Saturday, June 13, 2015

Review- QUEER VISITORS FROM THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ


QUEER VISITORS FROM THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ (Sunday Press Books, 2009; Hardcover)

Collects the Oz Sunday strips from September 4, 1904- March 12, 1905
Writers: L. Frank Baum and W.M. Denslow
Artist: W.M. Denslow

Think of it as the very first multimedia crossover. A wildly successful children's book, gearing up for it's sequel, uses the new four color sensation that shook the world...the Sunday comic section. Using the same creative team that brought you the book, you get little slices and bridge pieces of what is to come, feeding off of and into the stage productions that were also moving around the country at the time.


While I am fascinated with vintage comic strips like this, this was a tough read at times. You see, the panel layout in and of itself doesn't tell you the story, even with the line of text underneath of it. You are required to read the entire text passage on each strip page, something which I would have been very happy to do except for the fact that people in the early 1900s must have had stellar eyesight to see text this small. My eyes tested at 20/20 in December of 2014 and I still wished that I had a magnifying glass. The pages are presented in the size of their original publication, so it's not that they are shrunk down or anything.


The stories in and of themselves are fascinating snapshots of a bygone era. Baum and Denslow were co-owners of Oz, and when they had a falling out they actually had competing Oz things going on at the same time. Denslow's version of the Oz strip ran from late 1904 into 1905 and had a completely different vibe to it, being more straightforward than the early strips and reading like a more conventional strip of the day.


The artwork is beautiful and the writing is good. These strips bleed charm, even if many of the colloquialisms require some detective work. As I mentioned earlier, this was a challenging read at times due to the amount of text and how small the typeface is. I am thrilled that these strips were rescued and preserved, as they are important for lovers of comic books and lovers of The Wizard Of Oz.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This book is an absolute beast. It is presented in the original strip size, and newspapers were fricking huge back then. It is an awkward, unwieldy read. If you lay it flat it is difficult to see the top of the page. I recommend laying on your back.
Linework and Color restoration: These are high resolution scans. The yellowing has been removed and it looks as good as can be without full blown restoration. All imperfections found in the original comics (line bleed, off register printing, etc.) are found here.
Paper stock: Thick off-white uncoated stock. Perfect.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding, lays flat. This book is a beast. You need to lay it on your bed or your kitchen table (once you place freshly laundered towels under it on the table, of course- this is the OCD zone, you know!).
Hardback cover notes: Matte casewrap, resistant to scuffing. Cloth wrap around the spine. Classy.

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