Monday, May 14, 2012

Tales of the Wizard of Oz - The Comic Book

Well, I now have a very old comic book in my Oz collection. However, I knew what it was like a long time ago due to finding a digital version online. So, I won't actually be showing you scans of my copy since it's a 50 year-old comic book and I already have a full set of scans.

This 32-page comic book was based on the TV series by Videocraft (later known as Rankin-Bass), and adapted many of the early episodes into a long story very loosely based on Baum's book.

Of course, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion are named Socrates, Rusty, and Dandy respectively. They're going to see the Wizard to ask for a brain, heart, and courage, and he orders them to plant some Ruby Rutabaga seeds that will get Rusty a heart somehow. When they try to, the Wicked Witch of the West whips up a whirlwind to ruin their plans, but Dandy is determined to try again, but the whirlwind deposits him in a tree with Dorothy and Toto.

Dorothy and Toto aren't introduced properly, I note. They join Dandy on his way back to the Emerald City. The dialogue isn't quite as funny as it was on the show:
DANDY: This, my dear is the Land of Oz. It's part of no other country but itself. I'm sure, Miss, that there is no one here who has ever heard of Kansas.

DOROTHY: Do you mean, Lion, that there is no road from Oz to Kansas that Toto and I can take?

DANDY: The only road that you poor ones can take is the road to the Wizard, himself. There is nothing that the wonderful Wizard can't do. If Kansas is really where you want to be... I'm certain he can arrange it. I'm on way to see him, too... So won't you come along?
 However, the Wicked Witch comes along to cause more trouble, and once Dorothy manages to get her back on her broom and away, they are plagued by Munchkins before arriving back at the Emerald Ci... Palace.

Here, the Wizard tries to send Dorothy home through a magic box, but it turns out to be a waste of time and lands Dorothy right back in the palace where the Wizard and Dandy have stepped out to take a walk and she meets Socrates. The Wizard and Dandy shortly return and the Wizard dives into his hat to get Socrates a brain.

However, the Wizard returns instantly and says his brain collection is missing, and Munchkins swarm out of the hat. It SAYS they leave, but the panel before that shows them walking into Dandy's mouth for some reason. It looks more like Dandy ate them!

After this, they all jump into the Wizard's hat for ... no reason whatsoever. This just wastes a couple pages as they fall back to the palace.

Dorothy begins to wonder how she'll get home, and Rusty arrives demanding his heart, and the Wizard makes him inflate a balloon.

Notice on this page how the characters change size. On panel 2, Dorothy looks HUGE and you'd think it'd be because of distance until you note the floor tiles. On panels 4 and 5, Rusty looks like a midget, then on panel 6, he gets taller.

The balloon carries off the throne with Dorothy and Rusty on it, but the Witch flies on her broom and breaks the balloon, making it land back in the palace.

And now for the creepy thing, it's actually hinted that the Wizard doesn't want her to go home... read the below page.

Overall, this story worked better when it was a series of less-connected cartoons. Some of the flourishes take it from surreal and silly to just plain making no sense, and with less humor than the cartoon, it doesn't really work. Also, Toto talks while he never did in the cartoon.

A big inconsistency lies in the coloring: in the cartoon, Socrates, Rusty, and Dandy were each one color. Socrates was a dingy yellow, Rusty was white (which is maintained here), and Dandy was orange. Dandy has a different color for his mane and Socrates has a flesh colored face, which makes him look weird. The Wicked Witch is blue in this comic, while she was green in the cartoon. Toto was white in the cartoon, here he's brown. Dorothy's hair was orange in the cartoon, instead of blonde as in the comic. The Wizard also wore all blue in the cartoon.

The inside and back covers talk about myth and "history" about witches and wizards and magic.

Overall, if you can find this for a good deal (I bought it finding it on eBay for under $20) and you collect Oz comics, go for it! If you're not so big into comics, be choosy. And if you're really not into picking up old comics, give it a pass.


darkmark said...

Actually, there are some elements in this comic that wouldn't be out of place in Alan Moore's PROMETHEA. Whoever wrote it apparently did some research about magic. I don't know enough about it to comment but can recognize a few images, like either a kabbalah or chakra diagram...and the last page, which the GCD labels nonsensical, mentions reading between the lines of the comic. Given some of the symbolism, it isn't nonsensical at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jared! Thanks for your review of this comic. I was actually looking into buying it these days. I do have one question please. So this comic was a 1-issue kind of thing instead of a monthly comic series?

CarlitOZ (also from the Royal forum)

Jared said...

Yes, it was just this one issue.