All I can say about today's Rubes is that that sign isn't incorrect!
Saturday, December 09, 2017
The second story of the 1987 issue of Oziana is going to wait a week, for both timing and seasonal reasons. So let's look at the third tale, one of the shortest stories Oziana has ever published, "The Two Peters", written and illustrated by Eric Shanower. Unfortunately, I can't say very much about it without giving too much away. Besides, this is one where you definitely need the illustration to get the whole picture. On the surface, it's a simple little slice of life look at a grandfather reading Pirates in Oz to his grandson, Peter. Peter (the grandson) really likes the story, because the hero has the same name as him. Peter's grandfather confides to Peter that he knows other people named Peter before tucking his grandson into bed. And that's about all I can say! I do remember first reading this on the research table at a Winkie Convention (1986 or 1987, most likely), and enjoying it even then. I'm really glad it was published in Oziana.
Since it was so short, I may as well also use this chance to look at the non-story contents of this issue:
- An attractive cover by Melody Grandy, highlighting a proposed Quadling flag.
- An Oz quiz, over the Baum books, by Fred Meyer. Retaking it this past week, I got them all right, but I had to confirm one of my answers by looking at the key.
- And a contest to design a flag for the other countries of Oz. (I'll talk about the winning entry when it comes up in my reading.)
Thursday, December 07, 2017
Sunday, December 03, 2017
The final story in the 1986 edition of Oziana is still waiting in the wings, so let's jump into 1987 with the first story, "The Woggle-Bug's New Clothes" by Frederick E. Otto, with illustrations by Bill Eubank. Stitchwell is a young man from the Gillikin city of Overhill goes into the tailoring profession, where through a series of unfortunate events he dies eight times. Luckily, he has one life left, and so goes to Blankenburg as an apprentice to Tora, the town's tailor. Meanwhile, a certain wogglebig ends up becoming highly magnified, but while fleeing a frightened mob, he stumbles into Blankenburg, where he meets Tora and Stitchwell. Hijinks ensue, the wogglebug saves Stitchwell's life, and in gratitude Stitchwell makes a suit for the wogglebug, who then helps Stitchwell to escape the repressive city. It's not much more than a stitching together of a throwaway line from The Marvelous Land of Oz and incidents and characters from The Lost King of Oz, but it is still a well-tailored piece. The characters are realized effectively, those created by Baum and Thompson are true to their original depictions, and it has the usual Otto sense of fun. Eubanks' illustrations are also a revelation, in that he uses much more of his own style and doesn't just copy Neill, which he was able to do well when called for. He could have done the same here, but instead his Wogglebug looks a lot more like a giant bug than a human with antennae.
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Monday, November 27, 2017
Sunday, November 26, 2017
The second tale in the 1986 edition of Oziana is "Much Ado About Kiki Aru", written and illustrated by Sean Patrick Duffley. This is pretty much a sequel to The Magic of Oz, in that it deals with the aftermath of that book. Bini and Mopsi Aru are distraught over their missing son, so Bini breaks the law and uses his old magic— namely the magic word pyrzqxgl—to find him and bring him home. Meanwhile, in the Emerald City, its newest resident, an amnesiac Munchkin boy named Jem, is dissatisfied with his lot and wants to know who he really is. Dorothy takes pity on him and decides to look in the Magic Picture to help him—only to find a beautiful maid already looking in the Picture! Of course the maid is Bini Aru, disguised by the magic word. There is a lot of confusion and transformation that takes place before everyone gets things sorted out and everything is resolved in a most satisfying manner. But then the question comes up, why is pyrzqxgl magic anyway, and how did Bini Aru discover it? The resolution to that answers the question why pyrzqxgl was never used in the Oz books again. This is, frankly, one of my all-time favorite Oziana stories, as it works so well on so many levels, and all the characters are well written and true to their own natures. Even the mistrust shown in Bungle when she does the right thing feels very much like how it should play out.
