Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Today's International Oz Political Cartoon

I'll be honest, I'm not sure what Chip Bok is trying to say in today's cartoon. Oh, I get that Beijing wants Taiwan to surrender its independance and become part of mainland China. But I'm not sure I undertand the reference to Davos Man. Is this Switzerland somehow becoming involved?

Monday, January 25, 2021

Today's Oz Short Story Remembrance

The International Wizard of Oz Club is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Oziana not only by recording some stories and posting them on YouTube, they also got a remembrance of the magazine's origins with its creator and first editor, Gary Ralph.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Today's Oz Comics

Yay, it's another two-fer, and both of these are pretty good!

  • First, in today's Red and Rover, Red is remaking a particular scene of a particular movie, and pushes the whole concept of "time lapse" to its limits.
  • And over in Nick and Zuzu, we get a new twist on how the Cowaldly Lion sees himself. The art on this, by the way, is incredible, and Nick Galifianakis draws original takes on the characters while still making them very recognizable. I especially appreciate his Lion looking like a lion, not a man in a lion suit.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story to report on from the 2020 issue of Oziana is the first part of "The Wizards of Silver and Gold in Oz" by Nathan DeHoff and Joe Bongiorno, with illustrations by Dennis Anfuso. This reads like a love letter to Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz, because it involves Quiberon (yeah, he reformed and was brought back to life) and Happy Toko and the Silver Islands and Umbrella Island ozoplanes and all kinds of stuff. Even the Neill books get involved, with the origin of Evangelina the two-headed dragon and an explanation of why the Scarecrow is in charge of Munchkin Country in The Wonder City of Oz. Not long after taking over his new post, he is surprised when Happy Toko, having climbed up his beanpole, comes to him for help. The King of the Golden Islands has conquered the Silver Islands! A group of golden wizards helped him, and now that he's conquered his neighbors, he's decided to take revenge for the slaying of his dragon and conquer not only Sir Hokus, but Oz as well. Naturally, the Golden Emperor and his wizard turn up in the Winie Country, where they encountre the Tin Woodman and Prince Corum of Corumbia. Naturally, neither tells them that Corum is the disenchanted form of Sir Hokus. This does not, however, prevent them from taking control of Jack Pumpkinhead's ozoplane, so now they can fry around Oz. Arriving in the Emerald City, a meeting with Dorothy reveals that Corum is Sir Hokus, and that dragons don't actually die, but also that dragons do not die when they are slain, but return to the home of the original dragon, at the other side of the world in the land of Tititi-Hoochoo. Ozma, Glinda, and the Wizard arrive via ozoplane and quickly dispatch the golden wizards, but the Gheewizard of Silver Island, who was the one originally seeking revenge on Sir Hokus, agrees to go on an expedition to the other side of the world to be reunited with his dragon. The party is gathered, preparations are made…

…and then it ends. It's a cliffhanger ending! So, the story will conclude in the next issue, and I'll report on it when I get that issue later this year.

And that brings my rereading of the first fifty issues of Oziana to an end. It was not my original plan, but it seems appropriate for it to wrap up in 2021, fifty years after the first issue came out. And this strikes me as a good time to announce that I will be ending my weekly short story reading with this entry, too. Oh, I have more stories to read, and I hope to tackle them at some poist. And maybe there will be some new short stories coming soon, too. But My life has gotten busy of late, and will get busier over the next couple of years, so it seems like a good time to give it a rest and focus on other things. If nothing else, maybe I can now watch and review more episodes of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz! And if I happen across another short story in my regular readings, I will likely post something here. But this has been a lot of fun, and I hope it won't be too long before I can get back to regular weekly short story readings and postings.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story in the 2020 issue of Oziana—but not the final story I'm going to review in this series—is a little short one, "Polychrome's Sky School" by Paul Dana, with an illustration by Sam Milazzo. set after her return to the sky in Tik-Tok of Oz, Polly decides it's time to pick up some magic that can help her the next time ste gets stranded on Earth. Fortunately, there is a fine sky school where Polly, her sisters, and any other denizens of the heavens can learn just that. Polly proves to be a natural, and does terrific work. The story ends with her graduation, looking forward to her next trip to Earth and what her friends might say about her new powers.

