I can no longer recall what prompted me to pick up the first volume of Dorothy, an extremely slow-publishing comic based on the Wizard of Oz that so far doesn’t have enough issues in play to warrant a Volume II. I mean, I’m sure it was related to my Amazon gold box, but as far as what made them think I should get it, I have no guess. Anyway, it has proceeded to sit on my bookshelf for lo these many months, occasionally pulled down but then supplanted by something else. Having finally taken the plunge, I am provisionally hopeful that the sequel will come forth someday. (Of course, even if it does, there will be more yet to come behind it, even slowlier.)
The most obvious thing about the book is the art format. A combination of photography and CGI makes it the most visually distinctive graphic novel I’ve read. I’m sure drawing could have done as good of a job at telling the story, but the images would almost certainly not stick in the same way, and neither would I be bothering to talk about the way it was put together except in broad strokes. So that’s a partial success. And nothing really looked bad, though I will say I’m not so sure about the contrast between the photographs and the standard comic-book lettering. A lot of the inhabitants of Oz had the long and concave faces that aliens have had ever since Communion was published, which struck me as odd. But to counter that, I feel strongly that Toto would have been greatly diminished by being drawn instead of CGIed into the photorealism.
The next most obvious thing about the book is the emo quotient. Modern Dorothy is completely alienated by Kansas’ many charms, and appears to spend most of her time doing drugs or complaining about her aunt and uncle in her diary. But once her tragic tale has been expanded over the course of several flashbacks and she’s fully committed herself to figuring out what’s going on in this bizarre and dangerous Oz place, both the plot and her character settle into a much more pleasing rhythm. For all her disaffected attitude, she’s the kind of tough in the clutch that emo kids believe they could be if only the world would give them the chance, proving right there in the statement of belief that they are not that kind of tough. And maybe being disaffectedly tough is good for her, because the Oz she’s been dropped into reminds me a lot more of the recent Sci-Fi channel movie, Tin Man, than it does of Judy Garland’s technicolor romp down the garden path. Oz is in bad shape: an evil queen in the West holds dominion over the whole land, and the only things that might displace her rule are the Wizard, who is gone to ground where nobody can find him, and prophecies of a girl who will someday come to Oz (specifically to oppose her? it’s not clear yet). Winged monkeys are out and about doing whatever they feel like, without the excuse of some diabolical mission to prompt their presence, if that gives you an idea of how bad things have become. I can dig it.