Once again, I found myself perusing the shelves of our local Goodwill, looking for stuff. I love finding stuff and our local Goodwill is always a haven for the wierd and unusual, be it religious icons, rare and unusual books, or great vintage clothing.
So it was that I was flipping through a stack of 33 1/3 LP albums when I ran across a most welcome sight. For those of you who may be a bit young, 33 1/3 LP albums were once called records and used to be the medium of choice for great music and such. Nowadays, no one plays them much anymore. Even my grandkids have no idea what they are. I still play them though and about once a week or so, I pull out my old Beatles albums and remember days of old. I happened to find a great album of harmonica music, which I get a kick out of, and saw a song on it called "Helter Skelter." Turns out it is not the Helter Skelter I thought it was.
Anyway, I ran across a great children's album called "Read n Hear" and includes a book and record. There on the cover were three stories including the 3 Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and.... (drum roll please)... The Wizard of OZ!
Since my scanner is a standard size and the album cover and booklet is a bit larger than what my scanner bed will hold, I'll be posting the images in sets with two (2) per page. For the cover, I'm just posting the Oz part.
I see on the cover that the cover artwork was done by George Peed while no artist credit is given for the interior booklet artwork. I'm fairly certain that the artwork for the other two stories on this album/booklet were done by other artists as the styles are signifigantly different. This album set was produced by Peter Pan Records, New Jersey. No year is given for this, either on the album, booklet or cover/jacket. I would be curious to figure out when it was produced.
As you can see, the four main characters of Oz are represented in a very stylized manner with some very nice vibrant colors. Dorothy seems to be wearing a purple gingham dress and seems a bit older than we are normally used to. She also has blonde hair (see, I used the feminine form), as is depicted in the original story. Otherwise, The Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and The Cowardly Lion are represented well. The Yellow Brick Road looks accurate and the Emerald City is once again shown as a castle with a bit of a purplish tone this time.
As we look inside and pull out the booklet, we come to the front page which features all three stories cover art.
It becomes immediatly apparent that the album cover art and the booklet cover/interior art were done by two different artists. I've seen this effect before and I'm not sure why it occurs. You would think publishers of these things would want continuity of imagery.
Anyway, as we examine the characters, Dorothy now has black hair and Toto appears for the first time. Dorothy's dress is no longer gingham but is now an orange top with a red apron and a blue ankle-length skirt. She also has on a nice pair of shoes which seems out of place for a dirt-poor Kansas farm girl. The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman are done appropriately and don't seem out of place though. Toto too...
We turn several of the pages to get past the Three Little Pigs story (hmm. roasted pork...) and find the story of The Wizard of Oz ready to go.
I decided to listen to the album and found it to be very well done. It starts out with two very pleasant songs. The story mentions that Dorothy lived with her Aunt Em. No mention of Uncle Henry. The artwork is very nice and the storm is depicted fairly well. As one who teaches Weather & Climate, I did notice that the tornado is referred to as a cyclone, which is technically correct but can be a bit misleading. Cyclones are considered to be any type of weather feature which rotates, be it a mid-latitude cyclonic storm front, dust devil, water spout, tornado or even a hurricane. I do take issue with the amount of lightning shown. During an actual tornado, there is actually very little, if any lightning. Also, the funnel cloud is drawn in vertical lines instead of horizontal hash marks indicating rotation. We see several chickens flying about and it makes me wonder which one is Billina.
In the bottom half of the panel (parts 3 & 4), the storm is still a bit inacurate and Dorothy apparently falls down, unconscious. I always though she fell asleep waiting for the house to come down.
Moving on to page two (parts 5-7), Dorothy is confronted by The Munchkins, who are depicted in a somewhat cherubic manner but it seems to work well within the story art. Another song follows describing The Magnificent Wizard of Oz. Dorothy's shirt now has a more yellowish appearance.
As we complete page two, we see The Yellow Brick Road leading down to introduce us to The Scarecrow and The Tin Woodman. The Scarecrow looks like he's wearing a buttercup flower for a hat. I wonder if the crow he is looking at is Corvus, the Head of The Messenger Crows?
The Tin Woodman is shown sitting down, which again goes contrary to the actual storyline. Another song by The Scarecrow as we head over to page three (parts 8-11).
Here we see a repeat of the cover art as The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, Dorothy and Toto make their way through The Great Forest along The Yellow Brick Road. The Tin Woodman's song follows and we move on to the next page.
At last, we meet The Cowardly Lion and it seems he's got vision problems. I'm not sure why but the artists chose to give The Cowardly Lion a set of specs. Another song follows by The Cowardly Lion. We see him standing in front of a small patch of flowers but in the storyline, the Field of Poppies are not mentioned. In fact, the story then moves along to their arrival at the Gates of The Emerald City. And who does not even get a mention in this story? Who else... The Queen of the Field Mice and her subjects. Their part in the story is once more ignored for whatever reasons. Why am I not suprised.
Another turn of the page (parts 12-15) and we finally see The Wizard of Oz (great mustache) and the Emerald City. I rather like the look of the Wizard and the Emerald City although I should point out something that struck me as somewhat odd. I noticed that the Munchkin City and the Emerald City had buildings that were nearly identical and had the look of a fallus symbol. I'm wondering if this was a design thing the artist snuck in when no one was looking. I should know since, as Planetarium Educator for SpaceQuest Planetarium, I had an artist who did the same thing and made the aliens in my story resemble female breasts and genetalia. I didn't notice until the show was up and running and there was nothing I could do about it.
Another character that finally shows up is the Wicked Witch of the West. Oddly enough, no mention of the destruction of the Wicked Witch of the East is made in the beginning of the story. Here she, The Wicked Witch of the West is shown with two eyes, which is yet another departure from ther original storyline. She also has Vulcan ears, which seems kinda wierd. The Flying Monkeys make an appearance and they look very good. The Witch's castle also looks very menacing and remote.
Another song by Dorothy appears here and is as nice as the others.
As we finally reach the last page (parts 16-19), we watch as the Wicked Witch is destroyed by Dorothy, leaving only her Silver Shoes, which Dorothy immediately put on. I really like the artwork of the Witch's demise, although again, the storyline is not quite accurate. The spider in the corner is a nice touch. Perhaps one of Charlotte's children?
Another inaccuracy is the Wizard's speech about brains, heart and courage. In the last piece of artwork, Kansas is shown as a bright, colorful land. I suppose with Dorothy's return, everything got better. One final song and the story is finished.
Overall, the content of the recording along with the very nice artwork combine to make for a decent retelling of the story. I'm not sure why some inaccuracies were allowed although I'm certain there were issues with getting the story onto a third of the two-sided album. Having produced 8 planetarium programs, I'm quite familiar with issues of time constraints and hard choices to be made during production.
I'll be posting artwork from another book I found in the coming days but this particular item really demanded my attention and I felt it needed to be put out there for consumption.
James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma