Saturday, January 18, 2020

Today's Recent Oz Political Cartoon

With the events happening in Washington right now, it's no surprise that accusations of "witch hunt" are flying around again, which means political cartoonists are hauling out their Wizard of Oz tropes again. Case in point, this one from Jimmy Margulies. Of course, it can go both ways, such as this version of Miss Gulch by Sean Delonas. This may only be the tip of the iceberg as things heat up in the Senate.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Too Predictable

The Wizard shows off his latest invention: the Predictilizer. It predicts the future, of course. Just about everyone buys into it, but Dorothy is skeptical. But when it predicts the Wicked Witch and Wilhelmina's latest evil scheme to steal the Ruby Slippers, the Wizard is able to easily thwart them. Looking at the predictions, the only recourse Dorothy and the gang have to take care of the witches is to confine them to their castle. The Lion even volunteers for guard duty, since the predictilizer can tell him what they're going to do next. But Wilhelmina manages to get ahold of the predictions, and she and the Wicked Witch figure out what's going on, and concoct a scheme to short circuit it by doing nothing at all! Sure enough, it works, and the predictilizer is on the blink. In the uncertainty, Wilhelmina steals the predictilizer, which allows her to find Dorothy no matter where she commands the Ruby Slippers to take her! Dorothy figures that the way to confuse the predictilizer is for everyone to act unpredictably. The Lion is brave! The Scorecrow is dumb! The Tin Man shows no emotions whatsoever! Dorothy tries to be selfish and unhelpful! (Even Toto tries to meow, but that doesn't last long.) Sure enough, the predictilizer is confused and can't make predictions, allowing the Cowardly Lion to steal it back. Then there is a brief comic chase which ends with the predictilizer smashing to pieces. Oh, well, back to everyone's regular, unpredictable lives!

This was a fun one, with characters doing odd things because they know what will happen next. And then characters do different odd things to try to confuse the predictilizer! The chase scene is fun, too, in that now-clichéd screwball comedy way. Dorothy even grabs the broom out from under the witches! Even the Tin Man gets a laugh in by acting like he doesn't care about how dumb the Scarecrow is acting.

Today's Oz Comic

I'll be brief—appropriately enough—about today's edition of Long Story Short: The Scarecrow meets some kindred spirits.

This Week's Oz Short Story

By 2010, the situation with Oziana had started righting itself, but it was still a little bit behind where it needed to be. To get back on track, the International Wizard of Oz Club put out a double-sided two-year flip-book 2009/2010 edition. As editor J. L. Bell states in his notes about the issue, one side was devoted to humor and parodies, the other to the challenges of governing Oz. It was up to the reader to decide which year was which! (Bell also adds that some stories could fit either theme.) Well, I decided to just start with the 2009 side (as I am trying to go in order), where the first story is "Toto Reveals" by Brianna Landon, with some really charming illustrations by Ben Wood. And it's pretty much a retelling of the events of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as seen from Toto's perspective. It's short, but fun. Let's just say Toto's not quite as concerned with getting home or the journey to get there as Dorothy was.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Today's Oz Comic

Nope, I'm not going to wait until tomorrow to post this one! Today in Nothing Is Not Something, we get to see a typographical error turn into an amazing mash-up that I, for one, would like to see.

Yesterday's Oz Comics

Busy day yesterday, and I didn't learn about them until late, so I'm a day behind in posting these:

  • Why WaynoVision is rerunning this particularly green-themed comic outside of the St. Patrick's season is beyond me, but here it is. Note who is talking to the Grinch.
  • This edition of Free Range has a very interesting celebrity visit to Oz. Somehow, if this person were to make her way across the Shifting Sands, this might be exactly how it would play out.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Today's Oz Comic

Today in Frank and Ernest, the Scarecrow is looking for a job, but is hampered by his past. Well, whatever he did previously, I'm sure he was outstanding in his field!

