Today in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, we get an excellent example of how changes over decades in vocabulary and word use can completely change the meaning of a passage from an old book—such as, say, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!
Wednesday, July 08, 2020
The second story in the 2013 issue of Oziana is "The Harvest Ball" by Gina Wickwar, with illustrations by Luciano Vecchio and Marcus Mébès. (The front cover of this issue is an illustration from this story, but rendered in gorgeous colors.) It's pretty much what the title says, the story of a harvest ball hosted by the Scarecrow one Halloween. As a joke, however, Jack Pumpkinhead decides to set the corn maze up so that nobody can get out! The only problem is, all the magic workers who can help him do this are all out of the country. He leaves a message about it with Tomzia, one of Glinda's servants who has ambitions to become a magic worker, too, and, well, one thing leads to another and Tomzia tries to enchant the maze herself! The harvest ball itself is a huge success, until everyone starts heading into the corn maze with extremely unexpected results. Complicating matters is Glinda heading straight to the ball when she gets back into the country, so she never gets to her castle to get the message (and maybe find out what is going to happen). Fortunately, she and the Wizard are finally able to straighten things out, and ultimately no harm is done, but Tomzia may have some problems when she gets back to work.
This is not a story where a lot is at stake, even when it turns out that the spell (that very few people know about in the first place) has gone wrong. But that just allows the characters to shine. Tomzia is especially well drawn, but Wickwar does terrific work with all the standard celebrities, and manages to bring a lot of obscure, one-off characters to the party at the end, which is nice to see.
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
Thursday, July 02, 2020
Yup, I finally got started reading the 2013 issue of Oziana. I don't know if I can make this a weekly thing again, but I will do my best to at least make it a little more regular. Anyway, the first story is another attempt by our old friend, Dr. Corwin Poe, the Computer Wizard, to take over Oz with technology. Phyllis Ann Karr originally wrote "Foiled by the Iffin" in 1987, with some revisions in 2002 and 2011 before finally seeing publication in this issue, with illustrations by Dennis Anfuso. By this time, he's a happy, contented citizen of Oz, married to Tollydiggle, and the creator of the Ozian equivalent of the Internet, setting up systems and teaching its citizens how it all works. But that doesn't stop him from his annual attempt to conquer the country, even though by now he knows he will fail, and the members of Ozma's court see it as more of a game than anything they actually have to worry much about. Snif the Iffin gets the ball rolling this year when he tells Poe about his adventures (recorded in the novel Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz), particularly those with Belfaygor in the Land of the Barons. The Computer Wizard manages to trap Snif and Ozma in a computer simulation long enough to go south in an attempt to enlist Mogodore's help. Of course nothing quite works out as he plans, and Poe finds himself in a pretty big pickle before Ozma escapes, saves his sorry hide yet again, and sentences to another year in jail with his wife.
It's been way too long since Oziana last had a Computer Wizard adventure (I think he last appeared back in the '80s!), and so this was especially fun. Considering how much technology has advanced in our world since his last appearance, it's no wonder that it's advanced in Oz, too, and the Real World may catch up pretty soon. I liked the attitude everyone takes, in that it's a real, serious attempt to take over Oz, but one that everyone, including Poe, isn't too worried about actually succeeding. Even then, however, Poe is still able to get one over on our old friends, and if some of the dominoes fell a different way he may have actually succeeded (although something tells me he may not have kept the throne for long). I hope we won't have to wait quite so long for another visit with the Computer Wizard.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
Here I am already keeping my resolution! Yes, today in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is this commentary on the classics. (Wow, good thing he didn't try this with The Little Mermaid or Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast!
You know, I really need to stop this habit of finding Oz comics in the morning, thinking I'll post them later in the day, and then getting too busy and/or tired to do it until the next morning! But until I figure out how to successfully juggle my time and get it all done in a timely manner, here's what turned up in the funny pages yesterday:
- First, in The Argyle Sweater, a tribute to all kinds of classic movies (including you-know-what) from the viewpoint of a certain body part. (In the second one, the song should probably go, "Clibe Ebery Bountain".)
- And now, a little explanation for the second one. Skin Horse is an odd little comic that I won't try to explain, since I've been reading it for years now and I'm not sure I can explain it myself. It was recommended to me by author Seanan McGuire when she became my co-presenter on this panel on Oz comics at the 2013 Emerald City Comic Con, and sure enough, it has some elements of Oz (although I certainly would not call it an Oz comic). Skin Horse does appear to run in syndication, so it must appear in some newspapers somewhere, but only during the week, as it doesn't have a Sunday edition. But that doesn't mean they don't do something on Sundays. They may have sketches, behind-the-scenes looks at the process, extra pictures like desktops—pretty much whatever they feel like putting up. And sometimes they let their fans take over and put up their interpretations of the Skin Horse characters. Yesterday, Erin Ptah, an Oz fan and web comic creator in her own right (Want proof? Check out her art in the mini-comic Emeralds: Hearts in Oz.) submitted this picture of some of the Skin Horse characters. If you know the comic, you probably know just how well these fit. I especially like Unity as the Patchwork Girl.
