And Then I Read: THE BAUM BUGLE Vol. 53 No. 3

baumbugle53-3

© The International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc.

It’s kind of unfair to review this, as you have to join The International Wizard of Oz Club to get it. I’ve been a member since the late 1970s, which means I’ve received and read about 100 issues of the Bugle, and I still enjoy them and find they have new insights and things to say about the Oz books by L. Frank Baum and others, as well as all things Oz, like movies, TV shows, books, sound recordings, and so on. If Oz interests you, it’s well worth joining.

This issue focuses on “The Road to Oz,” the fifth book in the original series by Baum. Unlike all the others, this one did not come with color plates. Instead, all of artist John R. Neill’s drawings were printed in black and white (except the dust jacket) on a variety of different colored papers, meant to represent the different color themes of particular regions of Oz. I always thought that was a cool idea, and I finally found an early edition on the colored paper. It’s kind of a novelty trick, and I was a little disappointed to see that the colors of the paper don’t correspond perfectly to the areas of Oz the text is about, but it is clever. Later editions dropped the paper colors to cut costs, and Neill’s pictures only saw print in color once in a Rand McNally junior edition, which is what the cover of the magazine is taken from.

If you’re a fan of Neill’s art, the lead article features “Hidden Details” in the art for this book, many of which I had never noticed. There are also some interesting errors, as where Jack Pumpkinhead appears in the Emerald City’s royal palace illustrations a day before he arrives there in the text. Plus there are contemporary reviews of the book when first published.

Then there’s an article by Peter Maresca on his lavish Sunday Press reprinting of Oz comic strips from the early years of the 20th century, primarily one called “Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz.” As a long time reader of the Bugle, I’ve seen all those strips, but the Sunday Press edition reprints them in color and at the original huge size, and it’s a stunning book which I’d like to buy someday.

judy Bieber and Eric Shanower (known to many for his comics work) both review a recent book about Oz and Baum by Evan Schwartz, and basically rip it to shreds. Not a book I’ll be reading!

And another article I enjoyed greatly is one by Paul Bienvenue on how collecting rare books has been impacted by the internet. Sadly, the days of finding great treasures in dusty old used book stores are pretty much over, but online treasures can now be found, and much easier.

A fine issue, as most are, and highly recommended.

One thought on “And Then I Read: THE BAUM BUGLE Vol. 53 No. 3

  1. Eric Gimlin

    Well, strictly speaking, Ozma of Oz and Patchwork Girl of Oz didn’t come with plates, either. They actually had color artwork throughout the book and are just gorgeous. I’ve never seen a color page copy of Road to Oz, though; and probably won’t pay the money to get one since it’s my least favorite of Baum’s Oz books and probably my least favorite of the whole Famous Forty. I think that’s partly because when I first read it in the 70’s as a kid it had all sorts of references to stories I never found copies of until a few years ago, but I can point to major plotting problems as well..

    I bought the Queer Visitors book with some Amazon Gift Cards from Christmas; it’s an absolutely stunning book even if the material is largely of interest to hardcore Oz fans. Storage is a pain, though: it’s HUGE.

    I really do need to join IWOC for the Bugle subscription if nothing else.

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