Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Today's Oz Comic

All I can say about today's edition of Mother Goose and Grimm is: Ewwwwwwww!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Latest Oz Reading, Part II

We now reach some extremely vintage stuff that I've read for the very first time:

  • I was visiting some Oz friends in Portland and had a little time, so I tucked into their copy of Mary Louise and Josie O'Gorman. This is one of the later titles by "Edith Van Dyne" that was published ofter Baum's death, so this one was written by Emma Speed Sampson. And I think this is the title where "Edith" finally Acknowledged who the real star of the series is, because intrepid girl detective Josie O'Gorman is at the center of things. It is Josie who wonders about the identity of the two orphan children brought to Dorfield and how they came to be in the care of their cousin Dink. It is Josie who manages to get some information out of them that sends her to Atlanta and Indiana, tracking down the children's lost relatives. And it is Josie who manages, through her dogged determinism and a few lucky breaks, to reunite a family separated by greed and war. Granted, Josie has had a huge role in many earlier Mary Louise books, often front and center just as much as here. Domestic, married life seems to agree with Mary Louise, as she barely appears in her own book—which is fine, as she had ceased to be a terribly interesting and compelling character a few volumes back anyway.
  • The reason I wanted to read that book is that I had recently acquired and read the next book in the series, Josie O'Gorman, as I saw it at a great price I couldn't pass up. Yes, finally, Josie is the titular star of the series, not Mary Louise. But at least Mary Louise and the rest of the gang are still around, and Josie is still based in Dorfield, so that hasn't changed, at least. And the girls gain a new friend, Ursula, who has come to Dorfield looking for work and a way to support her little brother, Philip. The girls take her in, of course, but something doesn't seem right to Josie, and she ends up doing some digging. But when Philip is kidnapped, she goes into overdrive and discovers a lost fortune and all kinds of skullduggery in Louisville. (Josie appears to be a great traveler, using the trains a lot in her adventures.) Of course all turns out well in the end, and everyone is happy except for the bad people who had been trying to make them unhappy. What's unusual about my copy of this book, however, is that it's not the book I bought! The ad said it was the next book, Josie O'Gorman and the Meddlesome Major, which has always been an extremely elusive book to find at an affordable price. It arrived safe and sound, with the expected title on the cover, and I set it aside to read at a convenient time. But when I finally picked it up and started reading, I realized there was no major meddling in anything. The half-title page, title page, and running titles all said "Josie O'Gorman", and the copyright date was 1923, not the expected 1924. Since Josie O'Gorman is also a hard title to track down, and I hadn't read that, either, I didn't mind. I made a few inquiries, and while such a hybrid is highly unusual, it doesn't add much to the value. So all I really have is a curiosity. But now I'm at least down to only two "Edith Van Dyne" titles I don't own, and one I haven't read.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Latest Oz Reading

I've started my latest batch of Oz reading. In this case, I will go in the reverse order I've read them, from most recent to furthest back, for a very good reason that I will get to at the right time. But I may not quite get them all blogged tonight, so there may be a continuation tomorrow.

  • A Baffling Book About Bunnybury of Oz by Marin Elizabeth Xiques, illustrated by S. P. Maldonado is the latest case for Oz's premier rabbit detective, Brewster Bunny, and for once he doesn't have to travel very far, as it all takes place in his home town of Bunnybury. Brewster's friends, Hamilton and Elsa, are visited by their long-lost uncle Norbert, who seems particularly interested in a locked green door in Elsa's house. But what's so secret about the room's contents, and why are they so interesting to Norbert? This was a short, fun read that shows us a lot about how the civilized rabbits of Oz live. And naturally Brewster solves the case, too.
  • Captive Hearts of Oz Volume 2, by Ryo Maruya, illustrated by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, translated by Angela Liu. This manga adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz continues, from the party's first encounter with the Kalidahs to their arrival at the Emerald City. But a new member joins them, Zero, and Dorothy seems to be strongly drawn to him, to the point of wondering if she even needs to go back to Kansas. Also, the mysterious figures behind the scenes wonder if the alterations made to Dorothy's story will have major long-term affects, and Glinda involves herself the adventure long before she's supposed to. This is turning into a fun little series that's not quite as straightforward as it first appeared. I'm glad I've already ordered volume 3!
  • The program book for this year's OzCon International, which you had to attend to get a copy of, or at least have some connections. Lots of essays about things being celebrated at this year's convention, notably the centennial of The Lost Princess of Oz, it's dedicatee, Ozma Baum, and the 1933-34 Wizard of Oz radio show. But I already know all that, as I was the editor of this book.
And the rest, and most interesting part, will have to wait until tomorrow.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

