The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum [Amazon Link]
Wonderful? Wonder-filled is more like it. Baum has created a magically “safe” faerie-tale. It is filled with entirely-creative creatures and ironies. From the very beginning, the reader is brought into an enchanted land that is unbelievably believable.
However, I can’t say that the first book in the Oz series is really all that wonderful. In fact it was, oft times, drudgery to read. There were times when I had to push myself on to the next page. Saying that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything I liked about it.
In fact the book has a very many great creative ideas. I just don’t feel that it was well written as a children’s story. It felt more like a book that was written to have been seen—either on stage or in a movie. It felt, at times, like more of an outline. An outline that the actor was meant to fill in the holes with some sort of visual experience. It felt like this because Baum tells more than he shows. I was told more times than not what Dorothy was thinking. (To be fair, this happened more at the beginning than through the middle.) It would have been a more entertaining read if its action and dialogue were more shown.
Maybe it is my age. Maybe a child would find it more entertaining. I am not sure. I enjoy so many “children’s books” that my first reaction is that it is the writing.
As I read I couldn’t help but think about Baum’s career. He was used to writing plays. He was used to having actors fill in the holes with action. The story is great from that perspective, and it is perfect from a comic book perspective.
I read Oz just a month ago. I had never read it before and had only relied on the movie as a source of Oz info. For example: I never knew that there were some 13 (I believe that number is correct) other books in the Oz series. I thought it was a one off. Boy, was I wrong. Add to this that I never knew Baum’s history—which is a very rich history and a good read in its own right.
So, I set out to read it. I accomplished that.
As I said before, from a comic/illustrated perspective I could tell Oz would be perfect. It tells enough that an illustrator would not be hard pressed to create a picture to match the scene. Oh, if only it was in comic format.
Marvel to the rescue: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz [Amazon Link]
In the process of trying to read Baum’s book, I stepped out to the library and picked up Eric Shanower (Author), Skottie Young‘s (Illustrator) take on Oz. As I said before, it was perfect. Baum was meant to be a comic book/play writer.
Before you pick up the graphic novel you need to understand that there have been some (needed) liberties taken with it. It’s not a word for word reproduction—it couldn’t/shouldn’t be. It is extremely close.
I read them both at the same time. Adding in the Marvel spin increased my willingness to continue and to complete my agenda. I will end up purchasing the comic versions and will read them to gain more Oz knowledge. I doubt, unless I am coerced that I will pick up another Baum book. We will see.
L. Frank Baum’s world is beautiful. It is ironic. It is magical. Shanower and Young have brought to life something that would make Baum proud. Even now, after having read through and experienced the comic version, I can’t help but imagine a better Oz movie. One that is more true to the book. One that captures what the sing-song version does not—the mystery. One more like the comic.
If you have never read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz [Amazon Link], I do suggest it. It is so much more than the movie. But, if you really want to enjoy it pick up a copy of Marvel’s graphic novel and read it along side—it will be worth it.