15 September 2020

Turning Ojo into Woot

A recent online discussion about the relative ages of L. Frank Baum’s young male protagonists took me back almost twenty years to when Oziana magazine published my story “Woot Meets Yoop.”

Woot the Wanderer is one of the heroes of The Tin Woodman of Oz. He hikes around Oz, looking for distraction without danger—which of course makes it easy for a storyteller to get him into danger. In this story I had him run into Mr. Yoop, the caged and carnivorous giant from The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

As I recall, this issue of Oziana was being assembled in a rush to catch up to its annual schedule, so I offered to create illustrations for the story by digitally manipulating some of John R. Neill’s illustrations.

Most of the pictures I worked with came from The Tin Woodman of Oz and showed Woot. But one I wanted to use came from The Patchwork Girl of Oz and showed that book’s young hero, Ojo. This is where Neill’s tendency to draw the children in the Oz stories with quite similar faces became an advantage.

Here’s the picture of Ojo.

My oldest edition of The Patchwork Girl of Oz has no color printing, just line art, which was easier to work with. I removed Ojo’s Munchkin ruff and drew in Woot’s more ordinary Gillikin lapels. I shortened the tails of Ojo’s jacket to approximate Woot’s and added Woot’s knapsack.

Just as important, I stretched out the boy’s legs and body a little. Removing the ruff left plenty of room for a long neck. Because as Baum wrote him, and as Neill drew him, Woot is a bit older than Ojo, further into adolescence.

Here’s the resulting picture of Woot.

I just went back and superimposed these pictures to confirm the differences. With Neill’s standard young-person face at the same level, Woot is a little taller with longer legs. A teenager instead of a boy—at least as I picture him.

No comments: