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Comic Book Legends Revealed #381

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Welcome to the three hundredth and eighty-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and eighty.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: During 1904, there were dueling Wizard of Oz-based comic strips.


While everyone is familiar with L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wonderful World of Oz (which was published in 1900), less famous is the illustrator of the book, W.W. Denslow.

Here is one of Denslow’s pages from the book, where he defined the look for the various Oz characters…

Interestingly enough, Denslow owned the copyright to the first book with Baum 50/50.

While the book was popular upon its release, it was not until the book was adapted into a play in 1902 that it became a sensation.

It was also at this time that Denslow and Baum had a falling out. Denslow felt that he was being squeezed out of profits from the play.

Well, with the play now being such a success, Baum was “forced” to do a sequel to the first book. The Marvelous World of Oz debuted in 1905 and was illustrated by John R. Neill, who drew most of the future Oz works from that point on.

As a promotion for the new book, Baum did a comic strip with artist Walt McDougall called Queer Visitors from Oz beginning in 1904. Here is a sample…

Denslow was pissed at being cut off, so he actually did his OWN competing comic strip, The Adventures of Scarecrow and Tinman. Here is a sample…

As you can see, these early comic strips were more like illustrated stories, and Denslow’s stories were later collected into a children’s book.

Here are pages from the collected book…

Sadly (for Denslow), even then, Baum was accepted as the “real” author of the Oz characters and while Queer Visitors was a hit (as was the new novels, which Baum would continue putting out until his death in 1919), Denslow’s strip faded into obscurity very quickly.

Still, it’s amazing to know that we used to have not one, but TWO comic strips based on the Wizard of Oz…AS THE BOOKS WERE COMING OUT!

Thanks to Sunday Press Books for the sample pages of the strips and thanks to James Wallace for the scans of the Denslow book. If you’re interested, Sunday Press Books has collected all of the strips (the Baum/McDougall as well as the Denslow) into a book. Read more about it here.

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So you wrote that book? Ha! I pre-ordered it a couple of months ago.

What book? Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent?

Charles J. Baserap

August 24, 2012 at 9:59 am

Then later, after Colossus died, Kitty came back with an issue to collect his ashes and spread them in Russia and most or all of the issue was narrated by a letter she was writing about how she was in school now, etc, etc, and living a normal life.

Yes. The tittle got me.

Good man! :)

The second book was Marvelous Land of Oz, not world.
Interestingly, it’s probable the book (and series) would never have happened without the 1902 play. Baum loved theater (he’d been an actor, playwright, theater manager at various points) and after the play was a hit (it’s a big influence on the 1939 movie) he tried selling some more ideas. No takers. So then the possibility of a second book that would become a second play came to mind; the play flopped but the Oz books went on.
(there’s more information in a book I wrote a few years ago, Wizard of Oz Catalog–forgive the self-promotion).

Plug away! :)

And yeah, it is fascinating to see just how much of an impact the play had on the success of Oz.

man a Lee Moder Kitty Pride mini I would have bought that !

HAHAHAHAHA! “Queer Visitors from Oz!” And the Italian fruit vendor! HAHAHHAHAHAHA!


Oh, I LOVE this blog best of all!

Kittie Pride is wearing Luthor Tech armor.

I bet Marvel wishes they had copyrighted “The Walking Dead” on that Union Jack cover… haha.

Theresa: That’s exactly what I thought! Purple and green isn’t the most obscure combination in comics, but that totally looks like something Lex Luthor designed.

And oops, sorry for misspelling Teresa.

OK, I’m bitin’ my tongue on jokes about the Queer Visitors from Oz. Friends of Dorothy indeed.

A number of characters in Jack Staff were also used by Morrison in Zenith, weren’t they? I thought that was where I’d seen some of them prior to JS. I need to dig in back issue bins for more of JS.

Hey, I like the short bit at the top of the column saying what the Legends are this week. Just an oversight in not including them?

The relationship between “youth fiction” and the stage around the turn of the century is remarkably similar to that between comics and movies today. Oz, Peter Pan, and Jekyll and Hyde (to name three off the top of my head) were special-effects spectaculars for their time, and the synergy between stage, page, and merchandising would make SPACEBALLS 2 seem uninspired (particularly in Baum’s case).

Nice >tik< Bug-suit, Kitty. And since it fits you like I glove, I must conclude that everything really does go to your thighs. (And seriously–how many times is Marvel going to do the "Kitty is trapped/stuck inside something!" canard? What's the point of giving her a phasing-and-electronic-fritzing power if she can't phase or fritz electronics half the time?)

Shades of Lee/Kirby in the Oz piece. Were the Oz stories called “comics strips” at the time? I wouldn’t view them as comics today.

