Monday, May 28, 2012

The Magical Mimics in Oz

1946, 1990 International Wizard of Oz edition
Jack Snow
Illustrated by Frank Kramer
The Magical Mimics in Oz
Original and/or purchase price unknown
Worn paperback

If it weren't for the sometimes horrible art, I'd probably give this a C+, since the writing is on a level with Thompson and Baum at their weakest.  Neill, after publishing two more books beyond Wonder City and leaving behind a manuscript for another, died in 1943.  I don't miss him as a writer but, man, do I miss him as an illustrator!  Kramer is at best passable, as with Scraps and the Wizard.  But he can't manage Dorothy and at one point gives her scary sunken eyes.  Snow had a horror background and Kramer would be fine if this were purely a horror story, as it verges on with the identity-stealing villains.  Even the benign pine people seem terrifying on the cover, with their round, rosy cheeks that look like explosives.  Kramer does try for humor at times, especially with Toto, but it's leaden compared to Neill's whimsicality.

Snow, born in '07, was a huge Oz fan from childhood, but he disliked Thompson and Neill's books to the point that he hoped Reilly & Lee would drop them, which seems to be going a bit far, particularly since it's not as if Snow was a better writer than Thompson.  He is faithful to Baum, mentioning Lurline and Merryland, and I can't accuse him of misreading the Original Fourteen Oz books, as Neill seems to have.  At times, he even quotes/plagiarizes lines from Baum.  It's just, I can't say I'm particularly drawn into the story.  It's OK but not memorable, not unlike Purple Prince.  Also, I'm irritated by the laxness of Ozana, Ozma's first cousin who's supposed to be keeping an eye on the Mimics but gets distracted by gardening and carpentry.

The Pineville couple we meet have a mischievous, complaining son named Charlie.  The Wizard owns a radio, so he knows what happened to the lad.  Yes, there's a Charlie McCarthy joke in an Oz book.  Wait till we get to Snow's next story....

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