For a story that only takes up two pages, this tale packs a lot in. It is little more than an excuse to list all kinds of sky, weather, and color-themed puns, but they are a lot of fun. Even her classmates' fates depend on their names.

Since that story was so short, this will be my usual place to tell you what else is in this issue:

  • The wonderful art tdeco-inspired cover of the issue, by Able Tong, sees many Oz characters dressed in their finest to celebrate the fiftieth issue of Oziana.
  • "A Use for Jack's Pumpkins" is what I believe is the first ever recipe published in Oziana. It's for pumpkin pies, of course! It's accompanied by what is likely the oldest ever contribution to the magazine, an anonymous poem about pumpkin pie from an edition of The Montreal Daily Herald published in 1892. This poem is eight years older than Oz!

I know I said this is the final story in this issue, but there is one more that I skipped over. I'll explain why in next week's entry!

One last thing, to celebrate fifty years of Oziana, the International Wizard of Oz Club has started a video series of readings from Oziana, so far one story per issue. (I wonder what's going to happen with those issues that have only one long story?) Here's the Club's Membership Secretary, Susan Johnson, introducing the series and the history behind Oziana:

And here's the list of videos (so far), interspersed with a few other videos from the Oz Club.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

I think this cartoon by Mike Luckovich may finally be the end of the "witch hunt" jokes—at least for this administration.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: The Wizard Gets Witched

I seem to have a little extra time on my hands, for once, so I may as well see if I can knock a few more of these out and play some catch-up. The Wizard is feeling lonely, and has no one to share his successful (?) magic with. The Wicked Witch, spying on him, decides to use his loneliness to marry the Wizard! Wilhelmina points out that the Witch is really not his type, but goes ahead and whips up a love potion for her auntie. Not having any fairy dust, however, Wilhelmina uses ordinary floor dust. (Okay, I already sense trouble coming. But I have now seen a lot of this show.) The Witch covers a green shoe leather pie with the potion and, as she heads to the Emerald City, sings a song! (Oh, good, someone finally remembers that the original movie was a musical.) She offers the Wizard the pie as a peace offering, he takes a big slice, and sure enough, the Wizard falls in love with the Wicked Witch of the West! (Wow, a phrase I never thought I'd ever type.) Dorothy, the boys, and Ozma turn up as they get engaged and try to talk the Wizard out of it, but to no avail. Dorothy, suspicious that the Wizard is under a spell, asks Ozma if she can undo it, but being a good witch, Ozma can't undo a bad witch's spell. At what I like to think is the Wash and Brush Up Co., the Wizard sings a love song about the Witch while being primped. Back at her castle, the Wicked Witch continues the song about making Oz pay while Wilhelmina and the monkeys make her up. At the wedding chapel, everyone is still trying to talk the Wizard out of it, but the blushing bride flies in on her brooms and the Wizard is lost fo good. Wilhelmina starts the ceremony, which gives Dorothy an idea. If only a bad witch can undo the spell, there's only one person who can help. During the vows, the Wizard goes on about how they'll always be together, do everything together, start a family together, and nothing will ever be the same again. It's too much, even getting her powers back isn't enough to entice he Witch to do that, so she calls it off and asks Wilhelmina to break the spell. A little more dust, and it's done. The Witch and the Wizard run away from each other, and Wilhelmina vows never to get married or plan another wedding. She's still not happy that she isn't going to get her castle back to just herself, though. Back in the palace, Dorothy assures the Wizard that there's someone out there for him, as there are lots of bricks in te yellow brick read.

Okay, first, the almost-marry-the-villain-because-of-a-love-potion story has been done to pieces in cartoons. But this one also felt like it was going somewhere, but then didn't. The fairy-vs-floor-dust thing was a non starter, and Dorothy didn't trick Wilhelmina into undoing the spell, she just managed to use a little psychology on the Wicked Witch by having the Tin Woodman ask to hear their vows. Maybe this was a case of the script needing one more pass to tighten it up. The songs, however, were fun, and made this episode a little different.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Doozy of a Woozy

