Today in Strange Brew, we get a look into how The Wizard of Oz might be updated if an extra character showed up with a request the Wizard might not be able to so easily fulfill.
Sunday, April 15, 2018
The second story in the 1991 edition of Oziana is "Fairness" by Earl C. Abbe, with illustrations by Melissa Warner and Karla Farias (but they also sneak in one by John R. Neill). Herchell Bald is an embittered Oz fan who thinks it's not fair that he can't spend his money how he likes at the annual Oz convention—and that it's not fair a teenage girl keeps outbidding him in the auction when he wants the items for his collection! But he finally manages to get one over on her when he snatches up a rare copy of Jack Snow's rare final Oz book, Timmy and the Shutter Faces in Oz. (No, don't go looking for it, there is no such book, at least not in our world.) If you know about the Shutter Faces from The Giant Horse of Oz, you'll know it's not one of the better parts of Oz, what with everyone keeping their faces hidden behind a pair of personal shutters. Well, Herchell finds out how unpleasant the place can really be when an auto accident throws him into Oz and directly into Shutter Town. The Shutter Faces put shutters on Herchell's face, and after several years of trying he realizes just how selfish he has been and how unfair life can really be. But when a little girl named Timothea "Timmy" Smith also comes to town and is also condemned to wear shutters, Herchell's true colors come to the surface, and he does everything he can to save Timmy. This was a pretty good read, and Herchell's growth and maturation is well realized. And the twist ending to Timmy's true identity and her tie to Herchell makes for a delightful coda to the story. Johnny Dooit also makes an important appearance, and he is well realized. Somebody should really tell more stories about him, he was an interesting character in The Road to Oz, and I'm sure there's much more to him than his brief appearance there would indicate.
The first Oz clue of 2018 on Jeopardy! came during the January 4 episode. The category was At the Yard Sale, for $600 in the Jeopardy! round:
There was another tangentially Ozzy clue earlier in the game, also for $600, in the category Cliches Made Fancy:
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Donald Trump may regret calling the current investigation against him a witch hunt, because the cartoonists are having a field day with it. Both Nate Beeler at the Columbus Dispatch and R. J. Matson at Roll Call use a certain Oz character to make their point (and Matson even brought in a previous subject of these kinds of cartoons).
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Saturday, April 07, 2018
I seem to have hit the wall between the issues of Oziana that I reread and remember from my youth, and the ones from my lack-of-youth that I've read once and filed as I dealt with pesky grown-up things. This makes sense, as I graduated college in 1991 and started my career as a teacher then. This is, as I'm sure you've figured out by now, my convoluted way of saying that I've started reading the 1991 issue of Oziana. It starts with "Mission Impozible: Revenge of the Emerald Grasshopper" by Christopher Wayne Buckley, with illustrations by Charles Martensen. Not long after the events of Ozma of Oz, the Nome King wakes up in a foul temper (as usual), but Kaliko doesn't come groveling when summoned, nor does he bring Roquat his breakfast. The Nome King manages to eventually fend for himself at last, sets out to find Kaliko, but can't find anyone. There is, however, a mysterious ticking sound among the copper cookware in the kitchen. Roquat eventually stumbles upon Kaliko, hiding out in his treasure room with Ozma! Is this an invasion from Oz? Has Kaliko turned traitor?
As a bonus, Buckley also provides some Oz-themed haiku. The issue also boasts a great cover by Chris Sterling of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman manipulating marionettes of each other.
Monday, April 02, 2018
There wasn't much special about the December 29, 2018 game of Jeopardy!—except it turned out to have the final Oz clue of 2017. In the Double Jeopardy! round, the $400 clue in the category Literary Settings read:
Sunday, April 01, 2018
Well, the redoubtable Rex Morgan, M. D. has undergone a little change today in honor of April Fools Day. And while they were at it, they slipped in a little tiny Oz reference as well. I'm not sure how I would have liked it if, whenI was a kid, my dad read Oz books to me in the roar of a tyrannosaurus rex, however.
The 1990 issue of Oziana wrapped up with "The Final Fate of the Frogman", written and illustrated by Eric Shanower. Woot the Wanderer comes to the Truth Pond, where the giant frog who used to be the Frogman (first introduced in The Lost Princess of Oz) stops him from making the terrible mistake of drinking the water. While taking Woot to a stream of perfectly ordinary, drinkable, non-magical water, the frog tells his tale. It seems that way back, his dip in the Truth Pond did more than compel him to tell the truth—which proved to be problematic enough. Over time, it became apparent that the waters of the Truth Pond causes one to look at the truth of oneself, and that did not work out well for the Frogman. He eventually realized he was a frog, not a man, and started acting more like a frog all the time. This proved to be especially uncomfortable when he enrolled for a time at the Royal Athletic University and had a disastrous encounter with Professor Wogglebug. He couldn't find a place for himself anywhere, becoming a pariah via his enormous size, his absolute candor, or both. He eventually comes to the Truth Pond to guard it and creatures who came to it from its waters, but even that doesn't all go well. This is a thought-provoking story about the nature of truth, and whether or not it's a good thing. Using Woot is inspired, even though he has very little to actually do except be a receptive audience for the frog's tale. And it certainly explains why we haven't seen the Frogman in the Oz books for nearly a century (although one incident is clearly set after The Wonder City of Oz, so maybe he was hopping around a bit in the post-Baum Oz books).
Sunday, March 25, 2018
The December 20, 2017 game was one of the most Christmasy games you could have, especially in the Jeopardy! round. (Don't believe me? Go take a look!) But it was the Double Jeopardy! round that had the Ozzy clue, in the category Fictional Characters' Most Hated Movies—probably the first time that category had ever come up. They stayed away from the $2000 clue until almost the end of the game, but when it was finally uncovered, this is what it said:
It's been a surprisingly long time since one popped up, but today,s edition of The Gray Zone relieves that drought with a little gem showing just how wise the Tin Woodman might be asking for a heart instead of a brain. (It took me a while to figure out that that thing in his right hand is his axe, since it's not very big. It looks more like a hatchet.)
Saturday, March 24, 2018
"In a Season of Calm Weather" by Ruth Berman, with an illustration by Rob Roy MacVeigh, is only one page of the 1990 issue of Oziana, but it sure packs a lot into it. It appears to be a dream story about Dorothy, Alice, and Wendy meeting up and contemplating the nature of their stories, and of the latter two having to deal with growing up while Dorothy heads back to Oz. Since this is so short, I will also mention here the cover of this issue, a spectacular group shot of many Oz characters by Eric Shanower. And this becomes the basis of this issue's contest: Name all the characters on the cover. Since there are so many characters, from at least four different Royal Historians, this is tougher than you might imagine!
Sunday, March 18, 2018
For the second story of the 1990 edition of Oziana, two of the top talents of Oz fan fiction teamed up for the first time, as Phyllis Ann Karr's tale "The Guardian Dove" featured illustrations by Melody Grandy. So yeah, this one's pretty good! The story opens in the Kalidah Woods where cub Kericot is proving to be an unusual child. She manages to capture a monkey, but instead of eating him, she lets him go. This is witnessed by a dove, who promises to keep her secret and claims that her compassion may help her out some day. As Keri gets older and ventures out into the world with her brother Radicot, she meets other animals, but contrary to a Kalidah's nature, she doesn't eat them, which rubs Radi the wrong way. Finally, they encounter an ond Munchkin woman and her grandson. Her reluctance to eat them causes Keri and Radi to fight, with Keri getting the best of her brother and chasing him off. The old Munchkin turns out to be a witch who enchants Keri, but the dove intervenes and shows her Keri's true nature. Thus, Keri, realizing she can never return to the Kalidah Woods, sets out to wander Oz and discover new things. I'm sorry Keri the Considerate Kalidah never made any more appearances, as she's a good character. I think she deserves a series of adventures. And then there's that dove. Who or what is he? I like to think he's Ugu, but there's no indication here that that's the case.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Adam Zyglis at The Buffalo News has this comment on the current state of affairs. I know this isn't the first time we've seen this kind of cartoon, but this is the first one I recall seeing Putin as the lead, and not Trump.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Steve Artley has some pointed barbs about our current President. (My wife has an app that replaces images of Trump with pictures of cats. It even works on comics, apparently. Ironically, he's still a cat!)
Saturday, March 10, 2018
This is one of the most unusual and unexpected Oz clues I've ever encountered in all my decades now of watching the show. On the November 28, 2017 show, one of the categories in the Double Jeopardy! round was Literature. You'd think Oz might show up there. But before the contestants ever got to that, they went to Onomatopoeia, where they uncovered this picture and the accompanying clue for $2000:
This was a triple stumper, as nobody even wanted to guess, "Who is Tik-Tok?" But man, I was excited seeing this picture!
The 1990 issue of Oziana uses a theme that was originally intended for the previous issue before it morphed into a celebration of Oz at the movies for the fiftieth anniversary of The Movie. This issue is an all-professionals issue, with every contributor being a noted professional writer or artist. And you don't get any more professional in Oz circles than with a Royal Historian, because "Chapter Three" is by none other than Eloise Jarvis McGraw! It's an excerpt from a story that McGraw never finished (no, this did not become part of The Rundelstone of Oz). Dick Martin was originally scheduled to illustrate it, reuniting the team behind both Merry Go Round in Oz and The Forbidden Fountain of Oz, but Martin died before he could draw anything, so Bill Eubank took on the duties. I wasn't always a fan of Eubank's work, as he tended to draw things too similarly to the original illustrations, but here he does a nice job, notably with Flittermouse. Because this is very much a story about Flittermouse, from Merry Go Round in Oz. He and Fess were planning to go on a trip to the Emerald City to see Robin and Merry, but Fess has to stay behind at the last minute. He encourages Flitter to go on without him, and at first things seem to go well, despite Flitter's fear of taking such a long trip on his own. But a bird traps him and carries him away. Flitter escapes, only to not know where he is, and in the process of figuring things out he's trapped by a butterfly collector! (This is just not Flitter's day!) HE manages to escape again, but the collector's cat decides Flitter looks like a tasty morsel. All looks bad—until the timely appearance of the Hungry Tiger causes the cat to run away! And that's where this chapter ends.
I know Eloise had ideas for other Oz stories, but was never able to do anything with them all before her death in 2000. This excerpt shows she was still thinking (it mentions the kingdom of Bzzzantium, which was apparently encountered in chapters one and two). It would be great if someone could go through her papers (they're at the University of Oregon), find any other parts of this book, and publish what there is, if that's possible.