THE PANEL THAT GOT AWAY: Celebrating "The Baum Bugle" (PART ONE)


The Baum Bugle

[Above:  The first color cover of THE BAUM BUGLE graced their Christmas 1962 issue and was adapted from a 1900 W. W. Denslow poster that advertised three of the L. Frank Baum books for which “Den” made the illustrations. The reproduction of the original lithograph – and the (then-done-by-hand) color separations for the BUGLE printer – were the work of Oz collector, historian, and artist Dick Martin. Dick is NOT responsible, however, for the indications of three-hole punching and wear-and-tear as shown above (as well as on some of the BUGLE covers shown below). These are my own “contributions” and irrevocably reflect the fifty-eight years of reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading I’ve enjoyed since these magazines began to be delivered to our family mail box in Milwaukee, WI, in July 1962. I was then eleven years old, and my full-blown Oz mania was (and remains!) in full force.] 


A number of readers here are probably aware of TO OZ? TO OZ!, the viral “Oz convention” conducted last weekend. Its dozens of programs detailed diverse aspects of twelve decades of Oz activity, and some 300 registrants “tuned in” to explore the various topics at hand.


One of that weekend’s planned ZOOM events was a forum in which some past editors would anecdotally (and, hopefully, entertainingly) review the history of THE BAUM BUGLE, magazine of The International Wizard of Oz Club ( The BUGLE has been regularly published since June 1957, and there have thus far been 187 issues across the past sixty-four years. Eight among those responsible for that output had committed to participating in the discussion; unfortunately, Patty Tobias (our organizer, team leader, and motivating force) hit a “real life” snag – to use her phrase -- and her/our plans fell by the wayside.


However, as one of the eight, I thought it might be fun to briefly commandeer that same topic for a blog. It can’t possibly contain all the joys and information of a nine-person conversation, but here’s part one of a two-part review of the BUGLE saga -- along with (and this is a major plus) some of its noteworthy cover art!


The Baum Bugle The Baum Bugle


[Above: The very first illustrated covers for THE BAUM BUGLE were the work of Dick Martin. At left, the Club’s second “anniversary issue” (May 1959) displayed Dick’s knowledge of the many artists who’d depicted two of Baum’s principal characters in the fifty-nine years since publication of THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. Dick shows the original Denslow conceptions up-front, as they comment on the somehow, somewhat “familiar” crowd; the Tin Man, meanwhile, holds Den’s signature seahorse on a leash. (“Hippocampus” comes from the Ancient Greek hippokampos and reflects a combination of hippos, meaning "horse," and kampos, meaning "sea monster.”) The second Martin cover, drawn a few months later, celebrates Oz author L. Frank Baum himself, and that specific issue featured – in the words of fifteen-year-old editor Justin Schiller – “articles . . . by people who know all there is to know and more” about the Royal Historian and his output. It’s a claim the BUGLE has been able to make about the vast majority of its contributors ever since.]


With a doff of the Tin Woodman’s funnel to Oscar Hammerstein II, we’ll “start at the very beginning,” Thirteen-year-old Justin Schiller of Brooklyn, NY, launched what was briefly termed The Wizard of Oz Fan Club in January 1957. His sixteen charter members ranged from preteens to senior citizens; most were Oz and L. Frank Baum book enthusiasts. Within the first few months of its existence, however, the Club’s roster more specifically could name Baum’s oldest son, Frank Joslyn, as its honorary president; and Ruth Plumly Thompson, author of nineteen titles in the Oz series, as “correspondent for Emerald City.” Other notables included writers Martin Gardner, whose book about Baum and Oz (THE WIZARD OF OZ AND WHO HE WAS) was then “on press,” and Russell P. MacFall, who would team with Frank Joslyn Baum to write the first full-length L. Frank Baum biography, TO PLEASE A CHILD (1961). Noted educators, book dealers, and students comprised much of the rest of the BUGLE subscription list, and it’s worth underscoring the fact that -- then, prior, and since -- Oz has always been non-ageist and all-encompassing in both its appeal and welcome. The magical lands of Baum and his story-telling successors would neither know nor recognize boundaries of any kind – and when restrictions might have been encountered, the worlds of Oz always magically, blithely (not to say sometimes cheekily) traversed them!