While heading out to the annual Oz kite flying festival, Dorothy and the boys don't know they are being spied upon by Kaliko. But the Woozy follows them, inadvertantly burying Kaliko. So the Nome King decides to enlist Woozy's aid in his latest scheme to take over Oz. Phase one involves Kaliko whispering to Woozy to get him angry, then leading him on a chase to get Woozy lost. Once a scorched Kaliko gets back, the Nome King has him build a wooden Woozy so that they can sneak into the Emerald City and take over from within. They get to the Emerald City, only to find that Ozma is still there. A little fast thinking and the Nome King's impression of Woozy makes Ozma think it's the real thing, but she insists on giving Woozy a bath! The wooden Woozy gets washed, rinsed, and dried, assaulting the Nome King and Kaliko with water, bubbles, and hot air. Meanwhile, the real live Woozy finds some friendly forest animals to help him find his way ack to the Emerald City, but since they're burrowing animals, they take him underground. And considering how big Woozy is, that takes a really big tunnel! Meanwhile, Ozma feeds Woozy with large quantities of food, which means a new hazard for the Nome King and Kaliko. They decide that as soon as Ozma puts Woozy down for a nap, they'll make a run for it. Rocking "Woozy" to sleep causes the Nomes to roll around in their contraption, but they make the run for it as promised. To avoid Dorothy and the boys coming back from the kite festival, they make a quick turn off the yellow brick road, only to go tumbling down a hill and crashing around some more. (No, this was not the Nome King's smartest plan, and that's saying something!) They finally smash their wooden Woozy when they crash into the real Woozy, who gets so angry at them he starts flashing fire from his eyes and chases them off.

Okay, that was pretty much just silly. And I'm amused that, for once, this story doesn't focus on Dorothy and the main characters from The Movie, as we see them head ou at the beginning, arrive back at the end, and that's about it. And while this version of Woozy isn't much at all like his namesake from the books, he's a fun, loyal, mellow character in his own right. And finally, I suspect Ozma knows exactly what she's doing in this one, tormenting the Nome King by being kind to the beast he's built. Did he really think he was going to fool anyone with a wooden Woozy on wheels?

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Latest Oz Reading

It has been a lot longer than I realized since I last read The Patchwork Girl of Oz, for although I remember most of it from my numerous childhood readings, there are a few things that stood out now that didn't before, at least not in the same way. The big one is the name of the fluid that causes Ojo to head off on his quest in the first place. For decades, I thought it was the Liquid of Petrification. But a talk about the 1914 film version at the Winkie Convention in San Diego a few years ago made me realize I may have misread the word this entire time. So while I continued my rereading of the Famous Forty, I paid extra attention here. Sure enough, every time it comes up, it's the Liquid of Petrifaction! D'oh! Still, I know now.

The other big thing that struck me this time around is that the Horners mine and use radium. I'm not sure of the exact timeline, but I know that nobody knew anything about just how dangerous radium was at that time, which is why so many of young women who used to paint glow-in-the-dark watch faces would come down with mysterious cases of cancer well into the 1920s. Yet here are the Horners mining it, decorating their houses with it, and even consuming it as medicine! Why aren't the Horners all keeling over from radiation poisoning? Or maybe the Horners have horns on their foreheads and pink, blue, and green hail because they are mutants. (Hmm, come to think of it, that may also explain the Hoppers and their singular legs as well!) This is my Books of Wonder/William Morrow edition—yes, the one with the altered text and deleted illustration—so I can't help wondering if it might have been a good idea to alse change the radium in this book to some other material. (The magical element gaulau that Baum created for Glinda of Oz might be a good candidate; ironically, in that book, gaulau is said to be more powerful than radium!)

As a bonus read, I also read Baum's treatment for a possible stage verision of The Patchwork Girl of Oz, written not long after the book. Only one was known to exist until it was reprinted by the Pamami Press, but since they do extremely limited edition handcrafted books, it's still something most people don't have access to or have read. Baum the old theater hand can clearly be seen in this, but you can also see the germ of how it would eventually turn out, as the first feature-length Oz movie a year later.

The Oz readings may be scarce and spread out a bit here, as I recently received some magazines I want to catch up on, but never fear, there will be more at some point!

