Michael Sieben is off to see the Wizard
"The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz"
Having seen his work in a Juxtapose Illustration book, an editor from Harper Collins contacted Michael Sieben about creating the art for a re-issue of one of the world's best-known and -loved children's books. Suffice it to say the "yes" came immediately.
Granted from the Wizard to the Scarecrow, brains; to the Cowardly Lion, courage; and to the Tin Woodman, a heart.
Lions and tigers and bears. And llamas and turtles and bunnies and ...
Legend holds that the Winged Monkeys, once a free species roaming the forests of Oz, were cursed by a sorceress to be commanded by whomever wore the golden cap she'd sewn for her husband, whom the monkeys had pranked. We all know who got her wicked hands on that one.
Glinda and the Winkies
Once Dorothy melts the Wicked Witch of the West, the Winkies, her minions, are freed. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, permits the Tin Woodman to return with them to their native land, where he becomes their king.
"Auntie Em! Auntie Em!"
Yep, that's a twister, all right, soon to deposit the family farmhouse on top of the Wicked Witch of the East.
Some of Sieben's first attempts to conceptualize, then realize, the more than 60 illustrations adorning the reissue of this L. Frank Baum classic.
Female characters were the ones with which Siebens most struggled, having had less experience drawing them in other projects. Here, some sketches of Dorothy, Auntie Em and Glinda the Good Witch are mixed with images of the Wizard, Toto and others.
Not even the illustrator can resist a read of a book millions have loved for more than 100 years. Sieben says he has always dreamed of producing the artwork for a children's book.
Michael Siebens (seated) greets legendary musician/skateboarder/artist Tim Kerr (far right) and Kerr's wife, Beth (to Tim's immediate left) at the BookPeople bookstore in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 19, where Sieben celebrated the book's release with a signing and slideshow. Sieben's said that Kerr is one of his only heroes. (Incidentally, local Terrible One BMX pro Hanson Little appears between Tim and Beth.)
Sieben's newest project rounds out a healthy mix of illustrations, books and other media that are part of his ever-building portfolio.
The Tin Woodman, feeling his new heart -- a gift from the Wizard -- swell, hacks at the limbs of a Fighting Tree so that his friends may pass unharmed on their way to Dainty China Country from the Emerald City.
Queen of the Field Mice
To repay the Tin Woodman for beheading the Wildcat who chased and threatened to eat her, the Queen Of The Field Mice bid her subjects to cart the Cowardly Lion from the field of poppies, where he snoozed, to the path, where he could rejoin his friends on their quest. Thousands of mice brought lengths of string, by which the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman tied them to a truck by their necks; they pulled the Lion to safety easily.
Dorothy and friends encountered these armless threats on the hill approaching the country of the Quadlings. One man knocked Scarecrow down with his flat-topped head, which sprang, powerfully and accordion-like, from his wrinkled neck. "It is useless to fight people with shooting heads; no one can withstand them," said the Lion.
Show and tell
Sieben shares one of his more than 60 individual illustrations he completed for "The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz" with the crowd gathered for the book's release and signing at BookPeople in Austin, TX.