Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Craig's Bookshelf: Original Art of the Oz Books

I would love to own an original drawing or painting by John R. Neill or W.W. Denslow that appeared in one of the Oz books. Unfortunately, most of their art is out of my price range. Consider, for example, Denslow's illustration for the beginning of Chapter Four in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This pen and ink and pencil drawing of the Scarecrow and two Munchkins sold at auction by Swann Galleries on January 23, 2014, for $30,720 (including buyer's premium)!
Denslow drawing for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The asking price at Aleph-Bet Books for even a lesser piece like John R. Neill's pen and ink drawing of Queen Ann Soforth of Oogaboo, which is reproduced at the bottom of page 27 of Tik-Tok of Oz, is $6,250.00. 
Neill drawing for Tik-Tok of Oz

Here's the good news: it's possible to find original art within practically any collector's budget. And even the humblest piece will be rarer than the book. After all, each piece of original art is unique. And if you don't care whether the picture actually appeared in a book, then the possibilities are nearly endless.

As someone who is primarily interested in collecting books, I always keep in mind that any money I spend on art is money that's not available to purchase books. Even so, I am pleased to have acquired about a dozen pieces of original Oz art. The highlights of my collection are pieces by Michael Herring, Eric Shanower, Melody Grandy, Isabelle Melançon, and Joe Shipbaugh.

Herring study for The Giant Horse of Oz
The most important pieces I own are a pair of oil paintings by Michael Herring, who provided new cover art for the Del Rey paperback editions of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumly Thompson. The first is a small 8 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches oil study for the cover to Thompson's The Giant Horse of Oz, which was first published by Reilly & Lee in 1928 and later reissued by Del Rey in 1985. The second is the large 48 x 36 inches painting that was used for the actual cover. I get a kick out of the fact that the back of the smaller painting has Herring's handwritten notes from his communication with the editor Judy-Lynn del Rey: "background color - more yellow", "Horse at angle rearing", "face of horse animating". Sure enough, when you compare the study to the finished painting, you can see that Herring followed del Rey's directions exactly.

Herring's handwritten notes on the back of the study
I get an even bigger kick comparing the final painting to the published book cover.
Original Michael Herring painting & cover to The Giant Horse of Oz                    (not to scale)
Another fun item is my original comic book art by Skottie Young, who illustrated Marvel Comics' adaptations of the first six Oz books. This particular piece is from Issue #1 of The Marvelous Land of Oz. It depicts one of my favorite events in Oz history: the animation of Jack Pumpkinhead when the witch Mombi sprinkles him with the Powder of Life; Tip, who is spying on them, is so amused that he laughs out loud! This piece is ink/brush on Bristol board and measures 11 x 17 inches.

Original drawing by Skottie Young & page from the comic book (not to scale)

The text of the Marvel comics adaptations of the Oz books was written by Eric Shanower, who is an Eisner Award-winning cartoonist and illustrator in his own right. He has written and illustrated many Oz books and comics, and he's also a really nice guy! Many of his books are available from Hungry Tiger Press, which is owned and operated by his partner David Maxine. (Also a really nice guy!)
Eric Shanower inscription and sketch of the Shaggy Man on the front free endpaper of my copy of the Marvel Comics graphic novel The Road to Oz

Portrait of Dorothy Gale by Eric Shanower

I don't have any published art by Eric, but he did inscribe my copy of the Marvel Comics graphic novel The Road to Oz together with a sketch of the Shaggy Man. I also own a lovely unpublished drawing by Eric of Dorothy Gale. As you can see from the way he drew her, Eric's vision of Oz is strongly influenced by John R. Neill. This particular piece reminds me of the way Neill drew Dorothy in Ozma of Oz.

