Return to THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ with Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

This July, return to the merry ol’ land of Oz with those magnificent stewards Eric Shanower and Skottie Young! Today, Marvel drops a Baum with the announcement of their next adaptation from the land just over the rainbow.

Times are tough for Henry and Em Gale on their Kansas homestead. Henry isn’t as young as he used to be, and keeping up with the mortgage payments has become a grim prospect. Luckily, their niece Dorothy knows of a fine little market where the rates are a horse of a different color entirely. That’s right! The Gales are about to pick up stakes and head to their new permanent digs in The Emerald City of Oz!

Of course, this isn’t just a tale of surreal estate and sublime retirement plans. Roquat the Red, dastardly King of the Nomes, is on the march, and not to help move the furniture.

We spoke to writer Eric Shanower about this next chapter in the Oz saga!

The Emerald City of Oz #1 cover by Skottie Young

The Emerald City of Oz #1 cover by Skottie Young

iFanboy: The Emerald City of Oz brings Dorothy’s story full circle with a return to Kansas. What’s new for the Gale family?

Eric Shanower: Dorothy’s Uncle Henry can’t pay the mortgage on the Kansas farm. They cyclone carried off their previous house and Uncle Henry’s health went to pot, so money’s been a problem for the family. Now they’ve reached the edge of the cliff, and there’s only one solution that anyone can see—to move to the Emerald City of Oz.

iFanboy: I understand Emerald City was Baum’s intended conclusion to the Oz books until he found himself moved, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle years earlier, to resurrect the series that made him a household name. Does it feel like a conclusion to you, if not for Oz itself than for some of its inhabitants?

ES: Baum was getting tired of writing Oz books and started another fantasy series—the Trot and Cap’n Bill books—after The Emerald City of Oz was published. That series only lasted two volumes before sales forced Baum to restart the Oz series.

But he did his best in The Emerald City of Oz to make sure his characters were settled comfortably. He has Dorothy and her family established in Oz forever and he solves the problem of the Nome King. Baum’s attempt to cut Oz off from the rest of the world so that no more Oz stories could be told, however, is pretty clumsy and unsatisfactory. When he re-started the series, except for a note of explanation to the readers, he basically ignores the fact that he’d tried to stop it earlier. The Oz stories and the characters continue uninterrupted and many of the later Oz books are better than some of the early ones.

iFanboy: Emerald City has an interesting counterpart in the Return to Oz film, which offers a much different take on Dorothy’s relationship with Oz and how her family comprehends it. How do you approach the question of Dorothy’s fantasy life? Is Oz real or fantasy, or open to interpretation?

ES: In the Oz books, Oz is real. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em don’t really believe Dorothy’s stories about her many trips to Oz. They think she’s making them up, but they’re willing to indulge their imaginative child. They’ve been concerned in the past when Dorothy has disappeared for extended periods, but she’s always returned safely. Uncle Henry has wished that Dorothy would bring home some of the riches of the Emerald City that she’s spoken of. But she never has, so that only contributes to the impression that Dorothy’s making up her stories of the Land of Oz.

Henry and Em are in for a big surprise, however, when they agree to let Dorothy try to move to Oz permanently.

iFanboy: As always, this chapter introduces some fantastic new characters and creatures. Oodles, actually. Any favorites?

ES: My favorite new characters in The Emerald City of Oz are the villains. General Guph of the Nome Army gathers the most evil creatures in the world as allies in the Nome King’s plan to destroy Oz. The most fascinating of these evil tribes is the Phanfasms of Mount Phantastico. They’re shape changers who long to wipe out all that is good and peaceful. They love to terrorize anyone who unwisely ventures within their reach.

The Emerald City of Oz #1 variant cover by Eric Shanower

The Emerald City of Oz #1 variant cover by Eric Shanower

iFanboy: The Nome King is a pretty big deal in the Oz books, bigger even than the Wicked Witch of the West. What’s he up to this time around?

ES: The Wicked Witch of the West was a minor character, however pivotal, in one book. The Nome King, Roquat the Red, is the number one Oz villain. He nurtures a decades-long personal grudge against Dorothy and the Oz people. Several books previous, in Ozma of Oz, Dorothy captured the Nome King’s Magic Belt in battle. Now he wants it back. His plan is to dig a tunnel from his underground dominions to the Emerald City, invade with his hordes of Nomes and allies, destroy the Land of Oz, and enslave all its people.

iFanboy: With a new live action Oz film out in theaters presenting yet another interpretation of the setting and mythos, what do you hope sets your aesthetic apart from other adaptations?

ES: These Marvel Comics adaptations are faithful to the books by L. Frank Baum. We stick very closely to Baum’s tone and intent, so that if you like the original vision of Oz, you’ll find it in our Oz comics. I don’t mind alternative takes on Oz—the Ozziverse is full of multiple Ozes. But I only like them if there’s something actually interesting about them—such as Wicked, to name a comparatively recent instance.

iFanboy: For as vocal as comic fan reactions can be, you must get an even greater response to these books from families and children. What has the response been like?

ES: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I can’t complain about multiple awards and best-seller lists. I get e-mail pretty regularly from readers begging us to adapt all fourteen of Baum’s Oz books. Many readers hope we’ll go on to the Oz books by Baum’s successors. That’s not up to me, though—it’s up to the publisher.

Look for Marvel Comics’ The Emerald City of Oz on shelves in July!


  1. These adaptations are so good. The writing and Skottie’s art are sublime.