Sunday, May 01, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story in the 1972 issue of Oziana is "To Oz Through the Mists" by Diane Merryman, with illustrations by Mary Reynolds. This is a charming little tale of Merrilana, a teenaged orphan who is about to age out of the foster home system and be on her own. She stumbles through a mysterious fog and meets the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion, and helps them make cookies for Ozma's birthday. In gratitude, our Oz friends figure out how to conjure up more fog so she can get home. To be honest, I'm not sure why Merrilana wants to go home, as there's not a lot there for her, but that's the story. She does at least seem to have made a good impression on Nick and the Lion, who speak highly of her once she's gone.

I may take a week off next week, as it's a busy weekend for me (it's Free Comic Book Day, so Laura and I are heading out to score some swag and visit friends we haven't seen for a while), but when I do return, we'll start looking at 1973!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

Still working my way through the 1972 edition of Oziana. Today's offering was "Mr. Thinman in Oz" by Fred Meyer and Adrienne Martinez. This is just a light, frothy little tale of adventures in Oz that's just supposed to be fun. While cleaning out his attic, Mr. Thinman finds a magic carpet, which ends up taking him to Oz. Along the way, he also finds the Wizard's hat. Between the carpet allowing him to go anywhere and the hat magically supplying whatever he asks for, Mr. Thinman is able to handle just about anything the story throws at him. He manages to help a dragon, disenchant a princess, and annoy a king all in less than five pages, and still makes it to the Emerald City for the culminating celebration. Definitely not one to take terribly seriously, but definitely also an enjoyable read.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

Thanks to today's Eek! the prospect of a modern-day reimagining of The Wizard of Oz seems even less appealing.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Stories

No, that's not a typo, I have two to report on. This is to make up for my not writing a report last week. (I did read one, but I was otherwise so busy at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle that I didn't get a chance to tell you all about it.) Both are from the second issue of Oziana, from 1972:

  • The first story was "It's Tuesday, This Must Be Oz" by Mary Reynolds, with illustrations by Tony Moses. A New York subway car with five very different passengers on it ends up being diverted to Oz, so the passengers must all find their way to the Emerald City to get back to New York. A lot is made in this story about how these are not the typical Americans who get to Oz, in that they're not children. The hippies Bubba and Porsche have to deal with Pigots, who don't take kindly to strangers. The fact that Bubba may be the first recorded African-American to visit Oz doesn't help! Mr. and Mrs. Withers, who are on the subway because their Rolls broke down, meet the Tin Woodman, whom Mr. Withers mistakes for the tin castle's doorman! And Dora Fuson, frustrated with her dead-end job in the typing pool, ends up having an adventure with the dashing Prince Roy. They all eventually get to the Emerald City — or at least rescued by Ozma — and, none of them feeling very comfortable in Oz, are sent home. But Oz has a way of staying with you! I liked how much characterization and story Reynolds managed to cram into only fourteen pages, and how the story raised some issues about full-fledged adults, with already established lives and habits, would take to visiting Oz. And Bubba and Porsche definitely make this story an artifact of its times, as I doubt they would have worked so well in another era.
  • This weekend's story was "Scraps and the Kruel Kalidah" by Brian Baker, illustrated by Damon Ralph. This is a very short tale, taking up less than two pages, but it is a satisfying little read. Scraps encounters a rogue Kalidah who has trapped a little boy up in a tree and wants to eat the boy. Scraps offers to find something else for the Kalidah to eat. The people of the next village she comes to are only too happy to help, but it doesn't quite work out so well for the Kalidah!
Thankfully, I have few weekends away from home planned for the next few months, so I doubt I will have another two-fer like this anytime soon.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

My man in Japan, Michael-sensei, found another one for us. And to be honest, I'm surprised nobody's tried the same trick in the Oz books that they're pulling in today's Misc Soup.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Wicked in Brazil!

