage show The Wogglebug, these turned up on stage as a chorus of Chrysanthemums!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Leonard Weisgard

When I was a kid I belonged to the Junior Deluxe Edition book club. One of the titles I received through the club was this version of The Wizard of Oz, with illustrations by Leonard Weisgard. It's a pretty common book that turns up regularly on eBay, and I always liked it. The illustrations are simple black and white drawings, but there is a lovely color frontispiece of the main characters in the poppy field.

Weisgard was a prolific illustrator, as well as an author, working from the 1930s up to around 1989. He worked with a number of authors, particularly Margaret Wise Brown, and won a Caldecott medal in 1947. Since his death in 2000, his family has placed his archives with the Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. For more information on Weisgard, visit his family's webpage at leonardweisgard.com.

The illustrations are copyrighted 1955, and I've always wondered whether there was an earlier, different printing of this book with these illustrations. I do have another copy of the book, this time published by Bobbs-Merrill, the longtime publishers of The Wizard of Oz. This copy has the same illustrations but a different, plainer binding and uses the Bobbs-Merrill imprint on spine and title page.

The colorful dust jacket used for both versions of the book is credited to Dick Umnitz, and manages to incorporate quite a few details from the story into one image. The stamped cover of the Junior Deluxe edition is by an uncredited artist, but they were clearly influenced by the original W. W. Denslow illustrations.