Thursday, August 13, 2020

Today's Oz Comic

There's not a lot Ozzy going on in this week's arc in Over the Hedge—except that final line!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Today's Oz Comic

Sadly, the subtleties of today's edition of Yaffle have been lost on many readers. It's a take on the old Canadian home renovation series Holmes on Homes. Well, here the title has been reversed. But since Holmes on Homes hasn't even been in production for a dozen years now, it all kind of got lost. Yaffle creator Jeffrey Caufield even stepped into the comments and explained what was going on, but if you have to explain a comic, then I'm afraid the humor is lost.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Welcome to the Bungle

Hooray, another classic character from the books gets the DatWoO treatment! Let's see what a glass cat looks like on this show. The Lion wakes up from a dream, only to find one part was real, and that's the mouse chomping on his toenails. (Eww!) It turns out the mouse is causing mischief all around the castle, chewing up Toto's favorite collar and the Scarecrow's hat, knocking over the Tin Man's oil can, andgetting into Ozma's make-up. Ozma doesn't know what to do, so she puts Dorothy in charge and skedaddles. (Another example of what Mari Ness calls "Ozma fail!") Cats deal with mice, and they have a big cat—but it turnes out that the Cowardly Lion is, no surprise, a scaredy cat, so it's off to Plan B. Unfortunately, the Wizard provides some trapb but his magic can't conjure a cat, so Dorothy skips over Plan C and goes straight to Plan D, for Dr. Pipt. She ruby slippers to his place, and the good doctor produces just the thing: a glass cat who comes to life with a drop of the Potion of Life, and reverts to a glass statue with another drop. He brings Bungle to life and gives her (caged up) and the Potion to Dorothy. Back in the Emerald City, things are getting worse as more and more things are destroyed. About the only thing not affected are the mousetraps laid out to stop the mouse! Then the mouse turns up, as scared as the Lion. It seems all the most recent destruction has been caused by Bungle as she chases the mouse! So now the gang has to stop the cat. In the Patchwork Girl's room, Scarecrow uses some yarn to lasso Bungle, but she escapes as the gang gets tangled up in the yarn. More chaos ensues until Toto gets the idea of enticing the mouse with some cheese, drawing Bungle out where Toto can trap her. Dorothy spills the Potion on Bungle, making her a lifeless statue again. The Lion puts Bungle in a statue garden. The mouse, happy with his cheese, enjoys munching on it in the branches of a nearby tree.

Well, there's another character from the books they didn't get right. Bungle in the books may be arrogant and aloof, but her ruby heart was at least in the right place, and she did respect her friends. But this Bungle is basically a destructive force of nature. And the solution isn't so great, either, as she's now trapped in a frozen state for all eternity. Of course, I dan't expect a showed aimed at the pre-tween set to deal much with issues of morality and conciousness. For that crowd, at least, this episode works fine.

Today's Oz Comic

I gather that Charlie Podrebarac, the creator of CowTown, is from Kansas City. Hey, it's a comic strip about barbecue that prominently features the Chiefs, this is not hard to figure out. Naturally, for a strip based in Kansas City, The Wizard of Oz shows up a lot. So it is probably not a surprise at all that today's installment of our narrative may be a reaction to some snarled traffic on I-70 one evening.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story from the 2013 issue of Oziana (my goodness, there were a lot in this year's volume!) is "Witches of the West" by Darrell Spradlyn and Marcus Mébès, with illustrations by Spradlyn. It's a little bit before Dorothy has arrived in Oz, as the Wizard is in power in the recently built Emerald City, and the Wicked Witch of the West is working to consolidate her power. She has the north and central parts of the Winkie Country in her grip, but the south is eluding her, thanks to one person: Gloma, the Good Witch of the West. Yes, this is Gloma's backstory, alluded to in The Wishing Horse of Oz. The Wicked Witch tries whatever she can to get into the Black Woods and confront Gloma, but the Black Witch is also powerful, and it is not easy. Nevertheless, the Wicked Witch finally gets in and tries her best to get Gloma on her side, but she is, naturally, unsuccessful. So the Wicked Witch and her nefarious ally (whose identity I will not reveal so as not to spoil it) do what they can to contain Gloma, and prevent her and her people from becoming part of the greater Oz community.

