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Review: Oz: Ozma of Oz by Eric Shanower

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oz: Ozma of OzOz: Ozma of Oz by Eric Shanower

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is another book that I grabbed off of the kids' shelves because it looked fun. And the story was, but the design was confusing. It's the third book in the graphic novel series of the Oz books, so it must be selling well. But I wonder who the audience for these books is because of some of the design choices.

The story was the classic Baum tale. The story editing allowed the heart, humor and drama to come through very well. So that would work for kids or for grown-up fans of the series.

But I just didn't get a lot of the artistic choices. Dorothy is incredibly unattractive, she's drawn to look like a wide-mouthed, surly-faced bratty kid. I couldn't identify with her as my hero, I wanted to push her away. Bellina was kind of freaky looking too, with big bulging, bloodshot eyes. Maybe the chicken didn't have to be pretty, although I always imagined her that way, but she looked kind of scary in a lot of the frames. And even Ozma wasn't pretty and also made bizarre mouths. I guess giving characters that big wide open mouth this is the artist's signature style, but it really put me off for this particular story.

There were scenes in the book that were great. The Wheelers had a Gothic, scary, yet pitiful aspect, very well expressed. Tik-Tok was enjoyable. Most of the scenes with the Nome king and his lands were well designed. But those were all darker scenes and characters, when it came to beauty there was no child-like wonder in this book, or fairytale charm, or lovely princesses. Oz is supposed to contrast the lovely and the haunting, but this had only one side of the coin.

Because of those choices, I just don't really get who the audience is. I think little girls would want to see prettier princesses. I'm not saying that they have to be perfect beauties, plain is fine, just that these gals are making hideous and unattractive faces throughout the whole book. People who were childhood fans of the books would probably think that a graphic novel would be a chance to provide lovely, lush drawings that they can pore over and over. Some of those drawing should certainly be dark and edgy, but the overall the look was just unattractive. So it's not a book that I want to rush out and buy for my adult friend who's a big Oz fan, it's too unattractive for that.. And I'm not going to get it for my niece because I don't think she'll be able to identify with Dorothy, who just doesn't come across as the charming, funny, lovely girl that she is in the source book. So overall the artwork took too much away from the great story for me to be able to recommend this one, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

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