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

Sunday, September 27, 2009


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In looking back, I've found I never posted this drawing by Dale Ulrey for Reilly & Lee's unpublished version of Ozma of Oz.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!