For such a major, influential character, we rarely see or hear much of the Wicked Witch of the West in the books. (She appears in only one chaper of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!) So getting a little backstory, and seeing her using her powers, is always a nice bonus. And the power struggle between her and Gloma practically crackles on the page. True, not a lot actually happens, and little we didn't expect, but the interaction of the characters makes up for that. Spradlyn also does terrific work with the illustrations, making the Black Forest look truly dark but beautiful in a way John R. Neill wasn't quite able to do with the printing technology of 1935. His Gloma is especially stunning—and it's so good that a color version is used for the back cover.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Munchkin School

Dorothy and the boys are making lollipops with the Lollipop Guild and some Munchkin children, and Dorothy finds out that the Munchkins don't go to school. So she sets up a school nearby, in her old house! They fix things up (in spite of all of Lion's help), and are ready to go. Seeing the news in the newspaper, the Wicked Witch and Wilhelmina talk about how badly Frank and Lyman need school, too, not knowing that the monkeys are listening. So, Frank and Lyman decide to sneak in. The Wizard starts teaching a math lesson with magic, when his magic goes wrong and there are dozens of Lions! So there's no room for Frank and Lyman to sneak into. A geography lessen about the Valley of the Clowns turns the Wizard into one. Another attempt to sneak in sees the Lion close the window on the monkeys. In an attempt to bring Tom Thumb out of his book to visit the students, the Wizard instead shrinks Frank and Lyman, and Toto chases them off. But they get better, dress up as Munchkins, and finally get in as the Wizard starts teaching about the alphabet. Frank correctly identifies cake as a word starting with C, so the Wizard produces a magic cake that grows and pushes them out. They just are not having a lot of luck! Finally, still covered in frosting, after school is out for the day, they get in and ask to be students. The Wizard assures them that they can come any time, with no sneaking around. The episode ends with the Lion licking the frosting off of them.

I'll be honest, I don't expect a lot from this show. It's aimed at young kids, and it doesn't always follow the logic of either the books or The Movie, even though it's based on both. It's meant to be fun and silly most of the time. But this wasn't even much of a story. The school was just a McGuffin for some slapstick with Frank and Lyman, and to show the Wizard still hasn't perfected his magic. In that, at least, this story succeeded, but that's really not a terribly high bar to reach. It was nice, however, seeing Dorothy reminiscing over her old house, and the flashbacks to her and Aunt Em (yes, we see Aunt Em in this one). In short, this'll do until the next episode, but I hope that's better.

Today's Recent Political Cartoon

The other day, Bill Day had this to say about our current political situation. For once, it's not about the current occupant of the White House, but Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader in the Senate. It just goes to show how versatile the Oz characters can be as metaphors.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

The Latest Oz Reading

Well, that cropped up more quickly than I intended! Our last comics order included Sky Island by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee, the follow-up to Sea Sirens which I just wrote about the other day. Rather than wait for my Oz reading to come around again to read it, I thought I'd just read it next. It's the start of summer vacation, and Trot is looking forward to surfing a lot. But she and Cap'n Bill get an urgent message from King Anko: It seems Merla's been kidnapped! Caught in a fishing net, the Sirens need someone on the surface who can help them find her. Clia comes along, however (and boy does she have a hard time dealing with legs at first), and Anko is available ab back-up. A mysterious symbol leads them to Sky Island, a forgotten old amusement park on an island west of Catalina. They enlist the aid of Rosalie, the daughter of the park's developer (Trot's grandfather knows her), and they sneak in. Rosalie's family lost the island in a shady land grab, and the new owner has rebuilt the park for himself. In his private aquarium, Trot and Clia find Merla, who doesn't want to leave! She feels disrespected by the Sirens, and has been made Queen of the aquarium. But when the owner, eccentric billionaire Claude Buluru turns up, he shows his true colors and tries to kill Trot and Clia, turning Merla against him. Cap'n Bill escapes and summons Anko, who puts an end to Buluru's operations. It turns out Buluru forged the deed to the island, and he never owned it to begin with, so Rosalie takes over and decides to reopen Sky Island as an amusement park again.