I can’t seem to lay hands on it at the moment, but back during the time that Paul was doing some work for Marvel on things like the DAILY BUGLE limited series he wrote, he at one point sent me a letter with a drawing of Union Jack at the bottom of it asking if we might be in the market for a pitch. But at that point the UNION JACK series that I edited with Ben Raab and John Cassaday was either just about to come out or had just come out, and so nothing ever came of it–aside from that one letter drawing.

Tom B

What Tom said. I never wrote a pitch for Union Jack. It was never rejected. It was only later that I realised that a Union Jack mini series had been published earlier that year, by which time I’d already done Jack Staff #1. Strictly speaking, the supporting characters are not public domain, but that’s OK because strictly speaking they’re completly different to any previously existing British Comic characters. Apart from the Spider. But that’s a long story…

I have done rants about the rage over what happen to Kitty, I never knew they were plans I am not shocked they seemed to be kobashed by people marvel who probably didn’t like the character. The fact that was never explain and really the whole college was so dumb excuse to get ride of. It always made me mad. Worse I wouldn’t be surprised Whedon was allowed to have her to get ride of her. Clarmount wasn’t allowed to use her during Xtreme X-Men. Why? No one has ever explained.

By the way that story sounds then what did with her. Nothing! Though I would have love to seen return after the mini with crisis but we will never see that or what happen to her.

Supermutant, the problem was that fan reaction to Claremont’s second run was overwhelmingly negative- even the movie didn’t help. So Marvel wanted to get rid of Claremont’s plot as quickly as possible.

“the Kitty arc was shifted over to a stand-alone mini-series (X-Men: Shadowcat – Captains Courageous) which would cast Kitty and a team of Captains as a kind of pan-temporal S.W.A.T. team, dealing with crises on alternate Earths and serve as the foundation/springboard for a possible new ongoing series.”

This sounds like an early pitch for Exiles. Didn’t Claremont eventually use Kitty (or an alterni-badass-Kitty) in Exiles when he took over the book?


Some of the other heroes in Jack Staff also appear in Alan Moore’s Albion mini-series, as they are in the public domain now, I believe. The trade of Albion that DC released a few years ago even included reprints of some of the original British comics and strips that were the inspiration for Albion, which overall was similar to Moore’s work on Terra Obscura and League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen…

Oops, I just reviewed my trades and take that back. Much of the supporting heroes in Jack Staff are BASED on the old British characters (Claw = Steel Claw, Tom Tom = Robot Archie, etc.) but are Grist’s own twist on the characters.

@Andrew: Thanks for the info! I have at least one of those minis from DC (the Thunderbolt Jaxon one that Dave Gibbons did, iirc), but hadn’t gotten the Albion one. excellent!

And as to your second post, I’ll play off another British stalwart: nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, say no more.

Michael, I agree with wasn’t that great of a run but still better then Morrisons run to me or other crappy runs in recent years. Still doesn’t excuse just wasting a character like that.

Have any of the more recent adaptations and continuations of the Oz series treated the Denslow stuff as canon, or is it just swept under the rug?

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #381  While everyone is familiar with L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wonderful World of Oz (which was published in 1900), less famous is the illustrator of the book, W.W. Denslow. Interestingly enough, Denslow owned the copyright to the first book with Baum 50/50. Sadly (for Denslow), even then, Baum was accepted as the “real” author of the Oz characters and while Queer Visitors was a hit (as was the new novels, which Baum would continue putting out until his death in 1919), Denslow’s strip faded into obscurity very quickly. Share this:EmailFacebookTwitterPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Oz Film, TV & Radio, Oz in Pop Culture, Oz in Print. Bookmark the permalink. ← Oz in the News 8.24.12 […]

Supermutant, I’m not disputing that getting rid of Kitty was problematic. (It caused problems when Kitty appeared in a Gambit annual where the New Sun was trapped and in the Gambit issue following that story where Gambit and Fontanelle compare notes Fontanelle mentions Gambit becoming leader of the X-Men, which happened after Kitty disappeared. It works if you assume that the Gambit Annual takes place before Kitty disappeared and Gambit and Fontenelle waited a while after New Sun’s defeat to compare notes but still…) But that’s happened to other characters as well when editors or writers don’t like a writer’s plot- it’s no indication of a vast hatred for Kitty. Dani Moonstar disappeared for a year and a half without explanation when Loeb took over X-Force- although readers disliked it, I don’t think that it was the result of Loeb’s hatred for Dani.


August 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I would like to point out that one good thing came out of her disappearance/ absence in the X-books and Marvel in general, that when Whedon used to her in his Astonishing X-Men run, the fact she had been gone helped make it easier for Whedon to use her and it gave her a “Yay! Kitty’s back!” effect when the book began.

I’m not saying i like comics i can read in 5 minutes but damm, that Claremont piece is heavy on word baloons! And unecessary ones!

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