The Gang, with Color

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice that I don’t consider coloring to be one of my strong suits. I think I can do it well but it does require a lot of trial and error on my part for me to feel like I’ve done it well. I’m a noodler. I like gradients and detail. Just laying down flat colors and calling it good is hard for me.

Flat coloring is faster than gradient, layered color, however, and I’m trying to speed up my processes. For the current incarnation of Oz Squad I’m just doing flat colors. So, even though my fingers are itching to add shadows and highlights, I’m calling this done.


Some of the Gang

I started this illustration a few years ago. With getting put together I figured that now was a good time to finish it. I’d originally intended it as a promo illustration for the Oz Squad comic revival. Now I’ll be using it as the illustration on the intro page of the website. I did the last of the inking and scanned it in on Friday. If all goes well I’ll have it colored in time to post that version on Monday. If all goes really I’ll have the text of the introduction finished as well and they can both go up together.

Royal Historians

 A lot of folks have written a lot of Oz stories in the century plus since The Wonderful Wizard of Oz first saw print. For the purposes of the site I’m only designating a few of them as official Royal Historians. I’m including their biographies and Oz bibliographies over at that website. These portraits will also be colored there.

L. Frank Baum
W.W. Denslow
John R. Neill
Ruth Plumly Thompson

And Steve Ahlquist, of course. I don’t think he wears this suit very often. We had to vacuum off a bit of dust before he sat down for the portrait.

I’ve gotten up to John R. Neill in writing the bios. I’ll post a notice here when I’ve finished the rest.

The Black Lion

The Lion in 1955. Or maybe it’s a Lion in 1955. Dorothy was replaced involuntarily. Perhaps the Lion had a substitute as well? I don’t know. The 1955 Lion appears twice in the flashback in issue 8 and neither version looks different than any of Terry Loh’s contemporary versions of the Lion. But, since everyone else on the Squad has gone through changes since Dorothy first came to Oz over a century ago, it seemed unfair to have the Lion stay the same in every incarnation.

Tin and Chrome

Nick Chopper, the 1955 version. Drawing Nick is always a bit of a challenge. I’ve known a lot of artists who had an affinity for drawing cars, robots and other machines. My preferences are drawing organic objects – animals, plants and landscapes. So representing the Tin Man usually requires twice as much preliminary sketches as any of the other characters.

Terry Loh drew Nick with 1950s styling for that 1955 version of the Squad so I’ve tried to duplicate and preserve that.

She’s Not Who She Thinks She Is.

This and the next three posts feature the 1955 version of Oz Squad. I really can’t tell you much about them. They appear in a three page flash back in the 8th issue of the comic. Apparently Dorothy spent most of 1955 in a Soviet sensory deprivation tank while a duplicate Dorothy ran the Squad. Hopefully I’ll get to draw that adventure sometime.

Or at least do illustrations for the novel. Hey Steve?

A Lion Among Men

When he goes to Earth, the Lion uses an enchantment that makes him appear to be a human being. I assume that the enchantment actually transforms him into a human but it’s possible that his human guise is merely an illusion. Given that a human and a giant lion will fill space differently, a  physical transformation seems more practical but I don’t know for certain which it is. I’ll have to ask Steve about it sometime.

One Tin Soldier

Nick Chopper wasn’t a soldier. He was a woodcutter. Once his body had all become tin he remained a woodcutter. He continued to carry his axe less for utility than because it was the last remnant of his human life.

After the events of World War 2 he set his axe aside and built other weapons into his body. He used the latest technologies to make his bodies into mobile defense/assault systems.

There was a Tin Soldier in original Baum Oz books. I don’t know if he’s still around. If he is, he isn’t scheduled to appear in Oz Squad yet.

Scarecrow – The Years Take Their Toll

In the first few issues of the original Oz Squad comic, the Scarecrow isn’t in good shape. He’s depressed and somewhat suicidal. How else would you explain his smoking habit?

His outlook improves but only after he experiences a kind of a breakdown. And a change of clothes. For some individuals, more than others, how one looks really is how one feels.

Andrew Murphy, the first Oz Squad artist, gave the Scarecrow a face that had three dimensions. He had eyes, a nose and a mouth with teeth. I’ve always preferred the idea that the Scarecrow’s face was painted on. When he talked, the paint moved. I think that’s cool and creepy at the same time.