Released in 1921, The Royal Book Of Oz was the 15th in the Oz series and originally credited as the last written by creator L. Frank Baum (he passed away in 1919). In reality, it was the first book in the series written by Ruth Plumly Thompson.
Clover Press is currently running a Kickstarter for a new edition featuring all-new illustrations by Eisner Award-winning artist Sara Richard. It will also feature an afterword by Eisner Award-winning artist and writer Eric Shanower.
The Royal Book Of Oz is the FIFTEENTH book in the Oz series and it’s the source material for The Return to Oz movie.
In 1920 William F. Lee, one of the partners of the Oz book’s publisher, approached Thompson to continue the Oz series. She eventually took over as the new “Royal Historian of Oz,” the “official” title of each writer of the Oz series. It wasn’t until the 1960s that Thompson was given credit and listed as the author of the book.
The Kickstarter features pledges where you can get pins, signed editions, art prints, a lunch box, and more. It runs until September 27 at 5pm EDT and already passed the halfway point of its $15,000 goal.
Both of L. Frank Baum’s classic Santa Claus tales are collected here: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and A Kidnapped Santa Claus, with with beautiful spot illustrations and cover art by Eisner Award-winning comics creator Eric Shanower.
HC • PC • $16.99 • 144 pages • 6” x 9” • ISBN: 978-1-63140-704-8
For the most part Grimm Fairy Tales has stayed pretty close to the source material when it has come to interpreting classic works of literature. There are often times some switches, such as making Pan into the villain, making Mowgli into a girl or turning Wonderland into a world of nightmares, but they mostly still contain the same characteristics of the world that was created by the writers of the classical fiction. When it comes to Oz though, the script gets changed somewhat. As the story of Oz is somewhat limited to only Dorothy’s journey along the yellow brick road, it could be said that there is a lot more which could be explored, but also in so doing, a lot more which could take it away from the original story. Such has been the case with Grimm Fairy Tales’ take on Oz. It has been related to the Baum’s work, but has deviated from it somewhat, changing Dorothy from simple farmgirl to sorceress in waiting, and changing the majority of the other characters from whimsical companions to scheming agents of their own prosperity.
Such is the setting for the final series of the trilogy of Oz which has gone way off the script, while also going somewhat away from the whimsy of the setting. Both the Warlord and Dorothy’s forces have decided that they have the advantage and have attacked one another. Although seemingly outmatched Dorothy also seems oddly at ease with the mismatch as she thinks that she has her own advantage. This plays out through a few different locales between both Dorothy and the evil witch, although more of the action focuses on Dorothy and the Warlord.
While this might not really feel like Oz, it equally does not mean that it is very bad either. Going off the script is fine if the creative team has a grasp on where it is going, and although this is not really a natural progression of Baum’s story, it still makes enough sense from a story telling standpoint. The second series in for Grimm Fairy Tales’ Oz was a lot more off the mark than this series, and while the denizens of Oz have never looked like this or acted like this, it is still an interesting enough tale with a couple of twists to keep things interesting.
Story: Jeff and Kristin Massey Art: Antonio Bifulco Story: 7.6 Art: 7.6 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read
As a boy growing up in an age of Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, Pokémon, and all the goodies of a late-20th century childhood, The Wizard of Oz just wasn’t an appealing film. I guess I was much more into little monsters stored in pokéballs or the rebirth of the Star Wars saga in my pre-teens than I was interested in Judy Garland and her ruby slippers. Yet, it would be hard to ignore the cultural impact of both the 1939 film and its children’s book predecessor by L. Frank Baum, who created one of the first truly American fairy tales for kids way back in 1900, and which spawned a Broadway hit musical in 1902 and 13 more books over the course of 20 years. In the U.S., Oz and its organ-deficient inhabitants are hot stuff.
The trade paperback I’m reviewing here is a magnificent, thoughtful Wild West re-envisioning of Baum’s world collecting issues #1 through #6 of Tom Hutchinson et al.’s The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West—Volume 1published by up-and-coming comic book collaborative Big Dog Ink (Shaharazad, Critter, Penny for Your Soul, etc.) and available for just $17.99.
This collection features an introduction written by a descendant of L. Frank Baum, in which he writes that The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West is one of the six great comic books in history—he doesn’t say what the other 5 are, but I was intrigued! After reading the intro., I turned the page and quickly began to gobble up this book.
The premise: Our Dorothy goes by Gale, her last name, and is a saucy, sharp-tongued, regular ole Annie Oakley, who’s been stuck in Oz for three years. Hutchinson follows his heart with the narrative, and poses some interesting questions, like why didn’t people steal the golden bricks off the Yellow Brick Road? Well in this Oz, they did, and that’s primarily why Gale hasn’t found her way to the Emerald City yet! Along the way Gale meets with flying gorillas who can transfigure into humans, she gets into bar fights, joins up with a heartless lawman (Tin Man), a straw-stuffed magic puppet who looks like Pocahontas (Scarecrow), and a lion in drag (The Cowardly Lion). Also, Toto’s a horse.
Naturally, there’s a Wicked Witch of the West, who ‘s drawn like one of the creepiest hags I’ve ever seen inhabit the panels of a comic, and she is wont to pontificate on her evil glory, showcasing some of Hutchinson’s best writing in the book. Gale’s ruby slippers are replaced with ruby sidearms, and the two go toe-to-toe in a truly Western shootout. It’s been a while since I read a real page turner, not totally sure of where the writing was going or what shocking artistic reveal would let me further explore the new Oz, but The Legend of Oz: The Wicked Westdid more than deliver.
As noted, Hutchinson is a talented, at times poetic, writer, and he’s a nice man, too (I had the chance to meet him and purchase this TPB at Emerald City Comicon a few months back). And while Alisson Borges (a man) and Kate Finnegan’s artwork isn’t the most inventive, it certainly brings Oz to life, working wonders with panel layout, green shading, and inventive character design (like I said, that Witch! And the Cowardly Lion is a charmer).
Big Dog Ink probably isn’t in your comic book scope, but they should be, and if you haven’t explored this Western version of Oz yet, I would highly recommend purchasing this TPB or subscribing to the current on-going series, Volume 2. I’ve got a whole stack of Volume 2 issues at home just waiting to be read, and I already know it will be an adventure as a fun as the first.
Story: Tom Hutchinson Art: Alisson Borges and Kate Finnegan Story: 9 Art: 7.75 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Each year the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards ceremony recognizes the best and brightest creators for their contributions to the comics industry. Marvel is pleased to congratulate Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Skottie Young, Eric Shanower, and Todd Klein who all took home an award from the 2011 ceremony held during Comic Con International in San Diego, this past weekend.
Marvel creators earned Eisner Awards for the following:
Best Short Story – “Post Mortem,” by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, in I AM AN AVENGER #2
Best Adaptation from Another Work – THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young
Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team – Skottie Young (THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ)
Best Lettering – Todd Klein (S.H.I.E.L.D)
Marvel would also like to congratulate all the other nominees and winners at the 2011 Eisner Awards.
If you haven’t checked out these award winning stories, head on out to your local comic shop and pick up these great collections!