With varying and charming degrees of accuracy, the first BUGLEs were typewritten on stencils and then mimeographed; each consisted of four-to-six pages. To this day, Justin recalls spreading the printouts across the living room carpet at his family home, and then collating and stapling them as he prepared each issue for the mail. The intrinsic and burgeoning merit of his homemade fanzine, however, was apparent from its onset. The anticipated and occasional book ads and announcements of contemporary news almost immediately took second place to ground-breaking and (whether brief or multi-part) historical, bibliographical, and appreciative examinations of Oz and Baum by those who were highly regarded -- or would come to be so.  A series of vintage, long-obscure poems and short stories by Baum himself was eventually launched as a valuable and valued continuing feature. Miss Thompson both reminisced about her own Oz career and wrote original Oz verse for the BUGLE. Baum’s son Frank looked back at the work of – and working with -- his celebrated father. “A Murder in Oz” was serialized across five issues; this previously unpublished short story was the creation of the late Jack Snow, Oz series author of THE MAGICAL MIMICS IN OZ and THE SHAGGY MAN OF OZ, as well as the encyclopedic WHO’S WHO IN OZ. 


The Baum Bugle The Baum Bugle


[Above left: The Christmas 1959 BUGLE cover was an imaginative Dick Martin amalgamation of Denslow’s original Scarecrow and Tin Man -- Santa-hatted here -- as they hoisted a celebratory stack of Baum books. Humorously (typically!), Dick depicted eleven volumes written after the Baum/Denslow professional partnership ended circa 1902. Martin’s bibliographic expertise is additionally everywhere apparent in the accurate spine recreations of the early editions of each title on display. Above right: The International Wizard of Oz held its first convention in September 1961 at the Bass Lake, IN, summer lodge of Baum’s son, Harry Neal. The latter had ascended to the presidency of the Club after the death of his eldest brother, Frank Joslyn, in 1958. Dick’s charming art shows denizens of Oz en route to the festivities, and enthusiastic fans should find it easy to identify (from left): The Woggle-Bug, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, Patchwork Girl, Ozma, Dorothy, Glinda, the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead, and the wonderful Wizard.]


At the onset of its third year of publication, the BUGLE took on a new and special sheen when artist Dick Martin joined the ranks of the organization and magazine staff. His illustrated covers – built upon a personal and virtually life-long Oz/Baum fascination -- gave a snappy, happy, professional glow to the initial page of each issue. Dick amalgamated his wide range of knowledge and collectibles to provide increasingly fascinating bits of pictorial magic and history -- sometimes via original art and sometimes in visuals adapted from Denslow, Neill, or other picture-makers. [Additionally, it was with the publication of the 1959 “Anniversary Issue” that a portion of Justin’s new stationary made its initial appearance on the BUGLE title page, giving (for the first time within the magazine) the name his society has carried ever since: The International Wizard of Oz Club. In 1964, that moniker was augmented by “Inc.”; the organization was (and has remained) officially incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in the state of Illinois.]


When Justin went off to college in autumn 1961, Dick and Fred Meyer took over as coeditors of the BUGLE. The magazine instantly leapt to a new level of visual clarity and appeal; Dick was an expert typist, and best of all, his professional layouts incorporated illustrations and photographs on virtually every page of each edition. Fred – for any of those not fortunate to have known him -- was (for the better part of forty years) the Club membership secretary, mainstay, mainspring, tireless correspondent, advocate for research, Ozian cheerleader . . . and a ceaselessly encouraging force. If new members came along and showed any talent for writing, volunteering, or archival investigation, Fred nicely and relentlessly (on one level or another) brought them into the BUGLE fold. His own writings for the magazine had begun with the second issue in 1957 and these continued, as well.


