Wednesday, May 27, 2009

John R. Neill - An Appreciation - Volume 7

In earlier entries in my series of John R. Neill appreciation blogs, I've mentioned Neill's work as a staff illustrator for Reilly & Britton. I'm happy to finally share some of my own examples of his work with you.

The oldest Oz-related book I own is a copy of Rab & His Friends from "The Children's Red Book" series. The book was found in my grandfather's collection, but it actually belonged to his brother. I found the book on the ground outside, as it must have fallen out of a box we were taking to our garage after grandpa Davis' death. I noticed the artwork on the cover and thought, "That looks like John R. Neill's work..." I carefully opened the book and was delighted to find that it was indeed illustrated by Neill, and published by Reilly & Britton.

The series was called the Children's Red Books for their red covers. Of course, over time, the color faded.

This page for the series features a girl who looks very familiar. Apparently, Neill enjoyed drawing this type of girl.

Except for the standard line art, the illustrations were done in the format as shown below.

Each of the books featured two stories, the second was called J. Cole. Many times, there would be a two-page spread with just two illustrations on the pages.

This is the only thing I have to date the book by. I figure it's 100 years old now, as The Road To Oz is listed as the only Baum book of the year.

The rest of the back matter was an advertisement for the Twinkle Tales by Laura Bancroft (who was really L. Frank Baum, using a pen name), and the Christmas Stocking Series, each volume with an introduction by, you guessed it, L. Frank Baum.

To see all of my scans from this book (some are a little crooked and a little blurred in the middle), please follow this:
Rab & His Friends


Miriam said...

That illustration looks EXTREMELY familiar! I am almost certain that Neill (or some later publisher) reused that image in an Oz book!

Miriam said...

Thank heavens for Photobucket! When I found the picture in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, it was as easy as uploading it! Since the book had come out before this one, I'm inclined to believe that they appropriated this drawing for the red book, not even bothering to omit Eureka in the corner, poring over books and wearing a ridiculous lorgnette! The reason why Dorothy is swamped with letters is because this picture accompanied the Historian's customary letter to his readers. Anyway, without further ado (and with too much already passed) here is the picture-

Jared said...

I just checked, and the illustration was not used in the original edition of "Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz," but I do remember it (and some of Neill's other line art for this series) being used in the Del Rey reprints.

Miriam said...

Interesting. But it looks a little bit too much like Dorothy to be just a style. Do you think this might have been cross-advertising?