Tuesday, April 2, 2019

"Handy Mandy in Oz #1"

This wonderful collection contains some very special Oz material - roughs and design sketches showing John R. Neill's process in illustrating the Oz books - such as the following page of roughs for the 1937 Oz title Handy Mandy in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson.

"Handy Mandy in Oz - sketch 1" (1937)  SOLD

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
Pencil on paper, unsigned
Image size: Multiple images on sheet
Paper size: 11" x 8.5"
$700.00 SOLD 

There are very few of these roughs that survive, showing Neill's process illustrating the famous Oz books. This sheet shows five images of Handy Mandy. Neill is trying out different poses, working out how best to show a girl with seven hands to best advantage!

The bottom sketch of Mandy holding a tray of food in each of her seven hands was utilized in the final pictorial endpaper design of the book.

Comparison of sketch and printed illustration.

Interestingly the pose is reversed in the final illustration. The loose sketch of Mandy drawing back multiple fists was also incorporated into the endpaper design.

Comparison of sketch and printed illustration.

The sketch of Mandy pointing her finger was used for the drawing on page 114 of the published book.

Comparison of sketch and printed illustration.

It's curious that Neill chose to use mirror images of Handy Mandy holding the trays of food and Handy Mandy pointing. He may have used a transfer technique (such as rubbing the back of the image face-down on the illustration board) or perhaps he just changed the pose. The nearly identical flip-flop of the assorted foods makes it seem the reversal was simply part of Neill's method.

We have many other fine original drawings by John R. Neill on the website!

Come check it all out at

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