FEATURE: Galen Dara on Illustrating Oz

When John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen approached me about doing cover art for an anthology of re-imagined Oz stories, my first reaction was complete excitement. It wasn’t until I began reading the stories that reality began to set in; the real challenge would be coming up with an image that would honor the Oz legacy while also representing the amazing diversity the authors brought to the collection. The settings range all over the place, including futuristic dystopias, military war zones, and a dream-walk through a steampunkish Shanghai, just to name a few. Some never leave Kansas. Some are in an Oz that no one could have anticipated. And the cast of characters! Not all of the stories include versions of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin man and the Lion. Those that do are often retold in such creative ways that the  ways they are different are not always initially obvious. You can see the challenge.

So there was a lot of preliminary sketching and  back and forth with John and Doug as we discussed such things as whether or not the Emerald City would be the best setting, which characters to include, and always, how to indicate the re-imagined aspect of it all.  We ultimately came up with the idea to select variations from several of the stories to represent the four main characters. For example, the candy goth Dorothy is pulled from Robin Wasserman’s “One Flew Over the Rainbow.” The Tin Man is from David Farland’s cyber-magical “Dead Blue.” The Scarecrow is derived from Tad Williams’ vision of a virtual reality Oz. The Lion, well, I liked the Lion just so (though there’s an awesome array of lion-ish interpretations in this anthology). As we went along, it was decided that the since the journey was key to so many of the stories, we opted for the Yellow Brick Road instead of the Emerald City as the setting. So it goes, until the final cover was created. It was a wonderful process to be involved in and I’m honored to be a part of this incredible collection. For your entertainment, here are a few preliminary concept sketches and the evolution of Dorothy’s outfit.

The Twister--early concept art for the cover

The Twister–early concept art for the cover

 

The Yellow Brick Road--More early concept art for the cover

The Yellow Brick Road–more early concept art for the cover

 

Early concept art for Dorothy and company

Early concept art for Dorothy and company

 

Early sketch of Dorothy and the gang in the Emerald City

Early sketch of Dorothy and the gang in the Emerald City

 

Another sketch of Dorothy and the gang in the Emerald City

Another sketch of Dorothy and the gang in the Emerald City

 

Early sketch with basic design of Dorothy and the gang on the road

Early sketch with basic design of Dorothy and the gang on the road

 

Accessorizing Dorothy

Accessorizing Dorothy

 

The whole gang on the road with Emerald City in the background

The whole gang on the road with Emerald City in the background

 

Final cover without the design

Final art for cover without the design