Friday, December 06, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

The main gang from The Wizard of Oz already show up in A Christmas Story. So it's not too much of a stretch for this homage to the latter movie in today's edition of The Argyle Sweater.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

My favorite line from the famous movie version of The Wizard of Oz is not one most people think of. When Dorothy first meets the Scarecrow, and asks, "How can you talk if you don't have a brain?" the Scarecrow replies, "I don't know. But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?" Well, over in Shoe today they have a variant on that. (As a nice bonus, the joke is bipartisan!)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Wingmen No More

Frankand Lyman botch up another attempt to steal the Ruby Slippers, so Wilhelmina punishes them by removing their wings! And the wings attach themselves to the first creatures they come across—the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion! So while they learn to fly, Frank and Lyman have to watch them flying aroundwith their wings, and Duce and Cosmo have to do whatever Wilhelmina wants as her new flying monkey flunkeys. (Their first task? Get her broom regripped!) Frank can see only one way out of this predicament—ask Dorothy for help! Dorothy enlists the Wizard's aid, but it takes him a few tries to replace the broom (in midflight under Duce and Cosmo's noses) with a plunger. Needless to say, Wilhelmina is not happy. Frank and Lyman then show up with the broom, get back in Wilhelmina's good graces (and get Duce and Cosmo fired), and get their wings back. After a quick trip out of the castle to save the plunging, wingless Scarecrow and Lion, everything is back to normal—except now Frank and Lyman owe favors to both Dorothy and Wilhelmina.

This was definitely a fun one—deliberately. Lots of hijinks and jokes flying in this one. When it opens with Frank and Lyman getting stuck in magic glue (with the usual problems that happen in that situation in cartoons) and includes the Cowardly Lion flying because of wings on his hindquarters and the Wizard zapping up a piece of cake after saying a trick would be one, you know it's not going to be a terribly serious episode, even for this show.

Friday, November 29, 2019

This Week's Oz Novella

The final tale from Oziana No. 37 (the allegedly 2007 issue, which came out in 2009, hence the odd numbering) is a previously unpublished tale of Magic Land, the Russian counterpart to the Oz books. "Bastinda and the Winged Lion" was written by Sergei Sukhinov, translated by Peter Blystone, and illustrated by Dennis Anfuso. It's a story about the early days of Magic Land, and how one group of Winkies became the People of the Shade, living underground. (These are not the same underground people as seen in the main Magic Land books, like The Seven Underground Kings. Like Oz after other authors took over after L. Frank Baum passed away, a lot was added to the mythos of Magic Land when other writers took over from Aleksandr Volkov.) The People of the Shade then take in a baby griffin, the last of his kind, who is prophesied to defeat an enemy in the future. Then the three witches come along and carve up Magic Land, each taking a domain. Bastinda, the Wicked Witch of the West, takes over Violet Land and quickly subdues the Winkies. When she hears about the griffin, she vows to capture him and hold him hostage for one of the sorcerer Torn's magic books, held by the People of the Shade. She double crosses them, of course. Escapes, battles, and foreshadowing of all kinds of things that are going to happen in future books ensue.

I know the main line of the Magic Land books (the ones by Volkov), but there are so many references to other events and stories that it all got muddled up in my head, and it was hard to keep track of who's who. It didn't help that the first chapter was mostly backstory and history, and things don't properly get started until chapter 2. Bastinda also tends to monologue a lot, explaining her plans or thoughts or reactions in incredible speeches. And it doesn't really come to any sort of satisfactory conclusion, just promises of things that will happen in the future. To be honest, I'm not sure if this story really fits well into Oziana, as it relies too much on the reader being familiar with Magic Land to get the full context. (Then again, most stories in Oziana require at least a passing knowledge of the Oz books and characters, so maybe this isn't quite a fair generalization.)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Witch One's the Boss

The Wicked Witch is lamenting the loss of her magic powers at the same time the Wizard is having problems handling his new powers. Dorothy and the gang offer to help the Wizard practice while Wilhelmina offers to teach her aunt some tricks. Indeed, both the Wizard and the Witch state that they will do anything to deal with their current power levels. (Uh-oh, this may come back to haunt them both!) The Wizard has a few severe setbacks (closing his eyes actually turns out the sun!), so Dorothy decides she can't help and entreats Ozma to take over. Meanwhile, Wilhelmina has the Witch doing all kinds of chores and favors for her. After getting advice from Ozma, Dorothy heads back to the Wizard and the guys (who are being attacked by orks!), while the Witch is catching on to Wilhelmina taking advantage of her. In the end, both magic workers get the same advice: Wish for what you want, not how to do it. Sure enough, a rainstorm moves in and simultaneously chases the orks away and, per the Witch's wish, ruins Wilhelmina's day. Both the Wizard and the Witch may not quite have the power levels they want, but they're at least they're a little wiser in the ways of magic.