The Baum Bugle The Baum Bugle   


[THE BAUM BUGLE – and how it grew! Above, left: Dick Martin’s artwork for an issue celebrating “Royal Historian” Ruth Plumly Thompson graced the April 1961 magazine cover. Miss Thompson had by that time written nineteen books in the official Oz series (one per year, 1921-1939) and continued to be swamped by letters from Oz fans of pretty much every age – all of which she answered. It was logical that Justin Schiller honor her; the Martin artwork, as noted, pictures “a few of [her] contributions to the Saga of Oz.” The original Thompson characters shown here include (top to bottom, left): High Boy, the Giant Horse of Oz; Captain Samuel Salt, seagoing and royal explorer; Grampa, indefatigable veteran soldier; Carter Green, the all-Vegetable Man; and Snufferbux, the dancing bear. (Top to bottom, right): Kabumpo, the Elegant Elephant of Oz; Sir Hokus of Pokes, knight errant and later Yellow Knight of Corumbia; Notta Bit More, American clown and now purveyor of his own circus in Oz; Jinnicky, the magical and irrepressible Red Jinn of Ev; and Pajuka the goose – formerly (and then again later on) an Oz Prime Minister.  Above, right: When Miss Thompson died in April 1976, the BUGLE was quick to pay tribute once again. She had written at length for the magazine since its inception, and many members enjoyed correspondence with her until her passing. Here, Dick both recaptures some of the favorite Thompson celebrities from his 1961 work while adding (left bottom) Peg Amy, the wooden doll with a past; (left center) Humpy, a cotton-stuffed dummy, used for motion picture stunt work in the Hollywood of the 1920s; (bottom off-center), Pigasus, the flying and poetic pig; and (far right) Peter, the boy baseball pitcher from Philadelphia, who saves Oz from doom and destruction in three Thompson books.]


By the mid-1960s, Oz Club membership had leapt into the hundreds – a growth pattern that continued for more than twenty years. (By the late 1980s, the roster approached 3,000 people.) Their accumulated annual dues meant a more elaborate budget for the BUGLE; as early as Christmas 1962, full color covers were established as a regular magazine feature; the first of these is shown at the top of this blog. (With a handful of minor variations, the tradition of color BUGLE covers has continued to this day.)


There were several major reasons that Oz began to permeate pop culture on an entirely new level in the 1960s. Annual teleshowings of the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Judy Garland film of THE WIZARD OF OZ began in 1959, following a sensational network TV debut three years earlier. The film’s visibility led to new Oz products -- toys, games, dolls – and to new interest in (and reprints of) all thirty-nine Oz books; a fortieth was added in 1963, MERRY GO ROUND IN OZ. The Oz Club and its publications and activities drew their own publicity, and articles about the annual (and eventually) cross-country Oz conventions began to regularly appear in national publications and local newspapers.


THE BAUM BUGLE reported on all of these events, as well as offering preliminary (but fresh and detailed) investigations of vintage Oz stage musicals, Oz silent movies, Oz collecting, and Oz bibliography. Every new Oz motion picture, television program, cartoon series, or product was profiled, as well, and there were celebratory articles about past and present Oz authors and illustrators. In 1974, THE WIZ opened on Broadway and four years later on screen; the magazine kept up with all of it.


The Baum Bugle The Baum Bugle


[Dick Martin owned a treasure trove of scrapbooks that L. Frank Baum himself had maintained sixty or more years earlier. Their pages included hundreds of items, among them contemporary reviews, interviews, and proofs of poster and dust jacket art. Above left: Dick adapted this original 1904 book poster for THE MARVEOUS LAND OF OZ, as preserved in a Baum scrapbook, for the rear cover of the Christmas 1963 BAUM BUGLE. Above right: International Ozian research led to the ongoing and increasing discovery of – and reportage about -- foreign translations of many of the original Oz books. The BUGLE for spring 1979 reproduced the Sonoko Arai cover art for Japanese editions of Baum’s 1910 THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ (1976) and 1913 THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ (1977).]


Meanwhile, BUGLE editors began to multiply. By 1967, Dick Martin had wearied of his work as typist, designer, and color-cover-separator; “Fred, we’ve created a monster,” was his dry but heartfelt observation. As a result, Martin proposed that he assemble one, final, 100-page, marathon BAUM BUGLE, as he felt this would gather together ALL existing and necessary Oz information and research -- and that there’d then be no further need for any future magazines! Given Dick’s years of volunteer work (and this is as good a place as any to note that virtually all Club duties were and are performed by volunteers), one might best categorize his suggestion in the realm of wishful thinking. 😊  Fortunately, two Club charter members, David and Douglas Greene, stepped up and stepped in. Along with long-time Club support, James Haff, they took over THE BAUM BUGLE, thus insuring continued publication of its regularly-scheduled, three annual issues. Of course, Fred was there to contribute, as well, and Dick selflessly offered to continue to do the color cover separations.


