Monday, May 29, 2006

My latest Oz readings

I have a pair of vintage reprints to report on today. They were both short, and I used them to break up the long stretches I've been reading other books. First up is Walt Spouse's comics adaptation of The Emerald City of Oz, as reprinted by Hungry Tiger Press. This was originally part of a daily comic strip, "The Wonderland of Oz," published in the early 1930s. Hungry Tiger Press had already reprinted earlier adaptations of The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, and Emerald City in the Oz-Story anthology, but this is the first time one whole story has been together in one volume. It looks good, and they've already promised that they'll do more. Spouse definitnely takes his inspiration from John R. Neill, as some of his pictures are pretty direct copies of Neill's originals. Yet Spouse also adds nice little touches of his own. I especially liked how Dorothy and Ozma both look like they were drawn in the 1930s (which, of course, they were). Curiously missinng from the story was the Shaggy Man, but since his part was so small in the original, he wasn't missed. Since Spouse never got to adapt The Road to Oz, I guess the Shaggy Man never made it to Oz in the comic strip. But I wonder how Spouse handled the role of Shaggy in his adaptations of The Patchwork Girl of Oz (maybe the Scarecrow came in much earlier?) and Tik-Tok of Oz. Oh, well. I'll find out when Hungry Tiger reprints those.

The other book I decided would be especially appropriate to read today to celebrate Memorial Day: L. Frank Baum's The Navy Alphabet, recently reprinted by Applewood Books. This is not one of Baum's stronger books, by any means, but he does celebrate America's men at sea in his own special way. The real prize here, however, is the pictures by Harry Kennedy. This is a nice example of a turn-of-the-century picture book, and it's just great to see this very rare and unusual Baum book reprinted. So, Applewood, any plans to also reprint its companion book, The Army Alphabet?

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