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: The Old Classic

Dorothy, Ozma, and the boys are having a picnic, and Dorothy takes the Ruby Slippers off to run in the grass and go swimming. Naturally, Wilhelmina makes a number of unsuccessful attempts to steal the Slippers. Dorothy and Ozma try to convince her to just give it up, but Wilhelmina confesses that that's never going to happen. Ozma suggests, however, that even the most persistent witches need a little vacation—and zaps Wilhelmina with an anti-magic spell! Wilhelmina won't have any powers for three days! The Wicked Witch is not happy, but Frank thinks a break might help. Nope, Wilhelmina's latest plan involves a trench coat, fedora, fake mustache, and Frank standing on Lyman's shoulders! They trip, and swap places, so that Lyman can play Paul Human-man, gain the gang's trust, and take the slippers that way. Lyman helps the Tin Man arrange things for the next day's tea party, and the monkeys are in! "Paul" has ice cream with the gang, plays a weird version of volleyball on unicycles (good thing everyone is wearing their helmets!), get their nails done (even Toto), and generally ingratiate themselves. They all have a great day, and invite "Paul" to the tea party. The next day, to make sure the monkeys steal the Slippers, the Wicked Witch and Wilhelmina come along to keep an eye on them. "Paul" sits down, and the Scarecrow says, "We know you're just Frank and Lyman in a trench coat," (at which I laughed my head off!) but they enjoyed their company so much anyway that Dorothy thought they'd do the right thing. Oh, and Dorothy invited Wilhelmina and the Wicked Witch to the tea party, too, much to their surprise. With neither of them having magic powers, neither is really much of a witch, so they may as well be friendly. The witches enjoy some tea, but Wilhelmina vows that as soon as the tea is done, she's going back to being their archenemy—then she digs into a crumpet.

Yup, this was another silly, fun one, which really underlines just how ridiculous all the plans to steal the Ruby Slippers are. Even when things appear to work for the witches or their monkey flunkies, Dorothy not only sees right through them, she decides to take the high road and be nice to hem anyway. I'm still enjoying Wilhelmina and her reluctance at trying to steal the slippers, too, although here she makes it clear that it's still her main motivation. Still, she clearly knows when it's in her best interests to stop trying and just enjoy herself and Dorothy's company. Wilhelmina reminds me a lot of Andrea from The Oz Kids, in that she may not really be wicked as much as she just does what's expected of her.

And hey, I just discovered that there's even more episodes that have started airing, so it appears I may be doing this for a long time still (or I may have to start doubling up). One episode title mentions the Shaggy Man, so there are going to be even more classic book characters showing up.

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story from Oziana 38 is "The Bashful Baker's Honeymoon" by Marcus Mébès, with illustrations by Alejandro Garcia (yeah, he was really busy in this issue). It's a follow-up to a story from a few issues earlier, as Maria and Derek, after successfully combining their individual passions into a new business, finally have time to go on a long-delayed honeymoon. And what a honeymoon it is, as it's a cruise on the Crescent Moon! Yes, Captain Samuel Salt, head chef King Ato, and Roger the Read Bird all make appearances. They are all supporting characters, however, as the focus is on Maria and Derek and their experiences. The big set piece is a stop at a new island being created by the mermaids and mermen (a different kind of underwater dweller than the Sea Fairies, although with some similarities, and the latter appear as well) from sea wreckage and some coral buds provided by the Red Jinn. Trot, Cap'n Bill, and Tandy are also on hand to help, and they come aboard as the project wraps up. The Crescent Moon also has an encounter with Prince Bobo on his trip around the Continent of Imagination, and he recounts a few of his adventures, including his recent disastrous meeting with Queen Zixi. It all ends up with the happy couple back in Crafton, ready to get on with their lives, but a surprise is just around the corner.

