Monday, September 09, 2013

Shanowerthon! Closing

Eric Shanower at the
2013 Winkie Convention
In the past several blogs in this series (though we did take an almost two-year break), I've looked at Eric Shanower's work for Oz, focusing on his new Oz stories. (To see them all, click on the "Eric Shanower" tag at the end of this blog or in the tag list over to the right.)

However, Eric has had one of the most insane careers for any modern Oz writer/artist. In addition to the illustration jobs I've mentioned, he's also produced a lot of artwork for the International Wizard of Oz Club to use for Christmas Cards and the like, as well as programs for many Oz events and conventions. The 2011 and 2013 program books for the Winkie Convention had new Shanower artwork for their front covers.

In 2008, Marvel Comics began their series of Oz adaptations with Eric on board as writer, faithfully adapting Baum's text and giving instruction to artist Skottie Young as to what is going on in each panel. When Eric was aware that Baum had expanded on his stories later (excerpts from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz appeared in L. Frank Baum's Juvenile Speaker with some rewriting, including bits of new dialogue), he wove them into the original story seamlessly. Dialogue from Baum's own adaptations of his works help fill the background in The Marvelous Land of Oz, and The Road to Oz even has a cheeky quote from the MGM film The Wizard of Oz rushed in. (When I noted it to Eric, he told me it was added after he'd seen Skottie's art.) The most notable change Eric made was slightly restructuring Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz to avoid the highly criticized deus ex machina. It is almost as if Eric gives Baum the writer's position and just serves as editor. Currently, a more or less compressed five-issue adaptation of The Emerald City of Oz is being printed by Marvel. It may or may not be the last of the Marvel adaptations.

After becoming the new publisher for his Oz graphic novels, IDW wisely got Eric to provide cover art for their comic book miniseries that served as a prequel for what was then the Dorothy of Oz movie and is now the yet-to-be released Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. The fact that this re-branding happened should be no slight to IDW or Eric.

Eric has also written several articles about Oz, his work in Oz, and given many presentations at Oz events over the years. He has an informative introduction in the Hungry Tiger Press editions of The Flying Girl and Her Chum. I could go on and on about Eric's work, but he's listed it all on his website in his complete list of credits.

About ten years ago, I remarked to my father that I had met Roger S. Baum (not one of my favorite Oz writers) and wondered if I might ever meet other writers of Oz stories, "like Eric Shanower." He replied that I would probably have to go to where they were. Well, less than ten years afterward, I got to meet Eric at the 2011 Winkie Convention. (I had attended the 2010 convention, but it had coincided with the San Diego Comic Con, and Eric and David Maxine had gone there instead.) I would say that we're friends now. Back when I was modifying Doctor Who action figures into Oz characters, I made one of Flicker and sent it to Eric. He thanked me and let me know that Flicker is part of his Oz collection now. (Given Flicker's tiny size at the end of Ice King, he joked that I'd started doing life size Oz figures.)

In counting Eric's original Oz stories (not including poems but including the short comic stories and the very short "The Two Peters"), the count comes to twenty-two. There are his five graphic novels, one prose novel, five short comic stories (only one of which is also drawn by him), and eleven short stories, several of which have been collected into a book. And don't forget that he's illustrated stories by all of the Royal Historians, including Oz books by Baum, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, Eloise McGraw, and even polishing John R. Neill's last Oz book for publication.

I'm not alone in saying that I'd like to see new Oz stories by Eric, and surely I'd like to see sequels or follow-ups to The Blue Witch of Oz and "Abby," but Eric has said that he doesn't really have the drive to do such an Oz story at the moment. Perhaps one day he will. But if he doesn't, I've decided that considering the body of Oz work he's already done, we should be happy with what we do have.

So, to Eric and his wonderful Oz work over the many years, I'd like to say a big "Thank you!"

1 comment:

ericshanower said...

You're welcome, Jared.