Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Latest Oz Comic Book Reading

I had an interesting experience today, as I got to the print edition of Warlord of Oz #3 (previously reviewed here, when Zenescope sent me the electronic preview version), then followed it up with issue #4, which was again kindly provided in an electronic preview edition. There's not a lot to add in #4: Dorothy and Smynth are still heading towards the Emerlad City, Scarecrow and Thorne (AKA the Lion) are involved in their own investigation, and the Warlord is making further progress in his conquest of Oz. But now we see that some of the Warlord's allies may be trying to play him to accomplish their own goals, and the Tin Woodman may also have his own agenda.

What struck me this time is that this series is, basically, The Empire Strikes Back. Dorothy is Luke, learning more about her own past and powers from a new ally, Smynth, who is very much in the Yoda mode. (I guess that would make Glinda Obi-Wan Kenobi, since her death has been a catalyst for a lot of subsequent events.) The Warlord is Darth Vader, of course, and (to stretch things a bit) the Scarecrow and Thorne are Han and Leia, off having their own adventures that will likely cross with Dorothy's later. I doubt Scarecrow and Thorne are going to fall in love, however! (I said I was stretching the analogy a bit.) I don't believe for a moment that the writers of Warlord of Oz are doing this deliberately, of course, it's just one of those storytelling tropes that crops up a lot. Also, if the Oz: Age of Darkness special is any indication, this one is going to end a lot differently.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Latest Oz Comic

There's not much to say about the main story in Fables #142 except that Ozma appears as part of the team trying to track down Bigby now that he's back. But the backup story should also be of interest to Oz fans, as "The Last Sinbad Story" is illustrated by Eric Shanower!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Today's Bit of Oz Humor

Much to the surprise of myself (the local Oz fan) and my wife (who works for them), our local paper ran an Oz humor column today, commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of The Movie. And here it is. But wait, there's more! It also came with a somewhat out of date but still humorous cartoon, which is right here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Today's Oz Comic

Brevity today is celebrating Ozma's birthday with an Oz-themed comic. (Okay, so the birthday connection is probably coincidental.) I like not only the pun in the title, but also the Peanuts shoutout in the name of Toto's home.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Press Release

Apparently I jumped the gun a little bit last month when I announced that the new edition of Queen Ann in Oz was out, as my publisher had intended the Winkie Convention to be the official release for not only that but a couple other books as well. He's now prepared the press release, however, so I thought I'd better share it here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 09, 2014
Media Contact:
theroyalpublisher@thewizardofoz.info

Classic American Fantasy Returns in Three New Novels!

Valley Stream, NY—Need an escape from the stressful world of long hours and constant bad news? New York-based company, The Royal Publisher of Oz, is sending people on a journey into imagination with a line of fantasy books set in the expanding universe of Baum’s Land of Oz!

L. Frank Baum’s legendary Oz series was the very first American fantasy series, spawning numerous Hollywood films, Broadway plays, animated series and collectibles! Continuing where Baum and his successors left off is this exciting new series of fantasies that go beyond the Yellow Brick Road into dangerous and exciting territory!

The Law of Oz and Other Stories is a journey through time! When two best friends, Button-Bright and Ojo decide to get lost, they wind up two hundred years in the past! There, they uncover the secret behind the very enchantment of Oz, the ancient evil of the Phanfasms, and the mysterious shape-shifting Yookoohoos, who hold the key to a mind-shattering truth! Four stories and three illustrators in one book! Available everywhere in trade paperback, $21.99.

Queen Ann in Oz picks up where Baum left off, as would-be conqueror Queen Ann goes on a quest to find her missing parents, lost for decades! With the help of a vagabond named the Shaggy Man, a loyal dragon and a squabbling pack of volunteers, her journey through the mists of Oz to a land called Forgetville may well be her undoing! Includes the new novella Jodie in Oz, loads of illustrations, and much more! Available everywhere in trade paperback, $15.99, and in a deluxe hardcover with 15 full color plates (exclusively at Lulu.com)!

In The Magic Umbrella of Oz, the intrepid heroes of The Law of Oz and Other Stories are back, but this time with strange new powers! When the Magic Umbrella is stolen by a dark spirit they’ve unleashed, it is up to the best friends to return to the past and help the Wicked Witch of the East retrieve her most precious magical item, the Silver Shoes! Available everywhere in trade paperback, $15.99, and in a deluxe hardcover with full color plates and unique deluxe-edition dust-jacket (exclusively at Lulu.com)!

ABOUT THE ROYAL PUBLISHER OF OZ:
Founded in 2012 by Joe Bongiorno, The Royal Publisher of Oz is a New York-based publishing company dedicated to producing Oz and fantasy books that match the look and style of the classic fantasies of old. Our Oz books are edited with an eye towards maintaining continuity with the original Oz series and Borderlands of Oz books as delineated on The Royal Timeline of Oz. To view a complete listing of available and upcoming titles, visit www.theroyalpublisherofoz.com.

