Well wouldn't you know, another player enters our storyline in Poptropica (and it's not the Cowardly Lion yet)!
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Nope, the next reading in the 1988 issue of Oziana isn't a short story, but three short poems, all done as sets of rhyming couplets, by Neal Wilgus, all under the umbrella title "Two's of a Kind". Each is also about a pair of Oz characters, so the "two" theme is all over this. "McWogglebug" sums up the first meeting between Professor Wogglebug and the Frogman (based on that title, you can probably guess that it doesn't go well). "Break Dance" is about the Tin Woodman and Tik-Tok dancing, and the aftermath. And "Stuff and Nonsense", with a terrific illustration by Chris Sterling, is a little slice-of-lif look at the friendship between the Scarecrow and Scraps.
Since that was so short, let's look at all the other extras in this issue (and there are quite a few):
- The results of the design a flag for an Oz country contest from last issue are in, and Lisa Brown's striking Munchkin flag was the winner.
- The wraparound cover is the next contest: You have to state which character was transformed into the various characters and items shown on the cover, nicely illustrated by Bill Eubank.
- And editor Robin Olderman presents "Where Are the Wonder Workers?" a word find with a literal twist: Some of the words may turn corners!
Friday, January 19, 2018
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Today in Pop Culture Shock Therapy, we are witness to a problem in The Movie that I had not anticipated before. Either the Tin Woodman has to keep that thing wound a lot (very likely for the times), or he has to schedule regular battery replacements. This wouldn't be an issue if the Wizard's gifts were handled the way they were in the book.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Yes, I'm a little behind in posting, but I at least managed to read this week's story over the long holiday weekend. And I took advantage of that long weekend to go back and read the first story from the 1988 issue, "The Computer Wizard Makes a Comeback" by Phyllis Ann Karr, illustrated by Melody Grandy. Yes, this is a sequel to "A Computer Wizard in Oz" from the 1986 issue, one of the extremely few times Oziana has ever published a sequel. Using his futuristic computing skills, the Computer Wizard starts carrying out his sentence after his last attempt to conquer Oz and teaches computing to Ozma, Glinda, and the Wizard, while giving other citizens of the Emerald City excursions to virtual worlds. (I was especially taken with the illustration of the Scarecrow playing 3-D chess with Mr. Spock. Now there's a crossover I'd like to see!) Of course, all this disguises the Computer Wizard's next attempt to conquer Oz, which he springs on the one year anniversary of his first attempt—during one of the many parties Ozma holds in the palace, of course. The Computer Wizard doesn't take one flaw in his plan into account, however, which again proves to be his downfall. Another fun romp with a group of players spinning a tale of Oz for their own amusement, and a lot less technospeak to become quickly outdated, so it feels more possible and relevant thirty years later.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
It's a two-fer today!
- First, today's Bound and Gagged shows us a little about influences in Hollywood. (Fun fact: Robert Downey, Jr., who plays Iron Man in the movies, was considered for the role of Oscar Diggs in Oz the Great and Powerful.)
- I'm not sure if I should classify today's edition of Brevity as a political cartoon or not, but I very much doubt that we'd ever see Dorothy and the Tin Woodman in any sort of point-counterpoint situation.
Monday, January 15, 2018
I recently received the 2017 edition of Dunkiton Press, the twenty-sixth consecutive annual issue, reprinting old newspaper material by Oz authors and illustrators. This year, it's more of Ruth Plumly Thompson's "Perhappsy Chaps" poems from the Philadelphia Public Ledger. They are very helpful little chaps, finding ways to aid children all over the country and make their lives a little better—or just having their own fun. The Perhappsies deal with Valentine's Day, pirates, a princess, a giant and a baby, and a gingerbread city. And with this issue, the Dunkiton Press series publishes the last of the poems to be reprinted in the book edition. I gather there are a few more, however, that may be appearing in future editions.
Friday, January 12, 2018
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Wow, it's been busy over on the Wizard of Oz Comics Group over on Facebook. So let's jump right in:
- Sure enough, today's Poptropica continues the storyline of the characters finding themselves on the Yellow Brick Road.
