Apparently, I’m on a Disney kick lately. Any way, the pictures taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz of celebrities as Disney characters from http://likes.com/celebs/celebs-as-real-life-disney-characters are stunningly composed, and really tickled my fancy and floated my boat. Enjoy.
Eric Shanower is the Eisner Award-winning cartoonist of the graphic novel series ‘Age of Bronze’ (Image Comics), a retelling of the Trojan War story. With cartoonist Skottie Young, he is adapting L. Frank Baum’s classic Oz books to award-winning, New York Times best selling graphic novels (Marvel Comics). Shanower’s past comics work includes his own Oz graphic novel series, currently published as ‘Little Adventures in Oz’ (IDW), as well as comics art for ‘An Accidental Death’ by Ed Brubaker, ‘The Elsewhere Prince’ by Moebius and R-JM Lofficier, and ‘Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor’. He has illustrated for television, magazines, and children’s books. He’s the author of ‘The Giant Garden of Oz’ and ‘The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories’. He lives in San Diego, California, with his partner, David Maxine, and a cat.
Although busy preparing for his appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, Eric has graciously agreed to answer some questions about writing and illustrating.
For what age audience do you write?
Most of the Oz projects that I do, including the series I currently write for Marvel Comics, are Middle Grade. Age of Bronze, my Trojan War comics series, is adult, although for a while it was appearing on Young Adult lists.
Tell us about your latest book.
I’m adapting the Oz books by L. Frank Baum to the comics medium. Skottie Young is the artist for these books and Jean-Francois Beaulieu is the colorist. We’re currently working on the sixth Oz book, ‘The Emerald City of Oz’. These adaptations are very close to the original material. The only changes I make to the stories is to incorporate, when appropriate and useful, other versions by Baum, such as stage scripts and introductions for excerpts. For the earlier books, we didn’t leave anything out, but the publisher has cut our page count, so, particularly for the latest book, we’re having to condense. I’ve been a professional cartoonist for nearly three decades and I’ve loved the Oz books since I was six years old, so I bring a deep knowledge of both the comics medium and Oz to these adaptations. In addition to Skottie Young’s vital new vision of Oz, which many readers seem to love overwhelmingly, I think this strength gives this series of books the power to last.
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I hope readers of our comics adaptations of the Oz books get a thrilling and humorous experience that’s fresh and direct.
What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?
One of the most challenging aspects of illustrating a comics script that I didn’t write and have little or no emotional connection to. The only way I can get through that situation is to find some aspect of the script that I can relate to, something that has some fundamental meaning in my life. Otherwise, drawing a story I don’t care about is just a mechanical slog to get through.
Henry: I’m tempted to ask to what aspects of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz you can personally relate 🙂
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
A powerful lesson I’ve learned is that anger can be a strong motivational tool to keep a project going.
Henry: Yes, anger. Anger and deadlines.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer/illustrator?
I might never have gone to the site of Troy if I weren’t producing a comics retelling of the Trojan War story. I spent twelve days there and in the surrounding area in the summer of 2006, doing onsite research for ‘Age of Bronze’. It was one of the most magnificent experiences I’ve had.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors or illustrators?
Keep writing and drawing. The only way you’ll get better is by practice.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
“There is a word sweeter than mother, home, or heaven. That word is Liberty.” –Matilda Joslyn Gage
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write or illustrate?
Nothing comes to mind. Just getting the work done is the most important thing. Who has time for rituals?
Henry: You’d be surprised. Some writers cannot be productive without their rituals.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Flight, because it seems like it’d be really fun.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
I wouldn’t want any dead people over for dinner. Wouldn’t that be pretty disgusting? But if dead people could be resurrected and returned to a non-decayed state, I’d choose L. Frank Baum, Homer (as long as Homer could somehow magically speak English), and William Shakespeare.
Henry: Well played, sir. Most people forget about language barriers.
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
Gods. Across all cultures, they’re endlessly fascinating.
Henry: Plus, they have superpowers!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing/illustrating?
My hobbies are reading, taking dance classes, and researching my family genealogy.
Henry: For me, genealogy proved surprisingly illuminating and emotional. I found some delightful connections, including being related to children’s literature goddess Madeleine L’Engle.
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
Henry: Ah, a purist.
Where can readers find your work?
Readers can find my books in the usual places—online booksellers, book stores, comic book shops. Also my website has a link to an online store where most of my current work is for sale and there are samples to read online. Many of my comics—Age of Bronze and Oz—are available in digital editions, too. I will be at San Diego Comic-Con, booth 2008.
