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

Sunday, March 12, 2023


The Wogglebug Book is one of L. Frank Baum’s rarer and lesser known efforts. The 1905 book is controversial today due to examples of stereotypical ethnic humor, which was popular at the time. As is often the case, some of the illustrations provide as much offense as the language. However, the story is typical of Baum nonsense, with the title character falling in love with a wildly patterned fabric, and his various attempts to secure it for his own.

The Wogglebug was introduced in the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, and Baum was clearly fond of the character. The insect is highly magnified and thoroughly educated, which gives him the stature of a man as well as a liking for long words, and a distressing fondness for bad puns. He became the title character in Baum’s attempt to stage the second Oz book, as The Wogglebug. However, the production did not achieve the success of The Wizard of Oz on stage, and faded into obscurity.

The character's activity in the book series is rather limited after this point. As the founder of the College of Art and Athletic Perfection, he presides as Professor Wogglebug. Learning is achieved through the use of school pills, which leaves the students free to concentrate on athletics. Perhaps his debacle on the stage cooled Baum’s enthusiasm for the big insect!

This book was an adjunct to Baum’s 1904 - 1905 Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz comic page. In a twist on the formula of Americans visiting Oz, in the comic page the Oz inhabitants come to America. The Wogglebug Book continues this theme, with the oversized bug living in a large American city.

In spite of its defects, the large book is quite decorative and illustrated in full color on every page. The drawings were by Ike Morgan, who had previously provided some illustrations for Baum’s earlier title American Fairy Tales. At one time Morgan shared a studio with W. W. Denslow, and there are some similarities in the style of their work. Although the illustrations are printed in color, the original drawings are plain pen & ink. Color was added by the printers, based on indications by the artist. The drawing below still has its original overlay, to help with color placement.

There were two distinct bindings; the first has a green tone to the background of the front cover, and the second is a pale yellow. It’s interesting to note that the blue ink used on the first binding is brighter than that used on the second. This provides much brighter green accents on the Wogglebug’s coat, and a more colorful image.

I blogged about my dislike of paper spines on books a couple weeks ago. This book has a fabric spine, but the covers are stiff paperboard - which, combined with the large format of the book, makes it very prone to deterioration. Most copies found today have covers that have suffered damage in the form of bends, tears, missing chunks and broken corners. Consequently, many have been repaired, as have the two copies shown above.

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