As a result – and rather than folding up in 1967 after a ten-year run – the BUGLE went from strength to strength for the next decade. Professional typesetting eventually added to its luster as a new and neater means of conveying all the Oz that was fit to print. The next decade of the Club magazine was editorially and alternately overseen by the Messrs. Greene, Haff, Martin, and Meyer, who were augmented or actually (willingly!) supplanted in some duties by Peter Hanff, Jerry Tobias, and me. Finally, in autumn 1979, there was a move that delighted all of us – and would have doubtless thrilled Baum’s mother-in-law, the legendary women’s rights advocate Matilda Joslyn Gage: Barbara Koelle became the first woman editor-in-chief of THE BAUM BUGLE and served for the next five years. 


The Baum Bugle The Baum Bugle


[After the last fifty years of books, documentaries, magazine features, and – indeed – full magazine issues, it may be difficult for many readers here to believe there was ever a time when a back-story account about the creation of MGM’s THE WIZARD OF OZ had never been published. As late as summer 1969, however, this was true, and it’s (once again) thanks to Fred Meyer that the situation was finally addressed. To coincide with the film’s thirtieth anniversary, THE BAUM BUGLE for autumn 1969 offered the very first historical account ever written about the making of Metro’s masterpiece. I remember all of this very well, because (knowing that my all-encompassing Oz fascination had originally grown out of passion for the Garland movie), Fred urged me as early as 1965 to begin to research and prepare a BUGLE article about how all elements coalesced in 1938-39 to produce THE WIZARD OF OZ. Ultimately, thirteen magazine pages of that autumn BUGLE were devoted to the Fricke motion picture chronicle, and (above left) Dick Martin adapted the original title lobby card from its 1939 release for the cover of that edition. Above right: Barbara Koelle’s first BUGLE as editor-in-chief coincided with the MGM fortieth OZ anniversary, and she asked me to assemble, write, and/or edit the corresponding features for autumn 1979. Five of us contributed twenty-six pages of Metro-related material; Patty Tobias designed the issue, as well as the cover shown here.]


This concludes part one of our Oz Club magazine retrospective, and if you’ve enjoyed these memories (and especially the remarkable collection of accompanying artwork), the rest of “Celebrating THE BAUM BUGLE” will appear next week.


BUT . . . you won’t find it here!


In a cheerful, hands-across-the-lands gesture of friendship (which the entire world would do well to emulate!), part two of this feature may be accessed beginning Saturday morning, August 29th via:


I take no credit for the bonding between these two sites. It’s through the cooperation and courtesy of Clint Stueve in Kansas and Marc Baum (no relation!) in upstate New York that this month’s blogs are being “cross-pollinated” -- Marc’s apt choice of verbiage!  Some of you are aware that I’m now in my seventh year of blogging here for The OZ Museum of Wamego, KS; this is entry # 122. Meanwhile, I’m also in my third year of providing a completely different monthly blog for The All Things Oz Museum in Chittenango, NY – birthplace of L. Frank Baum. Next week’s “part two” of BUGLE history will be my twenty-ninth contribution to their site.


In this manner, we hope that Oz fans and readers will be made aware of the extensive (and illustrated) reading, research, and history available both here for Wamego, as well as “there” for Chittenango. More importantly, we want everyone to “virtually” visit both of these locales, and -- when once again feasible -- to plan future “in person” excursions to their two museums and two annual Oz festivals!


My heartfelt thanks to Marc and Clint for their instant endorsement of the suggestion that we this month do a two-part/two-location blog. I hope everyone reading here will join me in this appreciation for them. Finally, I hope to “see” you next week to celebrate more of the art and history of THE BAUM BUGLE at:

Article by John Fricke


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