Another one from the 1983 edition of Oziana: "The Fate of the Yoops, or The Yookoohoos of Oz" by Frederick E. Otto, illustrated by Rob Roy MacVeigh. Like a lot of Fred's stories, this is just a fun romp, but still dolds together really well. Mrs. Yoop decides to get some help in disenchanting herself from the form of a green monkey (as last seen in The Tin Woodman of Oz), and seeks it from the only other Yookoohoo in Oz, Reera the Red. Reera, however, still just wants to be left alone, so she sends the green monkey out to fetch Mr. Yoop, hoping that would be that. However, Mrs. Yoop ends up freeing her husband, so Reera has to resort to plan B to rid herself of both Yoops. Seeing the relationship between the Yoops and getting a little of their history is a big plus, and everyone in the end probably gets what they deserve.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

Actually, this week is more a series of Oz vignettes, as "Cornucopia Oziana" by Lee Avila from the 1983 issue of Oziana presents a series of very short stories expanding on things Baum failed to mention in the Oz books. Over the course of only two pages, we learn:

  • The song the Chief of the Whimsies sang to Guph in The Emerald City of Oz.
  • Further juggling tricks by the Royal Jugglers of Bunnybury, as well as what symbol are on their robes.
  • What happened to Googly-Goo (and his fortune!) after the events of The Scarecrow of Oz (believe it or not, he was never punished in the book, an oversight on Baum's part, I'm sure).
  • The pressing matter Ozma had to meet with Jack Pumpkinhead and Professor Wogglebug about in The Magic of Oz.
This is actually a very clever way of expanding on our information about Oz, and I'm just sorry this is the only time this has ever happened.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Today's Oz Comic

If someone had done this in 1939, we would have seen exactly what we see in today's Pop Culture Shock Therapy. However, if Dorothy had just waited a few decades and tried it now, things would have been very different.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

The 1983 edition of Oziana opens with the story "The Way to the Emerald City", written and illustrated by Melody Grandy. Aleda is a young woman from North Carolina who suffers a mishap while hang gliding, and ends up in a valley in the Winkie Country. Unfortunately, the only inhabitant of that valley is a scared young giant who is afraid of what he calls "little people". With the hang glider broken, however, Aleda isn't going anywhere, so she ends up being imprisoned by the giant, who lives alone and has no friends because his fear of the "little people" keeps him from leaving his valley. Over the course of several weeks, Aleda and the giant (whom Aleda ends up naming Orlando) learn to trust and respect each other. Eventually, Aleda escapes, only to go back and get Orlando and help him escape the prison he's made for himself. Their relationship is really touching, and this may be one of the most satisfyingly realistic Oz stories I've ever read. The ending also hints at further adventures for both Orlando and Aleda, but they were never explored—at least not in the pages of Oziana!

Monday, August 28, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story in the 1982 edition of Oziana is "The Cowardly Lion and the Courage Pills" by Glenn Ingersoll, with illustrations by David Ingersoll. The Lion is feeling even more scared of things than usual, so Professor Wogglebug decides to find him a nice, quiet, safe place to stay for a while, and then teams up with the Wizard and Herby the Medicine Man to create courage pills. They succeed in creating something, at least, but as soon as the Wogglebug gives them to the Cowardly Lion, the Emerald City is invaded by Blorgens, a race of creatures from underneath Mount Phantastico who resemble two roses growing from a pile of dirt. They use a soporific gas to put the citizens of the Emerald City to sleep, but they don't count on the Ozites who don't have to breathe. When the Cowardly Lion wakes up, hidden away so he wasn't immediately affected by the gas, he takes some of the pills, then enlists the aid of the Scarecrow to carry out a plan using some of the devices collected in Ozma's safe. Needless to say, the plan works, but the Lion doesn't really seem to be anywhere nearer to losing his cowardice.

The only other extra to report on in this issue is a fanciful front cover by Jill Sparrow. Which means next week, we hit 1983!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Today's Oz Comic Rerun

In today's encore presentation of My Cage, Norm makes an observation about two classic movies. Let's just say he is far from the first to ever make this observation (there was a cartoon about this in Oziana way back in 1978). George Lucas has always acknowledged that The Wizard of Oz influenced Star Wars, too.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 13: Go For Kansas

Well, it all came together in the end. Dorothy comes up with a clever plan to sneak the gang into the castle so that Glinda can recover the Pearl of Pingaree, reverse the spell, and make everyone remember Glinda and how good she is again. Of course, all does not all go smoothly, and Langwidere gains the upper hand. It's West who proves to be the real hero, turning on her aunt by using her friendship with Dorothy against Langwidere. Dorothy's journal then gets filled with magic again, and all she has to do is say "Go forth" again, and she's on her way home. But something goes wrong, and the Gale house is now somewhere else!