If I get the chance over the next few days or so, I hope to talk a little bit more about the new edition of Queen Ann in Oz and how it came back.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Latest Oz Comic Book Review Redux

The first Oz comic to pop up in my regular comics order is the Oz: Age of Darkness One Shot which I reviewed back in June when Zenescope sent the electronic preview. Not much has changed, and I'm still not inclined to try and figure out the whole Age of Darkness event. But I will point out that, despite appearances to the contrary, the folks at Zenescope seem to know a few things about the Oz books after all. The Land of Ev is mentioned in this book, and the Scarecrow commands a squad of Tik-Toks (on big copper wheels, for some reason) in his efforts to stop the Warlord. But maybe the biggest nod to the rest of the Oz books is someone finding out that someone named Rho'kat has escaped. Doesn't that name sound an awful lot like Roquat? Oh, and also the Tin Woodman is conspicuously absent. I suspect we'll find out more about that in the remaining issues of Warlord of Oz. We'll almost certainly find out what he was saying before he was imprisoned, because the first thing he says in this issue is to complete that thought.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Latest Oz Comic Book

Right before Laura and I left for the Winkie Convention, our latest box of comic books came. Naturally, there were a few Oz ones in there, so I'll be writing about those in the coming days. But this is not one of those! One of the few items I picked up at the convention was the brand new Ozopolis #4, concluding the first story arc. (How new is it? It isn't even in the Ozopolis store yet.)

One of the few drawbacks to Ozopolis is that Kirk Kushin can't put it out more rapidly, so it's hard to follow the story when you buy an issue at a time. But the short of it is, Glinda's cousin, Synlinda, who has been entrusted to look over many of the magic treasures in Glinda's possession, has instead taken them for her own use. She has the Silver Shoes, access to the Great Book of Records (which she's been rewriting!), and the Golden Cap, as well as a case of dynamite! Synlinda decides it's time to play her hand, and she tries to take over Oz with some help from the Giant with the Hammer. (It turns out he can walk!) I won't give anything away, of course, but let's just say chaos ensues before some semblance of order is restored. Even then, all is not as it should be, and it doesn't end with the typical celebratory party at the end.

From what he says in his afterword, and from talking to him at previous conventions, I know that Kushin really knows his Oz backwards, forwards, and sideways, and it shows. There are appearances by many characters from The Wizard of Oz, of course, but also Tik-Tok, Scraps, the Woozy, and even a character only mentioned in Ozma of Oz. And he's also set things up very nicely for the next arc, which I hope will happen soon. Gonzalo Martinez also does a great job on the art, making everybody look like they should while given then a modern flair. I especially liked Dorothy and Trot airboarding over the Emerald City, in Capri pants and goggles. Now if we could only get these in color. (Hey, guys, I'd pay more for the trade collection if it's in color!)

So, in short, yes, I liked this one very much, just like all of the previous issues. As soon as you can order it, I hope you will.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Piece of Oz Art

One of the many, many things going on at the Winkie Convention last weekend was the Oz Club's Research Table, with categories for fiction, non-fiction, and art. One of the art entries was a piece of animation by Mark Gillespie. Now that the contest is over, I can now share this little piece with the world. Here it is:

It didn't win a prize, but I, for one, appreciate the creativity and effort that went into this.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Winkies Are Over For Another Year

I'm sorry I didn't get much chance to blog about the Winkie Convention this weekend, but I was just so busy that I never really got the chance. It was a huge event, however, with around four hundred attendees. That makes it the biggest Winkie Convention ever, and one of the largest Oz conventions ever. (The only one that might be bigger is the Centennial Convention in 2000.) But right now I want to talk about the next two Winkie Conventions. Next year, it will be back in San Diego, July 31 to August 2, celebrating the centennial of The Scarecrow of Oz, forty years of The Wiz, thirty years of Disney's Return to Oz, and twenty years of Wicked (the book, not the play). Then the 2016 convention is scheduled for Portland, the first time the convention has ever been held outside of California. And I'll be chairing that one. I'm not quite sure what's going to happen yet, but I'm getting the germ of some ideas. So we shall see what happens.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Today's Oz Comic

All I can say about today's edition of Savage Chickens is: Yeah, that does get a bit repetitive and redundant.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Today's Oz Comic: We Have a Winner!

The saga of the Oz comic with no caption has come to an end! Four weeks ago, The New Yorker posted an Oz cartoon with no caption (as I first discussed here). Then, two weeks later, the top three finalists were put out for a vote (which I mentioned here). Well, today we now know the winning caption, because The New Yorker has now revealed the winning caption. Go take a look if you haven't already.

