In real life,
being a Friend of Dorothy might get some funny looks. Sorry,
but it's true. In Dorothy, however, being her friend
means you've most likely been seriously screwed up. The
fourth issue of Illusive Arts' intriguing digitally photographed
comic book proves the point with its take on the Scarecrow.
This is no good-natured
blue-clad bag of straw, just as no elements of this book
have been quite the reassuring creations of L. Frank Baum.
From the beginning of Greg Mannino's revision, Dorothy
has been a dark and unsettling ride. Not even sweet little
Dorothy Gale of Kansas seems all that in Kansas anymore,
what with the lip piercing and the dyed hair.
as some of the imagery has been in this unique title, the
first couple of issues meandered. Reveling in its lead,
the photogenic Catie Fisher, and its alleged edginess, Dorothy
built very slowly, a move that could have strangled the
book in its cradle.
Arts believed in its offering, for each successive issue
of this title has gotten stronger and better paced. With
chapter IV, "The Fool," writer Mark Masterson delivers a
chilling though ambiguous explanation for the character
we're going to have to call the Scarecrow.
Things are not
pleasant in Oz, as forces gather that make the Wicked Witch
look like Glinda. The Dark Queen glimpsed in shadow surrounds
herself with grotesque toadies that might actually be toad-men,
and if a ever a Wizard there was in Oz, he may not be here
Clearly, a rebellion
did start, but it hasn't gone well. A handsome young prince
has stood up against a legion of tin men, but his punishment
was swift and horrible. From the pulp of his corpse rises
something only vaguely familiar.
This isn't the
first time Oz has been given the dark treatment. Comics
have tackled it a couple of times, with my personal favorite
being the ridiculously wrong but affectionate recasting
of the characters as secret agents in The Oz Squad.
At one point, even Todd McFarlane had a line of action figure/statues
called "Twisted Oz." So adding to the dark clouds of the
cyclone is nothing new.
Masterson, however, have the advantage of great Photoshop
skills to give the book a unique look. It's also clear that
the changes in character have a connecting vision beyond
"let's just make it look freaky and scary." The background
work has been pretty good, though some of the compositions
have been simplistic. For such a small operation, though,
it's a mammoth amount of work, and kudos have to be given
for their ability to keep this book on a regular schedule.
has its ups and downs. As Dorothy, Fisher has had little
to do but sneer, snarl and look disaffected. She's capable
of more (and in person seems quite nice), but the story
hasn't allowed it. The young Prince and his paramour in
this issue strike just the right note of sorrow and nobility,
but an aide-de-camp looks a little lost and callow.
problem goes away when the characters are manipulated into
being fantastic. When we're left with the more human citizens
of Oz, the book occasionally looks like Mannino just posed
some friends, instead of hiring professional models or actors.
This dark vision
is worth a look, though, and many of us eagerly await each
appearance of their freaky flying monkeys.
Fisher and digital modeler Ray Boersig will
be appearing at Brian's Books on Friday, October 7 at
6 p.m. Come by and check out the book, get it signed, say
how do you do and shake hands.