As Eric Shanower and Skottie Young’s comics adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz continues its sojourn on the hardcover “graphic novels” bestseller list, I’m sharing some miscellaneous thoughts on how it retells Dorothy’s first adventure.
In the book, the Cowardly Lion’s roar is “so fierce and dreadful that Toto jumped away from him in alarm and tipped over the screen” in front of Oz. (In the MGM movie, Toto deliberately pulls open a curtain. Frank Morgan then yanks it back while delivering his immortal “Pay no attention to the man…” line. You can watch Toto get yanked back as well since the curtain was apparently attached to his collar.)
It may seem illogical for Oz to protect his vital secret with a screen so light that a startled terrier can knock it over. Nevertheless, I like the symbolic aspect of that moment: Toto makes things happen for Dorothy.
The Lion was angry at this speech, but could say nothing in reply, and while he stood silently gazing at the Ball of Fire it became so furiously hot that he turned tail and rushed from the room. He was glad to find his friends waiting for him, and told them of his terrible interview with the Wizard.
The second spread comes toward the end of the book as the party approach Glinda’s castle. The MGM movie leaves out that entire leg of Dorothy’s journey, and many adaptations treat it as an anticlimax. But that trip is a very important part of the story. It allows Dorothy’s companions to prove their new abilities, and it’s important for her to reach a place of real magic, not humbuggery. Shanower knows that Glinda and her castle remain major centers of power in the Oz saga, and he scripted a grand entrance for them.