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Local ‘Oz’ cartoonist draws on childhood memories

Eric Shanower never intended for the Land of Oz to be such a large part of his career as a cartoonist, but more than two decades later, he’s left quite the impression on the Oz comic scene.

As a child, Shanower discovered the Oz books even before he was even old enough to read. His parents began to read them to him and over the years, he decided to write and illustrate his own tales about Oz. Although his early attempts were just childhood fun, he tried again while in art school and found success with a five-book graphic novel series.

“The books were very traditional,” said Shanower. “I didn’t try to update anything. Just new adventures with the same characters.”

After the series was published in the late-1980s and early-1990s, Shanower wanted to move away from the world of Oz and focus on other interests. But the offers for other writing and illustrating projects surrounding Oz proved too good to turn down.

“So I’ve come to terms with having Oz be a part of my career in some way probably for the rest of my life,” Shanower said. “I just try to keep it down to a dull roar.”

The decision to include Oz in his career has paid off in a big way in recent years. The first two editions of his latest project, a Marvel series adaptation of The Land of Oz series, each landed on the New York Times Graphic Books best-seller list.

When Shanower received an email from Marvel a few years ago asking him to work on the project, he didn’t know what to expect. But when the first book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, began its 23-week stint on the New York Times list in September 2009, he was pleasantly surprised. The second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, followed suit with three weeks on the best-seller list.

Ozma of Oz, the third adaptation, is currently being issued as a comic book periodical, meaning it has been split into eight issues. Once all the issues have been published, they will be compiled into a complete graphic novel.

Shanower has already started working on the adaptation of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, the fourth installment in the series.

“The most rewarding part was being able to fulfill my childhood dream of writing and drawing Oz stories,” said Shanower about his career. “When I was little, I saw that there had been different authors of Oz books and thought that if these people could write them, so could I.”

“I’ve worked on many, many different types of Oz projects over the years,” continued Shanower. “I hope that what I’ve done has provided readers with some enjoyment and sense of the things that they liked about the original story of The Wizard of Oz.

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Posted by on Feb 12, 2011. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Feature Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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