John R. Neil’s OZ

18 Emerald Neil Color
Golden Age Comic Book Stories reprints some of the mind-bending work of John R. Neil illustrating the sixth book of the Oz series, Emerald City of OZ. Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13 and Chapter 14.
17 Emerald Neil Chap04
If you love this work as much as we do, you know that it is great not just because of it’s pen and ink virtuosity, or its stunning imagination and in-depth characterizations…
23 Emerald Neil Chap06
…but because it was as disturbing and sad as hell.
58 Emerald Neil Chap26

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Comments

  1. Those are gorgeous! Thanks for posting them.

  2. Torsten Adair says:

    The Books of Wonder facsimile (ISBN 978-0-68811558-6) features the green metallic ink of the original! (Amazon has some color pages, but the green doesn’t photograph well.)

    (And if you haven’t read the original book, shame on you! Not to spoil the ending, but Dorothy is not crazy at the end of the book, and Oz is not make-believe. And if you need something to replace your Harry Potter fixation, this series is it!)

  3. Speaking of Harry Potter – Heidi, I’m surprised you haven’t jumped on showing off the new cover to the anniversary edition to the Sorceror’s Stone.

    ~

    Coat

  4. michael says:

    Torsten, in what version is she considered crazy? I always thought the original premise was that it was all real.

  5. I have all the Baum and Thompson books that Neil illustrated, and I’m dying to get paperback copies of the ones he wrote himself. His illos are everything you say they are, whimsical and slightly frightening at the same time.

  6. John R. Neil deserves an art book or series of books of his illustrations!

  7. Neill’s illustrations for the three Oz books he wrote in the ’40s show more care than most of the work he did in Thompson’s Oz books–and the stories are really trippy. But Neill’s best work in the Oz books was for the mid-Baum’s–Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908) through Tik-tok of Oz (1914).

    His color work for Emerald City (1910) is a highlight of his entire career, but I actually think the black and white illustrations he did for the previous year’s Oz book, The Road to Oz (1909), are the best.

    The quality of his Oz work definitely went down in the ’20s and ’30s–I’ve seen a letter in which he says he completed about 30 illustrations one morning–but the work he was doing for the major magazines of the day continued to be top-notch.

    A book of Neill’s work is in progress from Hungry Tiger Press, tentatively scheduled for publication next year.

  8. Steve Brumbaugh says:

    Neill is probably the most under-rated illustrator of the 20th century. I remember a long time ago finding a book in the library on great children’s book illustrators and being frustrated to the extreme because he wasn’t even mentioned. Denslow (illustrator of the original Wizard of Oz) was; and though I am an admirer of his as well, I’d take Neill any day!

    Eric, I know what you mean about his work going downhill in the later books (I noticed that even when I was first reading them as a little kid in the 50′s), but they are still so ALIVE! Specially loved Ojo in Oz.

    In those early books Neill really captured some of the mystery of magic that you also see in the best stage magic posters of the time.

    One other thing: even if he “slacked off” a little in the later work, isn’t it amazing that over 40-some years of illustrating Oz he was able to change his style and character depictions so much (reflecting the changing times) and yet they’re still Neill all the way!

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    I refer to the enjoyable but poor adaptation created by MGM, starring Judy Garland. In the book, after the Wizard leaves the Emerald City, Dorothy and friends must travel south to visit the Good Witch.

    I’m really surprised more people aren’t angry when the movie concludes with the cliched “It was only a dream” ending. Yes, I know, Hollywood had a message to make, so they added that “no place like home” rubish. She lives on a grey, lonely, featureless plain in the middle of nowhere. Geez…

    Of course, this is not the worst adaptation from Hollywood. That award goes to “Grapes of Wrath”, which ignores roughly half of the novel, so as to present an optimistic message to a weary nation.

  10. The MGM motion picture adaptation of The Wizard of Oz is definitely not the book. The book is so much better. But when I was a child I hated the Denslow illustrations and longed for an edition illustrated by Neill.

    When I was a child and watched the MGM motion picture adaptation of the first Oz book, I believed that Dorothy was right at the end of the movie when she said it wasn’t a dream. I was just as frustrated as she was when the other characters didn’t believe her. When I first ran into the interpretation that Dorothy’s adventures were actually supposed to be seen as a dream, I was shocked.

    Actually, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that it’s not a dream in the movie, that the ruby slippers merely returned Dorothy, Toto, and the farmhouse to Kansas and wiped everyone else’s minds of any knowledge that the storm carried the house away–just as Green Lantern has done countless times with his power ring, that is, wiping minds en masse of memories. I mean, the movie explicitly shows the house returning to Kansas.

    Am I an Oz geek, or what?!

    A really enjoyable adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath is the Broadway staging with Gary Sinise. I think it’s from the 1990s–maybe late ’80s. I’ve seen it on tape–I suspect it’s available on disc. It includes the final scene in the boxcar, the one I thought the Henry Fonda version really cheated on by leaving out.

  11. Eric,

    Thanks for the info regarding a retrospective book of Neill’s work that’ll see print.

  12. John DeNunzio says:

    Love the diversity of John R. Neill’s work.
    Does anyone recall a b&w illustration by him with a sunken pirate ship
    surrounded by pirates all holding hands?
    I’d love to get a print of this.

    Thanks

  13. John DeNunzio says:

    Love the diversity of John R. Neill’s work.
    Does anyone recall a b&w illustration by him with a sunken pirate ship
    surrounded by pirates all holding hands?
    I’d love to get a print of this.

    Thanks

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