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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Wonder City Dragonette

Earlier this month I attended the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. There are always fascinating things to be seen at the Fair, many with amazing prices, and the experience is very enjoyable and a lot of fun.
At any rate, I didn't come away empty handed. This is the half-title page from The Wonder City of Oz, the first Oz book to be written as well as illustrated by John R. Neill. I've been considering this drawing for some time, and have finally added it to my collection.

Neill created a half-title drawing for most of the Oz books he illustrated. Off-hand, I know of four that still exist - Road to Oz, Patchwork Girl, Tik Tok  and Wonder City. In this case, the drawing features the two headed Dragonette, who appears briefly in the story. I think this creature bears a strong resemblance to some of the creations of Dr. Seuss!

One of the reasons this drawing has fascinated me is the wonderful inscription by Neill:
Dear Children - The question is - Were the pictures made for the story, or was the story made for the pictures?
This is signed with his initials and address. As anyone familiar with the publishing history of Wonder City knows, this is actually a pretty legitimate question - the book was heavily edited and rewritten before publication, without Neill's input, and a number of the drawings were adjusted and reworked to fit the new story additions.

This same basic sentiment was used in the Author's Note published in the book, which was headed with a different illustration. I'm not quite certain why Neill would have written the lines on the half title - perhaps he had a moment of inspiration and didn't want to forget it!