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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jack

In 1904, John R. Neill was tapped to illustrate the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz. Apparently he was busy with other projects at the time, and hesitated to accept the job - but fortunately, he had second thoughts. He would continue as official Oz illustrator until his death in 1943.

In 1900 L. Frank Baum and W. W. Denslow had scored a hit as author and illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but sadly that relationship had soured, due in part to disagreements over profits from the hit Broadway production of the book. In illustrating this second title, Neill deliberately used a simpler, bolder style of drawing to help transition from the well known illustrations of Denslow. His images are far more poster-like than his work in later Oz titles.

This is the original drawing for a color plate in the book, showing the creation of Jack Pumpkinhead by the boy Tip. This piece has suffered obvious damage over the past 100+ years, but it's currently being restored to a more stable state. Sadly, this is not an uncommon occurrence among vintage illustration art!

The Land of Oz was the only Oz title other than the Wizard that I read when I was quite young, and it's always held a special place for me in the series. Part of that was due to the wonderful and plentiful illustrations in the book - they really gave me a sense of what Oz was, and looked like. Consequently, I'm thrilled to have a piece from the book!

2 comments:

  1. Congratulations---it's magnificent. And thank you---I think it's so cool that you share your finds with your readers.
    Jack's face looks friendlier in black and white---his eyes aren't as cavernous and spooky. He's more like the sweet, goofy Jack fussing about his head spoiling and less like Halloween.
    It's a great piece.

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  2. Thanks! And you're right, Jack looks more ominous in the color plate with his dark eyes and nose - it's as if the spark of life is missing, which is quite appropriate! The same image of Jack was used in black & white on page 14, an example of filling space in the book with details from larger drawings.

    This piece came from the collection of Robin Olderman, a long time Oz collector who sold her collection at auction this past summer.

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