Friday, June 19, 2020
Sunday, June 14, 2020
When I first saw today's edition of Mother Goose and Grimm, I didn't think much of it. But someone pointed out to me that that first equation Grimm is thinking about may be Ozzy! But the more I look at it, the more I realize Grimm is a lot closer to the Pythagorean Theorem than the Scarecrow was in The Movie. All Grimm needs is to tweak that triangle just a bit to make it a right triangle, and he's got it. The Scarecrow, however, says, "The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side," which is just plain wrong.
Yeah, I couldn't really label this "This Week's Short Story", since I didn't read it this week—but not only that, it wasn't a short story. The entire 2012 issue of Oziana was devoted to a single story, but this time around it was written by multiple authors, each one taking a succeeding chapter. And the first author? L. Frank Baum! The opening of this is a story fragment that Baum family lore claims was written by L. Frank Baum, although there are some doubts. It involves Ozma going out ice skating on her private lake, only to meet up with a gentleman from Hiland, who hopes to meet up with someone coming into the lake via a tube from the Nonestic Ocean. From there, other writers bring in other characters, ranging from the Potchwork Girl to Percy the Personality Kid. It is eventually revealed that the paranoid delusions many Oz characters are having are a test run for an invasion by Velbartka, a witch from Magic Land, of all places. Of course, all works out well in the end, good triumphs over evil, and then there's a banquet at the end.
The problem I often see in stories like this is that the writers are so eager to throw in their own contributions and ideas that they often ignore or minimize what's already been going on, and the story ends up lacking focus. The poor later writers also have to try to figure out how to bring it all together into a satisfying ending that makes sense of what's been thrown at them, too. This story has some of that, but it does hold together better than a lot of examples of this I've seen. I suspect there may have been some behind-the-scenes communications with the various authors. This story also has three different illustrators, but they all appear to be on the same page and striving for some consistency in how characters are drawn, which I appreciate.
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Yes, it's true, I'm actually writing a blog post about something other than comics! Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and turned the world upside down, this was turning into a very weird and busy year for Laura and me as she got very sick, and had a couple of stints in the hospital. (You can read the entire saga, starting from the very beginning), on her personal blog.) I've pretty much spent most of the year playing nursemaid to her. So a lot of Ozzing has gone by the wayside. But now I'm getting back into position to read more short stories and watch more episodes of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz and tell you all about it. But tonight, I'm going to start telling you about some of the Oz and Oz-adjacent things I've been reading lately. Here we go!
- Bibliographia Oziana, revised and expanded 2002 edition. This is the third edition of this book, and it is an essential tool for anyone collecting Oz books, particularly the earliest editions. It has a lot of good, updated information on the publishing history and textual points for all of the Famous Forty Oz books and quite a few FF-adjacent titles as well. But one thing that kept striking me was how much more has already come out about much of this in the past eighteen years. It may be time for an update already!
- If so, maybe the format could be altered to be more like the next book I read, Bibiliographia Baumiana by W. Neal Thompson. This is one of those books that's been in the works for decades, but it's finally out, and it is a major accomplishment. It looks at everything else Baum wrote outside of the Oz series that was published in book form, and gives it the same treatment as Bib Oz, but Thompson does it all one better. The entries are clearer and easier to read, while at the same time more comprehensive and thorough. This was a real eye-opener, and gave me some interesting highlights into Baum's career. (One example: It looks like Baum may have printed more than the ninety-nine copies of By the Candelabra's Glare that the book says he printed.) I can't help but think that if Thompson took the same approach as this book to Bibliographia Oziana, you'd really have a useful pair of books.
Saturday, June 06, 2020
There are a bunch of people on Facebook, and in the comments, debating about yesterday's edition of Life on Earth. Most of it is, "I don't get it," but there's also some wondering who that is on the upper left edge carrying a broom. Well, she has black and white striped stockings, and is wearing blue, which is the national color of the Munchkins. Could that be the Wicked Witch of the East, then? We'll probably never know, but I'll think so until the next weird, random stray thought gets into my head and kicks it out.
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Do you remember this sketch from MadTV?
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Yes, it's another doubleheader today, from two of the Ozziest comics out there.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Thursday, May 21, 2020
And the hits just keep coming! Today it's The Argyle Sweater, which imagines an alternative career path for one of the characters in The Wizard of Oz. (Considering her aversion to one of the main ingredients in beer, perhaps baking would have been a better choice.)