The other day, I found a most unusual item at the local auction I occassionaly attend. It was a stack of Children's Digest from 1952-54 with many good issues. One particular issue was a January 1953 edition with a wonderful cover illustration.
As one who loves OZ and all it represents, seeing this brought a great joy to my heart and drove away all tensions and stress which had invaded my Mojo.
I won't pretend to know everything there is to know about previous illustrations by William Wallace Denslow (who by the way WAS born on my birthday of May 5 and has his middle name as my last name), and John R. Neill, as well as Evelyn Copelman, whose illustrations are featured in this particular children's magazine.
If you want a more detailed analysis from people far more knowing than I, check out Jarad Davis' blog; The Royal Blog of Oz
His insight is particularly good and his recent work with podcasts show much promise in bringing Oz into a new realm.
Another very good site for loads of info about Oz illustrations is the Daily Ozmapolitan
For all your daily OZ needs, it's the Daily Ozmapolitan... Hmmm, that sounded like a commercial.
Anyway, I'm no expert. I just know what I like and I like OZ in any form I can find it.
This particular magazine has a very nice cover featuring the 5 main characters of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This illustration is done by Gyo Fujikawa, who is listed in Wikipedia as a prolific illustrator of children's books.
Wikipedia describes her style as such: "Her paintings of children are recognizable for round happy faces, rosy cheeks and simple dot eyes." Looking at the cover of this 1954 magazine, one can clearly see her style represented in Dorothy. She depicts the classic characters of Oz in a very traditional manner in keeping with the original descriptions found in Baum's tale. The Emerald City is shown as a castle-like way, also as Baum might have envisioned it. Oddly enough, Dorothy is not wearing the Silver Slippers, but red shoes. Perhaps this is in response to the influence of the movie. This effect does show up in the inner story, which is illustrated by Evelyn Copelman, a well-known and respected Oz illustrator.
I almost wish Fujikawa had been the main illustrator for the rest of the story, as it were. I have no problem with Copelman's work as she has proven her worth time and again. I just believe that Fujikawa's vision would have served Oz well in this particular setting.
Moving on to the title page, we discover that this is a serialized, 4-part printing, with parts 2-4 appearing in consecutive issues.
This title page appears in all 4 issues with updates on the progress of the story appearing in following issues. Looking at the bottom of the page reveals the copyright provenance of this adaptation.
Now we see the influence of the movie as The Scarecrow is represented by Copelman as looking very much like Ray Bolger. Turns out his real name was Raymond Wallace Bulcao. Once again, another coincidence with his middle name being my last name.
Is this your doing Princess Ozma? If so, MAGICIAN OF OZ thanks you warmly.
Copelman is briefly mentioned in Wikipedia during Denslow's discussion but has no page of her own. Seems like a project for some Ozophile who appreciates her work.
The first page begins the story and carries the title "Dorothy's Strange Journey." Copelman's depiction of the tornado and Dorothy's house gives us the impression of the bleak, stark landscape of the Kansas prairie. The colors are very earth-tone and drab, much like Baum's description of turn-of-the-century Kansas.
The next two pages continue the bleak and drab colors of Kansas and Dorothy appears much as we would expect from Baum's description... Toto too!
Moving on, Dorothy now finds herself in Oz and the theme of green pops up, giving us a sense that she is no longer in the drab, bleak world of the Outside.
In the next two pages, the movie's influence become quite pronounced as Copelman combines visions of the crepuscular rays seen in the B/W segment of the Kansas skies with the cornfield and wooden fence segment of Dorothy's introduction to The Scarecrow.
As we continue on to the following two pages, once more The Scarecrow is shown nearly identical to Ray Bolger's characterization in the movie. The Tin Man seems to be less like Jack Haley's character and more like Baum's description.
In these final two pages of part one of this four part series, we see all three characters of Oz who join Dorothy on her journey to The Emerald City. Once more, the influence of the movie shows up as The Scarecrow remains more like Ray Bolger while The Cowardly Lion resembles Baum's original vision, as well as The Tin Man.
For reasons not understood by myself, Evelyn Copelman chose to emulate the movie's characterization of The Scarecrow while adhering to Baum's ideals regarding Dorothy, Toto, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion. Perhaps in those days, The Scarecrow was a far more loved character than the rest? Perhaps Copelman just liked him more than the others? I know not...
Another interesting point is the magazine itself. The editors make a note in the inner cover of point out the following:
"Children's Digest is printed on what is known as 'eye-ease' tinted paper. This light green paper is easier on the eyes than white or any other tinted paper"
The color now is faded and the paper takes on a more brown tint now, due primarily to age. It is an interesting note to how publishers approached children's publications back then.
In my next posting, we move on to part three. Why, you may ask? Well, when I recieved the gift of these issues, part two was missing. You can well imagine my joy of discovery then being diminished by the agony of the missing issue. Oh well...
I was hoping part two might include the story of the Queen of the Field Mice. I always feel like she get's the raw end of the deal in the movie, which fails to display her influence on Dorothy's journey. Fortunatley in MAGICIAN OF OZ, the Queen of the Field Mice and her subjects get their due and proper acknowledgements.
It is, after all, her party that the young magician, Jamie Diggs runs into while entering OZ.