Melody Grandy's original drawing of Zim & Jinnicky
Next is a drawing from Zim Greenleaf of Oz, Book 3 of The Seven Blue Mountains of Oz, written and illustrated by Melody Grandy. Zim was issued by Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends, which publishes modern pastiches/apocrypha based on the Oz books. The drawing shows Zim being hugged by Jinnicky the Red Jinn.
Melody's drawing reproduced in the book

I have another original drawing from Namesake, a webcomic that is drawn by Isabelle Melançon and written by Megan Lavey-Heaton. Namesake also is available in book form. The drawing is the cover to Chapter 3 of Book 1 and shows Princess Ozma and another character from the Namesake alternate universe. (If you like Namesake, then you may want to check out the Spring 2013 Baum Bugle, since that issue showcases Isabelle's art in the inaugural column of "The Oz Illustrator.")
Original drawing for Namesake (left) & published version from Book 1 (right)
Finally, I'm sharing a couple of acrylic paintings that I commissioned from Joe Shipbaugh. They are portraits of the Scarecrow and Jack Pumpkinhead, and both measure 8 x 17 inches. Most of Joe's artwork is inspired by the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz. However, the characters in these two paintings are depicted as they appear in the 1985 Disney cult classic, Return to Oz.
Portraits of the Scarecrow and Jack Pumpkinhead by Joe Shipbaugh
Oh, and one more thing--if you enjoyed viewing the original art in this post, then I encourage you to see Bill Campbell's blog, The Oz Enthusiast. Bill and Irwin Terry own an amazing collection of Oziana, including original art by W.W. Denslow and John R. Neill, as well as many other rare and unusual items.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Visit to Laughing Valley

The day after Christmas, the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman visit the oldest friend of children in Laughing Valley, just across from the Land of Oz across from the Deadly Desert. Santa Claus is always fond of guests, even if he, Kilter, Nuter and Wisk have little time to visit, but the visitors from Oz understand and often lend a hand when they can.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Craig's Bookshelf: The Joy of Dust Jackets

As most collectors know, it can be a real challenge to find decent copies of old Oz and Baum books. Why? They often were loved to death by the original owner, then passed down to another owner to be loved to death all over again. Think about how many generations of children may have handled a George M. Hill first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz published in 1900 - more than 114 years ago.

If condition is important to you, then you may want to start looking for books in the original dust jackets. Books in dust jackets are often in excellent condition because the dust jacket protected the book from scratches and other damage. Dust jackets are fragile because they're made of paper, and prone to damage because they're on the front line of wear and tear from handling. If the jacket has survived, then the book was probably handled gently in the first place.
The third edition of The Wizard of Oz, published by M.A. Donohue & Co. circa 1913, is seldom found in this fine condition. The dust jacket (left) did its job protecting the book (right)!
Condition is the primary reason that I have set a goal of acquiring copies in dust jackets of as many of the original Oz and Baum books as possible. In addition to condition, I have another motive: sometimes the art on the jacket is different from the art on the cover. What's more, starting in the late 1950s, Oz books published by Reilly & Lee didn't have paste-down color labels, so the front covers are just plain cloth. If your book is missing the dust jacket, then there's no art on the front at all.
Without the DJ (left), this 1960 printing is very plain.

Fortunately it's not too difficult to find copies of the Oz books in dust jackets. Even though early printings by Reilly & Britton are rare, most titles were reprinted multiple - even many - times by Reilly & Lee, and as recently as the 1960s. Not so with L. Frank Baum's non-Oz books.

Take for example The Enchanted Island of Yew. There were two printings of the first edition by the Bobbs-Merrill Company in 1903. Bobbs-Merill reprinted the book circa 1906-8, and then again in the early 1920s. M.A. Donohue & Co. issued another printing in 1913. That's a total of five printings, the most recent of which came out over 90 years ago.

1913 Donohue Yew with & without the dust jacket.
I doubt I'll ever find a first edition Yew with its original dust jacket, but I do have the 1913 printing by Donohue. Not only is the book in gorgeous condition, but the dust jacket design is nearly identical to the first printing. In the world of dust jackets, it's the next-best thing.

In addition to the 1913 Donohue printings of Wizard and Yew, I also have the 1913 printing of The Magical Monarch of Mo. (You can see what it looks like in one of my previous blog posts.) I think it's highly unlikely that I'll ever have a complete set of jacketed 1913 Donohue printings of books by L. Frank Baum. They're that uncommon.

