04 February 2007

Latest Baum Bugle Flies In

Suddenly free from reading fat fantasies for the Cybils Awards, I’ve been flopping about like a fish that’s forgotten how to swim, trying to get back into my ordinary reading rhythm. So I was fortunate that the latest Baum Bugle, journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, arrived at my house last week.

The bulk of this issue, and its main attraction, comprises Marcus Mébès’s profiles of Sherwood Smith and William Stout, author and illustrator of the recent Oz novels The Emerald Wand of Oz and Trouble Under Oz. Fact-filled and occasionally gushing, those articles provide inside perspectives on the difficult creation of these books, assembled by the pioneering packager Byron Preiss Visual Productions for HarperCollins.

In addition, this issue of the Bugle provides a showcase for Stout’s art better than those books. The cover is his glowing picture of a winged monkey carrying a girl, larger than it would have been on the cover of The Emerald Wand of Oz, its intended place. (This image, and the working title The Winged Monkeys of Oz, were deemed too frightening for middle-grade girls.) Inside the magazine are pictures of Nomes and Mangaboos far better reproduced than they appear in Trouble Under Oz. Mébès is also production editor for the Bugle, so he’s produced the quality of these graphics.

The prospect of further publications in this series seems iffy. I found Emerald Wand in a bookstore, but never saw a copy of Trouble on a store shelf. Both Smith and Stout lamented small sales and limited exposure beyond the Oz community. Stout never received payment for his work on Trouble because the packager went bankrupt after its founder died in an auto accident, making his involvement in future books less likely.

Readers of these two books (however few we are) would be disappointed if Harper chose to discontinue the series because plot threads remain dangling in a serious way. Unlike L. Frank Baum’s original Oz books and the sequels commissioned by his publisher, these were conceived with a plot arching over four titles--something to do with Dorothy being lost and a malevolent cloud over Oz. Smith has written her third installment in the series, and outlined a fourth. But the whole project apparently awaits decisions from HarperCollins and Boylston & Company (also Brick Tower Press), which ended up with the Preiss company assets.

Also in this Bugle issue are Jane Albright’s report on the “Art of Oz” exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art last summer, network ads for showings of the MGM movie over the years, and reviews of the latest Oz-related books and DVDs.

4 comments:

lemming said...

The Mangaboos (to my mind) were far scarer creations than Bauk ever let on - glad to see them resurface, albeit costing you some sleep!

J. L. Bell said...

The Mangaboos make an appearance in Trouble Under Oz, but their menace rests mainly in the memory of their cold-hearted behavior in Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. They're more easily appeased this time.

Another latter-day Oz book that revisits the Mangaboos is The Disenchanted Princess of Oz, by Melody Grandy.

Noel said...

Is there a way to get a higher resolution version of the winged monkey art by Stout?

I'm going to do a Winged Monkey for Halloween next year and would love to have better copy of that image to use as a basis... I love the look on that!

J. L. Bell said...

Eric Gjovaag's website has a larger image; scroll down on the news page.

And of course the magazine itself is available from the International Wizard of Oz Club. Can't get better resolution than print!