This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.
When we consider children’s books and comics, we typically think in terms of interesting characters and compelling stories. So while the focus of children’s books is not on armor, some of the tales taking place in fantasy setting, have armor that plays an important part of the story. After all, The Lord of the Rings tale would have turned out very differently if Frodo had not been wearing mithril armor when he was stabbed by the troll in Moria.
Compiled below are some famous suits of armor from children’s books, comics, and graphic novels. With San Diego Comic-Con just around the bend, these armor choices could serve as inspiration for SDCC cosplay as well.
The Witch King of Angmar
“The Lord of the Rings” series by J.R.R. Tolkien
This guy is Sauron’s right-hand man, er, wraith. If you had any doubts about his alignment, a spiky helmet is always a tipoff that someone works for the dark side. Although you can’t really see it in this photo, his gauntlets and boots are beautifully crafted. Plus, he one-handedly wields a mace the size of a naval mine!
“The Witch-king of Angmar, also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl and the Black Captain, is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasy writings. In Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings, he is the chief of the Nazgûl (Ringwraiths), the chief servants of the Dark Lord Sauron. His name is not revealed in any of Tolkien’s writings, nor are the names of any of the other Nazgûl, except Khamûl.”
“Thor” by Marvel Comics
Here is actor Chris Hemsworth rockin’ Thor’s combination plate and scale armor. I’m not sure why Thor and Loki wear armor, since they appear to be indestructible (recall the beating The Hulk gave Loki in The Avengers movie). And although Edna Mode is not a fan of capes, the red cape really sets off Thor’s armor nicely.
“Thor is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby.
Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character is based on the god Thor of Norse mythology. He has starred in several ongoing series and limited series, and has been a perennial member of the superhero team the Avengers, appearing in each volume of that series.
The 2011 film Thor, based on the character and comic, was directed by Kenneth Branagh and starred Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Hemsworth reappears as Thor in The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World is set for release in 2013. Thor placed 14th on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time in 2011.”
“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
Elrond is one of the senior elves left in Middle-earth, and bearer of one of the three Elven rings of power. As befits an Elf Lord, he is wearing stunningly beautiful armor. The mauve and gold colors are striking, and the gracefully curving lines convey the armor’s elvish provenance.
“Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Hobbit, and plays a supporting role in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion”.
Elrond was Lord of Rivendell, one of the mighty rulers of old that remained in Middle-earth in its Third Age. He was the son of Eärendil and Elwing, and a great-grandson of Lúthien, born in Beleriand in the First Age, making him well over 6,000 years old by the time of the events described in “The Lord of the Rings”. Elrond’s twin brother was Elros Tar-Minyatur, the first High King of Númenor.”
“Batman” by DC Comics
Flexible black armor that renders you bulletproof! What’s not to like? Plus a utility belt with all kinds of useful gadgets. And a cape that lets Batman glide. Protective, functional, and stylish!
“Batman is an ongoing comic book series featuring the DC Comics hero of the same name. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27, published in May 1939. Batman proved to be so popular that a self-titled ongoing comic book series began publication in the spring of 1940. It was first advertised in early April 1940, one month after the first appearance of his new sidekick, Robin, the Boy Wonder.
The first stories appearing in the Batman comic were written by Bill Finger and illustrated by Bob Kane, though Finger went uncredited for years thereafter. These early stories depicted a vengeful Batman, not hesitant to kill when he saw it as a necessary sacrifice. Although not canonical, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns introduced a significant evolution of the Batman’s character in his eponymous series; he became uncompromising and relentless in his struggle to revitalize Gotham. The Batman often exhibited behavior that Gotham’s elite labeled as excessively violent as well as antisocial tendencies. Miller portrayed him with an anti-heroic and near villainous characterization.”
“The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman
Three words: Talking. Polar. Bear. In gold plate armor. OK, seven words. Imagine the power and ferocity of a polar bear, encased in the protective embrace of lovingly crafted sky-iron.
‘Northern Lights’, known as ‘The Golden Compass’ in North America, is a young-adult fantasy novel by Philip Pullman, published by Scholastic UK in 1995. Set in a universe parallel to ours, it features the journey of Lyra Belacqua to the Arctic in search of her missing friend, Roger Parslow, and her imprisoned “uncle”, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as “Dust”. Northern Lights is the first book of a trilogy, ‘His Dark Materials’.