Last Week and This Week's Oz Short Stoies

I read one last week, I really did. But things just got busy enough that I never got around to writing about it. So, this week, you get write-ups on two stories, both from the 2020 issue of Oziana. So, without further ado:

  • "Zinnia's Wish" by Suren Oganessian, with illustrations by Mitchell Mayle. Zinnia is a Flutterbudget who, after a harrowing accident that leaves her trapped in a snowbank for twenty years, decides that she has to do something, as her father is still trapped there. So she goes to the Emerald City to do some research, learns more about the Wish Way, and goes there to make her wish: She wishes for death to return to Oz! She succeeds! The angel of death is now in Oz, and takes (finally) Zinnia's father and others who would have already died from accidents or other reasons besides old age. But Zinnia made the mistake of befriending Ojo and the Patchwork Girl when she comes to the Emerald City. Ojo, despite liking Zinnia, has suspicions about her, and talks to Ozma and the Wizard. They have been watching Zinnia, and step in the moment they understand what's going on. It's too late to reverse the effect or remove death from Oz completely, but they work with Death to come up with a solution that satisfies everyone, and gives Zinnia a new purpose.

    This is an intriguing tale that raises all kinds of ethical and moral issues, and what it truly means to be immortal in Oz. And Zinnia dresses all in black. Yup, she's a Goth Flutterbudget, an interesting combination. Her relationship with Ojo and how it slowly heats up, even as she wonders why he could even like her, is sweet, but ultimately doomed. And we get a nice view of what it's like to be in the Emerald City, away from the palace. Zinnia and Ojo's day at the Emerald City Library makes it sound like a good place to visit. Mayle's illustrations are stark but pleasant, including a color one for the back cover.

  • "Dinner at the Del" is an unusal tale, in that the main character is L. Frank Baum! But that's probably to be expected when the author is Robert Baum, Frank's great-grandson. While staying at the Hotel Del Coronado one winter, Frank and Maud Baum meet up with Captian William Steele, who asks Frank to autograph his copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to his children. They insist he joins them for dinner, and the captain tells them a lot about his life. Anyone familiar with Baum's work will recognize many Easter eggs in this story, as it is strongly implied that Captain Steele inspired both the Boy Fortune Hunters series and the character of Cap'n Bill. Is it a true story? Somehow, I have my doubts, but there's a part of me that would like it to be. This is a pleasant, brief slice-of-life story where the life just happens to be the man singlehandedly responsible for every single other story in this series—as well as this blog, my website, the hundereds of books in my collection, and so forth.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Today's Classic Oz Comic

Today in The Far Side, another perspective on a favorite Oz character.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Today's Oz-ish Comic

I suspect that guy representing Halloween in this old Looks Good On Paper comic is not meant to actually be Jack Pumpkinhead. But boy, he sure looks like him, so I'll say it's him and that this is an Oz cartoon!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Latest Oz Reading

In my efforts to reread the main core Oz books, after finishing The Emerald City of Oz last time I had a dilemma. Do I continue with the next major fantasy novel Baum wrote, since it later dovetails into Oz? Or go to the next Oz book? Then it hit me: There were two non-Oz books up next. There were two Oz books before the two series merge. So, why not read both? So yes, this time around I'm reading both The Sea Fairies and The Patchwork Girl of Oz, next time it will be Sky Island and Tik-Tok of Oz, and the two series will meet down the road at The Scarecrow of Oz. (This has also got me thinking that I should also throw in Baum's non-Oz books into my reading mix, which I may just do.) Anyway, to finally get to the book, The Sea Fairies is, as I'm sure you know, the story of Mayre "Trot" Griffiths, the daughter of a California sea captain, and her boon companion, retired peg-legged sailor Cap'n Bill Wheedles. Cap'n Bill expresses disbelief in the mermaids, seeing as how nobody who has encountered one has lived to tell the tale, so the mermaids overhear this and invite them underwater for a visit. The mermaids give them mermaid tails and use some othre magic to allow them to exist underwater, and then they're off! The first half is just a travelogue, with Trot and Cap'n Bill seeing the sites. There's so much to see, however, and it's all so new to not only them but also the reader that most people don't really notice, or care. In the second half, however, when they are captured by the terrible Zog, that's when things get interesting. Zog has created a whole underwater kingdom, unknown to the mermaids and King Anko, so while the book takes time to explore that as well, we also get a battle of wits and magic between Zog and Queen Aquareine. Cap'n Bill uses his savvy to help tip the odds in his friends' favor, but it proves to be all for naught. Only the timely deus ex machina intervention of King Anko saves the day, but I'm not sure how else this adventure could have ended.