My special thanks to Oz treasure Ruth Berman for bringing this to my attention, and keeping me on my toes as to how things progressed.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Latest Oz Short Story

I wrapped up Oz Reimagined yesterday with the final story in the collection, and it looks like they saved the best for last. "The Cobbler of Oz" by Jonathan Maberry is a beautiful, charming little story about Nyla, a young flying monkey girl whose wings are so underdeveloped that she can't fly. She approaches Bucklebelt, a cobbler in the Emerald City during the reign of the Wizard, for a pair of traveling shoes. Bucklebelt has something a little more special in mind, and he sends Nyla out on a mission to find the materials needed to repair a certain pair of magic shoes that he has. Fortunately, they have just enough magic to help Nyla out. Yes, this is a story about the silver shoes, and I'm not even exactly sure this could fit in the "reimagined" remit of this collection, because it could very well work as a canonical Oz story. To be sure, Maberry gets a few details wrong (the Emerald City had already been there for generations when the Wizard arrived, the map that is cited is clearly the "fixed" Reilly and Britton version with Munchkins in the west and Winkies in the east — but kudos for referencing that map and a lot of the borderland countries on it), but the overall tone and plot of the story works perfectly. Of course, if you know anything about the silver shoes, you know where they eventually end up, and that is addressed in this tale.

This story more than made up for a few of the clunkers in the middle of the collection, and overall I very much enjoyed reading this book. I won't recommend this to the Oz Purists, because they're not going to like most of it no matter how good the stories are, but I think most Oz fans would really enjoy this book, so long as you keep the second word of the title in mind.

And with that, I am suspending my reading of Oz short stories for now, as I will be very busy over the next few weeks, and then work starts up again in the fall. But I hope to get back to this soon. I know there is one other collection out there that I don't have and haven't read yet. If I don't get that soon, I have a few older collections I can delve into.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

My Upcoming Convention Schedule

As I suspect many of you already know, next weekend is the fiftieth (!) Winkie Convention, the west coast gathering of the International Wizard of Oz Club. Winkies is now also the longest running Oz event anywhere, having been held every year but one since 1964. The one exception? In 2000, all of the then-regional Oz conventions combined their resources in one mega convention in Indiana to celebrate one hundred years of Oz. That was the biggest Oz convention ever, but it looks like this year's Winkies may actually surpass that! The convention is back in its original southern California roots, in San Diego, and is not going to be like any Winkie Convention before it. Don't believe me? Take a look at the interactive schedule. Yes, for the first time, there will be true multi-track programming.

And being the big grand poobah of Ozziness that I appear to be, I'm on a few places on that schedule. So, if you're going and want to see me in person, here is what I'm doing:

  • Saturday, August 9, at 11:00 a.m.: The Oz Books for Beginners: Reading and Collecting. This is essentially Oz 101, for those who may not know much about Oz beyond the big high-profile movies. I'll be talking about the Oz books, how best to approach them, that sort of thing. My friend Paul Bienvenue, who's a rare book dealer, will talk about collecting books.
  • Sunday, August 10, at 12:30 p.m.: The Adventures of Queen Ann in Oz. I know I've already mentioned it here, but this panel will be the official debut of the new edition of Queen Ann in Oz, the book I co-wrote with Karyl Carlson many, many years ago. When the rights reverted back to us, and The Royal Publisher of Oz approached us about a new edition, we jumped at it. The publishers were able to get the original illustrators, William Campbell and Irwin Terry, on board for some new illustrations, including color plates. Karyl also wrote a new novella, Jodie in Oz, picking up where Queen Ann in Oz left off, is included, as well as a skit I wrote for the 1988 Winkie Convention, "Another Adventure with Ann", which predates Queen Ann in Oz. All four of us will be talking about the genesis of the book and how it all came about. As a bonus, for the first time ever, Karyl and I will get to meet Bill and Irwin.
  • Sunday, August 10, at 2:30: Upcoming Oz Events. The website for this event talks about the 2015 convention, for which planning is already underway. I will be there to bring up some tentative plans for the 2016 convention, which I am pencilled in to chair. I will be more interested, however, in seeing what other people want to see during this convention.
I will also be out and about attending many of the other panels, getting some autographs, announcing some award winners during the banquet Saturday, helping Laura with the newsletters (both in-house and for the general Winkie mailing list), and generally being an Oz fan. We're also going to take a kayak tour of the sea caves around La Jolla, where Trot and Cap'n Bills started a couple of their adventures. If you see me (and I'm not in the middle of something, of course), feel free to say hi.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Today's Oz Comic

As caregivers of a cat from the streets ourselves, Laura and I are sympathetic towards taking care of animals that can't fend for themselves. So I was particularly tickled by today's Lola and the dog's reaction to the one character who doesn't agree with us.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Latest Oz Preview Comic