Needless to say, I really hope there's a second season, not only to resolve that cliffhanger, but also because I really enjoyed this show, and want to see more of it. The liberal use of characters and places from the books is a lot of fun for this long-term fan, but there still wasn't a Tin Woodman! I hope we get to see this show's version of him in the new season, alongside Jack Pumpkinhead, Ozma, and other favorite characters.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Today's Oz Comic

Over in today's Free Range, Dorothy looks like she may be getting a little too deep into the political shenanigans in Munchkinland.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

This week's second story from the 1982 issue of Oziana was very short, indeed, at only a page and a half. In "The Change Made by the Magic Turnstyle" by Edith Ellen Reuwer, Dorothy goes through Jenny Jump's Magic Turnstyle, only to inadvertently press a button that changes one's temperament, and turning Dorothy into a tyrant! She even accuses Ozma of being a peasant, and that she shouldn't be the queen! Really, the nerve. It takes a few more changes through the turnstyle to get things right, but things finally settle back to normal, and the temperament button gets deactivated. Phew! I gather editor Jay Delkin found this story by a young girl on the Oz Club's research table and punched it up a bit, but otherwise kept the basic story. That's a good thing, young fans and writers need to be nurtured and encouraged. I hope others can do so in the future.

Lost in Oz, Chapter 12: Welcome Back, Glinda

Another zippy one that ended after it seemed to barely start! Dorothy, Toto, and Glinda finally find Smith, who gets them out of his painting and back into the Emerald City, but it is a changed city. Langwidere's spell has taken hold, and nobody in Oz remembers Glinda or Dorothy. Langwidere has, so far as they know, always been the Witch of Oz. Even worse, West is by her side, being set up as her successor. (West may be having second thoughts, but all the power her aunt is promising her may be too tempting.) Even Ojo is affected, and doesn't remember Dorothy and Glinda—until Langwidere alters the spell, and makes everyone think Glinda and Dorothy are dangerous criminal fugitives! Fortunately, Reigh's place is shielded and he isn't affected, so he contacts the Magic Underground, and they find our fugitives and bring them into the Night Market, which is also shielded. Using artificial magic, Glinda is able to temporarily make Ojo remember his real self and his friendship with Dorothy, but they only have until sundown to make the change permanent!

Lots of familiar characters in the crowds of the Emerald City, such as Mangaboos and citizens of Utensia and Bunbury. All I will say now is that I am really looking forward to how this all wraps up! Unfortunately, company is coming this weekend, so I may not get the chance until Sunday night or Monday!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 11: 11:11

No, that title is not a typo, that's the actual name of the episode. Earlier in the series it was established that, when their digital watches read 11:11, Dorothy and Evelyn would make a wish. Well, in this one Dorothy is going to need all the wishing she can find, because Langwidere traps her in a painting of her own house! She and Toto don't appear to have any way of getting out, and for the first time Dorothy is about to give up hope. But then, on that 11:11 wish, Toto hears Evelyn's voice, and finds a portal into another painting. In this one, they find Glinda—the real Glinda, where Langwidere has trapped her. They quickly discover other portals, in the artist's signature (to be specific, the dot in the i in Smith—yes, as in Smith and Tinker), and eventually find their way to a painting in Evelyn's room! Dorothy can at least see and talk to her mother at last, and Glinda vows to do whatever she can to help the Gale family out again

Wait, again? Evelyn's painting is of her ancestor, Dorothy, on her original trip to Oz! She named her daughter after the famous Dorothy. It seems several Gales have all made trips to Oz, and our Dorothy is just the latest. They've all had their issues with the witches, too, but Glinda had hoped that Evelyn's friendship with Cyra had finally put an end to that. Bun Langwidere still hates the Gales, and is using West as a pawn to not only rule Oz, but also to erase Glinda and the Gales from all of Oz history!

This was another of those my-that-went-quick-it-was-so-good episodes. Langwidere's true colors are really showing now, and it's starting to look like she might actually succeed (yeah, right). Smith may get a mention, but Tinker actually shows up, having created a device as part of Langwidere's plans. But the best Easter egg this time around was a Bureau of Magic agent named Wamego. No, don't go looking through your Oz books for that reference, you won't find it. But break out your atlas, because Wamego is a town in Kansas with one of the first Oz museums, and host to an annual Oz festival.