I've set a more realistic - but still difficult - goal of collecting all five of the Bobbs-Merrill 1920s printings of Baum's non-Oz titles in DJs, plus The Wizard of Oz. So far, I've found Dot and Tot of Merryland, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, The Enchanted Island of Yew, and The Wizard of Oz. My copies of Baum's American Fairy Tales and The Magical Monarch of Mo don't have DJs, so the hunt continues.
Bobbs-Merrill issued a uniform set of five non-Oz books by L. Frank Baum, plus The Wizard of Oz.

Another set of books that I've been lucky to find in dust jackets is the Snuggle Tales/Oz-Man Tales. Reilly & Britton published the first four titles - Little Bun Rabbit, Once Upon a Time, The Yellow Hen, and The Magic Cloak in 1916. It published the last
Snuggle/Oz-Man Tales (1916-20)
two titles, The Gingerbread Man and Jack Pumpkinhead in 1917. When Reilly & Lee reissued the books circa 1920, it renamed the series The Oz-Man Tales. I have five of the six Snuggle Tales in dust jackets. My Snuggle Tales copy of The Magic Cloak is missing the dust jacket, but I've compensated by acquiring a jacketed copy of the Oz-Man version. I'm still looking for a Snuggle Tales version in DJ to complete the set.

The Daring Twins of 1911, DJ (left) & cover (right)
I can't post pictures of all the books I have in dust jackets, but I'll show one more. In 1911 Reilly & Britton published L. Frank Baum's The Daring Twins. It was the first non-fairy tale that Baum published under his own name. Its sequel, Phoebe Daring, came out the following year in 1912. All of Baum's other non-fantasy stories for young people were published under pseudonyms, such as Edith Van Dyne, Capt. Hugh Fitzgerald, Floyd Akers, and Suzanne Metcalf. My copy of The Daring Twins is in the original dust jacket; my copy of Phoebe Daring is not. And, yes, the hunt continues.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Craig's Bookshelf: The Scarecrow of Oz

L. Frank Baum's The Scarecrow of Oz is the first Oz book that I read all by myself. It was a gift from my parents on my seventh birthday in 1974. I was in the second grade. (My mother believes it was The Patchwork Girl of Oz that I first read by myself, but that's not the way I remember it. While it's true that I had been reading since the first grade, I still enjoyed our shared ritual of her reading the Oz books to me at bedtime. The only problem was that sometimes she would read only one chapter per night. When she started reading Scarecrow, I was too impatient to stop at the end of a chapter, so I continued to read it by myself. I was off to the races!)
Inscription from my parents in 1974

The Scarecrow of Oz was my first introduction to two of my favorite characters, Trot and Cap'n Bill. The girl and old sailor were probably familiar to many of Baum's readers when Reilly & Britton published Scarecrow nearly 100 years ago on June 6, 1915. The two had many adventures together in Baum's "Borderlands of Oz" books, The Sea Fairies (1911) and Sky Island (1912). However, by the time I read Scarecrow in 1974, those books had gone out of print. (I bought those books a few years later when an Oz Club member advertised them for sale on The Oz Trading Post, which used to be a supplement to The Baum Bugle. Alas, the Post became obsolete in the age of the Internet and eBay.)
Trot and Cap'n Bill's adventures in Scarecrow begin when they are boating along the coast of California. They get sucked into a giant whirlpool and dragged underwater. Luckily, they are saved from drowning by some mermaid friends from the duo's adventures in The Sea Fairies:
"At first their fall was swift as an arrow, but presently they seemed to be going more moderately and Trot was almost sure that unseen arms were about her, supporting her and protecting her. She could see nothing, because the water filled her eyes and blurred her vision, but she clung fast to Cap'n Bill's sou'-wester, while other arms clung fast to her, and so they gradually sank down and down until a full stop was made, when they began to ascend again."
When Trot and Cap'n Bill come to their senses, they find themselves in an underwater cave and meet their first new friend, the Ork. As the story continues, they travel to the land of Mo and encounter the Bumpy Man and Button-Bright. While in Mo, they eat popcorn snow and drink lemonade rain. (Readers of The Magical Monarch of Mo will recall that land's edible and drinkable precipitation.) Along their way they meet the Scarecrow, and of course they eventually find themselves in Oz.
Left to right: 1st printing (1915), later printing with dust jacket (circa 1946), Popular Edition (1940), Roycraft edition (1959), white edition (1964)
Like so many of the Oz books, The Scarecrow of Oz was reissued multiple times in various formats before the book's publisher faded out of existence.