Not a lot actually happens in this episode, but it was fun anyway, and addresses the issues surrounding the Wizard acquiring the Wicked Witch's powers. I'm not sure if this is going to lead to something, but it certainly could. Frank and Lyman have some good scenes in this one, tormenting the Witch about just being an old lady (she does not like that at all), and then enjoying seeing her working for Wilhelmina. And these orks are clearly not the same as the friendly flying creatures seen in The Scarecrow of Oz. They're big and mean and don't have propellor tails, so they're more like the rak from Tik-Tok of Oz, or rocs from Arabic folklore. Overall, it was a fun romp to watch.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

The second story from Oziana #37 (the de facto 2007 issue, even if it did come out in 2009) is "The Magic Door to Oz" by Paul Ritz and Johanna Buchner, with illustrations by Kay Baumann. Our unnamed protagonist finds a key that opens a perpetually locked door in her house, so naturally she opens it. She finds herself in a series of valleys where she discovers Mr. Tumnus from the Chronicles of Narnia and the pushme-pullyu from the Doctor Dolittle books (although for both story and copyright reasons, she can't quite remember their names). It seems a witched wick (no, that's not a typo, she really is a living candle that does magic) named Méche-Méant is taking characters out of famous children's stories so that readers will never get the joy of reading about them again. When a parrot-handle umbrella (yes, from the Mary Poppins books) also appears, she and the umbrella set out to see about getting everyone back into their books. After overcoming a few obstacles thrown in their way by Méche-Méant, they find a yellow brick road and Bungle the glass cat. Sure enough, the strange land these characters were being held in is some sort of bud-dimension of Oz. They quickly meet up with the Wizard, who recruits Ozma and helps overcome the wick before sending everyone home.

It's a charming little story that covers a pretty broad canvas. Méche-Méant is a pretty nasty character who keeps throwing all kinds of obstacles into everyone's way, but the resourcefulness of the umbrella and some talents the Glass Cat never showed before (the Wizard has given her a few extra traits) help resolve the situations.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

Yes, that is exactly how the character in the caption in today's edition of 1 and Done would act. (Please note that in this cartoon, he has tripped her, and not killed her, as some commenters have speculated. Dorothy came out of this pretty badly scraped up, but otherwise fine. She and the Scarecrow later traded this model in for someone a little more simpático.)

Monday, November 18, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: The Vault Heist

Ozma is getting ready for an extended trip to the annual meeting of Ozian dignitaries,, and giving Dorothy all kinds of directions about what to do in case of emergencies. They are all particularly concerned about the magic vault and all of its traps and other hazards, but Ozma reels off the directions for getting around them so fast that nobody can understand her. (That high squeaky voice with a vaguely British accent doesn't help!) Once Ozma takes off, Frank and Lyman report back to Wilhelmina and the Wicked Witch. Sure enough, the Witch wants to break into the vault. But they need a distraction! Wilhelmina and the monkeys raise a ruckus in Merryland, scaring the clowns who live there, and Dorothy and the guys spot this in the Magic Picture. So they leave the Wizard in charge of the vault while Dorothy uses the Ruby Slippers to whisk the others to Merryland. The Witch, disguised as a messenger, enters with a message from Ozma, needing a potion. The Wizard isn't much help, getting caught in the traps himself, so when Dorothy and the gang return, they use all their skills and abilities to get past them all and break in. (Hmm, did nobody notice that that messenger has green skin, a pronounced chin, and a couple of big hairy warts?) The Witch is in, and gleefully starts gathering items up—only for Dorothy to reveal that she knew the witch was the messenger the whole time! She tries to trap the Witch in the vault, only for the Witch to turn the tables and kick Dorothy out. But Dorothy manages to reset some of the traps, so when the Witch tries to leave, she ends up trapped after all, just waiting for Ozma to come back and deal with her.