Well, this was certainly fun, but this is even less like Baum's Sky Island than Sea Sirens was like The Sea Fairies. Yeah, we get a few characters with the same names, but that's about it! No magic umbrella, no pinks vs. blues tensions, nothing like that. Nevertheless, this is a fun read, and it has some great character development and gorgeous art. And the location of this book's Sky Island is probably meant to invoke the location of the first Sky Island—the one Trot, Cap'n Bill, and Button-bright first wanted to go to in the book that they didn't know the name of.

So now Chu and Lee have taken on Trot and Cap'n Bill's first two adventures. Will there be more? And if so, will they look to the Oz books, especially The Scarecrow of Oz and The Magic of Oz for inspiration? I think, however, they should just go their own direction, and give this Trot and Cap'n Bill their own, original adventures that aren't necessarily based on anything by L. Frank Baum.

Friday, July 31, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

The next tale from the 2013 issue of Oziana is "The Way of a Lion" by Jay Davis, with illustrations by Sam Milazzo. It is a poignant, charmingly told tale of a young lion cub dealing with the loss of his parents before learning all that a lion needs to know—including the meaning of courage. Yes, this is an origin story for the Cowardly Lion, and it is very good. (I choose to personally believe it over Roger Baum's version in Lion of Oz.) Davis does an excellent job of taking what little we know about the Lion's early years, and some details and events from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and weaving them together into a story that just feels right. Milazzo's illustrations are also charming and complement the story well. I highly recommend this one!

Today's Oz Comic

I would definitely love to see the home renovation show seen in today's installation of Cowtown! Maybe they can do some other ones, like the Wicked Witch of the West's castle, Mombi's hut, the typical domed house with a face, things like that.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Latest Oz Reading

Yup, here are the last few Oz and Oz-adjacent books I've read recently:

