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

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another Scarecrow

I've mentioned the New York Public Library's digital galleries (here) in the past, as a good place to look for interesting images. I happened to visit the site tonight, and found this magnificent poster which I've never seen before!

Here we have Fred Stone as the Scarecrow, in the third act of The Wizard of Oz. Seeing something like this just makes me wonder how many other pieces might be out there to be discovered. I imagine there might have been a companion Tin Man poster, or possibly other characters as well - this show certainly had its share of beautifully lithographed posters!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Prince Inga

This illustration in L. Frank Baum's Rinkitink in Oz has always intrigued me. It's a portrait of Prince Inga outside a castle, but the odd part is the domed structure on the left side of the drawing. This has always looked to me like John R. Neill left an unfinished portion of pencil sketch that somehow got printed with the rest of the drawing.

On the right, I've removed that part of the image. This way the drawing feels more finished to me. Admittedly, it leaves a large area of white space, but I find the overall piece much more pleasing!

Neill did do a fair amount of sketchy work, but this particular illustration has always felt like an odd combination of a lovely finished drawing and a rough sketch!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fun Fabric

As followers of my blog know, my main areas of collecting are books and artwork - but occasionally fun items pop up that I can't resist!

I recently ran across this shirt, and couldn't pass it up. What I found fascinating is the fabric, which is an adaptation of a 1903 Wizard of Oz poster. The main characters are seen in the poppy field, surrounded by the deadly flowers. I love the fact that someone took the time to rework what would have been a fairly obscure image into a printed fabric! As you can see by comparing to the picture of the original poster below, some extraneous characters were dropped, and a bit of rearranging was done.

This possibly dates from the 1970's or so - there's no real indication other than an original price of $2.98 (marked down to $1!). There seems to have been far more variety in the presentation of Oz characters prior to the 1980's and the 50th anniversary of the MGM film. The appearance of Dorothy and friends as seen in the film became the norm on merchandise - it's refreshing to see something a bit different.

Monday, September 5, 2011

An Interview with Baum

L. Frank Baum was clearly a master of self promotion, and of the "story that suits the moment" style of interview. Consequently, I tend to take most of his statements with a large grain of salt. A fun example of this is an article published in the August 1909 issue of The Theatre magazine. Titled L. Frank Baum and His New Plays, this interview covers Baum's then-current theatrical projects, none of which were to make it to fruition.

According to this article - and this all sounds very optimistic, as the descriptions of the various projects are very vague for shows opening in a month or two - the fall season was to see a comic opera titled The Pipes o' Pan, an extravaganza titled either Ozma of Oz or The Rainbow's Daughter, and the opening of a new Children's Theatre in New York. Another comic opera, possibly titled Peter and Paul, was being written for Montgomery & Stone. Both this piece and the coming Ozma of Oz were said to be starring Montgomery & Stone, so there would seem to be a conflict!  

Ozma of Oz did finally see production in 1913 as The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, which played in Los Angeles and toured. However this is not quite the same show described in the article - for one thing, a different composer wrote the music, and Montgomery & Stone were nowhere to be seen.

Baum does discuss Oz as well. He manages to add a year to the run of The Wizard of Oz - the show started in Chicago in 1902, and here in 1909 Baum states that it has been running 8 years. At the time of the interview, Baum also mentions that he is working on The Road to Oz, and that there will be only one more Oz book.

But the part I like best about this article, is the correction that the magazine had to publish in the next issue! While talking about the possible Peter and Paul production, Baum mentions that the music is being written by Arthur Pryor, the famous trombonist who played with John Phillip Sousa's band. Baum is quoted as attributing the success of Sousa to Pryor, something which apparently did not go down well. In the next issue of the magazine a correction was published, including a letter from Pryor expressing his astonishment at Baum's statement. The magazine wrote to Baum for an explanation, but there doesn't seem to have been a reply....perhaps this contributed to the non-existence of the Peter & Paul show!

The full article can be read here, on the Hungry Tiger Press website.