Friday, March 30, 2007
My role in Dorothy's downfall
Sydney's paper at this year's International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts was titled "Lost Girl: The Diminution of Dorothy Gale," and it addressed what folks since L. Frank Baum have done to his magical, powerful little-girl hero -- aging her and/or sexualizing her and/or ridding her of magic and/or power (Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's new graphic novel Lost Girls, Sydney argues, has the dubious honor of accomplishing all of the above) or simply omitting her entirely, as in the Wicked industry. In the weeks that Sydney worked on this paper, and the hours I spent helping her assemble a slideshow of images, neither of us remembered that a major text was right under our noses. Not until today, when our older and more ornery cat, Hillary, knocked it off the shelf, did I remember this Wizard of Oz plate that I drew for my mother when I was in third grade.Drawing from memory, I put in all my favorite ingredients from the movie: Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, Lion, steam issuing from the Woodsman's tin hat, witch, witch's castle, sign pointing the way to the witch's castle, Yellow Brick Road, grumpy trees and lots of winged monkeys. I was too young to appreciate the contributions of Frank Morgan (indeed, I probably didn't realize, quite yet, that the same man played all those roles), had no interest in Glinda (and still don't; Billie Burke is delightful in the Topper movies, but in Oz she had nothing to do) or in the Munchkins (which were too much like my fellow third-graders for comfort) -- or, sadly, in poor Dorothy herself. In the movie, the monkeys attack four travelers, including Dorothy, but not in my Oz. Granted, in the movie the witch had buzzed through the sky earlier, and the grumpy tree had been encountered much earlier, but I clearly recall my deletion of Dorothy being deliberate, because when my teacher, Mrs. Owen, asked me why I hadn't included Dorothy, I replied, with some heat: "I can't draw Dorothy!" Paging Dr. Freud ...
Posted by Andy Duncan at 6:03 PM