Monday, October 14, 2019

Today's Oz Comics

A double dose today.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

The second story in the 2005 edition of Oziana is "The Patchwork Girl's Pet" by Peter Schulenberg, with illustrations by Sheena Hisiro. Appropriately for a story about Scraps, it's written as a series of quatrains. In other words, it's a poem. Scraps laments not having a pet. Dorothy has Toto, Betsy has Hank, why can't she have one, too? She has some particular parameters she hopes it meets, and sets out to find a pet that meets them. One of her first stops involves a conversation with a mouse named Larry, who thinks he can help her out, as he knows a lot of other animals in the area. They set out together, visiting many animals who don't quite fit what Scraps is looking for. Along the way, though, Scraps and Larry sing silly songs together and tell each other jokes and funny stories and do funny dances, and have a great time. By the end of the day, Scraps laments not finding a pet, so Larry suggests himself! True, he doesn't fit into Scraps' original plans, but she sees the wisdom in his words anyway and readily agrees. The story closes with Scraps and her new pet, Larry the Mouse, heading back to the Emerald City.

It's a charming little tale, and naturally anyone reading this could probably predict that Larry would become the pet as soon as he's introduced. I certainly enjoyed reading it again.

Since this was so short (and the final story of this issue so long), this is also a good chance for me to go over the extras in this issue. Kevenn T. Smith provides a colorful wraparound cover of a number of Oz characters skating on a pond (the back cover has the Wizard and Glinda zapping the water's surface, so I think we know why they are able to skate on it, particularly as it doesn't appear to be a cold day). In the back are three sudoku-style puzzles, only instead of numbers, solving them requires Oz characters. To make things even more interesting, the initial letters of each character spell out an Ozzy word or name in each puzzle's bottom row. And the final page, aside from the puzzles' answers cleverly hidden in another puzzle, is a call for contributors to Oziana.

Next week, we wrap up 2005!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: The Tallest Munchkin

The Cowardly Lion meets Devin, the only Munchkin not invited to the annual Munchkin Dance-a-thon, because he's so tall. Dorothy and the rest of the gang try to help, and Devin flashes back to how it happened and was shunned by the other Munchkins. He decides to live in the forest. Dorothy and the gang tell him about their experiences being different, and he decides it's okay to be different. So Dorothy says he should go back to Munchkinland and win that Dance-a-thon. That is when Devin confesses he can't dance. No problem, the gang teaches him. It does not go well at first, but everyone persists and Devin gets to be pretty good. They show up in Munchkinland, and Devin is nervous, but he still challenges his chief rival, Randall, to a dance off. Devin's nerves get to him, however, and he doesn't do so well. He finally tries the Glinda Hop and kicks Randall into a tree! Dorothy points out that Randall should be nice, as Devin is the only one who can get him out of the tree! The other Munchkins start to accept Devin for who he is, and realize all the things he can do now that he's tall. He's happy now and has friends, ever since Dorothy and the gang befriended him and help him accept himself as he is.

This isa classic kids' show episode about dealing with being different and accepting it, both in oneself and others. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's a message everyone needs to hear repeatedly. Devin also illustrates what's in store for a lot of the show's audience in a few years, when Devin goes from a normal height to tall and gangly overnight—on his fourteenth birthday no less. They handle it well, with Dorothy and the guys all telling Devin about how they, too, are different and overcame their problems. The animators also have fun with the dance montage, throwing in all kinds of different styles. "The Jitterbug" even gets a brief mention, but I'm not entirely convinced that it was about the musical number cut out of The Movie. At any rate, I enjoyed this one, and Devin had a pretty good character arc for being in a cartoon only eleven minutes long.

This Week's Oz Political Cartoon

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both been portrayed as one particular Oz character. Now, thanks to the current impeachment inquiry and the pen of Jimmy Margulies, it's Rudy Giuliani's turn.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Today's Oz Comics

Wow, we've been having a good run of them lately, and today we have two:

Monday, October 07, 2019

Today's Oz (no ish!) Comic

Today in Break of Day, the Tin Woodman finds himself in some hot water.