Color plate from the 1st printing
The earliest printings of Scarecrow were issued with twelve color plates. But only the first printing has an advertisement on the verso of the title page listing titles in the Oz series through The Scarecrow of Oz. That's the easiest way to identify a first printing by Reilly & Britton.

The second printing was issued two years later in 1917, and the verso of the half title page lists titles through The Lost Princess of Oz. When the third printing came out in 1918, the list of titles went through The Tin Woodman of Oz. Starting in 1919, the book was published by Reilly & Lee. Color plates were discontinued in 1934.
The first printing has an advertisement on the verso of the half title page listing titles in the Oz series through The Scarecrow of Oz

The 1940 "Popular Edition"
One of my favorite early variants of this title is the "Popular Edition" of 1940. This is a larger, thicker book with a new cover and dust jacket design by an unknown artist. This issue has only black and white illustrations (no color plates), and instead of being bound in cloth, it has paper-covered boards.

Library-style binding (mid-1940s)
In the mid-1940s Reilly & Lee came out with a sturdy library-style edition that was designed to better withstand heavy use and circulation. The front cover and spine were printed in black only.

Another interesting variant was issued in 1959. This book was bound in cloth, but there was no color label – or any art at all – on the front cover. Instead, it featured a new dust jacket design by "Roycraft." This was part of an effort by the publisher to modernize the look of the series.
1959 issue with Roycraft dust jacket
The last variant published by Reilly & Lee is the "white edition" of 1964. This book was issued with no dust jacket at all. The full-color art was printed directly on white cloth. The front cover was designed by Dick Martin, and the back cover is a simplified version of the color plate reproduced above, with the Scarecrow's head, grasshopper, and some foliage against a red background.
This is the white edition of 1964 that I received for my seventh birthday
For a detailed publishing history and bibliographic descriptions of early editions of The Scarecrow of Oz, see the revised and enlarged edition of Bibliographia Oziana, published by the International Wizard of Oz Club in 1988. Also see The Book Collector's Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz by Paul Bienvenue (2009). The latter book was my primary source in writing this blog post.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Craig's Bookshelf: The Magical Monarch of Mo (Part Two)

From left to right: Bobbs Merrill 1st printing, Donohue 3rd printing, & Variant B of Donohue 2nd printing
The first printing of the first edition of The Magical Monarch of Mo is apparently one of those books that is genuinely rare. Fortunately for collectors, it's also virtually indistinguishable from the other four printings, which means that owning a second through fifth printing may be a perfectly satisfactory solution for all but the most obsessive-compulsive collectors.

1st printing - Serified type, Upper- and lower-case letters
According to Paul Bienvenue's Book Collector's Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz, the key to distinguishing between the first five printings is to look at the typography of the printer's imprint, which is at the bottom of the copyright page. The publisher's imprint on the first printing is in serified type with upper- and lower-case letters.

2nd printing - Serified type, All-capital letters
The publisher's imprint on the second printing is in serified type with all capital letters. The publisher's imprint on the third through fifth printings is in three different configurations of san-serif type. I highly recommend Bienvenue's book to anyone who wishes to correctly identify their copy of this book since it reproduces all five imprints and tells you exactly what to look for. (See page 209.)