This one slipped under my radar: Wicked recently opened in Brazil! The production at the Teatro Renault in São Paulo is the first South American and Portuguese-language production. It's on an open-ended run right now, so if you're heading down there for the Olympics in Rio this summer, maybe you can take a side trip to see this as well. But I'm afraid the rest of us will have to settle for this sample of the show:

I've also recently learned that revival productions are coming soon to Japan and Korea as well.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

I've now wrapped up the 1971 issue of Oziana with "Sherlock Holmes in Oz" by Ruth Berman. Yup, this story is pretty much what the title says, with Holmes and Watson magically brought to the Emerald City to solve the mystery of a magic pearl, brought as a gift from the visiting Prince Inga, that has gone missing. Holmes and Watson are startled and unsure at first, of course, but once he gets the lay of the land and the details of the problem, Holmes is in his element and the game is most clearly afoot. Naturally, he solves the problem, finds the pearl, and snags the thief, all in that satisfyingly Holmesian way he has. Being the expert on both Oz and Holmes that she is, I would expect nothing less from Berman. But I do have a small complaint that, when I address it, will give away a small part of the mystery, so if you want don't want any spoilers, you can stop reading now.

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Still with me? Okay, here's the deal: The thief is a Nome, and the motive is that Nomes believe they are the owners of all gems and precious jewels. This makes sense, and has been covered in the Oz books before. However, since pearls are not made underground by Nomes, I would think that they don't consider them to be actual gems, or at least not ones that they used to own. It is, however, a minor point, and certainly did not take away my enjoyment of the story.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Beware…

Just a reminder, tomorrow* is April Fool's Day. That means, of course, that someone is going to try to fool you. Please take everything you see with a grain of salt, and properly investigate the veracity of something before jumping to conclusions.

I say this because of this post I made back in 2007. (Has it really been that long?) This was the first time McDonald's had Oz toys in their Happy Meals, and they were a big hit. The timing of the promotion worked out so well that when the idea struck me, I couldn't resist. I know the Wizard would have to be one of them, since he wasn't in that first wave for some reason, and the Mayor was just a logical addition as well. I even found pictures of Mayor and Wizard dolls (the expensive full-size ones they are best known for) from Madame Alexander's website for the graphic. Being the responsible prankster that I am, I set the link to the "original source" so that it would explain it was a joke. Sadly, too many people didn't do that, and reported it as news. As more and more people spread it, it took on a life of its own. Let's just say that I got a lot of backlash for it, even with the disclaimer. After a few days, I thought it had died down, only to find it reported again as news in The Baum Bugle a few months later! I immediately sent off a note to the editor explaining the situation, and there was a correction in the next issue, but that is, frankly, not a situation I want to see repeated again. Hence, my annual warning. So, you have been warned!

* Actually, as I write this, it's already April 1 in some parts of the world, and I know some Australians are already trying to fool us.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

Oh, poor little Nick Chopper, look at what they're doing to you in today's edition of The Argyle Sweater. Too bad this could never have actually happened, because you were still a flesh-and-blood boy at the time!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

My epic reread of Oziana, in order, continues with the second story ever, "The Cowardly Lion Changes His Name" by March Laumer, with illustrations by Tony Moses. It seems, after living in the Emerald City for so long, the Cowardly Lion has goten so used to being just called "Lion" that he's forgotten his name. So he heads back to the prairie (yes, prairie, as he explains in the story) where he used to live to discover his name. It turns out, however, that that name carries some baggage and a fate that he's not ready to meet. By changing his name, the Lion seems to think he can escape that fate. Of course, it doesn't all work out that smooth. I've read many of March Laumer's books, and this certainly fits the bill of being totally consistent with the FF, while at the same time fitting entirely within his own version of the same books. But this is also a harmless little tale, with a surprising amount of character growth for the Cowardly Lion. And I'm happy to see Betsy Bobbin get the spotlight here as the practical mortal girl, rather than the usually-expected Dorothy.

As part of my ongoing project to index Oziana, my friend Joseph Bongiorno has agreed to let me link to his page on Oz stories in magazines at The Royal Timeline of Oz. Unfortunately, they're all listed on one page, and the only way to find a particular story is to scroll down or search. And not all stories are summarized there — this being one of them! But it's impressive work, and I hope my readers will take advantage of it.

