Campfire Classics graphic adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This is one of a long list of public-domain stories brought to the US by Steerforth of New Hampshire and distributed by Random House.
Roland Mann, a veteran of Malibu Comics, is credited as “wordsmith.” Kevin (or K. L.) Jones is the credited “penciler.” All of the other names on the credits page are Indian.
[Comics publishers often print long lists of credits on a copyright page, including company executives with minimal involvement in that title. In contrast, a traditional children’s book usually doesn’t state its editor’s name anywhere. This is another of the curious cultural differences between the two industries.]
Campfire Classics are produced out of New Delhi. Back in 2010, Publishing Perspectives reported: “Among the advantages the company has is the ability to keep most of the work in-house. The company employs a bullpen of 20 full-time artists on staff to do with drawing and coloring.” As a result, a 76-page full-color Campfire book can retail for $9.99.
According to Mann, for the Classics series ”The goal is to stick very close to the original and get young readers visually interested in the work so that they might actually seek the original out.”
For him, that assignment meant reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for the first time. His blog shows how he discovered the obvious big differences between the book and the famous MGM movie.
Still, that movie exerted a heavy influence on the visuals of this adaptation. Jones and the bullpen depict Dorothy as an adolescent with brown braids; for much of the book she wears a blue-and-white checked dress. (In the Emerald City she changes into one of the least flattering dresses I’ve ever seen, shown here.)
The Wicked Witch of the West has the green skin and long fingernails that Margaret Hamilton wore in the 1939 movie, but (aside from the scars over her missing eye) has a young and attractive face—a sign of Wicked’s influence.
lettering is unimaginative, possibly designed to stick as closely as possible to what readers might find in prose books.
As the publisher requested, Mann’s script sticks close to the source material. It includes the Winged Monkeys’ flashback and the visit to the China Country, two episodes that adapters often leave out. It skips only the visit to the family just outside the Emerald City, which offers characterization but not much action.
Tin Woodman through multiple axe accidents, starting with the picture of young Nick at the right.
In contrast, the Wizard gives out brains, a heart, and courage in only three panels covering half a page. Those moments help to define the thematic core of the novel, but the script zips us through them. Similarly, there’s little pause for Dorothy’s sorrow after the Wizard’s balloon flies away.
As a result, I enjoyed moments of this adaptation, and found some of the creators’ other choices interesting to contemplate, but I didn’t think the overall storytelling was emotionally involving or fully successful.
One of Jones’s upcoming titles for Campfire is a comics biography of Abraham Lincoln. Mann, in contrast, is a neo-Confederate, so I don’t think he’ll be working on that one.
Labels: ARTIST Kevin Jones, AUTHOR L. Frank Baum, AUTHOR Roland Mann, BOOK Wonderful Wizard of Oz, comics scripting, MOVIE Wizard of Oz, my first and last post about fashion, prose to comics, SERIES Wicked Years