Color plate opposite page 6 of Mo.
I have not (yet) reached the point of obsessive compulsiveness where I feel the need to own all five printings of the first edition. I own copies of the first and second printings. I have the latter simply because for a long time I didn't know whether I ever would find a first printing. I would, however, like to acquire a fourth or fifth printing in order to add yet another variant to my collection. Instead of blue or green illustrated endpapers showing characters from Mo, these last two printings of the first edition have the orange and black endpapers designed by Fanny Y. Cory that were originally used as endpapers for The Enchanted Island of Yew. Interestingly, some early printings of Yew have the endpapers that were supposed to go with Mo. Both mix-ups can probably be explained by the fact that both books were first published around the same time in 1903; there probably was a supply of Yew endpapers on hand when Mo was being printed, and vice versa.

Starting in 1913, M.A. Donohue & Co. began printing low-priced editions of The Magical Monarch of Mo. The first Donohue printing is bound in light blue cloth and looks much like the first Bobbs-Merrill edition, however the title page imprint reads, "M.A. Donohue & Co."

The second Donohue printing has only eight color plates, and it comes in two variant bindings. Variant A uses the familiar light blue cloth, however Variant B is bound in green cloth. I am particularly pleased to own a copy of Variant B in the rare dust jacket.
Variant B of the Donohue 2nd printing, with & without dust jacket
Finally, there is a Donohue third printing; it is bound in the familiar light blue cloth, however the spine and front cover lettering is stamped in red. (This book is pictured at the top of this blog; it's the middle book in a row of three.)

In the early 1920s, Bobbs-Merrill reissued The Wizard of Oz and several other Baum books, including The Magical Monarch of Mo. These books are uniform with each other and feature new front cover color paper labels. The company reissued Mo again in 1947 in a completely new edition with illustrations by Evelyn Copelman. This is the only Baum book other than Wizard that Copelman illustrated. My copy of the Copelman Mo is in the original dust jacket. I recently acquired another Copelman Mo in a library binding.
From left to right: 1920s Bobbs Merrill, 1947 Copelman, Copelman library binding
Special thanks to Paul Bienvenue, author of The Book Collector's Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz and proprietor of March Hare Books. Without his help I would be completely clueless when it comes to identifying L. Frank Baum's non-Oz books.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Craig's Bookshelf: The Magical Monarch of Mo (Part One)

In 1903 the Bobbs-Merrill Company began reissuing several of L. Frank Baum's children's fantasies. The New Wizard of Oz was the new title for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was originally published in 1900 by the George M. Hill Company. Another title underwent a more radical change: A New Wonderland, published by R.H. Russell in 1900, became The Magical Monarch of Mo.

Although I've owned the book for years, I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I read Mo for the very first time less than a year ago. What a revelation! The whimsy and droll humor literally made me laugh out loud. It was a fresh and welcome reminder of Baum's genius for storytelling.

I recently took the opportunity to compare Mo and New Wonderland side by side. In addition to the title change, Baum made a few more alterations to the text. The most obvious change is that A New Wonderland takes place in the kingdom of "Phunnyland," whereas the latter book takes place in "Mo."
Many a Baum scholar has also noted that the name change was an obvious attempt to capitalize on the success of Wizard. Not only is Mo, like Oz, a monosyllabic word, but the structure of the title and alliteration of "Magical Monarch" clearly echoes "Wonderful Wizard."

The Magical Monarch of Mo is a shorter, thicker book than A New Wonderland, which surely was an effort to make it sit on the shelf uniform with Wizard. Bobbs-Merrill also changed the illustrations. For one thing it dropped the number of color plates from sixteen to twelve. Perhaps to compensate for the smaller number, the plates in Mo were printed in full color. One might argue that this was an improvement over the two-color versions in New Wonderland, although I happen to like the purple coloration of the original plates. Another change, which doubtless was an improvement, was the addition of numerous textual illustrations by Frank Ver Beck. Ver Beck's comical style perfectly complements the many absurd happenings in the story, such as when the Purple Dragon bites off the Magical Monarch's head. Imagine the scene - when the king returns home, the queen complains because she can't kiss her headless husband!

