16 November 2007

One of Baum's Best: "Glass Dog" Goes Graphic

Fantasy Classics, volume 15, to be published in spring 2008, includes a comics version of L. Frank Baum's short story "The Glass Dog," as adapted by Antonella Caputo and Brad Teare.

Baum was best at the long form, which gave enough time for his strengths in characterization to come out. His indifference as a plotter makes some of his short stories less than fulfilling.

But "The Glass Dog" is one of Baum's best little tales. It's like an O. Henry story with an overlay of magic--what we might call "magical realism" today. A wizard, a glassblower, and a sickly rich lady all try to take advantage of each other, and the story's outcome has the "you deserved it" snap of some early 1950s horror comics, in which all the characters end up as unhappy as they deserve.

"The Glass Dog" also offers shadows of Baum's longer fantasies to come. The action starts with a one-drop rheumatism cure, like John Dough and the Cherub. A magician brings a glass figurine of an animal to life, as in The Patchwork Girl of Oz. But there are no children here; it's strictly a tale of adults behaving badly.

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