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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oz Anniversary

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the classic MGM film The Wizard of Oz. When the movie was originally released in 1939, new editions of the original book were published by both the American publisher Bobbs Merrill, and the English publisher Hutchinson. Reilly and Lee, the publishers of the rest of the Oz series but not the first book, also produced new editions of three older titles - Land of Oz, Scarecrow of Oz and Tin Woodman of Oz - clearly hoping to ride the wave of publicity for the movie.
Of all these books, the English edition is the most interesting. The cover and dust jacket have a full color wraparound design featuring a scene from the film, plus there are 8 additional color plates of characters from the movie. These are publicity stills that have been colorized. On the downside, many of the Denslow illustrations have been dropped, and those that remain are printed in black and white.

The American version features a new dust jacket design, with artwork based on Denslow's illustrations. The endpapers are printed in sepia with stills of characters and scenes from the film. The interior is very much the same as the English version, but rather than the color plates of movie characters, there are still 8 two-color plates by Denslow. The English edition does seem to have tried harder!

Reilly and Lee come in a distant third with their efforts - the three titles produced are slightly over-sized with new cover designs by an anonymous artist. While the covers are colorful, I would prefer to have seen what John R. Neill might have come up with for new covers - after all, he had already re-designed several other Oz titles!


Scott Olsen said...

You should also note that Reilly & Lee purposely titled the Oz book for 1939 with "the Wizard of Oz" in the title: "Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz".

Bill Campbell said...

That's true - Reilly & Lee did their best to try and confuse the public into buying the 1939 Oz title by focusing on the "Wizard of Oz" title, and using a cover design featuring the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Wizard. I left that one out since it was the regular Oz title for the year, and not a reprint issued to tie in to the film.