  • I have so many books, some I haven't read for decades, that some time ago I decided to reread some of them. This time around it was Zim Greenleaf in Oz by Melody Grandy, the third and final volume in the Seven Blue Mountains of Oz trilogy. Zim has been the star of this series, so it's about time one of the books was named for him. If you haven't already met him, Zim is a biologist-wizard in the Munchkin country, and at the end of the last book he was officially named the Wizard of the Munchkin Country. Unlike the other two books, this one has less of a single plot, and is a series of adventures that Zim has in his new capacity. The largest has to do with Zim's fear of giants as he helps a small kingdom come to terms with its past history and reunite the royal family. Zim also has a misadventure where he is fractured into thirty-one smaller aspects of himself, each embodying one of his emotions or innate traits. He also has encounters with black druids and Tititi-Hoochoo before the book ends with Zim making a major life decision for himself and others, but he ends up happy and contented in the end. I've said this before, but I want to reiterate it once again: I think the Seven Blue Mountains books do an amazing job of world building. They make Oz feel so much more like a real live place than just about any other Oz book I have ever read, and that includes L. Frank Baum and the other Royal Historians. True, this is very clearly Oz, as Grandy is building on the very firm base that Baum created, but she does such an excellent job of taking those ideas, building on them logically, and making the reader see and think of Oz much more deeply. And Zim Greenleaf is a wonderful character. By following him over several decades, we get a lot better idea of what he's like, how he thinks and feels, than we ever could in a book covering a much shorter amount of time. So now I'm kind of sad it's all over, until I reread these books again in the retirement home or something.
  • If you know much about L. Frank Baum, you probably know that his mother-in-law was the noted suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage. Angelica Shirley Carpenter is an Oz fan and noted biographer for younger readers, so when she learned about Matilda, she set out to tell the story. The result is Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage,Radical Suffragist. It is not the only biography of Gage, but it's the only one I've read, since I know the author, and it seems to cover all the bases. The style is aimed at a younger audience, but I don't think most readers are going to mistake this for some of Carpenter's other books you might find in elementary school libraries, as it is very thorough and has endnotes and a lot more words than pictures. In other words, most people would think this was written for adults. Matilda herself is a fascinating character, and her rise within the women's suffrage movement and her relationships with others of the movement, notably Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, are intriguing. Although there's not a lot of Oz in this book, Matilda Gage is a very important figure in the creation of Oz, and this book really brings her to life.
  • With Yellow Brick War, I am now three-fourths of the way through Danielle Paige's Dorothy Must Die saga, and it is proving to be one wild ride. The battle to unseat Dorothy as dictator of Oz moves to Kansas, as Amy has to deal with being back home, dealing with her mother and her high school again (and wow, a lot has changed since she left), and whether or not she wants to be in the position she's been thrust into. Plus, there are her feelings towards Nox, which get even more complicated when he takes on a new role. Once Amy finds the silver slippers, the action moves back to Oz, where it is very clear that she has to kill Dorothy. But with all of Dorothy's new powers, that is not going to be an easy task at all. This should be one of the books that sags a bit, since it's leading up to the big finale, so not too much can happen. But this barrels right along, with all kinds of action, and there are also all kinds of Easter eggs for fans of the original Oz books. What keeps this book fresh is that not only is Amy changing, but so are all of those around her, and that causes all kinds of relationships to change, many in quite surprising ways. I'm looking forward to reading the final volume, The End of Oz, soon.
  • And finally, a successful Kickstarter campaign paid off with "Sundown", a special edition of The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West. Yes, one of my favorite Oz comics, an Old West retelling of the Oz books, is back, and my, it still looks good. This story is pretty much Glinda battling Mombi, but lots of other characters get to shine. In the end, one of the most beloved characters in the series makes her Legends of Oz debut, and writer Tom Hutchison has found a very clever way, actually using a location in the books, to deal with the final disenchantment needed instead of relying on Mombi. I hope this becomes more readily available to those who weren't involved in the Kickstarter campaign, and also that this is a sign that more books are coming.
That's probably going to be my last big Oz read for some time, but I do have at least one more recent acquisition that I may read soon. And who knows what may come in the comics order each month?

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Latest Oz Reading

Another dive into my now-I've-read-it pile!

