One of the introductory special features of Rizzoli’s new and gloriously illustrated book, THE ART OF OZ, is a “royal proclamation extraordinary” from Princess Ozma — and perhaps it best explains the celebratory nature of this new volume from artist Gabriel Gale. In her decree, directly addressed to Gale, Ozma “hereby and happily sanctions the sharing of your bright new pictorial entertainment with the Many Friends of Oz in the Great Outside World.” She continues, “In this manner, all children . . . may view your fresh and present-day drawings of the best-loved characters who reside in Oz . . . [and] those who dwell nearby, underneath, and in the depths of the oceans around and about our Marvelous Land.”
And that is JUST what Gabe’s art provides: beautifully designed portraits and examinations of outstanding Ozian citizens, creatures, curiosities, creations (and a few monsters!), taken from L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, his “Borderland of Oz” fantasies, and a few of Gale’s own characters from his fictional AGES OF OZ series. (The first two volumes of those books for “middle-school-and-up” children were published in 2017 and 2018 by Simon & Schuster.)
The official publication date of THE ART OF OZ Is October 19th, but personally autographed copies may be ordered NOW, and further information about that will be found below. In addition to more than one-hundred-and-fifty representations, studies, and diagrams from Gabe, the book also includes sixty-five W. W. Denslow and John R. Neill pictures from the original Baum books, as well as pull quotes from Baum’s own texts to describe many of the various “Ozzies.” Furthermore, there is a full, original, and accompanying text throughout, which serves as a guide to Baum’s wondrous realms and adventurers. It’s been designed to accompany and entertain any reader of any age, whether one is a long-term, long-time fan or someone who knows Oz solely through the plot of the first book, THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, and/or the iconic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Judy Garland motion picture based on it.
One of the unique things about the text is that it was garnered from interviews with eight genuine legends of Baum’s kingdom. As such, each has written a different chapter of THE ART OF OZ, describing the extraordinary personalities or oddities depicted therein. These Oz celebrities, of course, enjoyed close associations or escapades (or — in some cases — experienced dangerous encounters) with those shown in Gabriel Gale’s likenesses; they are therefore eminently qualified to recount the attendant stories.
Readers of THE ART OF OZ thus will be able to acquaint or reacquaint themselves with the reflections and remembrances of Dorothy Gale (formerly of Kansas and now a happy resident of the Emerald City); her close companions, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion; Glinda the Good; and the Wonderful Wizard himself. Even Toto gets a chapter, and he sagely introduces it by asking, “Are you surprised I can write? I can talk, too! Oz animals have that ability, although I lived in the Emerald City for years before anyone knew it about me. Until then, I communicated with my bark and tail . . . and charm! One day, however, Princess Ozma told Dorothy that any animal ‘who came under the spell of’ Oz could talk. So, Dorothy encouraged me ‘to be more sociable,’ and after teasing her with bow-wows, woofs, and wagging, I agreed. I’ve been speaking ever since!”
In THE ART OF OZ, these seven personages consider the witches, beasts, curiosities, mechanicals, and other diverse fantasy compatriots of Oz, as well as the Emerald City itself. Professor H. M. Woggle-Bug, T. E. (from Baum’s second Oz title, THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ) also jumps in – one gets the impression he couldn’t be stopped – to conduct an examination of “The Maps of Oz.” He additionally contributes fulsome captions throughout and a full introduction to the book itself. “Full” (of himself) is the operative word, but as he unavoidably self-endorses, he is “after all, a Very Big Bug.”
In the process of exploring its Gabriel Gale illustrations and “on location” reportage from actual favorite Ozites, those who revel in THE ART OF OZ will encounter such famed, memorable, or haunting citizenry as (among others): the Winged Monkeys, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Emerald City Guardian of the Gates and the Soldier with the Green Whiskers, Jack Pumpkinhead, Tik-Tok the Machine Man, the Flying Gump, the Wheelers, General Jinjur, the Kalidahs, the Li-Mon-Eags, the Fuddles, the Gargoyles, the Ryls (friends of the young Santa Claus), the Phanfasms, the Hammer-Heads, the Scoodlers, the Frogman, the Flatheads, the Growleywogs, the Horners and Hoppers, Quox the ever-personable Dragon – and many more.
As you might be able to tell by the foregoing, THE ART OF OZ has been conceptualized, created, and constructed as a twenty-first century passport to L. Frank Baum’s magical land. Children will be astounded at a “grown-up” book that is so particularly designed – in images and language – for all ages; it is hoped that their joy at reading (or having read to them) the actual chapters of Oz comments from Dorothy and her friends will resonate most happily. Meanwhile, above and beyond the text, there are well over two hundred exceptional, brilliant pictures; Gabriel Gale’s virtuosity is infused with imagination, his gifts, and his lifelong love of Oz – all hallmarks to be found as well in the accompanying work of the Messrs. Baum, Denslow, and Nell.
Finally, the book also presents a fine afterword by preeminent L. Frank Baum scholar, biographer, and historian Michael Patrick Hearn, in which he offers an appreciation of Gale’s visuals and places them in historical context. Hearn also shares quotes from the artist, which provide even further insight into the nature of Gabe’s approach to THE ART OF OZ.
As you might imagine, there’s much more to share about the book: how Gabriel Gale met renowned New York City book editor and “packager” Jane Lahr on the Oz Festival circuit a few years ago; how her Oz passion (as, no less, the daughter of MGM’s Cowardly Lion) and her savvy and admiration of Gabe’s remarkable talents led to the proposal for THE ART OF OZ; how it was taken up by Rizzoli, one of the world’s most highly-esteemed publishers of art books; and how designers Lisa Schreiber and Michael Walsh aligned all the visual and verbiage components with style, panache, and elan.
Catch Gabe, Jane, Michael, and/or me at a book signing across the next year; we’ll tell all! 😊
Finally, I’m proud and grateful – as an associate of all three of them – to have been given the privilege of conducting and transcribing the interviews with the Oz luminaries to provide THE ART OF OZ text. That’s why you see my name on the cover up there. Of course, I’ve been visiting Oz on a regular (okay, “daily” . . .) basis since age five, but I’m still very much aware of how fortunate I am that the residents there have come to trust me with their words and reminiscences, much as they’ve trusted Gabe with their images. Thank you all.
AUTOGRAPHED COPIES — ORDERING INFORMATION!
As noted above, THE ART OF OZ will be published by Rizzoli on October 19th. The book is nearly two hundred pages of Oz, with color illustrations (often more than one!) on virtually every glossy leaf. The All Things Oz Gift Museum Gift Shop is now taking advance orders via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; each book will be accompanied by a personally autographed book plate, signed by both Gabriel Gale and John Fricke. THE ART OF OZ is priced at $39.95, plus tax and shipping. The books and book plates will be shipped in late October.