This first adventure with Trot and Cap'n Bill is interesting, if not always exciting. And Zog may be one of the most frightening and powerful villains Baum has ever created. What took me out of this as an adult reader is how much we have learned about the ocean in the more than a century since this was published. Even though they are in some of the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean, for instance, they get a regular cycle of sunlight and darkness. But we now know just how quickly the oceans become dark, and there's no way they would have natural sunlight down there. I'm sure Baum also created a lot of the sealife Trot and Cap'n Bill encounter, but if he could have incorporated some of the creatures and phenomena discovered in the last century, that might make for a pretty amazing book, too. But all in all, it was fun visiting this book again.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Return of Pumpkinhead

Jack's back, and in the Emerald City for Ozma's big dance festival! But he's not having a good day, as he has to chase a squirrel out of his head, and then he discovers that people think carved pumpkins are spooky. He then loses his head, and a headless body and a talking jack-o'-lantern rolling around Emerald City spooks out the citizens a bit. Fortunately, Dorothy and the boys turn up and help him out. Jack's not happy with having a pumpkin for a head, and he decides to talk to the Wizard about getting a new one. Both Dorothy and the Wizard don't see anything wrong with Jack as he is, but the Wizard is willing to help and lets Jack try a few other types of head. So in rapid succession, he becomes Jack Cantaloupehead, Jack Avacadohead, Jack Datehead, Jack Onionhead, but finally settles on being Jack Pineapplehead for the dance. Sure enough, going back to the square, he's a hit. And at the dance, he meets up with Jane Slimeseed, who has a watermelon for a head and with whom he is instantly smitten. The Wizard introduces them, and they have a dance. Jack is waiting to meet her the next day when Dorothy, the Wizard, and the boys stumble by, in time to see Jack's head turn back into a pumpkin! Jack begs the Wizard to change him back again, but without his noten, the Wizard's spell goes wrong, and so in quick succession Jack becomes Jack Pineapplehead, Jack Purplecabbagehead, Jack Carrothead, Jack Potatohead, Jack Tomatohead (although the Tin Woodman thinks it might be Jack Persimmonhead), Jack Honeydewhead, and Jack Squashhead—just as Jane gets near! Dorothy agrees to stall Jane while the Wizard takes Jack Beethead to his workshop to fix things, but the Wizard whispers something to Dorothy before they head off. The Wizard tells poor Jack Yamhead that the best he can do is a permanent reversal spell, meaning he'll have to be a Pumpkinhead for good. Jack Bellpepperhead isn't happy, but he accepts his fate. Dorothy brings Jane by, and Jack confesses his true nature. Jane then does the same, as her head turns into a pumpkin, too. She had first seen Jack with his pumpkin head in the square, but seeing him with a pineapple at the ball made her see the Wizard about changing her head, too. Jack doesn't care, so they go off together. The Wizard takes credit for bringing them together, but Dorothy points out that if he hadn't changed anyone's head, they probably would have still gotten together and avoided the whole mess. "Maybe," says the Wizard, "but I like my version better. More romantic."

Well this was fun, and the whole idea of changing your looks instead of just being who you are is very Baumian. It also reminded me of the Magical Manarch of Mo losing his head in one story, and the various failed attempts to replace it. From the conspiratorial way Dorothy and the Wizard were acting, I think they may have set out to teach Jack a little lesson in self-acceptance, too. My one complaint is Jane. Why do we need another female equivalent as a romantic partner? Is this show perpetuating old ideas of gender attraction and the need to be paired up with someone? Is this the kind of message we should be sending out to children in the twenty-first century? It doesn't help that the Tin Woodman complains about not being able to find anyone himself, no matter what kind of metal she was made out of. (Hey, Tin Man, what about Polchrome just a few episodes back? Did you forget her already?) The fact that there was another pumpkinhead out there for Jack smacks of the ending of the Disneyland Records adaptation of The Tin Woodman of Oz where the Tin Woodman marries Nimmee Amee, Woot marries Polychrome, hde Cowardly Lion meets and marries a Lioness, and Ozma even creates a Scarecrowess for the Scarecrow! Come on, Warner Bros., surely there was a way to tell this stroy without creating a girlfriend for Jack. Jack's morphing head should have been enough for this story.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story in the 2019 issue of Oziana is "The Giant Weasel of Oz" by Nathan M. DeHoff, with illustrations by Darrell Spradlyn. Several birds, of different sizes and colorations, come to the Emerald City to ask Ozma and the Wizard to help find their stolen eggs. A little investigation turns up the fact that all the thefts line up, from one endof Oz to the other. The Wizard extends the line across the Deadly Desert, and discovers that the thief is heading towards Rock Island, a rocky outcropping in the Nonestic Ocean that is home to many rocs. The Wizard, Dorothy, Betsy, Trot, and Button-Bright all head out there to tntercept the thief, which turns out to be a ciant flying weasel! (Well, nobody can accuse the title of false advertising, at least.) The weasel rereats back to Oz, where our intrepid investigators discover her origins and turn her back into a nice, ordinary weasel who can't fly.

