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

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 1908

Just in time for Halloween - here's another postcard with an Oz connection, from about 100 years ago. This was produced by the Gibson Art Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio. Gibson was the oldest American greeting card firm, started in 1850, and was still in business in the 1990s as Gibson Greetings. In 2000 they became part of American Greetings.

The image has clearly been adapted from John R. Neill's illustration for the copyright page of L. Frank Baum's Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Gibson began producing cards in 1907, and Dot/Wiz was the Oz book for 1908, so I would guess that this card might be from that time. The company produced cards until around 1917, so the card may have been produced later in that period, but I think it's an early example.

I find it fascinating that someone went to the trouble to reproduce Neill's Scarecrow drawing - including the club he's holding and the emerald he's sitting on! - rather than coming up with a more generic image. I wonder if it was an intentional Oz reference, or simply drawn by a fan of the books. The artist is unknown, as were many of the Gibson postcard artists. I'm not aware of any other Gibson cards using Oz images in this way - many of their cards were single designs, and this doesn't seem to be part of a series.

The company was a latecomer to the postcard craze of the early 20th century, and certainly did not commit themselves to the concept. Gibson cards were not produced in great quantity, and were not marketed nationwide, so they are among the scarcer and more desirable Halloween postcards.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oz Writing

It's been said that if you scratch an Oz collector, you find an Oz author trying to get out - I think there's a lot of truth to that. About fifteen years ago, my partner and I wrote and illustrated two Oz books which were published by Books of Wonder. Our first attempt in this line was providing illustrations for Queen Ann in Oz, by Karyl Carlson and Eric Gjovaag. We learned quite a bit from this project, and when we were asked if we would like to come up with a story ourselves, decided to give it a try.

Masquerade in Oz was set at Halloween, and grew from an idea to do a story taking place within Ozma's palace in the Emerald City. We came up with the general outline and would discuss ideas while walking our dogs in the evening and then take turns writing, re-writing and adding to what each other wrote. I'll admit that we weren't overly concerned with Oz chronology or canon - it was a lot of fun, and we were enthusiastic. For the illustrations, we both made sketches after which I would do full sized pencil drawings. Once these were ready, Irwin would ink them. The collaboration worked well - but we are used to working with one another during the day in our stained glass studio.

The Lavender Bear of Oz was a shorter book aimed at a younger reader. Bringing L. Frank Baum's Valley of Babies from Dot & Tot of Merryland and Bear Center from Lost Princess of Oz together seemed like a natural combination. Once again we had fun in the process. We originally intended the title of this book to be “Babes in Oz” and did the illustration pictured, but that title was rejected. After digging around, I also found a couple other cover design experiments - both in a different style than the published version.

All in all, it was a fun experience and we were fortunate enough to actually be published. We did write a third story, and who knows - it might get dusted off someday.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Silver Shoes

Here's another item with no real Oz connection, other than my own twisted inter- pretation. This is a pair of Buck Rogers Rocket Roller Skates, produced in 1932 by Marx Toys. These are heavy duty skates with great styling - this particular pair is missing its leather straps and key. The reason I'm including them here is because I've always thought they looked as though they could be L. Frank Baum's silver shoes, taken by Dorothy from the Wicked Witch of the East in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the MGM film the shoes became the ruby slippers. Even the concept of rocket roller skates fits in - maybe that's how Dorothy returned home at the end of the book!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Graphic Oz

There have been a number of Oz comics/graphic novels in recent years. I don't tend to collect these, but do have a set of the graphic novels written and drawn by Eric Shanower. I've mentioned in a past posting that Eric Shanower is my favorite among contemporary Oz illustrators. I have one small original piece of his artwork, aside from drawings in several collector's copies of Oz books published by Hungry Tiger Press.

The portrait of Glinda shown above is from 1985, the period when Shanower's graphic novels of Oz were bring produced. The four novels were reissued in a single volume, Adventures in Oz, in 2006 and are very enjoyable.

This is a small drawing, but nicely detailed - I like the decoration of hearts on the hem of Glinda's dress.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Here she is - after a week of evenings spent figuring, sewing and experimenting, I finished my Patchwork Girl. She is approximately 20" tall, and has a lot of personality - she can be demure and well behaved, or wild and stick her tongue out, in typical Scraps fashion. She has her button eyes (pearl rather than silver), pearl teeth, and golden ears; I didn't quite get to golden fingernails. She can even stand on her own two feet - occasionally!

My aim was to come up with something that would look appropriately old. Years ago, I used to explore making puppets and marionettes and this wasn't much different.

It was an interesting project - After being inspired by a handful of vintage patchwork squares, I quickly learned that my quilt squares were extremely delicate and fragile - patches would disintegrate if not handled carefully. This didn't bother me too much, aside from the difficulties of working with the fabric. My goal was to end up with something that looked like it might have been around for seventy some years, so a few perished patches fit right in. However, if anyone were attempting this for an actual doll, I strongly recommend using new fabric!