I’d like to start this post out with an apology. I have neglected this blog for nearly 6 months. Around the time I made plans for a different post, some personal drama entered my world and sort of turned me off on the blog and a few other things. I will strive to not let this happen again.
Moving right along, let’s talk today about an illustrator you may be familiar with: Anna Marie Magagna!
As a kid, my parents love to go antiquing. Mom was particularly obsessed with the Victorian era, so we would spend a good chunk of Saturdays and some Sunday afternoons going to different antique malls across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. By this point, The Wizard of Oz was my big thing, and while there frequently weren’t many items anywhere near my price range, I could usually find books.
One book that showed up on a very regular basis was the Grosset & Dunlap “Companion Library” edition of The Wizard of Oz backed with The Jungle Book. They were everywhere and usually for $5-7, and honestly I think they probably have held at that value.
The illustrations for this edition were done by Anna Marie Magagna. Fans of 1960s Kid Lit will recognize her style from The Bobbsey Twins mystery series, which was another favorite of mine as a child and may one day get it’s own blog. Subsequently, I was a big fan of her illustrations.
I’ve tried to do some research on her, but unfortunately there isn’t a lot of information out there about her. She was born in 1938 and graduated from Marywood College in Scranton, PA. She also holds a degrees from the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students Leagues of New York City. She illustrated books from 1958-1984, taught fashion design from 1970-1974 and then 1985-2000, and worked steadily as an illustrator, consultant and art director. And that’s kind of it. I couldn’t find any interviews with her, and a few emails to her assistant went unreturned.
Her artwork for Wizard is actually some of my favorite. It’s all black and white line drawings, that have a lot of movement to them and are a little reminiscent of the Disney films in the late 60s-early 80s, where you see the lines outside of the main image. She doesn’t illustrate the book as heavily as others have, but she does hit the truly key moments, including Glinda!
While the fantasy characters are somewhat traditional and timeless, you can see where Ms. Magagna used her love for fashion design, giving both Dorothy and Glinda very contemporary styles.
Her illustrations were first printed in 1963, and I’ve turned up four different editions, however I am at a total loss for the order of them. My best guess is that the first edition was the single volume under the “Classic Home Bookshelf” banner, which consisted of eight titles.
I assume the “Companion Library” two-in-one editions came next, however, there are two separate editions in this series. The (presumably) first and most common version has Oz backed with The Jungle Book.
The second edition, which I do not own and may have been limited to an Australian release, backs the story with The Prince and the Pauper. This meant that both of the Kipling books (Jungle and Just So Stories) were in one volume which makes more sense.
Finally, the “Companion Library” series was released in individual volumes. My edition of this is inscribed with a date of 1974, which is why I suspect this was after the two-in-one editions, but this is total speculation on my part.
Interestingly, the cover does feature some things not illustrated in full in the book, including the Wizard in his balloon, the poppies and the Winged Monkeys.
It does seem that sometime after the 1970s, these fell out of print, which is a shame. In fact, my one real complaint is that there aren’t more illustrations in the book, as Ms. Magagna was clearly very talented.
So, dear readers, what are your thoughts on Ms. Magagna’s work?
Until next time!