Behind the Curtain
Sketches for a New Oz Squad (with Notes by the Illustrator)

With the relaunch of Oz Squad I also wanted to revise the look of the characters. The picture above is not that revision.One might consider it a first draft. I did that illustration for the first version of the Oz Squad page. I hadn't talked with Steve in over a decade and so this was done without any input from him and without any thought that I'd be doing the series. It's not a bad for a one-off but for a final design? No.

The basic group is obvious. There are dozen of cool Ozites but when you think of Oz, what characters do you think of? Dorothy, Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Woodsman right? Probably Toto too. This is the gang that will always come to mind..

The (Self-Proclaimed) Cowardly Lion

One thing I really don't get about the majority of Oz comics. What's wrong with the Lion being a Lion? Usually he's depicted as some sort of manlion; a furry bipedal freak. It's probably fun to draw and I'm sure it saves time on checking reference photos but that seems like a cheat to me.

I think it's great that he's not a human being. He's not some guy in a lion suit. He's a really big damn lion. Who talks. That's cool right there. In Oz Squad the Lion is able to transform into a man when he wants. It helps when he needs to get around in the human world. Just as Lion is a big damn lion I wanted his human form to be a big damn guy. With lionish qualities.


Get it straight folks. The Scarecrow is a suit of clothes stuffed with straw. His head is a painted bag. He's got no bones. No bones. So why do artists insist on showing him with knees and elbows? Why give him a topographic face? Feh.

The years have been hard on the Scarecrow. He's not the cheerful guy he used to be. He's able to change out his stuffing and clothes to fit his mood. I ran a series of heads by Steve and he picked the one with the tie.

Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodsman

I can understand why Nick sometimes gets depicted as some sort of cyborg or mechanical man. His tin parts are replacements for flesh ones. Thing is - there's no meat left to him. His head is as tin and empty as the rest of him. He's a tin shell around a living ghost. His meat self is still out there living its meat life in little meaty pieces.

Nick has been the hardest character for whom to settle on a design. There are a really a lot of ways to build a tin man. There were a few constants I held on to - the long nose, the oil can hat and the big chin. Beyond that I wanted him to look both powerful and whimsical; something that couldn't be a costume.

Dorothy Gale

Most of the world knows Dorothy Gale as one of the faces of Judy Garland. Sadly, Judy Garland was no Dorothy Gale. Judy's Dorothy is an adolescent who dreams of getting away from her humdrum life, gets caught up in an adventure and, upon waking from that dream of adventure, thinks there's no place like home. The Dorothy Gale we meet in Baum's novel is a very practical six year old who faces down lions, wizards and witches and when her big chance to get home is snatched away she sucks it up and goes on yet another journey to ask a powerful sorceress for a favor.

I tried to draw the kind of woman that girl might become if she never needed to worry about getting old. Dorothy's not a babe, she's a practical country girl who fell into a fantastic life. She's a princess who couldn't care less about jewels and lace.

Various Ozites

As I said, there are dozens of cool Ozites. Each one is a favorite of some Oz fan somewhere. No doubt my versions will clash with someone else's ideal version. Ah well. Folks will have plenty to be pleased or upset by as I illustrate our Oz Squad Who's Who.

Up above we have  profiles of the Sawhorse, Tiktok and Ozma. (Not an Ozma that works for me. More sketches are being done.) Then we've got a kalidah's face and a couple of sketches of the Glass Cat. A Shaggy Man and the Woozy. Size comparisons of a kalidah, the Lion, some guy, Nick and Tiktok (with a whisp representing Kabumpo in the back). A profile of the human version of the Hungry Tiger. Professor H.M. Wogglebug, T.E., T.R. (Thoroughly Redesigned)

Flying Nuisances

Baum only used the Flying Monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. Nonetheless, Oz and Flying Monkeys are tied together in every child's nightmares. Blame MGM for that. The Monkeys weren't evil. They were just following ... Uh. Maybe they were evil. They are fun to draw.

The human face belongs to the Wizard. The parrot we will not discuss.


The world of Oz Squad is big and complex. Beyond the countries described by Baum it includes many of the lands explored in fairy tales and classic children's fiction. Early on we considered using Dracula as a villain. Considered and discarded. That's him on the left. I went for a foreign nobleman look styled after good ol' Vlad Tepes. As for the rest - let's just say they are acquaintances of a certain lad who never grows up and leave it at that.

Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four

Sentient 39 is copyright 2003 by David Lee Ingersoll
Notes on progress to this site (as well as general ranting and rambling) can be found in my web journal.
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