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Don't Follow the Yellow Brick Road

The gang are out on an aimless ramble, and decide to go somewhere they haven't been before—by not following the Yellow Brick Road! They find a side road, and their absence allows the Nome King and Kaliko to come out and infiltrate the palace. Not very convincingly disguised as Ozma, the Nome King infiltrates the royal vault and makes off with the magic moving potion. So what does he want to move? He moves the Emerald City underground, into the Nome Kingdom! Meanwhile, Dorothy and the gang are in an unusual part of Oz with moving trees and dancing flowers, and a different view of Oz—including the spot where the Emerald City used to be. In its new location, the Nome King finds he has less power over his new subjects than he thought he would, as the Munchkins try to make the place less gloomy by creating windows, suggesting cleaning up and getting rid of the bats, and putting in a playground. The Nome King realizes moving the Emerald City just created more problems, but he can't reverse the magic moving spell. Fortunately, there is one person who can help, and Kaliko finds her, her three friends, and her little dog, too, on the edge of the hole where Emerald City used to stand. After some brainstorming, Dorothy finally asks Ozma if there's a potion to reverse the moving potion. Sure enough, there is one, Ozma uses it to put the Emerald City back in place, and all is as it should be—except for the Munchkins left behind it the Nome Kingdom, who are still trying to renovate and create windows.

A harmless little tale, but it's nice to see the Nome King again. His idea kind of felt like his using unfamiliar magic in Kabumpo in Oz, another story that left a mysterious hole in the middle of the Emerald City. There were also some fun messages about trying new and different things, and a pretty funny sequence where all the boys (including Toto!) ask Dorothy, "Don't follow the Yellow Brick Road?" echoing Dorothy's exit from Munchkinland in The Movie.

Next week, the tallest Munchkin!

This Week's Oz Short Story

I'm back to reading Oziana again, and the first story in the 2005 issue is "Jinjur's Journal" by Loralee Petersen, with illustrations by Kevenn T. Smith. Retirement does not seem to suit the former Army of Revolt and short-lived Queen of the Emerald City, but she keeps a journal for posterity's sake. She takes up knitting, and her sweater wins a blue ribbon. This leads her to befriending a cow named Opal, who sort of manipulates her owner into courting Jinjur, and they eventually get married and settle in a nice quiet little Munchkin farming village. Jinjur being Jinjur, however, she can't really leave well enough alone, and ends up trying ho help out her neighbors while making sure her new husband knows exactly who's in charge. It's a little slice-of-life tale that neatly bridges Jinjur's appearances in The Marvelous Land of Oz and The Tin Woodman of Oz (her cameo in Ozma of Oz is overlooked), and is true to her nature.

Today's Oz-ish Comic

Back when the calendar still said it was September, Eek! published this comic, featuring a man with a pumpkin for a head named Jack. I posted it in the Wizard of Oz Comics group on Facebook, and bookmarked it for my personal collection, but didn't think it was quite Ozzy enough to publish it here. Well, here I am now making up for that, as Jack is back in today's Eek!. I am definitely sensing a trend. Perhaps he will show up a few more times this month. Someone should tell his friend, however, that pumpkin spice is not actually made from pumpkins.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

I gotta admit, today's edition of The Argyle Sweater is far from my favorite Oz comic. In fact, it's pretty lame, and an old joke going at least as far back as Saturday Night Live doing "The Incredible Man", a Canadian-based spoof of The Wizard of Oz way back in 1979. But hey, any excuse to get Oz into the comics, right?

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

Over in Heart of the City, Heart has just won the election for class president. The power may have gone to her head. Good thing Dean is there to keep her grounded.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

Apparently Mother Goose and Grimm never heard that Dorothy moved to Oz permanently and stayed a kid. But then we wouldn't have today's comic.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Today's Political Cartoon

Is the end coming for all those "witch hunt" cartoons? David Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Star seems to think so.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

We wrap up this little diversion into short stories published in The Baum Bugle with what I believe is the final one, another complete-the-story contest, "Scraps and the Magic Box" by Fred M. Meyer, published in the Winter 1979 issue. Scraps is put out that Ozma has asked her to fetch the Magic Belt, taking away from her time to have fun. Before she can bring the Belt to Ozma, she tries it on and wishes for a way to avoid running errands. Sure enough, just outside Ozma's room, Scraps stumbles over the Choice Box, a box that temporarily grants wishes when you press the red button, and harmlessly undoes them when you press the black button. So Scraps wishes to be Queen! Sure enough, everyone bows to her and follows her wishes, and she lives it up for a bit. But then, during an event in the throne room, Scraps drops the box and Tik-Tok crushes it! Uh-oh! Who can write their way out of this situation?

