My Man in Japan, Michael-Sensei, has found another topical Oz-themed political cartoon. In fact, doing a little detective work turned up its original source, John Darkow at the Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune. And please remember, these cartoons are here solely for the use of Oz. No endorsement of any political views expressed are to be inferred or implied. But, um, yeah, that one is pretty spot on!
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Saturday, October 03, 2015
Yup, it's back! When I took my short hiatus of reading short stories, it was because I had no new ones to tackle. The plan was to go back and visit a few older ones that I haven't read for a while, most of which I haven't blogged about. But things can change! Over on the Royal Blog of Oz is a new story, "The Strong Man in Oz" by Jon Miranda and Jared Davis. It's a fun little tale based firmly in the classic books, with someone from the Wizard's old life in the circus becoming a pawn in an attempt to change the dreams of the people of Oz. Naturally, then, most of it takes place in the mysterious Kingdom of Dreams, seen on the 1914 map of Oz and the surrounding countries but never actually visited in any book. It was a fun little story, but it felt awfully short, and as a result there wasn't a lot of character development. But I did enjoy it, and the final fate of our title character, Theo, is satisfyingly Ozzy.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
Yes, it's another two-fer for you today!
- My Man in Japan, Michael-sensei, found another one, yesterday's edition of The Wandering Melon. I will now use this occasion to trot out one of my favorite Oz puns and mention that no, it wasn't an accident, but a home-icide.
- And another strip that Michael introduced me to, Pop Culture Shock Therapy, may be taking its name a little too literally today, with a variant on the old "the Tin Man has a heart ailment" theme. (How come nobody ever gives the Scarecrow neurological disorders once he gets a brain?)
Saturday, September 19, 2015
I have now reached the end of I Didn't Quite Make It to Oz. The final story is "Potholes" by Shannon Delane Wiley, and it may have the most unusual premise of any story in either of these collections. It turns out that the Yellow Brick Road is alive, and wants to get revenge on Dorothy! Let's just say that roads are not deep thinkers, and it takes an encounter with a winged monkey for the road to find out some of the flaws in its plans. It didn't make it into the original collection, I Should Have Stayed in Oz, just because it wasn't quite as strong as the stories that did make it in, and Wiley is a new writer without a fan base to help sell copies.
Overall, I was just as pleased reading the stories in I Didn't Quite Make It to Oz as I was with I Should Have Stayed in Oz, as both had clever ideas and interesting twists. Too many stories in both collections, however, felt like just the beginning, and there was a lot more story to tell. I am glad that the editor, Selina Rosen, at least found a way to publish the ones that didn't quite make it.
And with that, my well of new Oz stories has dried up, and I have no more to read. I'm going to take a few weeks' break here, but when I get back to it, I have some older ones to get back to, many of which I haven't blogged about, so I will probably share whatever I discover. But I also hope that someone comes up with more ideas for Oz short stories (besides Oziana, the annual literary journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club), as I think there's a lot of potential there.
Monday, September 14, 2015
A new comic debuted today at GoComics.com. And in it's very first installment, The Best Medicine Cartoon hits it out of the park with a great Oz cartoon. (But what's the Lion doing there? He's not in that scene.)
And hey, we seem to have an ID on our mystery cartoon from the other day. I am now pretty darned certain, after a comment from Mark Masterson, that it is an installment of Pardon My Planet. Now I just need to find an archive of the strip from May to confirm it. Trouble is, every archive I can find is either too recent or too far in the past. Anyone with better Google fu than me care to take a shot at it?
Sunday, September 13, 2015
What is up with Dan Piraro and The Wizard of Oz? We've seen a lot of riffs on The Movie in Bizarro lately, such as this take on stereotypical mothers-in-law. (I am proud to say that my mother-in-law is nothing like that! In fact, she was a major factor in my proposing to Laura in the first place. I figured, if Laura turned out even half as cool as her mother, she'd be a great person to hang out with the rest of my life. And Laura is well over halfway as cool as her mother!)
Saturday, September 12, 2015
The latest story I read from I Didn't Quite Make It to Oz is "Souvenir of Oz" by Morris Reban. It was rejected because it was Reban's first sale, so he had no fan base; it's a short flash-fiction tale, of which there were already plenty; and it was extremely dark humor, which the main book also had plenty of. It is also the editor's favorite story that she had to reject, because of the dark humor. I dare not say much about it, as I don't want to give it away, but Reban pretty much copies the last few lines of Chapter 23 and all of Chapter 24 from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, then adds on to it to give us the immediate aftermath of Dorothy's return and the unexpected gift from Oz that returns with her and Toto. Had things happened as they did in this story, I don't think Aunt Em's and Uncle Henry's reactions would have been a surprise to anybody.