For such a short little tale, this one packs it in. With the Wizard using transportation pills to quickly get everyone where they need to go, they cover a lot of ground. And it turns out there really was a good reason to create a giant weasel, it just all kind of went wrong. At any rate, this is another fun adventure set in Oz that makes good use of a lot of the mythos.

So now there's only one issue of Oziana left to go—for now, at least. Wow, that went quicker than I expected, and I got to revisit a lot of stories. So, we'll find out about the final few stories starting next week, which coincidentally is also next month, and next year!

The Latest Oz Reading

And at last, I've come to my next cycle of Oz reading, just in time for the holidays. And oh, this is going to be an interesting run!

  • Father Goose's Year Book by L. Frank Baum. Yeah, finding this was a fluke. It's neither a particularly common book to find, nor a terribly desirable one. But I was idly surfing one day, did a search for it, and found one at an extremely attractive price. So I snatched it up. As a Baum book, this is great to have. As the last gasp of his Father Goose franchise, however, it's no great shakes. Illustrator Walter J. tries, but he's no W. W. Denslow. And this time around, Baum's poetry is a little more wry and topical, reflecting what's happening each month, so they're aimed more at older readers than those in the original Father Goose: His Book. Of course this is book is 113 years old, so a lot of the poems have not aged well, reflecting both old cultural references and outdated attitudes. Still, this is nice to have in my collection, especially considering how few Oz fans probably have it in their own.
  • The O. Z. #1 by David Pepose and Ruben Rojas, with Whitney Cogar and DC Hopkins. From one of the oldest items in my collection to the most recent! I was part of the highly successful Kickstarter campaign to get this new comic book off the ground, and so I was certainly happy to see it turn up (still looking for you, The Red Queen of Oz). I was a little skeptical about another "war in Oz" project, but this has some new takes on the trope that gives it a new look. Dorothy Gale is an Iraq veteran and the adopted namesake granddaughter of the Dorothy Gale who first went to Oz. Naturally, she's dealing with PTSD, and a tornado picking up her SUV and taking it to a wartorn Oz doesn't help. Fortunately she lands amongst the rebels, including the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion, fighting against Emperor Scarecrow. They know how to get Dorothy home, but on the way to the wizards who can help her, Dorothy realizes that these people are losing and needs an experienced leader to help them, so she decides to stay in Oz and help them. This comic hit home the big thing a lot of these post-modern Oz adaptations neglect: A strong central protagonist. Having this version of Dorothy at the center just hits home how much a part of The Wizard og Oz Dorothy is in that story. Giving this Dorothy some background and strife makes her a rounder, more sympathetic character, and gives the story a sharper focus.
There should be a lot more of these Oz reading updates in the next few weeks. I'm interested to see what all I have myself!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

The third item from the 2019 issue of Oziana is something extremely rare for Oziana, a story based on the famous M-G-M film version of The Wizard of Oz. "The Epiphany of Miss Gulch" by Paul Dana, with an illustration by Mela Pagayonan, finds Almira Gulch waking up in a ditch, all scratched up and with a broken leg, after she is blown away by a cyclone. Yes, this is what happens to her after we last see her in The Movie. It gives her time to pause and reflect on her life, and how she has treated others, while waiting for help. The help comes in the form of a mangy little dog (no, not Toto, he's off in Oz at this point) who, for some reason, takes a liking to her and eventually fetches some humans to assist her. It's a great little character piece, as we discover a little bit more about what makes Miss Gulch tick, and her relationships with others besides the Gale family.

