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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Montgomery & Stone Sing!

I've just received an original Victor recording of Montgomery & Stone performing "Travel, Travel Little Star", a comic number the duo performed in The Old Town. This show was the first to be presented at the Globe theater, now called the Lunt-Fontanne, on Broadway in 1910, and the recording dates from that time. On the left is an image I found online of the sheet music for this number.

Apparently, Montgomery & Stone only made 3 recordings. These numbers are an opportunity to get a sense of what the performers style was like, and the material could have been as easily lifted from The Wizard of Oz as any of their other shows. All three songs are available on the two-disc set of vintage recordings from The Wizard of Oz, released by Hungry Tiger Press. They can also be found online.

Here's a little video of the record playing- not much to watch, but fun to listen to! It's easy to see the duo as precursors to Abbott and Costello, with the bit of "who's on first" style cross-talk dialogue. The lyric for the song even includes the classic "man with a wooden leg named Smith" bit - in this case, a Sheriff with a wooden leg named Jim!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Neill Newspapers

Here are a couple more early newspaper pages by John R. Neill, published in the Philadelphia North American in 1902.

The first is a simple carousel scene, with ink paints at the bottom of the page. These can be used with a damp brush for coloring the image - less messy than pulling out the paint pots! Another of this style of page can be seen on the Hungry Tiger Press blog here.

This particular page was to be used for a painting contest that the paper was running. There seem to have been contests every week in the comics - another good example is the "What Did the Woggle Bug Say" contest which ran with the Queer Visitors From the Land of Oz comics in 1904 - 1905.

The second page is a variation on this painting idea. For this, you just use a damp brush on the images themselves and the moistened ink colors the page. Some of the blue ink color can be seen on the cat and one of the figures.

This page is also interesting as a very clear example of the ethnic stereotypes that were so common and accepted at the turn of the last century - of course many are still with us, although perhaps not always depicted quite so graphically in the Sunday paper!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spoolicles in Oz

I've really been neglecting my blog this year - but I'm afraid that's bound to happen from time to time!

Here's an endpaper image from The Gnome King of Oz  that I've always liked. As usual with John R. Neill's endpaper drawings, this doesn't illustrate any specific part of the story - it's just a fun image to catch the reader's interest. It's also appropriate for the book as part of the story takes place in the kingdom of Patch, where much sewing and mending takes place.

The idea of spool toys just feels right for Oz, in my opinion. Something easily made from common objects, just like Scraps or Jack Pumpkinhead, and put to a new use. As a kid I would make vehicles with spool wheels, and even a wind up tank that really ran (involving a rubber band, a sliver of soap, a matchstick and a spool). Of course these were still the days of common wooden spools - something of a rarity now!

Personally, I'd prefer spool cars to the Scala- wagons that Neill came up with for Ozian transport in his own stories. But Neill didn't forget the idea of spool toys in Oz - his original cover sketch for The Runaway in Oz  features Scraps pedaling away on her spoolicle, which we are told is her favorite mode of transport. This was the inspiration for the handsome cover design by Eric Shanower, who illustrated and also edited the 1995 publication of this final Oz tale by John R. Neill.