The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #6 (of 8)
by L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower, & Skottie Young
Reader Appeal: Everyone
Genre: Fantasy comic
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of those classic stories that has been able to stand the test of time and come out a winner. Everyone knows the movie, but it all started with the classic children’s novel by L. Frank Baum. In a media-driven culture like ours, its sometimes seems like there are fewer and fewer people who have actually read the brilliant books that spawned some of our most beloved movies. Luckily, the people at Marvel have made it easy for you by offering a third option: a comic book adaptation!
Every one knows the classic story. Dorothy ends up in Oz, meets her oddball companions, runs afoul of the Wicked Witch, and goes off to see this Wizard. In this particular issue we get to see the wonderful (and nightmarish for some of us) winged monkeys. But if you pick up this series, start at the beginning.
The great thing about doing this story as a comic is that it allows you to capture all the fun of illustrations, which are a part of any great children’s book, but it also gives you the time to really explore the world and the backstory more than a movie. And there’s a lot here to enjoy. Why is the tin man made of tin? Who is Gayelette? How did the Wicked Witch of the West come to be able to command the winged monkeys? You won’t know if you don’t pick up this series (or the book).
The art of this series has a crazy whimsy to it that is delightful quaint and also at times incredibly creepy (oooh, those monkeys!). Sometimes the drawings seem childishly simple, but there’s something fun and creative about every panel that just hits the right note. I sometimes felt like I wished I could get a closer look at what was going on, but I’m not complaining. The style isn’t anything like the movie (not a loss), and in some ways each panel is more like a picture from a storybook than a traditional comic panel. Personally, I found it very compelling. Smaller children would find the images a little frightening, though, probably, if the story was being read aloud to them (which is could be).
Put simply, this story is a classic, and this adaptation preserves the character of the book and presents it in a fun way that anyone could enjoy. It’s a modern fairytale that is much more rich and unusual when you dig deeper into its details (and a bit less Disney-fied, with a few more creepy parts). The art is great and the story has pedigree. What more do you really need to know?
Note: All book or comics-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.