By David on February 26, 2007
How do you take a beloved movie that’s based on a well-known set of books and make it fresh again? Antarctic Press found the answer – turn it into a manga! Oz: The Manga, written and illustrated by the talented David Hutchison has transformed L. Frank Baum’s well-established classic “The Wizard of Oz” into a fresh new style.
So how does Mr. Hutchison make Oz feel fresh? Well, by staying true to the book rather than the movie! Plus, the fantastic nature of the story really fits in with it’s manga style.
Did you know that the Oz books have lots of elements of surprise that the movie didn’t adapt? In the manga version of the story, many of the original concepts are left intact. So even though you know which characters Dorothy meets along the way to Emerald City, pay close attention to the origins of her companions! In particular, a very different origin for Tin Woodsman (Tin-Man).
The basic story of The Wizard of Oz is about a girl named Dorothy Gail (and her little dog Toto). She lives in Kansas on a farm with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. One day a tornado sweeps in, taking Dorothy, Toto and the farmhouse to a strange land – one with yellow brick roads, witches, dangerous forests and more. Dorothy must travel to visit the Wizard in Emerald City in order to return home. On the way she meets three characters who end up as friends. Upon meeting the Wizard of Oz, she’s ordered to rid the land of the wicked Witch of the West before she can return home!
I really enjoyed and was inspired by the artwork of Oz: The Manga. It feels like it came out of Japan, even though Mr. Hutchison isn’t Japanese. His work really mirrors the ‘manga style’ and it doesn’t seem like he’s trying to play ‘manga artist’. In many ways, this feels similar to Jill Thompson’s Death: At Death’s Door manga that came out a few years ago.
There are several designs that really push their characters into new territory – specifically the Tin Woodsman. While the film version was the same size as a normal human, David Hutchison has given him a major overhaul. He reminds me of Tik-Tok from Return to Oz in many ways (specifically his mustache and round eyes), except that he’s now a massive steampunk-styled character (which is cool). Dorothy, as the main character is cute but also has a slightly tough look. Towards the end of the story, she gets kinda gothy – which makes her look quite different from her normal ‘I wear a pretty blue dress’ style.
Oz: The Manga was a great read – it’s wonderfully fresh and different from the film and is much closer to L. Frank Baum’s books than the movie. I was very impressed by the story and it’s faithfulness to the original. The art was inspiring and it’s a very entertaining, exciting book to read!
Other Oz-related items I’d recommend include the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Commemorative Pop-up and the film Return to Oz.
I love anime. Specifically, series involving any of the following things: weird fantasy elements, super-powers, robots, aliens, wicked humor, crazy villains, horror, ninjas and samurai. I guess that means I like a lot of anime.