Other items from this issue:

  • "The End of the Road" by E. J. Hagadorn, a poem about the Fab Four's expectations when they reach the Emerald City.
  • The front cover is a computer-drawn illustration of several of our Oz friends by David Valentin.
  • And the back cover is a full color illustration by Lyan Tjally, from this issue's first story, "An Odd Transformation", that really shows what the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Jack Pumpkinhead, and Scraps would look like as humans. The interior story has a few spot black-and-white illustrations, but the size and color really make the concept pop.

Only one more story to go, and then it's on to the most recent issue!

The Latest Oz Reading

No, I haven't gotten into my latest cycle of Oz reading yet, although that may be starting up very soon. But the annual Dunkiton Press anthology just came from long-time Oz fan Ruth Berman the other day, and so of course I have to give it a plug. Berman finds all kinds of rare and unusual items by Oz contributors in early twentieth century newspapers, and puts them together in themed collections. This year's twenty-ninth issue is the third collection of poems and short stories by Ruh Plumly Thompson, all about mice. It's full of Thompson's usual charm and heart, of course. Go check out what else she has, you may find something you like.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Today's Oz Comic

I'm sure the equine character in today's edition of The Wizard of Id is not meant to actually be Highboy, the title character from The Giant Horse of Oz. But I'm just going to say that it is anyway!

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Ojo's Treasure Hunt

Ojo pays a visit to Dorothy, announcing he's on a treasure hunt. But the Scarecrow points out that it goes through some of the most dangerous parts of Oz. Dorothy offers to come along, but Ojo thinks finding the map has turned his luck around, and doesn't want to share in the fame to follow. (Gee, so why did he go to see Dorothy and tell her about the map in the first place?) Dorothy decides to follow along, out of sight, just to make sure he's safe and doesn't come to any harm. First up is the Fighting Trees, whom Dorothy tries to convince to leave Ojo alone. It doesn't work, and they chase the gang around while Ojo passes through their forest, unmolested, never noticing what's distracted the trees. Next, Ojo is chased by an angry swarm of thunder-and-lightningbugs, but the Tin Woodman uses his vacuum attachment to discretely remove them from the scene (but getting electrified himself for his trouble). Ojo's next obstacle is to cross the impassable Deadly Desert (here clearly not surrounding Oz) to the Marshlands, but he's come prepared with a magic carpet. Ojo is so intent on his journey that he doesn't notice the giant purple tentacle that's set to grab him before Dorothy and the boys whack it. The tentacle turns its attention to them, but finally stops when Toto bites it. They ruby slipper out of there, but fail to notice Frank and Lyman in a banana tree. They head off to tell the witches about the treasure. In the Marshlands, a freak whirlwind snatches the map out of Ojo's hands, and he fails to notice his friends assisting him as he gives chase. Then the Wicked Witch and Wilhelmina turn up, intent on grabbing the map for themselves. The whirlwind finally dies down, and a little subterfuge by the Scarecrow leads Ojo to it. Finally, Ojo reaches the cave with an X-shaped entrance, but as he approaches a boulder rolls into his path. Sure enough, it's a magic gate, but Ojo tries to outrun it. Once again, he fails to notice Dorothy and her friends stopping the boulder, but they all fail to notice the witches slipping into the cave, too! Ojo finds the treasure, but the witches are right behind him, and they tussle over who gets it. By this time, Dorothy and the boys have turned up, revealing themselves at last. The witches win, but all they find upon opening the chest is a cowhorn bugle, so they leave in disgust. Ojo, however, notes how lucky cowhorn bugles are to Munchkins, and gleefully blows it repeatedly. Sure enough, each bleat reveals another treasure chest, each larger than the one before it, filled with gold and jewels. Ojo only wants the bugle, and Dorothy doesn't need any treasure in the Emerald City, so they decide to take it all to Munchkinland to show how lucky Ojo now is. But how to get the treasure out? Ojo piles it all on the magic carpet, of course, and they overtake the witches on the wayback. They are nonplussed.

This one was a fun little romp, but wow, what a lot of plot holes! Why didn't Ojo use the magic carpet for the entire trip? Why didn't he notice Dorothy and her friends were always so near? (Yeah, this is a slapstick staple, but it was not particularly well executed here.) Why were the witches even involved, as they weren't in it much at all? Oh, well, it is what it is. Let's hope Ojo stays lucky from now on, but he's certainly lucky to have Dorothy as a friend.