I like the tie-in with the original Dorothy's trip. What we see of her in the painting, she's wearing a blue and white gingham dress and pink sunbonnet, just like in the book. One might wonder how the Oz of Baum's books could turn into the technological society we've been watching for the last eleven episodes, but we saw a lot of magical technology in the books that developed as the series progressed, so I don't see why at least one version of Oz couldn't look like this one.

Only two more to go! Ooh, I'm getting all excited to see how this wraps up! (Stilt no Tin Woodman, though!)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 10: Bogspeed, Little Shanks!

Other commitments and technical issues kept me from watching yesterday, so of course I had to log in and see what's happening next as soon as I could this morning. Dorothy, Toto, Ojo, West, and Fitz are in the tunnels under the Emerald City, on the run from the Growleywogs and looking for a way out. But when they reach an exit, only to overhear the Nomes sealing it off, they realize that not only will they be trapped, so will the Growleywogs. Despite everyone's best judgement (poor Fitz, who has decided to become good, really doesn't quite get it), they go back to the Growleywogs to warn them, and the Chieftainess convinces the Chief to let them go and not eat them as a result. Reigh, meanwhile, enlists the aid of Agent Pugmill, and together they discover that the Nomes are hiding the magic at the airport. And Scarecrow, being interrogated by General Guph, can't give out any information because of the water of oblivion still affecting his memory. So Guph uses a potion of wakefulness on the Scarecrow, and Scarecrow remembers everything. But when Dorothy and crew emerge in the airport, the Growleywogs take on the Nomes, thus causing Guph to take up the fight before the Scarecrow can tell him anything. Dorothy realizes that the stolen magic is on the blimp, so she plans to steal the blimp and take it to Glinda. This she manages to do, and meets Glinda at the castle—but it turns out that Glinda is not Glinda, but Langwidere in disguise!

This is really starting to get good, and all the plot threads are starting to come together nicely. I think I'm going to like reformed Fitz, once he figures out just what he really wants to do. Only three episodes left to go! (I'm already hoping for an announcement soon about a second season.)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Today's Oz Comic (No Politics in This One)

If my friend Eric Shanower and his artist colleague were still doing their adaptations of Oz for Marvel, they might eventually come up with the situation we see in today's installments of Bluebonnets.

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

Tom Toles today points out just how ridiculous and arbitrary voting laws are becoming in some states. Just follow the red dotted line...

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

Actually, the first item in the 1982 issue of Oziana isn't a story, but a script. The short play The Scarecrow's Appreciation Day by Ben P. Indick, with illustrations by Rob Roy MacVeigh, is a neat little one-scener where some of the Scarecrow's friends, while looking for him to celebrate his special day, recall some of their happy moments with him, shown in flashbacks. When the Scarecrow himself turns up, he's all down and dejected for reasons of his own, but the Wizard thinks of a way to cheer him up. It's a nice little character piece, and would make for a fun show sometime somewhere. (I wonder if it's ever actually been performed?)

Lost in Oz, Chapter 9: Down the Yellow Brick Line

This is basically Dorothy and Company's Underground Adventure, as it all takes place in the subway system. Dorothy, Ojo, West, and Toto are captured by Fitz, but his magic is going on the fritz, especially when West finds some magic of her own and makes an escape attempt. She fails, but in the process, Fitz's map of the tunnels breaks and he gets lost—and then the Growleywogs find and capture them all. Scarecrow, meanwhile, having escaped to get help, finally finds someone. Unfortunately, it's the Nomes, and so they capture him. The Growleywogs, meanwhile, want to turn Dorothy and her friends into stew. Working together, they manage to escape, but run into a dead end. Fitz uses the last magic he has to create a hole in the wall, but he has no control. West takes over, but her power is weak and the hole shrinks, even though it stays in one place. Dorothy gets them to work together (against both of their better judgements) and they find a way out. Only problem is, they have no idea where they are, no magic, and no way to contact Reigh or get any other help. Scarecrow, meanwhile, is confronted with the Nomes' General Guph!

It's starting to look like Fitz may not be quite as bad of a bad guy as we've been led to believe, or at least Dorothy has given him some ideas to think about. And the contrast between how Fitz and West use magic makes for some fun plot developments. The Growleywogs are totally unlike what they were like in The Emerald City of Oz. Their love for stew, and then going to sleep to give our heroes a chance to escape, reminds me more of the Scoodlers.

This is still a lot of fun, but I can also tell that things are ramping up for the big conclusion soon. However, I will likely have to skip watching it tomorrow, as I have a big event to go to. But with only four more episodes left, I should wrap this up by the end of next week.

Today's Oz Comic

Today's Pickles is presented without further comment—except that now I'm in my fifties, I'm starting to feel the same way!