09 June 2008

John Dough Cut Up to Make a New Book

When I started researching John Dough and the Cherub, one of my to-do's was to find a copy of The Gingerbread Man, an "Oz-Man Tale" that L. Frank Baum published with Reilly & Britton in 1917. Bill Campbell at The Oz Enthusiast offers a look at the other five in this six-volume series. (Click on his big photo for an even bigger one.)

I thought there was a chance that The Gingerbread Man might reveal Baum's initial plans for John Dough, before he received Edward Bok's rejection of the manuscript and advice to include a young co-protagonist. Given what I knew about Baum, it seemed conceivable that he'd grabbed a chance to publish a "Gingerbread Man" manuscript he'd set aside.

Instead, The Gingerbread Man and another volume in the same series, Jack Pumpkinhead, displayed a level of recycling that I hadn't imagined.

To create these 64-page books, the publisher took the plates of the first 50+ pages of John Dough and the Cherub and The Marvelous Land of Oz, added new frontmatter, and had (I presume) Baum draft a quick ending to the stories.

Thus, The Gingerbread Man ends with John Dough finding a new home on the Island of Phreex. Someone traced John R. Neill's drawing of the Fresh Air Fiend who welcomes John to create a slapdash decoration for that final chapter. (The firm didn't try to duplicate Neill's handsome illustrated and hand-lettered chapter titles.) This book has no Chick the Cherub, no Para Bruin, no Mifkets, no hero's journey for John.

In the end, The Gingerbread Man did offer me a clue about what Baum had submitted to Bok. It confirmed how willing he was to milk his existing material. That convinced me that he took off from his initial chapters for Bok in a new direction but didn't rewrite a word of what he already had.

As for the Jack Pumpkinhead volume, it ends with Tip, Jack, and the Sawhorse arriving together at the Emerald City and deciding it will be a nice place to stay. They don't get separated along the yellow brick road, Tip doesn't meet General Jinjur, and Jack doesn't have his comically translated conversation with the Scarecrow. Most significantly, in this version of Oz, there's no Princess Ozma. It's the start of an alternative Oz universe--published under Baum's own name.

No comments: