A couple of quickies:
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Monday, November 12, 2018
Next up in The Lost Tales of Oz is "The Scrap Bag Circus of Oz" by M. A. Berg. This is a short little slice-of-life tale in which the Sawhorse and the Patchwork Girl discover a circus made up of stuffed animals. And it turns out they're related to Scraps, since Margolotte made all of them, too, not realizing that some Powder of Life had gotten into her bag of stuffing! She gave the toys away to children, but the mothers weren't too happy about independent toys that didn't always want to snuggle with the children at bedtime, so they struck out on their own and formed a circus. Not much else happens, except Scraps and the Sawhorse get to see a performance. It's a nice little story, and a pleasant little breather before the epic tale of—no, that would be telling. But I'm not certain that I can read it before the end of next weekend, so I may have to skip a week. (I know, every time I say that I figure out a way to squeeze one in, but I can't promise that I can do that every week!)
As the Lollipop Guild are preparing for the annual Munchkin Cookie Festival, Lion decides to sample some of the product, and the Scarecrow shuts down production in the factory while trying to make it more efficient. This does not make the Mayor happy, but Dorothy offers to make the rest of the cookies in the Emerald City. They only have a few hours, and even with the gang all working at full steam it's looking tight. A last minute sweep of the kitchen turns up all kinds of extra supplies, including a cookie cutter with a warning label. No time to read it, keep making cookies! Just in time, the cookies are done, but the gingerbread men come to life and run away! Whoops, that was a magic cookie cutter! They keep running down the yellow brick road and running into creatures that want to eat them, so they think they'll finally be safe in the next town they come to. Trouble is, it's Munchkinland, and the Munchkins want their cookies! Yeah, this isn't their day! Eventually, however, Dorothy brings the rest of the cookies, and a gingerbread village is constructed for the gingerbread men. All seems to be good—and then the Lion starts eating the gingerbread houses!
This was another silly, frothy little story, with overtones of John Dough and the Cherub but not much else. Still, it was another fun one, and Dorothy's efforts to protect the gingerbread men once they come to life are touching and very much in character. And that concludes the first season of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Good thing I also now have the second season on the DVR! By the time I'm done with that, maybe Boomerang will have shown the third, where the Wizard finally turns up!
Saturday, November 10, 2018
The Senate election in Arizona is close, and it looks like there will be a recount, so of course David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Star in Tucson has some Ozzy commentary, casting Democratic candidate Krysten Sinema in the role of Dorothy.
Sunday, November 04, 2018
This week's offering from The Lost Tales of Oz is "Diplomatic Immunity" by David Tai, a story that I've actually read before, when Tai and I were corresponding for a bit. Discovering a new and foreign source of magic in the Gillikin Country, Ozma sends out Betsy Bobbin and Trot as diplomats to inform them of the law, and ask them to stop. Much to Trot's surprise, it's Sky Island! It's ability to float has stopped, and it's landed in Oz. As Queen of Sky Island, Trot must look out for the best interests of her people, so she sides with Rosalie and Ghip-Ghisizzle who are trying to get the island working right again, putting her at odds against Betsy. Unable to leave the island, Betsy manages to escape into the fog bank that divides the island and at least tries to do part of her job and get the giant frogs who live there to allow the Blues and the Pinks to come in and do what needs to be done. The Frog King, however, is still not happy about anyone coming in, but agrees if Betsy will marry his son! This is too much for Betsy, so she escapes, and eventually helps fix Sky Island with the help of the Frog Prince (who wasn't wild about marrying her, either, and is much more tactful than his father), and before long Sky Island is on its way again.
I really like how Tai writes both Trot and Betsy, and in just a few phrases he can make them distinct from not only each other, but also Dorothy, which is no mean feat. It all falls into place very logically, both in Oz and based on the events of Sky Island. This one is a delight, and I'm glad it has now been officially published and made available to anyone who wants it.
A two-fer today:
- This edition of The Gray Zone isn't from today, but I forgot to put it up when it was brand new, so you get it today. I would ask if that's the Doubtful Dromedary they're all piling onto, but somehow I doubt it.
- Ironically, today's edition of The Argyle Sweater is in the Sunday papers, where the comics are usually in full color. This one has me thinking of a cross between The Wizard of Oz and Pleasantville.
Saturday, November 03, 2018
Now that Halloween is over, we're back to our regular viewings of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz (and no, I don't think they've done a Christmas episode yet—which is too bad, that would be a lot of fun). Since the Emerald City hasn't beet attacked for three days, Ozma declares a holiday—and then the Jewel Mule comes roaring up to attack the city. Oh, well! At least he won't be there until sunset. It seems the Mule wants jewels, so the Tin Woodman hides a sapphire he's been hanging onto in his chest. But it's the Sea Emerald that the Mule is after. Naturally, all they have to do is get it for him, except it's in Ozma's spare palace by the sea, which is run down and rickety and filled with booby traps. Still, the Ruby Slippers get Dorothy and her chums there, and they get through most of the traps and secure the emerald. Did I say most of the traps? Of course they miss one! But just as they're about to be squashed by a giant pearl, Zog, a local sea monster, comes to save them. All he wants in exchange for saving their lives is the Sea Emerald. Hmm, that makes it tough! They refuse, of course, so Zog puts them into a bubble and takes them under the sea to be his prisoner until the Tin Woodman takes the Emerald out of the safe in his torso. (Yes, the Tin Woodman's hollow torso has been extremely useful in carrying all sorts of things in this show.) They are rescued by a feisty mermaid named Merla, but when Zog captures Merla, our friends concoct a plan to save her: Dorothy paints the sapphire green and gives that to Zog instead! They say goodbye to Merla, head back to the Emerald City just in time for the Jewel Mule to get there, lick the emerald, and give his best wishes to Ozma before heading home again. Um, okay...
So now they've tapped The Sea Fairies for inspiration in this show. Zog is nowhere near as frightening as he is in the book. The real breakout star of this episode, in my opinion, is Merla. Great design, but what I really liked was her feisty attitude and thick Australian accent peppered with obscure Aussie slang that nobody else could understand. For a comedy series like that, that was a great turn of character. I did question a number of times why Dorothy didn't immediately use the Ruby Slippers to get them out, and when she finally tried it, they were waterlogged! Well, I guess they had to stretch things out to get a full story.
As a bonus, here's a scene from this episode, alongside the animatic so that you can see the process of making the cartoon. As a bonus, Merla's first appearance!
We had a little lower turnout this year for Halloween than we have in recent years—we gave out only about 750 candy bars. Yes, I say "only" 750 because in the past we've given out over a thousand! What can I say, we live in a great neighborhood for trick or treating! But the big question is, did any Oz characters show up? Surprisingly, no Dorothy's this year, when we usually get two or three. But there were quite a few scarecrows (probably not Oz's Scarecrow, but close enough) and a few green-skinned witches, so not bad at all.
Meanwhile, I've seen the Wicked Halloween party concert, and it was a lot of fun, a great celebration of the show. I just wish we could have had some captions of who the other Elphabas and Galindas were during "For Good". Anyway, if you missed it, you can still watch it for a while on NBC's website. It was great seeing Kristin and Idina in action, Pentatonix did a great job with "What Is This Feeling?" (and yes, I'm pretty sure that's a man singing Glinda's part), and Ariana Grande put a lot of heart and soul into her rendition of "The Wizard and I". I hope this is an extra on the home media version of the Wicked movie once it finally comes out.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
I was sort of thinking about continuing on with the general witches theme and ponder about the origins of green being the color of wicked witches, and The Movie's role in popularizing that color—but today's comics are proving to be a much richer vein to mine, so once again I am combining two of my ongoing threads. Here are today's Halloween-themed Oz comics:
- Today's edition of The Argyle Sweater once again delves into the trope of zombies is Oz, but with an unexpected twist.
- The Wizard of Id has discovered an amazingly efficient way to collect candy tonight, complete with appropriate dialogue.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
And we're in the home stretch, so let's talk witches. Oz is known for its witches. I've already talked about Mombi in this series (who, even after she had her powers taken away, came back to cause more mischief in The Lost King of Oz and, indirectly, The Giant Horse of Oz and Lucky Bucky in Oz. Blinkie, meanwhile, was a nasty piece of work in The Scarecrow of Oz, living in the isolated kingdom of Jinxland (and she even had three witch friends who helped her with a spell). Faleero is described as a fairy in Kabumpo in Oz, but let's face it, she's a witch. And Singra tries to make a comeback as the Wicked Witch of the South in the aptly titled The Wicked Witch of Oz. But there is, for many, only one true witch in Oz, and that's the Wicked Witch of the West. Her part is actually very small in the original novel that started this whole Oz phenomenon, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, only appearing in one chapter. Even I was surprised at that, last time I reread the book. She didn't even appear in the 1902 stage musical version, the 1925 movie, or the 1933 cartoon. It was MGM's need to give their famous film version in 1939 an ongoing antagonist, and Margaret Hamilton's classic performance, that cemented the image of the Wicked Witch of the West as the ultimate Oz villain. Writer Gregory Maguire, wanting to write a novel about the nature of evil, originally thought of Adolph Hitler, but realized how problematic that would be, so his next thought was the Wicked Witch of the West. (Ironically, there is now a book about Adolph Hitler in Oz!) Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was an immediate hit, and almost immediately there was talk about a dramatic adaptation. Movies and television miniseries were first brought up, but eventually it became a Broadway musical that opened on this day in 2003, making this Wicked's fifteenth anniversary. And it's showing no sign of slowing down, so I have no doubt that it can go a lot longer. Last night's Halloween concert and the forthcoming movie adaptation just show how strong the story is. So happy birthday, Wicked.
Monday, October 29, 2018
When I started this Halloween series, I had no idea that there'd actually be an Oz-themed Halloween special to report on later in the month. But we have one, and it's tonight! A Very Wicked Halloween: Celebrating 15 Years onBroadway is on NBC tonight (10:00 pm Eastern and Pacific, check your local listings, no, I have no idea if it's being shown in other countries) does just what it says. It's hosted by the original Elphaba and Galinda, Edina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, with appearances by Ariana Grande and Pentatonix, and looks like it should be a lot of fun. Here's a preview clip:
Sunday, October 28, 2018
There seems to be a need among many writers to turn Oz dark. I'm not denying that Oz has its dark side, but that's always been the exception, and many Oz books are about characters going out to counteract that darkness and defeating those who embrace it. In general, Oz is a pretty neat place that's a lot of fun to visit, or even live in. Nevertheless, on top of the books I've already highlighted in this series of posts, I have listings in my shop for Dorothy: The Darker Side of Oz, Dorothy Gale, Vampire Hunter (and its sequel), Vampires and Oz, and the graphic novel No Place Like Home. But the epitome of this trend may be Shadows of the Emerald City, an anthology of short stories all set in darker, dystopian versions of Oz. In fact, it was my reading this collection that led me to my weekly reading of an Oz short story and resulting blog posts. Here's what I originally said about the collection, after reading the final story, in a 2014 post on this blog:
I think it's fair to say that, while I enjoyed a few of the individual stories, overall I was not impressed with this collection. While I've always maintained that there is no wrong way to write an Oz story, and I'm usually fine with Movie-based or other versions of Oz not based solely on the books, the many different bases for Oz in this collection struck me as confusing. Maybe it says something about me that the stories I liked the most are the ones based on the Oz books, and some of the later books at that. At any rate, if you're interested in some of these stories, you may want to check out the collection. But if you're an Oz purist, or a more sensitive reader, or think Oz should just be for children, then you'll want to stay away from this one.Tomorrow, I will tell you about an upcoming Oz event that is bound to be quite Popular!
No, this is not part of my 31 Days of Halloween series, although I probably could do a retrospective of Oz appearances in Halloween comic strips. But with the holiday coming, so are the Oz costumes.
- I'm actually a day off, as an important question gets asked in the first panel of yesterday's edition of Mutts.
- Meanwhile, today in Thatababy, one family has found a way to maximize trick or treat acquisitions. (Wouldn't it take time and be less expensive to just wear one costume and hit up several different houses? Or just go out and buy more candy themselves?)
Saturday, October 27, 2018
After a short interlude that undoes most of the events of last week's story, we get a very short but related tale this week from The Lost Tales of Oz in "In Flesh of Burnished Tin: A Prolosio in Dolor" by Jeffrey Rester. Before the events of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Nimmie Amee stands up to the Wicked Witch of the East. It does not go well for Nimmie. It's just a little slice of the two characters' lives together, but one can certainly see why Nimmie would want to get away and live with a woodsman out in the middle of the forest.
A quickie: I recently recalled this movie:
Friday, October 26, 2018
Yes, it's another double-duty post, fulfilling both my Halloween countdown and summaries of DatWoO episodes. This one follows directly from "Halloween Heist" as our friends, including Jack Pumpkinhead, go out to trick or treat, in the same costumes (and Toto, dressed like Woozy). They follow along the Yellow Brick Road and encounter some of their friends, including Patchwork Girl, Woozy (dressed as a cat), and the Lollipop Guild. Reaching the end of the road in Munchkinland, Jack innocently decides to follow the Red Brick Road, even though the others claim it's haunted. Sure enough, they come to a spooky castle where some sort of shrouded figure takes all their candy. Lion, despite his fears, wants his candy, so the gang storms in to confront the crook, who turns out to be Candyman, a man made of candy from the Valley of Bonbons, who needs the candy for food. He got lost and can't find his way back to the valley, so he's tricking people out of their candy just to survive. Dorothy has a simple solution, however, and one trip to the Valley of Bonbons via Ruby Slippers brings Candyman home. Plus, Lion has a lot more candy to eat!
okay, not as strictly Halloween-y as the last episode, but it's a fun one. And Candyman and the Valley of Bonbons may be homages to one of Baum's non-Oz stories, Dot and Tot of Merryland. It all fits in very nicely with the rest of the show, and also highlights how much the books and The Movie are neatly intertwined.
Thursday, October 25, 2018
And we're back to a book that's not only not very good, I'm not even sure why it exists. But Halloween in Oz: Dorothy's Return by Leo Moser and Carol Nelson sure sounds like it should be appropriate, doesn't it? Through a set of circumstances, Dorothy returns to Oz on Halloween, only to find out that Halloween in Oz lasts thirteen nights. There, she meets a boy named Mitt who creates a pumpkin-headed man that he names Punk N. Head to scare his guardian, a witch named Salmanta. Sounding familiar yet? Yes, this is pretty much a retelling of The Marvelous Land of Oz (which I talked about on Day 1 of this series), only with the names changed, extended out to an absurd length, and nowhere near as good. I understand trying to tie Oz and Halloween together (hey, look at me trying to do this fro a whole month), but this is not the way to do it. If the authors somehow thought that Marvelous Land was a forgotten book that they could rewrite to appeal to modern readers, they were sadly mistaken. Their attempts to market this as "the next Harry Potter" were probably doomed from the start. This was also set up to be the start of a series, but this has been out for a decade now with no sequel in sight, so I think this is another failed attempt to start a new Oz series. (There are all kinds of failed attempts at new Oz series out there, in which the creators forget that Oz is not Middle Earth, and Oz books are standalone novels. Needless to say, most of these series never get very far.)
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Okay, yesterday's book wasn't so good. So let's go with a fun one today, The Haunted Hot-Tub of Oz by Christopher M. Dulabone. Chris is a prolific Oz author and publisher who writes fun, silly stories about Oz. One of his greatest creations is Brewster Bunny, Oz's foremost rabbit detective, who has been the star of several books. In this book, a maker of magical hot tubs is accused of causing nightmares in the tubs' users. Naturally, Brewster Bunny must step in and prove the maker is innocent. Okay, not, strictly speaking, a Halloween story, but certainly appropriate fro the season. Get yourself a copy and check it out!