Well, it was all very silly, and that's not a bad thing. Wilhelmina may be wising up, as she seems to be pretty nonchalant about what her auntie is doing, perhaps knowing that Dorothy and her friends are going to win in the end. Oh, she helps out with the distraction in Merryland, but that's just a fun romp for her. Meanwhile, Merryland! Yes, the writers know more about Baum than just his Oz books, and are mining it here. Anyway, overall, a fun little romp of an episode, but not the most crucial episode, either.

This Week's Oz Short Story

By the start of the 21st century, interest in Oziana had waned, and the International Wizard of Oz Club was having problems with it. They had a huge backlog of old issues that nobody was interested in buying, nor was there much interest in putting out new issues. After the 2006 issue, it would be another three years before another issue of this supposedly annual magazine came out. But thanks to a new editor stepping in and going to a print-on-demand model to reduce both inventory and the need for the Club to actually print issues, the next issue was labeled as "No. 37". Fortunately, that's about the only thing that changed, as the contents were still very Ozzy. And the first story in it is "As the Rainbow Follows the Rain" by Jeff Rester, with illustrations by Melody Grandy. On one of her trips to the Earth's surface, Polychrome meets a rain sprite, who is curious about her background. So Polly tells him about her family, including her father, mother, sisters, and brother. Then she has to take off again. It's really just an excuse for one author to give his theory about Polly's background, but it's a charming explanation.

Other highlights of this issue include a wraparound cover by Kevenn T. Smith, and a bonus story, "Monkey Shines" by J. L. Bell, about a flying monkey who comes tho the Emerald City looking for a job, and gets one as the palace's window cleaner. It's presented as a small folded piece of green paper, and as you unfold the paper, the story unfolds as well. It's a charming way to present a story, and the payoff once the whole thing is unfolded is pretty good.

Today's Oz Comic

Today's edition of Bizarro is one of those really obvious ideas that makes you wonder why nobody has done it before. I seem to recall some variations on the theme, but not in this particular manner.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Today's Oz Comics

Yup, it's another two-fer!

  • First up, today in Eek! is a new twist on the old mad-scientist-in-Oz trope.
  • Meanwhile, over in Rubes, the Scarecrow has a problem. The Tin Woodman doesn't seem to be of much help.

Today's Oz Comic

Well, strictly speaking, not Oz, but the upper right portion of today's edition of The Argyle Sweater appears to be a shoutout to L. Frank Baum and W. W. Denslow's first collaboration, and one of the bestselling books of 1899, Father Goose: His Book. At least, that's hom it could be taken.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

Here's an interesting story posited in today's installment of Candorville: What if a tornado grabbed someone from Oz and brought them to our world? What kind of culture shock would they experience? Who would they meet? And how would they get home? The mind reels!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

All I can say to the guy saying the line in today's edition of Junk Drawer is, you think???

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

Do you think that Andy Marlette is implying that Pete Buttigieg could be a friend of Dorothy? After all, he has brains, heart, and courage, along with other qualities that qualify him for that title.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Home Away from Home

While learning about his new emotions, Dorothy explains to the Tin Woodman what homesickness is, and confesses to missing Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, and the farm sometimes. So the guys go to the Wizard, who creates a machine for Dorothy to see her old home in Kansas and feel a little better. But something goes wrong, and starts replacing Oz items with things from Kansas! It even turns the Scarecrow into an ordinary, regular scarecrow, so they can't use his brains. The Wicked Witch tells them that the boundary between worlds is weakening, and the only solution is for Dorothy to go back to Oz for good—and her little dog, too! Of course, the Ruby Slippers have to stay in Oz. The Wizard agrees, so Dorothy decides she has to go. Before she does, however, she zaps herself around Oz saying goodbye to her friends: Patchwork Girl, the Woozy, Ozma, and even Wilhelmina, Frank, and Lyman! (Wilhelmina claims she's not crying, the castle is dusty!) Back in the Emerald City, the Witch says they're running out of time, and Dorothy has to go now, leaving the Ruby Slippers behind. Dorothy can't get them off, however, and when the Witch tries to help, the machine turns her into Miss Gulch, and a Kansas cyclone blows her away! Glinda then enters the picture, and once again tells Dorothy that she's had the power to fix things all along. Dorothy starts saying, "There's no place like home, and there's no place like Oz," while repeatedly clicking the Ruby Slippers. Sure enough, her wishing on the Slippers fixes the tear, repairs the machine, and causes Kansas and Oz to separate again. Dorothy realizes she can be a little homesick, but that's okay, she doesn't need to fix it.