This comic panel made the rounds on Facebook earlier this week. An ex-girlfriend of mine even posted it on my wall. Trouble is, I have no idea where it came from! Does anybody out there know the source of this cartoon that combines two of the greatest movies ever made?
Friday, September 11, 2015
This morning, I finished A bouquet for the Gardener: Martin Gardner Remembered. This is a tribute book to Martin Gardner, who died in 2010. He is a very important figure in Oz circles. He was one of the earliest champions of Baum and Oz in the 1950s, and co-wrote the groundbreaking book about the two, The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was. He was the executor of Jack Snow's estate, which led to him sharing Jack's correspondence with several noted Oz fans, leading to the formation of the Wizard of Oz Fan Club, now known as the International Wizard of Oz Club. He was a charter member of the Club and the first chairman of its board of directors. (Gardner did not find this out until he saw it in the first issue of The Baum Bugle. Since there was no actual board of directors at the time, it was purely an honorary title.) He was responsible for getting Michael Patrick Hearn to write The Annotated Wizard of Oz and getting it published. He wrote a number of introductions for Dover's editions of Baum's books. He wrote many essays and appreciations of Oz and Baum for many publications, including The Baum Bugle. And he wrote the novel The Visitors from Oz. All of these make Gardner a major figure in Oz circles.
And yet he was better known as a scholar and essayist on Lewis Carroll and the Alice books. His The Annotated Alice not only popularized Carroll and Alice and opened the doors for both to be seriously studied, but it also led to other annotated books, and led to children's literature becoming a field for serious research in academia. He was a founding member of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. And like Oz, he wrote extensively on Carroll and Alice.
Gardner was also a popularizer of recreational mathematics. His "Mathematical Games" column ran in Scientific American magazine for twenty-five years, and they were reprinted in over a dozen books. Gardner was also a devotee of puzzles and magic, and was interested in all kinds of other fields as well. Needless to say, he had many friends and fans (many of the former started off as the latter), and this book is filled with many essays about Gardner's life and times by many of them. This book is published by the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, and the majority of the book is devoted to Gardner's Carrollian pursuits. (Since Carroll was also a mathematician, even the math ties into Alice.) It even includes some more notes, by Gardner himself, for The Annotated Alice. Yet there is plenty of Oz in this as well, and it was really no surprise to find many writers in this book that I know myself.
I never had the chance to meet Mr. Gardner, and I dan't think I ever even wrote to him. (I am proud to say, however, that I somehow managed to acquire his copy of the limited edition book publication of L. Frank Baum's skit, The Uplift of Lucifer.) But as both an Oz fan and a mathematics teacher, I feel I owe him a lot, and that he has had a big influence on my life. Through reading this, I think I've gotten to know the man a little better.
Wednesday, September 09, 2015
I'm slowly working my way through the backlog of the Fables comic, before I bought my first issue with #101, through the trade paperback collections. This time around it was volume 7, Arabian Nights (and Days). The Adversary has now invaded the world of 1001 Nights and other stories from the Middle East, so Sinbad leads a group of refugees to Fabletown to look at resettling there. Let's just say the culture clash does not go well, but all eventually works out in the end. We also deal with the aftermath of Red Riding Hood's appearance, and a back-up story of forbidden love between two of the Adversary's wooden soldiers. Not a lot of Oz in this collection, although Bufkin the flying monkey makes some appearances. But man, this is good. I see why the series earned so many Eisner Awards.
Monday, September 07, 2015
Saturday, September 05, 2015
Two more down!
- Since I decided to reread the FF* during my last round of reading, the next book was then the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz. Unlike rereading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz earlier this year, I didn't have a lot of new insights in this one. But I definitely saw some of the intended roots of a musical extravaganza peeking through. It's also clear that Baum still had no idea he was going to write a series, as it definitely comes to a conclusion. He even hints that when Jack Pumpkinhead's head finally spoiled, that was it for him. (Anyone familiar with the later books knows how that actually panned out, however.) There were even times I thought about writing an annotated edition of the book. I quickly tamped that idea down, however!
- I also reread the excellent webcomic Namesake via the first collected volume. The whole concept behind Namesake is a little hard to describe, but essentially all of the great heroes and heroines of fiction are actually people from our world with the same names who get sucked into the stories in a neverending cycle. When the latest Dorothy dies, she's replaced by a young Canadian woman named Emma. Since she's not named Dorothy, it seems something has gone wrong somewhere. Calliope, the organization that is in charge of the Namesakes, has to investigate. Emma, meanwhile, still has to be the latest Dorothy, no matter how reluctantly. This volume covers the first five chapters of the story, and I am really glad that I have volume 2 already to go in the next round of Oz reading.