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

Yesterday's cartoon by Glenn McCoy may technically be a political cartoon, but unlike stuff about the current election cycle or other news events, this is a pretty cool, positive look at the world around us. Throwing the Cowardly Lion into the mix just makes the whole thing sweeter.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

With no more new stories to read, it was time to dip into the old stuff. So I decided the time was right to dip into my archives of Oziana, the International Wizard of Oz Club's literary magazine, which has been published annually since 1971. I have every issue from 1975 on, and reprints of the earlier issues, so this is going to be a lot of fun. Since I also haven't read most of them more than once (i.e., when I first got them), I will probably rediscover all kinds of new stories.

Naturally, I started off with the very first story of the 1971 issue, "The Patchwork Girl and the Giant" by Harry Mongold, with illustrations by Bill Eubank. As one might expect, for the very first story there isn't a lot of change in the status quo. One evening, Scraps decides to roll down a hill, but there are no hills in the Emerald City, so she heads out of town. She meets an owl who's been blown away from his home by a giant, and so she helps him get home. There, she meets a giant with an important job to do, which is why he spends so much of his time blowing water uphill. It all works out in the end, and the owl gets back home with no further trouble from the giant, but it doesn't quite work out as one might expect, either. This one reminded me of "Little Dorothy and Toto" from The Little Wizard Stories of Oz, but without quite so much peril.

Since it was so short, I also read the following item, a poem entitled "Tik-Tok Takes a Trip", also by Mongold and illustrated by Eubank. Tik-Tok goes out for a walk, and when he senses his works are halfway unwound, he turns around and comes back. Um, not much more to say, actually.

Besides the chance to reread all those stories, however, I had another motive in rereading Oziana. I've been pondering the possibilities of using a wiki to set up an index, and I thought Oziana would be the perfect opportunity to try it out. So, if you are interested in seeing what I've done so far, go to oziana.thewizardofoz.info/w/Main_Page to see what I've done so far. I've only indexed the recently acquired Oziana 2015 so far, and started on the 1971 issue. I plan to add to it each week as I read a new story. It's pretty basic right now, but maybe some others can help out and expand some of my entries, or add information on characters, locations, and items in the stories. This could be a lot of fun, and I'm interested in seeing where this ends up going.

Today's Oz Comic Revisited

Dan Piraro has a blog where he talks about his comics. This week, among other things, he talks about the Oz comic from earlier today.

Today's Oz Comic

I see that Dan Piraro is dealing yet again with that old question, "Whatever happened to the characters after The Wizard of Oz?" in today's edition of Bizarro. I will just add that in that last panel, the shoes must have thought Dorothy had said, "There's no place like Nome." In fact, I even added it in the comments!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

My man in Japan, Michael-sensei, found another one I'd never heard of before. So go take a look at Frank & Steinway.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

Today's edition of Trivquiz may not look very Ozzy at firsh — until you start answering the questions!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Latest Oz Short Story

With today's reading of "The Enchanted Buffalo", I have come to the end at last of The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies by L. Frank Baum, a book I've waited nearly forty years to own. And it may have ended with the finest story in the book, as "The Enchanted Buffalo" is a very well told tale of power and rank and privilege, the price some people are willing to pay for them, and the true costs. The king of the Okolom tribe of buffaloes — the largest and noblest tribe on the prairies — has lost its king, and the arrogant Barrag uses magic to become the new king. He fails to account for Oknu, the old king's son, however, and the tribe decides that they will acknowledge Barrag for now, until Oknu is big enough to challenge him. But Barrag enters into a bargain that proves to be his downfall.

It's not that I hadn't read any of these stories before. In fact, I've read some of them many times before. But having them in this handsome volume, with insights from editor David L. Greene and new illustrations by Tim Kirk, is good to have.

I had originally planned to take some time out of my short story reading, so that I can concentrate on other things for a bit. But an opportunity came up, and I decided to start up a big project I've been thinking of while continuing my short story reading with&ellips; But no, that can wait until next week!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Today's Oz Political Comic

I didn't think today's commentary by Tom Toles was terribly Ozzy — until I read the little addendum down in the lower right corner.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

More C-Oz-play

Jen is at it again, having found a pretty unlikely mashup with The Wizard of Oz. (You'll have to scroll down a bit to see it, but trust me, you'll know it when you see it!)