Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Bradford Exchange reprints Oz #2

This is a bit late, but I did get the second volume in the Bradford Exchange reprint series of Oz books.

This time, they didn't stick strictly to the original edition (which makes me continue to question the nasty errors left in their Wonderful Wizard). According to Bill Campbell, in the very first printing, unlike later ones, the title on the front cover did not have a silver outline. The interior is from a later printing, which corrected some errors.

Unlike the Books of Wonder edition, they used the original endpapers showing Jack Pumpkinhead, Tip and the Woggle-Bug cheering on the Sawhorse as he draws a wagon bearing the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, but these two famous Oz characters are represented by Fred Stone and David Montgomery in a hybrid of John R. Neill art and photography. (Apparently Books of Wonder thought it would be confusing.)

To be honest, without reading the book all the way through, the interior looks great with crisp and clean text and line art. However, I noticed the color plates are not so great. They don't look properly aligned.

You might say "Well, the printing at the time wasn't so great, so..." Reilly & Britton, even in their first major book, were not sloppy. This might not be the greatest scan, but here is the frontispiece from at least an early edition. (This is from Google Books.)

Despite the rough shape this one is in, you can see the colors stay in place. If correcting the text was such a priority they used a later printing's version, why not the color plates? The Books of Wonder edition prints them perfectly. I honestly wish I could replace the color plates in the Bradford Exchange edition with the Books of Wonder plates. For a volume that costs over twice the price of that edition, I think we should be expecting the best. Yes, the Books of Wonder edition isn't an exact facsimile, but in the reproduction of color plates, it comes out on top. However, I do love the Bradford binding on this one.

Now, this shipment in this collection" comes with the first of three Oz bookends. This one depicted the Wicked Witch of the West and a Winged Monkey. I thought the Monkey looked great, but the Wicked Witch looked like a typical storybook witch, complete with green skin. She doesn't resemble Denslow's Wicked Witch at all (she has both eyes), nor does she resemble MGM's. (Neill drew the Witch's head in the endpapers of The Road to Oz, and she follows Denslow's design.) I went ahead and sold her to a fan who wanted it. When I get the others, he's interested in them, too.

They say these bookends are free, but considering (without shipping and the price rounded to the nearest dollar for each installment) that the set costs $720 broken into several installments, I'd highly suspect that the cost is amortized into that amount. (If you're interested, rounding each installment to the next dollar, the shipping adds another $105.)

I wish Charles Winthrope & Sons would stop fooling around and just give us a standard version of each one. Wonderful Wizard's alteration in adding a new page to it and this hybrid Marvelous Land makes their claim of "exact replicas" inaccurate already. And their reproductions of the color plates have been less than stellar. I begin to dread what we'll see in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz and The Emerald City of Oz in which Neill created beautiful paintings instead of colored full page illustrations.

Should I complain about the plates or would that just make me seem like a whiner?

1 comment:

saintfighteraqua said...

I don't think you sound like a whiner.
I am very appreciative of your review.
I'll be skipping these, I've seen the book ends and the witch is very generic and not at all Ozzy.
I have the BoW editions, I'm happy with them in spite of the inaccuracies and omissions.