King Iorek Byrnison is a male armored bear (panserbjørner in Norwegian). Like all Panserbjørner, Iorek follows a very strict code of conduct, and will not, in any situation, betray a promise he has made. He possesses incredible strength, and like many of his kind is an expert smith. He is a great friend and comrade to both Lyra Belacqua and Lee Scoresby.
During the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights, Iorek Byrnison is found shaping metal for humans in an Arctic port town. These humans had deceived Iorek by giving him spirits, then stole his sky-iron armor while he was intoxicated: this left him no choice but to work for the humans.”
“Hellboy” by Dark Horse Comics
Admittedly, it is hard to not think about Prince Nuada’s extendable spear and his incredible fighting prowess. But his beautiful leather armor is light and flexible, and therefore better suited to his lightning fast fighting style than would be clumsy plate mail.
“Hellboy is a fictional character, a comic book superhero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. The character first appeared in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (Aug. 1993), and has since appeared in various eponymous miniseries, one-shots and inter-company crossovers. The character has been adapted into two live-action feature films in 2004 and 2008. Prince Nuada was the villain in the latter film.”
Prince Nuada, played by Luke Goss, appears in the Hellboy II movie. He is the son of the Elf King Balor, and brother to Princess Nuala, with whom he shares a symbiotic yin-yang relationship. He resents the diminishment of the Elf realms to the point of madness. His lust to restore the Elves’ former glory leads him to ruthlessly kills a room full of humans, as well as his father, to obtain two pieces of the magical crown that controls the unstoppable mechanical Golden Army.”
“Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
While he is not a named character in the book or movie, this minotaur is sporting some some ornate and evil-looking armor (that’s as it should be, since he’s a minion of the White Witch). Plate armor, combined with steel-tipped horns, immense strength, and feral ferocity make him an opponent to be feared.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It was the first published of seven novels in “The Chronicles of Narnia” (1950–1956) and it is the best known; among all the author’s books it is the most widely held in libraries.
Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical beings that the White Witch has ruled for one hundred years of deep winter. In the frame story, four English children live in a big old country house during their World War II evacuation from London. In Narnia the siblings seem to fulfill an old prophecy, so they are soon adventuring both to save their lives and to deliver the country.”
“Iron Man” by DC Comics
Iron Man’s armor not only provides protection, but also enables him to fly, fire offensive weapons, and to receive tactical artificial intelligence. This high tech outfit is literally and figuratively the gold standard in armor.
“Iron Man is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).
An American billionaire playboy, industrialist and ingenious engineer, Tony Stark suffers a severe chest injury during a kidnapping in which his captors attempt to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction. He instead creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape captivity. He later uses the suit and successive versions to protect the world as Iron Man. Through his corporation ― Stark Industries ― Tony has created many military weapons, some of which, along with other technological devices of his making, have been integrated into his suit, helping him fight crime.
Warriors Working With Wicked Witch of the West
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
Although formidable in her own right, the Wicked Witch of the West has two sets of minions: those delightfully scary flying monkeys and halberd-wielding and ornately uniformed royal guard. Although the bearskin caps and leather jerkins are impressive looking, their protective value is questionable, given three of them are quickly overpowered by the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion. Still, they had to be included in this list for the sake of nostalgia, if nothing else.
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a 1900 children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a cyclone.
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American fantasy adventure film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film stars Judy Garland. Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score, and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured what may be the most elaborate use of character makeups and special effects in a film up to that time.”
This article is also published in the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.
When we think about children’s books, we think in terms of interesting characters and compelling stories. So while the focus of children’s books is not on weapons, some of the tales taking place in fantasy settings, have magical weapons that play an important part of the story. After all, T.H. White’s ‘The Sword in the Stone’ might have been a rather dull book if Arthur was never able to draw Excalibur from the stone. Compiled below are some famous weapons from children’s books.
The villain in J.M. Barrie’s book ‘Peter Pan’ is the demented Captain Hook. He is played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie version by Amblin Entertainment & TriStar Pictures ‘Hook’.
One of the heroes from Grimms’ Fairy Tales is the Huntsman. He is played by Chris Hemsworth in the movie version by Roth Films & Universal Pictures ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’. Disney’s 1937 version was ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’.
One of Arthur’s helpers in Luc Besson’s book ‘Arthur and the Minimoys’ is the diminutive but unquenchable Prince Betameche. He has an amazing multi-function pocket knife. Betameche is voiced by Jimmy Fallon in the movie version by EuropaCorp & Avalanche Productions ‘Arthur and the Invisibles’.
The villain in C.S. Lewis’ book ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ is the powerful Ice Queen. She has two swords, can turn opponents to stone, and rides in a war chariot pulled by polar bears. She is played by Tilda Swinton in the movie version by Walt Disney Pictures & Walden Media ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’.