Friday, September 04, 2015
Another one this weekend from I Didn't Quite Make It to Oz. Unfortunately, I can't actually give the correct title of Ethan Nathé's story, as there is a pretty darned naughty word in the title. So for the sake of propriety, I will call it, "There's No Place Like…Aaahhh [Poop]!" And it was rejected from the main book, as we've seen in some earlier stories in this collection, for being too long. It did, however, have the advantage of being a little more lighthearted and silly than some of the other submissions. The twist in this one is that, although only a few weeks passed for Dorothy in Oz, when she finally gets back to Kansas over a year has gone by for Uncle Henry and Aunt Em, and they've already had her funeral. Naturally, this really throws everyone off kilter. (Dorothy's creepy distant cousin who showed up out of the blue to help out on the farm does not help. His sleeping in her room makes her decide to sleep in the barn to stay away from him!) She decides that, as much as she loves Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, Kansas just isn't for her any more, and tries to get back to Oz. After hitching a ride with a traveling circus and finding the Wizard is its balloonist, she manages to get out of Kansas, but where she ends up is a big surprise!
Way back in the day, I ran a very highly specialized little newsletter for computer literate Oz fans called Computerozzed. This was back in the days when a computer had less memory and power than one of today's calculators, portability was not an option, and if you wanted your computer to do something, you pretty much had to write your own program in BASIC. Computerozzed (which I think only ran for two issues) had a few of those, but I also included a cartoon in one of them. I crudely redrew Denslow illustrations of the Scarecrow and the Wizard from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with the caption, "Here, Scarecrow, is your brand new brain," and the Wizard has the latest tech in his hand, Apple's newest computer, the Macintosh. (This would have been the earliest version, the little boxy one with a black and white screen.) I bring this up because today's edition of The Wizard of Id is a modern update on the same premise. (And no, I don't think Parker and Hart ripped me off. It's a pretty logical idea, if you ask me.)
Thursday, September 03, 2015
And they just seem to keep coming! Michael-sensei just finds more all the time.
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
My current round of Oz reading continues with Fifty Years of the Winkie Convention, a big souvenir album of (exactly what it says on the cover) the first fifty Winkie Conventions. This was originally solicited last year in conjunction with the fiftieth Winkie Convention, but problems delayed things a bit, and it finally came out earlier this year. The nice thing about the delay, however, is that it meant it could include last year's convention. Since I've been going to this convention every year since 1980, you can imagine that I turned up quite a bit after the first few conventions. Sure enough, There I am an many stages of my life. I was especially happy to see a picture of my very first costume, Fess from Merry Go Round in Oz, at the 1983 convention, since I never did get a picture of myself that year, and I never even knew what I looked like for the longest time. I was a mere seventeen at the time! Of course, there are lots of other pictures of people I have known over the years, some for decades now, and even notoriously camera-shy Laura pops up quite a bit in some of the more recent years. Although mainly a photo album, it is interspersed with remembrances of those who were there, including myself. I gave David Maxine, who put the thing together, permission to troll this very blog for whatever utterances I've made that he wanted to use. Quite a few of my contributions came from, I believe, my thirty day countdown to my thirtieth convention, from way back in 2010.
And this gives me a segue into talking about something I don't think I've actually mentioned yet on this blog: Next year, I am co-chairing the convention! My long-time Oz friend and Queen Ann in On collaborator Karyl Carlson and I figured it was about time to bring the Winkie Convention to the Pacific Northwest. We scouted out a few places in both the Seattle and Portland areas before settling on the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel out by PDX. It should be fun, but I can already tell that it's going to be a lot of work! But if you want to came, it will be July 15-17, and you can find out more and register at www.ozconinternational.com/our-next-convention.html. I would encourage you to register now, as rates will go up early next year.
Last night, I finished Farewell, the final volume of Fables. This one is big. How big are we talking? It is both the 150th issue of the comic book series, and the twenty-second volume of collected trade paperbacks. Writer Bill Willingham, principal artist Mark Buckingham, and all the folks who helped them out have done an outstanding job of wrapping everything up, and giving a taste of what the future holds for both the characters and the Mundy world now that the secret of the Fables is out. In fact, now that we on Earth know that magic exists, it is embraced, and Earth in the future becomes one of the most magical worlds of them all. Unfortunately for the purposes of this blog, all the fates of the Oz characters were wrapped up some time ago, and so there is very little mention of anything Ozzy here. The only Oz reference I can find is that Snow White and Cinderella have an important meeting in a restaurant called the Yellowbrick Roadhouse. Still, if you've been following Fables for a while, like I have since Eric Shanower contributed illustrations to a very Ozzy storyline in issue 101, this is a great way to end the series, and just about everyone at least ends up living happily (or at least tolerably) ever after.
Monday, August 31, 2015
Over on his blog, Dan Piraro talks about yesterday's Ozzy edition of his comic Bizarro. More Ozzy fun comes in the title header, a portion of another Oz cartoon from 2009 (which I probably blogged back in the day).