Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is, hands down, the best adaptation of L Frank Baum's first Oz book. The short book is covered in just eight issues and can be purchased in one volume (published by Marvel).
You probably already know the story, or have an idea of how it goes. Dorothy gets carried away in her house over to a fairy land called Oz, and manages to flatten an evil witch when she lands. Now all she wants to do is get home, and she embarks on an adventure to see Oz, the Great and Terrible in hopes he'll help her. She meets some friends along the way: a scarecrow who wants brains, a tin man who wants a heart, and a lion who wants courage. Read on for my full thoughts!
This comic adaptation breathes new life into the story with beautiful, whimsical artwork without even altering the original plot in any way. The writing is pretty much straight out of the book, but that doesn't make it a lazy job on the part of Shanower - there is the matter of choosing which lines to add to the captions, and how to spread out the dialogue and timing evenly between panels, and how to break it up from issue to issue. Everything translated so perfectly, and an old story which reads today in an almost-cold, dry tone was vibrantly retold in a way that pulled me in completely as if I didn't know what would happen next at the turn of each page.
This isn't a fault of Baum's - it's clearly a difference in the way storytelling went then and now, over a century later. And these were the right folks for the job to make the Oz stories relevant again. I spent the entire time reading with a huge grin on my face, and now that I've devoured the first miniseries, I'm getting ready to buy and read the next one based on the second (comic) book, The Marvelous Land of Oz. So far, I've read through the third original book, and I plan on reading all of the originals, so I'll be glad to follow each with the comics. The latest I see in Marvel's listing of Shanower's work is issue #2 of The Emerald City of Oz, which corresponds to the sixth book (out of 14) and was released this week (at the time of writing).
In terms of the artwork, I love the style. It's got this great exaggerated-ness that emphasizes the tone of the story - that we're in a fairyland, not our own world, and things are odd here. The color themes are also wonderful, and the dominant color of the country our heroes are in at the time, for example, would be washed across all the panels until they moved on somewhere else. There's kind of a steampunk feel to the lineart as well, which I wouldn't have even begun to imagine on my own. But now that I've seen it I couldn't imagine anything else. It gives every panel just that much more movement, and carried the narrative much more smoothly.
If you've ever been curious about the original Oz stories, and aren't sure whether you want to read the books (in case you're curious, I've been reviewing them on Bookalicious), I would even go as far as suggesting you skip them altogether and just read these comics. They're 100% faithful to the original material and an absolute delight to read. These books are all ages-friendly, and are available in print as well as digital download.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Eric Shanower - Paperback
Buy The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Eric Shanower in Paperback for the low price of 14.59. Find this product in Comics & Graphic Novels > Fantasy.