Ending the Oz Books: How Graphics Signaled "The End" of Each Book

In the early 1900s, when the Oz books were being published, it was common practice to decorate books. Not just to visually tell the story through illustrations, but also to embellish and ornament the books wherever appropriate. The Oz books are a perfect example of this, and today I wanted to explore these graphic elements--more specifically the ones that signal the end of each book--a little further, and explain the context behind the design of each.

This is not a top 10 or top 5 list, hence the images will be presented in the order in which the book appeared in the series. So, let's begin with the book that started it all, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

1.) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900): This isn't so much a graphic as it is a page signaling the end and crediting all the people and entities that came together to create the book. It's a little like the acknowledgments section of a book, which is a part I usually skip, and I'm sure most of us do. But for that time, it was a genuinely triumphant way to end a book. The reason for this is how expensive and extravagant it was to make a book like The Wonderful Wizard. Color printing and profuse decoration is something we take for granted today, but back then it was an enormous feat.

A major accomplishment deserves a major send-off, and I think this is definitely the kind of send-off such a book as The Wonderful Wizard deserved.

2.) The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904): One can easily see the Art Nouveau influence on much of John R. Neill's early work, and this is a good example of that. But besides this, the image itself is entirely apropos to its respective book.

Much of the plot centers around the search for the Princess Ozma, who was next in line as the rightful ruler before the Wizard flew into Oz in his balloon. Pastoria was her father, but by the time the series begins, he is long gone. The Scarecrow was the King of Oz when this book takes place, but not the rightful ruler. This book, therefore, is entirely about restoring the rightful monarch to the throne.

With that background, how absolutely fitting it is to have an image of the rightful ruler on her throne signaling the end of the book by sitting triumphantly with beautiful hand-lettering spelling out "The End"!

3.) Ozma of Oz (1907): Not all end graphics spelled out "The End," as the previous one did, and here's one such exception. Sometimes just a picture without words can be satisfying, and as you read the accompanying text, (which, as you can see, I have included,) you'll see why that's true in this case. But for more context, Dorothy has been on a harrowing journey through a perilous land run by an evil monarch, and could very easily not have survived this trip. This isn't about pomp and circumstance, but rather it's enough to know that Dorothy's okay and she is safely at home with her Uncle Henry. Simple but effective...

4.) Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908): This is one of the more unusual, (and less pleasant,) Oz books. In it, Dorothy meets the Wizard in the center of the earth, working her way back to the surface (and eventually, to Oz,) through dark and dangerous territory, only to have her friend's horse get into a fight with the Hungry Tiger, and to witness her own pet kitten being put on trial for murder.

This end graphic suggests to me that Ozma regrets this turn of events and wishes she could go back and make it right. The emptiness of the page around the graphic suggests bitter loneliness, whereas her wistful gaze out of the window suggests that she misses Dorothy already and wishes she could bring her back to make up for the unpleasantness of this visit.

5.) The Road to Oz (1909): And it turns out Ozma gets her wish in this book, which is all about how Dorothy returns to Oz to celebrate Ozma's birthday party. The journey is somewhat perilous but altogether a fun romp, and at the end of the book, Ozma celebrates in style, attended by all the characters from Baum's non-Oz titles in a classic crossover worthy of The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones!

After all that fun, Dorothy is one pooped party guest, and as she gets ready for a peaceful slumber (after which she will, by magic, wake up in Kansas again,) she reminds us that it is The End, making for a tranquil but triumphant send-off.

6.) The Emerald City of Oz (1910): L. Frank Baum's plan was to end the Oz series with this book, and if all had gone according to plan, this would be a graphic signaling the end of this book as well as the whole series. Both Baum and Neill pretty much thought that there would be no going back, so Neill drew a fitting depiction to reflect this. Ozma and Dorothy are waving goodbye to the readers on the edge of the Shifting Sands, as they depart from Oz altogether, and (unless they reread the series,) they will never go back.

But, as fate would have it, a deluge of stamped, addressed, enveloped tantrums came his way, forcing his hand to write more about Oz. And hence, we are not done with this list yet...

7.) The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913): I wrote about this graphic in my list of the Top 10 Illustrations from The Patchwork Girl of Oz, and here's what I said at that time:

"A climactic finish to a sumptuously illustrated book! I place this in the number one spot because no other Oz book prior to this one has ever had the audacity to take up a full page to announce the end of the story. (And only two of the subsequent Oz books do this.) We applaud you, John!"