Yup, Zenescope sent me a preview of Warlord of Oz #3. Lots of new characters who I don't remember, lots of gratuitous shots of Dorothy in her very brief skin-revealing new fighting outfit, lots of thumping and action. The story is progressing, at least. Dorothy meets up with a new ally who claims he can help her now that she's a witch (!) and has Glinda's wand. Smynth also claims to have known Dorothy's mother, who (it turns out) is from Oz. Ah, but we're only halfway through this adventure!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Adventure of Santa Boy

Through a happy set of circumstances, I was able to get my hands on a copy of the elusive Japanese anime series, Shonen Santa no Daibouken, or, literally translated (according to Google), The Adventure of Santa Boy. This is a twenty-four episode adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, and I found it to be utterly charming. I'd love to see a subtitled version so that I can figure out exactly what's going on, but thanks to knowing the book I got the general idea. It opens with Claus as a boy in Burzee, but we do get some flashbacks throughout the series of him as a baby and how he was adopted by Necile. But this being a series, portions of the story were greatly expanded. Most of the animals appear to be immortal, as they're still there in the end when Santa looks more like how we expect to see him today. Blinkie the cat shows up much earlier, and he and Claus can talk to each other. However, none of the other mortals can understand what Blinkie is saying. Glossie and Flossie the reindeer also are there from the start, and they make for an amusing double act. Several other animals who weren't in the book also appear throughout the series. One of the biggest deviations, however, is the character of Mari, who appears to be a yellow ryl. She is pretty much the co-lead character, especially once Claus leaves Burzee and strikes out on his own. (Claus, by the way, is still a boy throughout the series, until the very end. He is never shown making or delivering toys as a young man, as he was in the book.) Mari is a great character, with lots of enthusiasm and a bit of a temper and probably a crush on Claus. She helps Claus on many of his adventures, and colors the toys. The battle with the Awgwas has been expanded, crossing over several episodes, and it appears to feature several different levels of bad guys, all of whom are very Japanese.

I hope someone can figure out a way that this can get wider distribution, with English subtitles or dubbing. I doubt it would ever become a hit, but I could see a small but devoted following popping up around this show.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Oz in Jeopardy!

Another Oz clue on a recent episode of Jeopardy!, plus one qu-Oz-i-related clue. Going back to last Thursday's episode, one of the categories in the Jeopardy! round was A Killee's Heels, about the feet of characters who were killed in movies. (Why, no, this category doesn't come up very often, why do you ask?) The $400 clue proved to be:

Katie, the challenger in the middle, rang in first and responded, "Who is the Wicked Witch?" Alex asked, "Which one?" and Katie clarified her response with, "Who is the Wicked Witch of the East?"

After the break, the first category in the Double Jeopardy! round was Country Music Movers & Shakers, which had this clue for $1200:

This time it was Megan, the challenger on the right and a big country music fan, who rang in first, and she said, "Who is Carrie Underwood?" That may not sound very Ozzy, but have you seen the video for "Blown Away" recently? Here, let me remind you:
In the end, Katie won the game. Poor Jerome, the defending champion, didn't stand a chance against those two.

Jeopardy! is running its annual Teen Tournament right now, and then that's it for the season, as it takes a few weeks off to show some reruns. This could, therefore, be the last Oz clue of the year. But it shows up often enough, you never know!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Today's Oz Comic Redux

Hey, remember the other day when I told you about the cartoon in The New Yorker with no caption, and you could send one in? Well, they've now narrowed it down to three finalists, and you can go and vote! Take a look right here, but I suspect you don't have much time to do so.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

No Lions, No Tigers, Just Bears!

Over at his blog, Bully the Little Stuffed Bull is celebrating Bear Attack Month. And sure enough, he found not one, but two bear attacks in Oz comics. Go take a look!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Latest Oz Short Story

Yes, it's another one from the Oz Reimagined anthology, this one "A Meeting in Oz" by Jeffrey Ford. Dorothy, all grown up and working in a Kansas City shoe store, finds the silver shoes in the back room. Well, what do you think she did with them? Once she gets to Oz, she finds a lot has changed. It turns out that she lived in Oz for many years before returning to Kansas, and when she find the Wizard, he explains how she was so much more an integrated part of the country than anyone imagined at the time. Her leaving was the catalyst that started many things to change, and how events in her life in Kansas continued to affect Oz. This is another story of an old, embittered Dorothy never quite being right or happy after her adventures in Oz, but there are some interesting little twists here. I appreciate all of the nods to the later books, such as Jack Pumpkinhead, Ozma, and Aunt Em coming to Oz to see her. It's too bad that this one is such a downer.

There is only one story left in this collection, but I doubt I'll get to it next weekend as I have a big event going on. After I'm done with this collection, I know of one other short story collection that I don't have, and I have another that I want to reread. Then there's always online fanfiction...