One of Prince Westley’s allies in William Goldman’s book ‘The Princess Bride’ is the tragic Inigo Montoya, famous for telling the sword-stealing murderer of his father, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” He is played by Mandy Patinkin in the movie version by Act III Communications & Buttercup Films Ltd.
The hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ is the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who finds the elf dagger Sting in a troll hoard, and uses it to good effect in protecting his dwarf companions as they journey to the Lonely Mountain to face Smaug the dragon. He is played by Martin Freeman in the movie version by New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer & WingNut Films ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’.
The villain in L. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ is the Wicked Witch of the West. Her magical broom enables her to fly, and she also uses it to spread fire and smoke. She is played by Margaret Hamilton in the 1939 movie version by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer & Loew’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
The hero of Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’ is Katniss Everdeen, who is a highly proficient archer. At the capitol, she acquires a high-tech bow and arrow set. She is played by Jennifer Lawrence in the movie version by Lion’s Gate & Color Force.
The hero Percy Jackson of Rick Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians’ is the son of the Greek God Zeus, and must recover the stolen lightning bolt of Zeus. He is played by Logan Lerman in the movie version by Fox 2000 Pictures, 1492 Pictures & Big Screen Productions ‘Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief’.
The hero of J.K. Rowlings’ ‘Harry Potter’ series is the boy wizard Harry Potter. Harry’s magic wand enables him to cast spells. He is played by Daniel Radcliffe in the movie series by Warner Bros., Heyday Films & 1492 Pictures, the first of which is ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’.
With the remake Oz the Great and Powerful in theaters now, here are some great quotes from the original 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz.
Dorothy: [singing] The wind began to switch / The house, to pitch / And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch / Just then the Witch / To satisfy an itch / Went flying on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch!
Munchkin: And, oh, what happened then was rich!
Munchkins: [singing] The house began to pitch / The kitchen took a slich / It landed on the Wicked Witch in the middle of a ditch / Which was not a happy situation for the Wicked Witch!
Scarecrow: Pardon me, this way is a very nice way.
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk.
Scarecrow: [points other way] It’s pleasant down that way, too.
Dorothy: That’s funny. Wasn’t he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: [points both ways] Of course, some people do go both ways. (Editor’s note: I wonder if it meant in 1939 what it means in 2013)
Apple Tree: What’d’ya think you’re doing?
Dorothy: We’ve been walking a long ways and I was hungry and… did you say something?
Apple Tree: She was hungry! Well, how would you like to have someone come along and pick something off of you?
Dorothy: Oh dear! I keep forgetting I’m not in Kansas!
Scarecrow: Come along Dorothy. You don’t want any of those apples!
Apple Tree: Are you hinting my apples aren’t what they ought to be?
Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow: What’s that?
Cowardly Lion: Talk me out of it!
Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman: Courage!
Cowardly Lion: You can say that again! Huh?
Wizard of Oz: Frightened? Child, you’re talking to a man who’s laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe… I was petrified.
Cowardly Lion: Not nobody! Not nohow!
Tin Woodsman: Not even a rhinoceros?
Cowardly Lion: Imposerous!
Dorothy: How about a hippopotamus?
Cowardly Lion: Why, I’d thrash him from top to bottomus!
Dorothy: Supposing you met an elephant?
Cowardly Lion: I’d wrap him up in cellophane!
Scarecrow: What if it were a brontosaurus?
Cowardly Lion: I’d show him who was king of the forest!
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Prove it!
Scarecrow: She’s wearing the ruby slippers she gave her.
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Oh, so she is! Well, bust my buttons! Why didn’t you say that in the first place? That’s a horse of a different color! Come on in!
Dorothy: How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?
Scarecrow: I don’t know… But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking… don’t they?
Dorothy: Yes, I guess you’re right.
[the Flying Monkeys]
Scarecrow: took my legs off and they threw them over there! Then they took my chest out and they threw it over there!
Tin Woodsman: Well, that’s you all over!
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: And never will again, I fancy. There’s only one of him and he’s it. He’s the Horse of a Different Color, you’ve heard tell about.
[goes over to the Scarecrow]
Cowardly Lion: And put your hands up, you lopsided bag of hay!
Scarecrow: Now that’s getting personal, Lion.
Tin Woodsman: Yes. Get up and teach him a lesson.
Scarecrow: Well, what’s wrong with you teaching him?
Tin Woodsman: Well, I hardly know him.