Welcome back to Consigned, Cool, & Collected! This week, we are highlighting an item coming to the auction block and its seasonal relevance. Specifically, we’re looking at Lot #121, The Marvelous Land of Oz treasury edition. It is one of the many nifty comics coming to auction this week, but the most seasonally appropriate. Why?
Gather ‘Round The TV
In the 1950s, the television was the hot new household item. TVS had made their commercial debut in the early 40s, but the needs of war effort during World War II prevented it from being mass produced or mass purchased. Time, like it does with all technology, brought the price down just in time for the economic boom of the 50s. Thus was created a brand new shared experience for the American people.
MGM’s The Wizard of Oz was the first Hollywood movie to air in full on American television. It was part of the Ford Star Jubilee, an anthology of big budget programming that had actually been launched by Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland. Airing on Saturday, November 3, 1956, it was hosted by Cowardly Lion actor Burt Lahr and Judy Garland’s daughter Liza Minelli. The broadcast was smash success, netting an audience share of 53%. For those you who weren’t in my Broadcasting Management class, that means full half of very person watching TV in the United States that night was watching The Wizard of Oz on CBS. Even by the standards of the day (only three major networks, fewer TV owners), that’s mind-blowing.
A Success Becomes A Tradition
The movie didn’t air on TV again until 1959, but starting then it was a standalone TV special. From 1959 to 1962, CBS aired it in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. They used their primetime TV stars as hosts, with a different one each year. Hosts included Angela Lansbury, Dick Van Dyke, and Richard Boone. No footage from these airings exists. The hosts would usually incorporate their real life children into their segments. The airings were meant to be a family event.
The movie didn’t air in 1962, as CBS had lost the rights to it. NBC picked them up for the 1964 TV season. There, the movie became an Easter Sunday tradition. It would remain one through 1998, though the cable era brought a few missed years in the 1990s. Starting in 1999, it became a holiday offering on Turner networks. As they owned the film outright, they would air it at both Easter and Thanksgiving. As time wore on and appointment television became less of a thing, The Wizard of Oz became a basic cable staple, airing thirty or more times in a year.
How Wizard of Oz lead to Spider-Man Vs. Superman
Naturally, annual TV airings that were billed as major events considerably raised the profile of the movie. It was a beloved film beforehand, of course, but this was long before home video. Even if The Wizard of Oz was your favorite film of all time, you still only watch it that one time a year, with everybody else. My high school choir teacher was a pastor’s son and, as such, would tell us about how he missed the black and white part of the movie every single Easter when he was kid, racing home to try and see the film. It was a big deal!
How big a deal? It brought DC and Marvel together for the first time. The first ever co-publication released by the Big Two was Marvel and DC Present MGM’s Marvelous Wizard of Oz in 1975. The idea arose because both companies had plans to release special adaptations of the Wizard of Oz. DC Comics planned to adapt the movie. Marvel was going to adapt the book. When Stan Lee caught wind of DC’s plan, he realized that all the competition would do is dampen two potential hits. He reached out to DC publisher Carmine Infantino, and a collaborative effort was born. That collaboration opened the door for Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man the following year. As fans are well aware, crossovers like that would continue on into the 00s, though still a rarity!
A Tough Act to Follow
Marvel followed up the movie adaptation with an adaptation of the book’s sequel. Entitled, appropriately enough, The Marvelous Land of Oz, it married the look of the movie (including the Ruby Slippers) with Baum’s Dorothy Gale-free story. That’s the comic we’ve got at auction tomorrow night. It’s a great adaptation of a classic story, but sadly it didn’t sell nearly as well as the movie adaptation. Marvel did not do any more Oz stories until 2009.That attempt was considerably more successful, adapting six of Baum’s Oz books as mini-series’ with art from Skottie Young.
We bet that there are a lot of people out there who would look at a tabloid-sized comic book and assume it was worth about as much as a tabloid from the same era. There are people out there who would roll their eyes at the comic book adaptation of musical, or the 1970s comic book sequel to a movie from the 30s. And those people would leave money on the table in disposing of their collection. That’s where Back to the Past comes in! We’re here to help you get the most for your collection, be it comics or toys or Super 8 reels, because we specialize in stuff that’s meant to be Consigned, Cool, & Collected.