I am going to skip the third and final story of this issue for a little while, as it will be more appropriate in a few weeks. You'll understand when I get there! So I will just add that the cover is a charming portrait of Tik-Tok, Billina, and the Hungry Tiger by Blaire Boudreau, and that's about the only extra here. Next week, 1987 begins!
Saturday, November 25, 2017
If you were reading the comics on Thanksgiving the other day, you may have noticed a mysterious URL running across several of them. This is all part of a fundraiser by the National Cartoonists Society Foundation to raise money for hurricane relief in Texas, Florida, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Not only is the original art for those strips being donated for an auction, but other, older art has also been donated. You can see the auction information right here.
One piece might be of some small interest to Oz fans, as Hilary B. Price, creator and writer/artist of Rhymes with Orange, has donated this piece, with an obvious reference to one particular Wizard of Oz character. If you want it, however, you'd better hurry, since the live auction will be at the end of this month, November 30.
Friday, November 24, 2017
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Aside from my weekly Oziana short story, I've been reading a lot of Oz and Oz-related books lately. I've just lacked the time to tell you about them! But I'm on a holiday break right now, so let's do a little catching up!
- Phoebe Daring is one of the few books by L. Frank Baum that I don't own, and hadn't even read until earlier this year. But now that it's available on Project Gutenberg, I decided to at least download it onto my Kindle and read it. It sure felt familiar, because like the many Mary Louise/Josie O'Gorman books I've read recently, it's a mystery being solved by a strong-willed young woman. One of the two lawyers in town passes away, and important papers belonging to one of the richest and most unpleasant women in town have gone missing. The lawyer's lame clerk is accused of the theft, but the Daring family and many others in town believe he didn't do it, even when some of the missing papers are found in his shack. Phoebe leads the campaign to prove his innocence. Naturally she succeeds, but it takes a lot of legwork, dot-connecting, and a couple of visits from the governor (!) before all comes to a satisfying conclusion. Baum actually writes a pretty good mystery, and the Daring twin books definitely sew the seeds for Josie O'Gorman.
- With no new Rachel Cosgrove Payes books coming into my collection soon, I decided to start a reread of Eloise Jarvis McGraw's books, starting with her very first novel, Sawdust in His Shoes. Joe Lang is a circus boy. His parents were circus performers, he's already performing as a bareback rider, and the circus is all he knows. But when an accident in the ring leaves him an orphan, he gets caught in red tape, and must stay behind in small-town Oregon while the courts decide his fate. He rebels at his treatment in the local juvenile detention facility and runs away, and is taken in by a local farm family. Without the circus, Joe doesn't know what to do, and worries about losing his skills as a bareback rider. But with the support and aid of the Dawson family, he learns to balance all parts of his life and get back on his feet again. This is a book that is very much of its time (the book was first published in 1950), and is an extremely promising start to her career. I was also amused at all of the local Oregon place names and landmarks, as I've been in that area and know some of them. Now their all part of the greater Portland-Eugene urban area, and is all well developed, but back then it was mostly rural. So seeing it like it used to be through Eloise's eyes was a lot of fun.
- Fables, Volume 10: The Good Prince. Flycatcher, the former Frog Prince, Regains his memories of the Fabled Lands, and decides it's time to use his knowledge and powers to strike back at the Adversary by carving out a portion of the lands he's conquered and forming a new kingdom. This was an exciting and well-drawn out story, and Fly does a great job. For Ozzy content, we see a bit of Bufkin in the early chapters as he takes on a new role in the administration of Fabletown.
- The Sawhorse of Oz by Harry Mongold. This was one of the first books outside of the Famous Forty ever published, and I bought it when it first came out in 1981. I'm not sure why this one is named after the Sawhorse, since he doesn't even show up until halfway through the book, and doesn't really do that much in it. The story focuses on Krook, an ambitious Gillikin farmer who feels he deserves so much more. He finds a mysterious device that answers questions, so he decides to try to conquer Oz. He finds he needs a silver chest being held in the Tin Woodman's castle. But he keeps asking the wrong questions, and ends up traveling with Dorothy, Betsy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman. They have adventures that don't quite seem to go anywhere, and then Krook is finally stopped and dealt with. At the time it was published, this was exciting, as it was all so new. But now, it just feels fractured and overextended.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
In today's Mustard and Baloney, Dorothy appears to be overusing one of her most famous lines. (True story: My sister-in-law once texted us when she was on a road trip through the midwest. She had just crossed the Kansas border into Missouri, and so of course the text was "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." Nothing like knowing your audience!)