- Some of President Trump's recent comments about how smart he is prompted Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to create this cartoon.
- Digging into the archives, one contributor provided some older political cartoons, some of which I don't recall seeing before. Sohere's this one, here's another one, and here's yet another one.
Monday, January 08, 2018
When my man in Japan, Michael-sensei, discovered today's edition of Poptropica, he speculated that this may be the start of an Ozzy arc. I suspect he's right! If that is the case, we'll see a few more of these in the coming days. So stay tooned!
Saturday, January 06, 2018
The nice thing about running my own blog is that, if I get an insane idea like rereading all of Oziana a story a week and posting a reaction, at least I don't have to strictly go in the order the stories are published and arranged in the magazine. You saw that a few weeks ago when I posted winter and Christmas stories at more appropriate times than they would have gone out otherwise. So when I saw how long the first story in the 1988 issue was, I decided to put it off until next weekend, when I'm not only not as busy, I have a three day weekend. So, this issue's second story was "The Northeast Wind in Oz" by Wendy Roth, illustrated by Eric Shanower. While exploring the palace attic, Dorothy and Jellia Jamb disenchant a fairy who originally came from Ev. (Hey, it's Oz. These sorts of things happen.) Dorothy gets a wish from the fairy, Evarelle, but as Dorothy is a princess of Oz she doesn't really need anything, so she decides to pass it along to someone who needs a wish. Enter Nick, a nice boy from the Great Outside World that the Magic Belt brings to Oz. Since Nick doesn't know what to wish for, Dorothy shows him around the palace, where they encounter one of the still-living sofas that had once been part of the Gump. They then head to Glinda's, where they find that an immortal has walked into the Deadly Desert. Investigating, they meet up with Polychrome who is looking for her lost cousin, who is supposed to be crowned as the Northeast Wind that night. Of course she joins the group, and they head out into the Desert on the Magic Carpet and encounter a whole city of living sand people who have lost their memories of their former lives. It's then that Nick decides to use his wish! Of course everything gets untangled very neatly, and everyone is happy, except maybe the former King of Ev.
Roth manages to pack a lot into only four pages, and it turns out everything is connected, but nobody can spot that until Nick makes his wish. And it's a very Ozzy adventure, too.
Sunday, December 31, 2017
As I suspected might happen, one more turned up. Apparently Zombie Heights has been spoofing A Christmas Carol for the past few days, but today it makes a sharp turn to spoof another famous story (one guess as to what that just might be).
Saturday, December 30, 2017
We close out 2017 with, appropriately enough, the final story of the 1987 issue, celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year. "Button-Bright and the Knit-Wits of Oz" by Jim Vander Noot, with illustrations by Chris Sterling, sees Button-Bright get a little more lost than usual, as he is magically transported from the Emerald City to the land of the Knit-Wits in the Quadling Country. Here, the finest sweaters in Oz are knitted, and it all starts with woolgathering. Button-Bright turns out to be pretty good at this, but when he lets his imagination run away with him and his wool comes out in colors, he is taken prisoner and assigned a new job, assisting the color mixer. The color mixer turns out to be another prisoner, Mr. Smith from he Land of Ev. Yes, Tik-Tok's co-creator. That river he was painting was an Ozian one, and so when he fell in, instead of drowning (as everyone presumed in Ozma of Oz), he washed up on the banks near the Knit-Wits. Together, however, Button-Bright and Mr. Smith find a clever and Ozzy way to escape, and everyone celebrates (to nobody's surprise) with a big banquet and party in the Emerald City.
This is a fun one, and also a pretty typically Ozzy one. I don't think the Knit-Wits would be at all out of place in a Thompson tale. The idea of daydreaming (colloquially called woolgathering) creating wool to gather is particularly inspired.
Next week, it's a new year, so we'll have a new issue which will also be celebrating its thirtieth anniversary.