  • A pleasant surprise in one of our recent comic orders was The Silver Spurs of Oz by Erica Schultz and Omar Lozano. This was a surprise because neither Laura nor I could even recall seeing it or ordering it. But hey, it's Oz! At first glance, it looks like this graphic novel might have been lovingly inspired (which is a kinder way of saying "ripped off") from the comic The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West, but this is a nicely different kettle of fish blazing its own trail. In this case, Oz is a Western-themed circus, and Dorothy is going to try out as a trick rider and lasso artist with her horse, Toto. Along the way, she meets up with Crow Sorre, Tinny Woods, and Leo Raion, who are also trying out. But she also runs into Strega West, who also does trick riding, with archery, on her horse Monkey, and Strega does not take well to Dorothy. But Dorothy knows she's going to do well because she's wearing her lucky silver spurs! When they go missing, however, Dorothy's not so sure she wants to try out. This is a fun little book, part of a series retelling classic stories (Alice, Secret Agent of Wonderland looks particularly fun), and they do a nice job translating the original book (yes, the book—although the red boots Dorothy wears are probably an homage to MGM's version of her footwear) into a kid-friendly tale. Everything comes out all right in the end, and there are some fun little Easter eggs scattered throughout (Strega West's last line is especially fun).
  • The other Oz-ish item that came in that comics order (one that we did expect) is Sea Sirens: A Trot & Cap'n Bill Adventure by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee. This book has been talked about a lot in Oz circles lately, and opinions are split. It is clearly inspired by Baum's The Sea Fairies in that characters named Trot and Cap'n Bill meet up with some mermaids and are invited to visit them under the sea after magically transformed to survive underwater. What sets this apart is that Trot is a Vietnamese-American surfer girl in modern day California, and Cap'n Bill is her cat. Trot's grandfather watches over them during the day, but he's suffering the early stages of dementia and doesn't always know who anyone is or what he's doing. Once Trot and Cap'n Bill go underwater, it plays out much like the first part of the book, with everyone going on a grand tour. With no villain the equivalent of Zog in this story, there really isn't a lot of peril, but the characters are great and the art is lovely. It's not going to make Baum fans forget the original, but if it introduces today's reader to him, that's big!
  • My Eloise Jarvis McGraw rereading continues wih her only non-fiction work, Techniques of Writing Fiction. This is from 1959, so it's before Merry Go Round in Oz, but she was already a well-established writer. She has all kinds of very practical advice for anyone trying to write fiction, in any genre, and I could just hear her saying a lot of it. Much of her advice probably wouldn't apply today—the market for short stories is probably very different, and I don't think anyone needs to worry about typing up a carbon copy before mailing the manuscript to the publisher—but the actual writing advice is spot on. We also get a little insight into her own life, and she talks about some of her earlier works, which means I'm now more familiar with them thanks to my rereading them (although apparently Pharaoh came out first, but that's her next book I plan to read). She even drops a mention of the Oz books. It's a tough book to track down (I remember all kinds of issues finding one, and then I was sent the wrong book!), but Eloise's fans will get a kick out of it.
  • And finally, for today, a book I picked up when I went to see Wicked last year, Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz from Godspell to Wicked by Carol de Giere. This is the updated second edition, so there's a lot about what came after Wicked debuted, and some other projects he's been involved with as well. But this goes way back, to Schwartz's early days and how he got into the field of composing musical theater. It has some biographical elements, but the bulk is devoted to his shows, both the successes and the ones that didn't do so well—although many of the latter are finding new life in community theaters and other local productions. Because Wicked is so recent, it is better documented, and takes up about half the book. This is an essential book for Wicked fans, theater fans, and those seeking insight into the creative process.
The pile is getting considerably shorter! One more entry tomorrow should take care of things.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Latest Oz Reading

I managed to knock a few more books out of my Oz to-read pile this summer, but circumstances have prevented me from writing about them until now. So, here are a few more:

