I mentioned Flicker in an earlier post on Eric Shanower’s Oz characters, but I didn’t go into too much detail, so that’s what I’ll do in this entry. Basically, he was a Winkie candlemaker who stood up to tyranny, in the form of the Wicked Witch of the West. It didn’t do him much good, though, as she transformed him into a candle.
Years later, Jellia Jamb burned the candle without knowing what it really was, and the spell was broken. Well, partially. Flicker had been a candle so long that he ended up with a body made of wax and flame for hair. He accompanied Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman on their quest to rescue Ozma from the Ice King. During the journey, Flicker learned that he could make his hair grow, but also that he was gradually shrinking. He made a desperate attempt to melt the Ice King, and while he didn’t even come close to succeeding at this, he did defrost the frigid monarch’s heart. Glinda managed to save him before he dwindled away to nothing, but he had to remain in a tiny size, only six inches tall. It’s in this size that we see Flicker again in “Dorothy and the Mushroom Queen,” in which she accompanies Dorothy and the Glass Cat to the underground land of Ma-dul-ma-dun.
Eric also included Flicker in some of his illustrations for other books, notably Living House and Wicked Witch.
Actually, his presence in the latter is sort of a timeline issue. Rachel Cosgrove wrote Wicked Witch shortly after Hidden Valley, but Reilly & Lee rejected it. I’ve heard that the reason given was that L. Frank Baum had said there were no more witches in Oz, but that was probably just an excuse, especially considering that Baum himself had contradicted that a few times. The book was finally published in the early nineties, and Eric has said that he illustrated it as if it took place around the time of publication. This explains why he would have included Flicker, as Ice King is supposed to take place in the mid-eighties. If we say that Wicked Witch occurred around when it was written (the interpretation that I personally prefer), Flicker would have still been in candle form at the time. It’s really not a big deal, especially considering that you can hardly even see him in the picture (in case you missed him, he’s down on Ozma’s left, next to the Glass Cat), but it’s interesting nonetheless. Even if we consider it an error, though, it’s not like we don’t have those in a lot of other Oz book illustrations.
You can see the Tin Woodman in the background here, but he’s supposed to still be an ornament at this point.