This was a full-blown tug-at-the-heartstrings episode, with a lot of heart and emotion behind it, echoing some of the more emotional moments of The Movie. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry finally get a mention on this show, and the Witch turning into Miss Gulch was a nice touch. It's also an intriguing premise, and I'd like to have seen more of what an Oz/Kansas hybrid would have looked like. And it was easy to figure out what was from Kansas: In another nice touch, they were all in black and white! By it's very nature, this episode felt much closer to The Movie than any other so far.

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story from Oziana 2006—the "Haunted" themed issue—is "The Axman's Arm" by J. L. Bell, with illustrations by David Lee Ingersoll. Jair and Wenni are two Munchkin kids who, thanks to their mother's job, are often left on their own for days at a time. But they're good kids, even if they dan't want to do all their chores or lessons. But when they find a disembodied arm that likes chopping wood, Jair takes it in and takes care of it. Before long, thanks to the arm's help, all the chopping is done. Jair washes the arm and finds a tattoo on it: Nimmie Amee. Every time they mention Nimmie Amee, the arm gets excited, so Jair decides to help the arm find her. They find Nimmmie's old home in ruins, but also find another disembodied arm, this one holding a sword! Sure enough, the new arm is also looking for her, and the two arms start to fight. Jair breaks them up and takes the axman's arm home, but eventually the soldier's arm finds them and tries to break in. When attempting to stop them fighting, the arms strangle Jair. Only quick thinking from Wenni and the local wildlife prevent the arms from causing even more trouble.

This one starts off amusingly enough—after all, who wouldn't like to have an extra arm around to help with the chores? But things quickly turn dark. After all, it's doubtful an arm on its own has enough wits to reason and understand all that's going on around it. The introduction of the second, rival arm really opens things up. Of course, Jair and Wenni have no way of knowing this, but I'm sure most readers are able to figure out that the arms used to belong to the Tin Woodman and the Tin Soldier! So, that's one little Oz mystery solved.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

Actually, this edition of Working Daze goes back to last week, in the leadup to Halloween, when we were inundated with so many Oz comics at once. So it's no wonder it got lost! Anyway, the comic itself may not be terribly Ozzy, but that guy on the left sure seems to be!

Saturday, November 02, 2019

This Week's Oz Poem

The second item in the 2006 issue of Oziana is a three-part poem, "Rivals", by Adrian Korpel, with illustrations by David Lee Ingersoll. Each part is told from the point of view of one of Dorothy's three friends on her first trip to Oz—and how they see the other two as rivals for Dorothy's affection! It's all very introspective and personal for them, but I think most fans of the Oz books who read this won't buy most of it. There are some indicators that this is based on their famous Movie counterparts anyway, and since that Oz was a dream, we can just not worry about that.

Mention should also be made of the cover, which is unique in the history of Oziana in that it is a photograph. Burlington, Vermont, has several winged monkeys on business rooftops. Photographer Peter Huoppi took a picture of one of them in 2002 when wildfires in Canada darkened the sky and reddened the sun, and obscured the outlines of one of the monkeys. It's an unusual and haunting image, and definitely appropriate for this issue.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Wheeling Tin Man

Playing a game of pogoball, the Tin Man heads out to the yellow brick road to fetch the ball. In the process, one of the Wheelers swerves to avoidhim and breaks a wheel. The Tin Man fixes it with the pogoball, and the Wheeler really likes the new maneuverability. The Wheelers ask him to replace all their wheels, and make the Tin Man one of their own. Dorothy is concerned, however, because the Wheelers go in for dangerous stunts, which are not something Tin Man is known for. Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Lion miss him, but Tin Man is enjoying himself too much to miss them. When Dorothy finds out that Tin Man's initiation to officially become a Wheeler involves a dangerous jump over Emerald Gorge, she Ruby Slippers over there to talk him out of it. Despite all his bravado and bluster, Tin Man finally agrees—but before he can get away, a friendly slap from Lion sends him down the ramp anyway! He doesn't make it across, but does land (relatively) safely in the river, and Dorothy uses the Ruby Slippers to rescue him.

Okay, my big question here is, how can Tin Man fall into the river and not be affected by the water at all? This is the guy who rusts when he cries, and even in the snow. But a plunge in the river, he's fine. Heck, when Dorothy brings him to shore, water doesn't even spill out from his legs. But overall, this was probably just an average episode, with the Tin Man learning he can't really go against his own nature. The Wheelers are still tough but otherwise not terribly offensive, even after they have their wheels replaced by rubber balls.