Fortunately, Camilla Townsend has the perfect solution, and her conclusion was published in the Autumn 1980 issue. Scraps quickly realizes that she's not cut out to be Queen, and of course she misses Ozma. After several weeks, she finally discovers someone else who remembers her—the Gump's head! He was in the hall where Scraps found the Choice Box, so since he saw it and knew about it, he concludes that he is immune to its effects. The Gump begrudgingly mentions the Wishing Pills that got lost in the jackdaws' nest in The Marvelous Land of Oz and how Tip had wished he hadn't swallowed one of them, which he hadn't. So Scraps plans an expedition to the jackdaws' nest, taking the Woozy with her because he's tough and can swallow. The Wizard transports them there, and after a day of searching they find the box. Scraps drops one pill, but the Woozy manages to swallow the last pill just as the jackdaws are returning! As he counts to seventeen by ones and makes his wish, the jackdaws spring upon them and try to carry them away&ellips;

&ellips;and then Scraps is back in the hall, having never found the Choice Box just as the Woozy wished. It's a great conclusion, making a lot of use of Oz history and established characters and bringing everything to a satisfying end.

I also found in my copy of the latter issue another ending, submitted by my friend Robin Hess. Clearly he mist have given me a copy nearly forty years ago. While his is good, I can see why it didn't rise to the top. His take involved Ozma becoming aware of what was happening, and disguising herself as an old woman to find out what's happening. She observes that Scraps has learned her lesson, and forgives her. (Interestingly, both conclusions appear to presume that Ozma has the Magic Belt. In fact, it plays a central role in Hess's version. But I can't figure out when Scraps gave it to Ozma, and it would therefore follow logically that Scraps would have the Magic Belt. But that would probably make for an extremely easy and unsatisfying wrap-up.)

Next week, back to Oziana!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Yellow Brick Road Race

The gang is running down the yellow brick road to catch the ice cream truck when they are run off by a gang of Wheelers. They claim legal ownership of the yellow brick road, but their deed is written in crayon and riddled with spelling errors. That doesn't deter the Wheelers, however, so Dorothy takes them to Ozma to arbitrate. The Wheelers eventually challenge Dorothy to a race—and she accepts! Ozma likes the idea, and it's on, even though the boys think it's not possible to win against the speedy Wheelers. On race day, each of our friends shows up in an appropriate car. The Tin Man has a tin steamer (it should have been a tin Lizzie!), the Scarecrow's looks like a bale of hay, the Lion's is a picnic basket, and Dorothy and Toto are in a little blue roadster. The Wheelers use team tactics and a few distractions to push Tin Man out of the race, but the Wheelers get caught in their own oil slick, almost knocking just about everyone down a cliff. Dorothy, who has been putterisg along, shows up and helps save them, then heads off to catch up to Crank, the leader of the Wheelers. Crank tries to kick up a dust storm, but in the process he breaks a wheel, He limps along to the finish line, but Dorothy's car nips him right at the end. As the new legal owner of the yellow brick road, she declares it open for everyone's use (as you'd expect). Ozma conjures up a bright emerald green flying roadster and challenges everyone to a race to Munchkinland, Dorothy puttering along in the rear.

This was probably the least Ozzy episode of this show so far, with everyone in cars. It struck me as being a cross between Tales of the Wizard of Oz and The Wacky Races (a revival of which was the other new show Boomerang announced alongside Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, by coincidence). Despite that, it was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed this one. In case anyone thinks this has overtones of "The Tortoise and the Hare", I think the writers recognized that, too. There was even a gag of a tortoise passing by Crank as he's limping along towards the end after he breaks his wheel. I was a little surprised when Ozma went along with a winner-takes-all race, as that seemed really out of character for her, but then I suppose there wouldn't have been an episode.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Where-Helmina's My Broom?

