Monday, April 05, 2010

The latest Oz reading

My sister-in-law picked up a heavily-illustrated alternate history book at the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, and she let Laura and me borrow it. Good thing, too, as she had discovered an Oz connection. Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett is the story of a mechanical man invented towards the end of the nineteenth century, and the adventures of his creator and him as they intersect with history. One of the first public appearances by Boilerplate was at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. One of the people Boilerplate met was a young journalist named L. Frank Baum, who went on to use Boilerplate as a template for a character in one of his later books. Yup, according to the pseudohistory of this book, the Tin Woodman was inspired by a real robot. (Although not mentioned, I also like to think Boilerplate also was an inspiration for Tik-Tok.) There is even a picture in the book of Boilerplate meeting Baum, as illustrated by "contemporary" artist Eric Shanower. Fun stuff! I just read the chapter on the Exposition, but the rest of the book looks interesting, too.

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