  • Two Terrific Tales of Oz by Greg Hunter. Technically, this is a reread, since I got the original edition way back in the '80s. This is a much nicer reprint, however, and so now this is one of the very few books outside of the Famous Forty for which I have two different versions. It's a flip book, with each story printed so that it starts at the front, no matter which cover you are looking at and holding the spine on the left. First, in "Unc Nunkie and the White King of Oz", Unc, Ojo, and Victor Columbia Edison go off on an adventure to save the legendary White King. Turn the book over, and you have "Betsy Bobbin of Oz", where Betsy is granted a birthday wish of being reunited with her childhood doll, Pearl. Of course, this being Oz, Pearl comes to life, and she and Betsy are off having an adventure involving some malevolent silkworms. Both stories are brief, but charming and very Ozzy, and it's good to have them back in print in this quality edition.
  • I learned one big truth while reading Friends of Dorothy: Why Gay Boys and Gay Men Love The Wizard of Oz by Dee Michel: I should be gay! Everything about gay boys and gay men described in this book suits me to the proverbial T—with one huge exception, and that is I am attracted only to women. Nope, not even a glimmer towards men at all. (Well, okay, maybe one brief glimmer when Pierce Brosnan was wearing a tank top in an episode of Remington Steele, but it was very brief and never went anywhere.) I know Dee, and I know he's been working on this for a very long time, as he presented his initial ideas at the Oz Centennial convention way back in 2000. Eighteen years later, after much research and changes (or at least refinements) in attitude, this book is the result. It goes all over the place, delving into surveys of gay Oz fans and their experiences (a similar survey for straight Oz fans may have made for some enlightening contrasts, but I totally understand why he didn't do that), the history of Oz usage in the gay movement, and myths about Oz and gay culture (Judy Garland's funeral probably was not the spark that started the Stonewall Riots, just to give an example) are all explored in this book. It certainly threw some interesting light on Oz fandom, which I've been a part of for over forty years now, as well as insight into being a gay man that I doubt I could have gotten in any other way.
  • Josie O'Gorman and the Meddlesome Major by "Edith van Dyne". I hope many Oz fans know that Edith van Dyne was a pseudonym for L. Frank Baum, and he wrote the Aunt Jane's Nieces books and most of the Mary Louise books. One of his sons may have written one of the Mary Louise books late in Baum's life, when his health started to falter, and then, like the Oz books, Reilly and Lee decided to carry on the series after Baum's death with another writer. Emma Speed Sampson continued the series and transitioned it into a Josie O'Gorman series, since she really was the star of the series anyway. This was the final book, and had a relatively low print run as a result, so "Edith van Dyne" have had a tough time finding this one, and when they do, the prices can be quite high. So when I saw a relatively affordable copy, I jumped on it. The cover is in pretty bad shape, and the frontispiece is now detached, but the text is clean and sound, so it made for a great reading copy. Josie is away from her home grounds of Dorfield (so we see none of Mary Louise or their friends), having been asked to investigate the disappearance of merchandise from a department store in a nearby city. The store's own detective (the titular Meddlesome Major) is ineffective, so Josie goes in undercover as a sales clerk. She settles in, makes friends, does her job well, and eventually stumbles onto a shoplifting ring which she singlehandedly stops. In the process, however, the major gets it into his head that Josie is the thief, and his efforts to prove it and stop her adds all kinds of comical obstacles. In the end, Josie not only solves the case, she has a new job and a new base of operations, and it looks like she's on her awn at last, no longer tied to Dorfield. Sadly, however, this is the last book ever written by "Edith van Dyne", and so we may never see what else Josie gets up to.
  • And finally for tonight, Fables, Volume 13: The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham. Yes, this is the next reprint volume of the Fables comic book, and in this case, it also includes issues of its spinoff title, Jack of Fables, as Jack has returned to the Farm to help deal with a villain who wants to rewrite history—literally! There isn't a lot of Oz content in this book, except a few appearances by Bufkin and the witch who is later to be revealed to be Ozma. I'm almost caught up to where I started reading the series as comic books, but I'm enjoying this so much beyond the Oz content that I'm thinking about also collecting Jack of Fables and maybe some other related collections.

Today's Classic Oz Comic

Have I mentioned here that The Far Side is back? Gary Larson has even put up some new material! One thing they also have is a curated, themed collection on Mondays, and today the theme is, "Meanwhile, Back in Modern Times". It's an exploration of popular culture, social norms, and everyday life. I do believe The Wizard of Oz counts as popular culture, hence the inclusion of the seventh and penultimate cartoon in this wee's collection. Of course, the rest are pretty good, too.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

The next story from the 2013 issue of Oziana is "The Love-Bug of Oz", written and illustrated by Ed McCray. The Nome King raids the Wicked Witch of the West's castle, and while it's been well picked over, he does find a love bug, which causes anyone it stings to instantly fall in love with the first person of the opposite the victim sees. Well, thinks the nome, I can at least use this as a distraction to slip in and get my Magic Belt. So he lets it loose during a croquet match, and before you know it, the Wizard and Prof. Wogglebug are arguing over who loves Glinda! This results in a battle of wits between them, while Glinda tries to calm them both down (assisted by the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman) and Ozma and Dorothy investigate. Of course, all gets successfully resolved, but not before many hijinks ensue. And the Nome King gets his comeuppance in the end, too.