The Wicked Witch is giving Wilhelmina a list of chores to do, most of which involve laundry. So Wilhelmina calls her broom to fly off and do them, but no broom appears. None of the other appliances have seen it, so she and the monkeys (Lyman offers to fly her around) go out to look for it. In Munchkinland, Wilhelmina keeps breaking brooms trying to ride on them, and she eventually determines it's not there. So Dorothy must have taken it! She confronts Dorothy and the gang at a picnic, but they offer to help Wilhelmina find the broom instead, because they all know what it's like to lose a friend. She protests at first, but Wilhelmina realizes that her broom is, indeed, her friend, and accepts their help. Lyman discovers that Frogman has it (don't ask me how, he just pops in and says it), so they all head to his toadstool mansion. Frogman confesses to having it, as the broom just turned up. It appears the broom doesn't really like how he has been treated by Wilhelmina, and has run away to some place he'll be treated well. A three-way aerial chase (Frogman on the broom, Wilhelmina with the monkeys, Dorothy and the boys using the ruby slippers) ensues, resulting in a heap of characters outside. Dorothy explains to Wilhelmina that she needs to be nicer to the broom, and apologize. It's not easy, but Wilhelmina finally manages to blurt out an "I'm sorry," the broom accepts, and she flies home on the broom, Frank and Lyman following behind.

The plot has some holes in it, but there are a lot of jokes and other fun character bits that make this one a lot of fun. It's also fun having Wilhelmina at the center of a story, as she's a fun character. And an unexpected new character from the books, Frogman. This is one they got right, as he's elegant and just a little arrogant, much as he is in the book before he heads off on his adventure. Plus, a small reminder that the Wicked Witch is out of the crystal ball and looking to get her powers back. I wonder if that will pay off down the road?

This Week's Oz Short Play

Yes, this week we break format and look at "A Day in Oz" by Ruth Plumly Thompson, a short play presented in department stores during the '20s to publicize the new Oz book. The Baum Bugle published the 1929 issue, supporting Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, in its Autumn 1970 issue. It's little more than an excuse for the main Oz characters to get together and talk about the land of Oz, while Jack comes in at the end and gives some hints about his latest adventures. It does open extremely cute with the Scarecrow looking for the Patchwork Girl, who is looking for new patches in the rag bag that's on stage as the show starts. They sing a few songs (which are not included here) and interact with the kids in the audience a bit. Considering the purpose for which this show was written, it does its job well.

The Bugle also mentions another show used for publicity, "Schooldays in the Land of Oz" by Eleanor Macmillan. It would be interesting if someone could track down these shows (and any others that may have turned up since 1970) and publish them all in a small book. Putting together all the different versions of "A Day in Oz", including the music, would be a fascinating look into how the Oz books were publicized, and make more of Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz writing available.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

When my man in Japan, Michael-sensei, started sending me Oz-themed comics from the strip CowTown, I went ahead and subscribed to it myself, as it was a frequent theme, and I only have about five dozen comics I read online every morning, a few more won't hurt, right? I swear, I read the comics this morning, but somehow I missed this one. I finally saw Michael-sensei's posting of it this evening, which is what now lets you see it, too. And hey, she's from Kansas, Dorothy could very well know a few things about Kansas City-style barbecue.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

Actually, I'm not sure if "The Crystal People" by Jack Snow, first printed in the Autumn 1967 issue of The Baum Bugle, quite counts as a short story, as it appears to be a chapter from an earlier version of The Shaggy Man of Oz with an added subplot about Cap'n Bill leading a sailing expedition to find the headwaters of the Gillikin River. (I suspect this is from an earlier draft of the novel, as the Shaggy Man is on the boat, whereas in the published book he was off having adventures with Twink and Tom outside of Oz.) The expedition sails into a cavern with pillars of crystal growing from both the ceiling and the ground. It turns out that these crystals are people: Men growing from the ceiling, and women rising up from the ground. Prince Stalag tells them that they are all looking forward to the day when they will grow together and join up, and then they can leave the cavern and take their rightful places as the true rulers of Oz. This concerns Ozma, who is part of the expedition—until Stalag tells her that that day is over 340,000,000 years in the future. Ozma decides she doesn't have to worry about it much, and the expedition moves on.

The encounter makes for an intriguing event on its own, but I'm glad it never got published in a book. It would have been one of those one-and-done adventures that doesn't add anything to the story or the characters. If Shaggy Man was running long, I can see why Snow's editor suggested cutting it out.