Abstract

John R. Neill (1877–1943) illustrated all of L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels except the first, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As Baum’s stories showcase a queer and magical wonderland, one that continually flouts cultural constructions of gender and sexual normativity, so too do Neill’s illustrations of Baum’s Oz capture its transgressive and marvelous aspects. Most of Neill’s drawings faithfully depict, without any hints of erotic undertones, the fantastic quests of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and Baum’s numerous other adventurers, yet other pictures encode vaginal, phallic, and sexual imagery into their accounts of the narrative action, thus troubling the assumed innocence of children’s literature. Furthermore, Neill frequently draws the close friendship between the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, which Baum describes as a long-term relationship resembling a marriage, with visual double entendre suggesting the erotic aspects of their union. After Baum’s death, Neill wrote four books in the Oz series, adhering to Baum’s queer legacy, both narratively and pictorially, while reconceiving some of its erotic foundations.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1536-1802
Print ISSN
1521-4281
Pages
pp. 64-86
Launched on MUSE
2015-03-16
Open Access
No
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