Let's just say this is the Ozian equivalent to a Jeeves and Wooster farce, with both the Wizard and the Wogglebug in the role of Bertie Wooster. McCray is clearly having fun with this, and he milks the premise for all the absurdity he can. Yet it's also very true to the characters and their interactions, including how everyone feels about the Wogglebug. And in this version of Oz, at least, we know that some adventures outside of the Famous Forty actually happened, as the Wogglebug mentions his adventures in America, and that there was even a play produced about them. In fact, one aspect of these adventures actually leads to the resolution of the story!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Lion and the Crown

At last! I've managed to manage my time well enough and free some up so that I can get back into watching Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. And with the third (and final) season now being shown on Boomerang and piling up on my DVR, I'd better do my best to stay on top of this show! In this one, the Lion comes across his subjects (including the Hungry Tiger!) saying not-so-respectful things about him. Even the trees don't respect him! He lands on a talking crown, which lays it on pretty thick and convinces the Lion to put him on. Suddenly, all the animals are showing him a lot more respect, but the crown wants the Lion to issue all kinds of royal commands. And "I command you to have a nice day" somehow just doesn't sit right. So the crown starts issuing decrees that don't go over so well. Meanwhile, Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, and the Tin Man decide to pay Lion a surprise visit. It does not go well, as the crown is clearly influencing the Lion as he acts rudely towards his friends. Lion finally gets the idea that the crown does not have his best interests at heart, but it doesn't come off! The crown starts getting mad, declares himself king, and banishes the Lion's friends from the forest. Before long, all the other animals are banished, too, and so Dorothy concocts a plan to get rid of the headstrong crown. Her first plan is to distract it and remove it from Lion's head, but of course that doesn't work. Plan B involves the Ruby Slippers and a visit to the Munchkinland hat stop, and humiliating the crown by covering it with a series of silly hats. He relents and gets off Lion's head, hoping to find a new head to sit on and issue decrees so that he can have all the fun that he usually sees the kings have. So Dorothy puts him on a head-shaped hat stand and they use the Ruby Slippers to leave and let the crown issue decrees to himself. Back in the forest, it turns out his subjects weren't trash talking the Lion, but a cake they were trying to make to look like the Lion! They consider him the best king they've ever had, and so the Hungry Tiger eats the cake to celebrate (no, nobody else gets any cake).

This is not the most memorable episode of this show, nor is it terrible, either. It's just kind of middle-of-the-road. But at least we see a little bit of the Lion in his role as King of the Forest, even if he doesn't actually do much actual ruling. The power-mad talking crown is just silly, and Dorothy is right to put him in his place. Maybe some solitude will change his attitude, but somehow I doubt it. (I also doubt we'll ever see it again!)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Today's Oz Comic

I don't think this is the first time the joke from today's Mustard and Boloney has been used in comics. I know it has been used in all kinds of other situations, most notably by my sister-in-law once on a road trip. When she crossed the border from Kansas into Missouri, she texted the very same message to me!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

The third story in the 2013 issue of Oziana is "Jinnicky Saves Christmas" by Nathan M.DeHoff, with illustrations by Shawn Maldonado, and it really is short. But there's a lot of action packed into it, too. On Christmas Eve, Jinnicky is flying along in his jinnrikisha when he has an encounter with a goose named Greta. They encounter another chariot that appears to be crewed by elves—the warrior kind that are popular in high fantasies like The Fellowship of the Ring. They're not happy with the image Santa's elves give them, so they're out to hijack Santa's sleigh! Fortunately, Jinnicky has a few tricks up his sleeve, and manages to stop them with a little assist from Greta.

Yes, I'm being deliberately vague so that you'll go out and get this issue and read the story. But it is really very cleverly written, and nicely balances the silly with just a bit of peril. DeHoff even manages a little nod to Christmas stories by two royal historians with characters appearing from both L. Frank Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and Ruth Plumly Thompson's The Curious Cruise of Captian Santa. Toobad I didn't time this better to read it in December!

Today's Oz Comic

Today in Cow Town, an old Oz cliche. I don't think this particular take on the theme really adds much now to the trope.

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Latest Oz-Themed Political Cartoons

A certain group of Oz characters are being unfairly maligned in recent political cartoons, but boy, they sure do make a good metaphor for a lot of stuff that's been happening! So here are two recent cartoons from Milt Priggee and Andy Marlette.