A New Wonderland is very hard to come by, but fortunately for collectors The Magical Monarch of Mo is easily acquired. What's more, it has its own unique publishing history, and there are multiple variants that can be fun to hunt for if one is so inclined. I'll take a closer look at some of these variants in the next installment of Craig's Bookshelf: The Magical Monarch of Mo (Part Two).

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Craig's Bookshelf: The Little Wizard Series

Some of the rarest of all the Oz books are the six titles published as the Little Wizard Series in 1913. L. Frank Baum's publisher Reilly & Britton aptly described these volumes as "Oz books in miniature." They measure just 7 by 5 1/2 inches and were released as part of a marketing push to promote the revival of Baum's most popular series.

Three years earlier the author had tried to end the series with The Emerald City of Oz, but his readers would have none of it. Unlike Baum's full-length Oz book, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, also published in 1913, each of the Little Wizard Series books was just 29 pages long. The books also were intended for a younger audience than the regular Oz books.

The titles are:

The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger
Little Dorothy and Toto
Tiktok and the Nome King
Ozma and the Little Wizard
Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse
The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman

Part of the reason these books are so scarce is that there was only one printing. (They were later reissued by Reilly & Lee as the "Little Oz Books with Jig-Saw Puzzles" in 1932, and then again as Jell-O booklets circa 1933. They are most commonly found as part of the Rand McNally Company's "Wonderland of Oz" series of 1939.)

One of the more unusual features of these books is that the text is printed in blue. Each volume has numerous color illustrations, including a two-page spread at the center of the book. I love Neill's artwork, which is why I am posting a couple of images of the two-page spreads for your eyes to feast on. (But keep reading, as there's more text below the illustrations.)

Another reason the original printings are scarce is that they are extremely fragile. The books are bound in paper-covered boards, which are not nearly as sturdy as the cloth bindings of the regular Oz books. Also, the text sheets are bound into the boards with staples. Combine these features with several generations of rough handling by small children and you can see why it's hard to find these books in decent condition a century after their publication. They are almost always missing chips of paper along the spines, and the text blocks are often detached.

Even though my own copies are in considerably better-than-average condition, at first I was literally afraid to handle them. It was just too easy for pieces of the brittle paper covering the spines to break off. That's why I sent the books to Sophia Bogle's Save Your Books for restoration. Here's what she did.

First, she stabilized the spines by covering them with extremely thin, color-matched rice tissue paper.

Second, she made polyester film covers for each of the books.

Third, she constructed a slipcase with two inset panels featuring art from two of book covers and a spine label designed by Marcus Mébès. There's also a ribbon pull, which makes it safer and easier to remove the books from the slipcase.

Needless to say, all the materials are archival quality and acid free. And the repairs to the books - using rice tissue and rice paste adhesive - can be reversed without doing any damage.

To the right is an image of the spine label. I'm really happy with the work that Marcus did. The spine is a kind of modified cover of The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, but with the name of the Little Wizard Series instead of the title of that particular book. Below the series title is a cropped version of that book's cover art showing the Scarecrow and Nick Chopper clasping hands. Then there's a list of the titles of all six books. The names of the author and publisher and the date of publication are all designed to emulate the look and feel of the books. The design elements are superimposed over an orangey-peach background that matches the cover of that title. Of course, the Little Wizard Series books were never actually issued with a slipcase (as far as anyone knows). Even so, I like to imagine that mine is a good approximation of what it could have looked like if there had been one.

I feel much better knowing that my precious little books are safely housed in this sturdy, beautiful slipcase that Sophia custom built for me!

Monday, December 01, 2014

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Duo December

Two new episodes of the podcast have finally been published!

Christmas 2014: Our Landlady

In this selection from L. Frank Baum's Our Landlady, Jared reads "She Fills the Colonel's Stocking and Talks of the Charity Ball" in which Mrs. Bilkins unveils a surprise for the Colonel.

The Movies of Oz: Cinar’s Oz Part 2

Jared and Sam continue their discussion of the Panmedia/Cinar Wonderful Wizard of Oz series, continuing with their Marvelous Land of Oz story arc.