Friday, December 29, 2017
Thursday, December 28, 2017
Sunday, December 24, 2017
I've been somewhat remiss in keeping this blog up to date with my reading, but my non-Oz life has been busy. But now that the holidays are here I have a little breathing room freed up, and can tell you about my two most recent books. And by a wild coincidence, they are very similar in theme and topic and intended audience, for neither can truly be called a children's book, but both deal with the conquest of Oz from within and how new characters from the Great Outside World come to take Oz back.
The first book is Polychrome by Ryk E. Spoor, a book whose publication I actually helped to fund through Kickstarter. Your only options may be paperback or e-book editions, but I got a lovely, sturdy hardcover edition. But it's the story that's most important. (WARNING: There be some mild spoilers ahead!) Ugu the Shoemaker and Mrs. Yoop decide to join forces, break their enchantments, and take over Oz. And they succeed—in just the first prologue! The bulk of the story concerns one average, slightly overweight, slightly older asthmatic computer programmer, Erik Medon, of Albany, New York. It seems one of the few places around Oz that's not afraid to deal with the new rulers is the Cloud Kingdom, where Polychrome and her father receive a prophecy from the Little Pink Bear about Oz's future, and Polly must find its savior in the Outside World. So one trip via rainbow and she's in upstate New York. Erik, being an Oz fan, recognizes her right away, which starts off a whole chain of events that leads to Erik training to become a warrior and single-handedly being responsible for leading the overthrow of Oz. Pretty heady stuff! But Erik proves to be up to the task, and once he is on his own he proves to be a very capable and clever man. Not that his task ends up being at all easy, and he faces many challenges. But he also makes many allies, some quite unexpected, and (no surprise, I'm sure) he wins in the end. But the journey towards that end is fascinating, and very Ozzy while still being very grown up. I don't mean there's a lot of violence or sex or other things you just don't expect to see in an Oz book (although it is a book about war, so there is some violence), I mean Spoor treats his readers like they are adults, and can handle more complex explanations and emotions and things like that. He clearly knows his Oz, too. His treatment of Polychrome is true to her appearances in the Baum books, while at the same time so much richer and deeper than that. Only a handful of more peripheral characters have major parts, but they ring true as well, even if he makes some logical changes, such as Pingaree being more like a Polynesian island whose inhabitants are darker skinned than as Neill portrayed them. Princess Zenga, by the way, may be the best new Oz character Spoor has created, and I hope we see more of her if there are future stories set in this Oz.
The other novel is Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. Unlike Polychrome, this one does not come to a definitive end (although there is a complete narrative here), as this is the first book of a four-book-and-some-extra-novellas series. Amy Gumm is a high school student in Kansas with a pretty dismal life and bleak future. So once a tornado carries her mobile home to Oz, she initially welcomes the change of scenery. She quickly discovers that this isn't the Oz of the movie, however. Over the course of several decades, Dorothy has gradually snuck her way into power and taken over governing Oz until she has become the country,s despotic ruler, and the power has gone straight to her head. The resistance, many of whom were once labeled wicked, recruit Amy to help them out. She learns some basic combat and magic (much like Erik in Polychrome), and is then sent undercover into the emerald palace as a servant. She is only supposed to gather intelligence, but what she finds is so horrifying that she starts to get involved, putting her life and the resistance's plans into jeopardy. Like Polychrome, this is a taut thriller, and like Erik, Amy is an imperfect person who finds herself roped into highly unusual circumstances to save Oz. It's not a version of Oz I'd want to visit, and Dorothy really isn't terribly nice, but I do want to read the rest of the series. To her credit, Paige bases her Oz on the books, although there are enough nods to The Movie to not alienate her readers who only know Oz from that.
Several years in the past I've posted this video because of its historical significance, and vague Oz connection. It's Judy Garland introducing the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in what may be M-G-M's third greatest musical of all time, Meet Me in St. Louis. This year, however, it's wrapped up with a little story about the song and how it changed and became the song we all know today. So go take a look already. And Merry Christmas!