But as for why the book ends on such a note, let's just say that Unk Nunkie (the figure on the left,) was turned to stone, and Ojo (on the right) spent the entirety of this book looking for various magic talismans to revive him. Now they're back together, sharing a warm, loving embrace. Need I say more?

8.) Tik Tok of Oz (1914): This book is, to put it frankly, my least favorite Oz book, mostly because, for historical reasons, it's basically a knock-off of Ozma of Oz. I talk more about this in my article about Tik Tok of Oz, (click here to read it.) And the graphic itself doesn't appear to serve any direct purpose in ending the book.

But I have to give credit where credit is due, and I think, for one thing, the Nomes themselves make for a whimsical image, and the hand-lettering is also wonderfully done, as is practically all of John R. Neill's hand-lettering.

So, all in all, it's a pretty good image, even if it's not one of Neill's best end graphics.

9.) The Scarecrow of Oz (1915): This book ends with The Scarecrow having gone through a dangerous ordeal not unlike the ones endured by the protagonists of most Oz books, and bringing back two new characters to populate the Emerald City and become loyal citizens of Oz. Here we see the reunion of old friends and the introduction of new ones.

Although this does not include the words "The End," as might be expected, it's still a happy way to end a book, and we take satisfaction in finishing yet another great read!

10.) Rinkitink in Oz (1916): This book is, oddly, not so much about Oz, but was in fact a pre-existing non-Oz manuscript Baum wrote in 1905, and then recycled eleven years later as an Oz book. For this reason, we don't see any Oz characters make their appearance until the last few pages.

Most of this story takes place on several island kingdoms: Pingaree, Regos, and Coregos. So it seems fitting that, as most of this book takes place on the high seas, it ends on the high seas as well. As our heroes depart in their Viking-esque rowboat, they simply turn away from us, signaling that there's nothing more to say. In other words, it is the end...

11.) The Lost Princess of Oz (1917): This is one of the most suspenseful Oz books, as it deals with a mysterious burglary, and, even more alarming, the disappearance of Oz's beloved ruler!

But it all ends well, and as we can see, the newly restored ruler Ozma says goodbye in a classic curtain call moment. "I'm back now," she says, "and I'll see you next time."

As a side note, it's interesting to observe that this, and the end graphic for The Marvelous Land of Oz, both feature Ozma striking a triumphant pose, and they both deal with her abduction as a central plot element. Coincidence or not?

12.) The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918): Alongside some well-done hand lettering, this image, (which is miniscule in size,) shows us a new tin character, Captain Fyter, The Tin Woodman's brother, saying goodbye to us.

He does not go to live in the Emerald City, but is deployed to the Gillikin Country in the North of Oz to deal with the unruly tribes that live therein. Maybe he's reminding us that, although he isn't a major player in the series, he is still an important character performing an important service. Thank you for serving Oz, Captain Fyter!

13.) The Magic of Oz (1919): This is the last graphic I'll show you here, as it is the final end graphic in the original fourteen Baum Oz books. (Other authors have continued the series, but I don't say too much about them in any of my blog posts for various reasons.)

The Magic of Oz deals with Ozma's birthday party (again), only this time, the occasion isn't quite as playful or fun as the last time. In this book, Trot and Cap'n Bill almost get themselves killed searching for a magic flower as a birthday gift, (Ah, the things they do for love...) and Dorothy, The Wizard, the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, and Eureka the Glass Cat, find themselves saving Oz once again. The Nome King, Oz's sworn enemy, has this time joined forces with Kiki Aru, a malcontent little boy who has discovered a secret (and lethally powerful) magic word.

With so much hanging in the balance, can they save the day in time to enjoy a lovely birthday party? Well, as this trained monkey tells us, they can because they just did! (It almost reminds me of how Bugs Bunny or Porky Pig say "That's All, Folks!")

14.) For the last Oz book by Baum, Glinda of Oz, there is no end graphic, which is curious but also very depressing. L. Frank Baum had died over a year prior to its publication, and all we have to end it with is the last line he ever wrote: "[I]t is always wise to do one's duty, however unpleasant that duty may seem to be." A fitting epitaph for someone who by this time was thoroughly exhausted with writing the Oz books, but only did it to please his readers, considering their reading pleasure his duty.

And that's it for this list. Which end graphic was your favorite? What other end graphics do you like, even if not from the Oz books? Please let me know in the comments, and as always, we can get a nice conversation going.

Till next time!

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