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
The 1986 issue of Oziana opens with the first story of the computer wizard, "A Computer Wizard in Oz" by Phyllis Ann Karr, with illustrations by Melody Grandy. This is actually a shared story (think something like a game of Dungeons and Dragons) among a group of friends about one hundred years in the future. One player decides that he is going to conquer Oz by, essentially, hacking the Magic Picture and using it as a conduit to the Emerald City. The other players throw obstacles in his path, like things other Oz characters would do or how they would react. I was particularly amused by Jellia Jamb's nonchalance/seen-it-all-before attitude that culminated with her pouring hot chocolate on him as a wake up call. I was also amused at Karr's attempt to look into the future of computing (remember, this is 1986, and the Macintosh was only two years old at the time), and how spectacularly wrong and/or off-track it is, even though we're now only thirty years into the future and not one hundred. But anyway, in the end the Computer Wizard turns out to not have a lot of teeth, Oz is easily taken back, and our protagonist is hauled off to jail, where he is scheduled to meet Tollydiggle and start serving his punishment.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Sunday, November 12, 2017
The 1985 edition of Oziana wraps up with "The Ice Cream Man of Oz" by Jim VanderNoot, with illustrations by Robert Luehrs. Leonard, the freezer (yes, there's backstory explanation as to what this is and why) in a Quadling town near the Emerald City, decides to create an ice cream sculpture for Ozma's birthday. But in order to keep it solid, he needs a little help from the town pharmacist, Erba Liss. Erba gives him some help, but her failing eyesight causes her to misread some labels, with the result being that Leonard unintentionally brings his statue to life just as dessert is about to be served! It causes some issues, and Leonard is almost arrested for practicing magic without a license, but all gets straightened out in the end, the Emerald City has gained a new celebrity (whose fingers grow into scoops of ice cream, then regrow, which is handy), and Erba gets some additional training and new glasses before she takes up being a pharmacist again. This is a fun little slice-of-life story that holds together very nicely, and wraps up the issue on a fun note.
The only other item to mention about this issue is a cover illustration of Ruggedo by Eric Shanower, so next week it looks like I'll be starting the 1986 issue.
And hey, if you want the newest issue of Oziana, the 2017 issue is now available.
Friday, November 10, 2017
Monday, November 06, 2017
So I finally got to the beginning of the 1985 issue of Oziana, and read "Mombi's Pink Polkadot Vest" by Frederick E. Otto, with illustrations by Eric Shanower. Yes, it is an origin story for the titular garment and the other clothes Tip first dressed Jack Pumpkinhead up in. It turns out that they belonged to Mombi's four-horned cow, who ate some forget-me-nots and remembered just who he (yes, the cow turns out to be a he) is—Phogg, a four-horned Horner wizard! In flashback, he ends up telling Ozma, the Sawhorse, and Jack Pumpkinhead his story about his ambitions to travel and practice real magic out in Oz, only to be foiled by Mombi and the Wicked Witch of the West. It's all perfectly logical and holds together tightly, yet at the same time it has a lot of dark humor, and is just a lot of fun. Mombi and Phogg also end up visiting some iconic sites in Oz, and Mombi's method for dealing with Mr. Yoop foreshadows how she solves many of the problems she faces in The Lost King of Oz. This is, in my opinion, one of the greatest stories Oziana has ever published.
Friday, November 03, 2017
Bruce Plante of the Tulsa World really seems to like using The Wizard of Oz to explain state politicl, as you may remember him doing the same last month when talking about Oklahoma schools. (One thing I like about Plante's version of Oz: A blonde Dorothy, much like as she was drawn in the Oz books.)