This is not a story with a lot of big events that will change the fate of the world. It's just a nice little slice-of-life story about a bunch of characters we've met before going out and doing things. But there's nothing wrong with that, and everything is handled very well here. I really like how seamlessly several stories are woven together, and characters meet each other and tell each other their tales. (I gather this is something Mébès, Jay Davis, and a few other authors have been working on together, and they are doing well with it.) The thought that goes into making the coral island are also interesting, and it's a great excuse for a bunch of characters to gather and actually do something—although it does culminate in a banquet on the main deck of the Crescent Moon. In case it isn't already clear, I enjoyed this story, too (but I will be the first to admit that I'm pretty easy to please).

Yesterday's Oz Comic

It seems there may be someone even the Wizard can't help, according to yesterday's Looks Good on Paper. (One commenter suggested the WickedWitch might be a better help.)

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

The Latest Oz Comic Books

It's been a very quiet time for Oz comic books of late (that may change soon—but more on that as it happens!), but I do have two that I've acquired recently, and so I'd better tell you about them.

  • Zenescope recently wrapped up its Oz: Heart of Magic series with issue number 5. After sacrificing herself in the last issue, Dorothy's friends rally around her and give of their own life forces to revive Dorothy and give her back her proper form. A few days later, Dorothy and all her allies confront the Wizard and his armies, resulting in a huge battle just outside the Emerald City. Through the course of events, Glinda manages to take the Gem of Zamora and release Ozma, who can now put Oz to right and return everyone to where they need to be. But before he perishes, the Wizard says that what's coming is so much worse. Oh, dear, I think they're setting up another series!
  • I also bought Bettie Page: Unbound #6, but only for the cover, which seems entirely appropriate for a comic book about Bettie Page. Sure enough, no Oz content to the book, just a cover homage (and only one cover at that).

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Sisterhood of the Witch

Well, back to the regular episodes (and there are still quite a few more to go)! In an isolated tea room somewhere, a bunch of witches are showing off their new spells. The Wicked Witch shows up for the first time in ages, and she is quickly discovered to have no magic. So one of them, Mean Geanne the Green, decides to take over the castle. The Wicked Witch runs away to the Emerald City to enlist the Wizard's help, explaining that Geanne may be even worse than her. Meanwhile, Geanne is running Frank, Lyman, and Wilhelmina ragged. The Wizard shows up, getting remote commands from the Wicked Witch through Wilhelmina's magic compact, but her encounter with a rabbit causes her to give him contrary directions. Geanne now knows something is up, so Wilhelmina and the monkeys hide, and the Wizard loses the compact. Wilhelmina picks it up and asks her aunt what's going on, but when Geanne finds her hiding place, Geanne tries to turn Wilhelmina into a bat! Geanne's aim is off, however, and she zaps the campact's mirror, turning herself into a bat and defeating herself. The Wicked Witch steps in, takes over again, and reneges on her promise to help the Wizard control his magic.

They've only been supporting characters this season, so it's nice to have a story that puts the Wicked Witch and the Wizard front and center. In fact, all Dorothy and the boys do in this episode is play charades! The only other observation I will make is that one of the other witches in the tea room looks suspiciously like Witch Hazel from the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Nice little intercompany crossover there, then!

This Week's Oz Short Story

Yup, the holidays are knocking my schedule around a bit, and I'm a little late on this one. But here it is, the next story in Oziana 38 is "The Fearful Symmetry" by Jeffrey Rester, with illustrations by Dennis Anfuso. Appropriately, it opens with a passage from William Blake's "The Tyger", because the main character is the Hungry Tiger. It opens to a flashback of the tiger's encounter with Mombi not long after she has pulled off her most infamous enchantment, how he tries to intervene, and how she then curses him with eternal hunger. So yes, it's partially an origin story for the Hungry Tiger. But then we also see a later encounter the Tiger has with Mombi, very possibly just after the events of the earlier story in this issue, "Executive Decisions". Naturally, the Tiger wants revenge on Mombi for cursing him, but Ozma's timely intervention prevents a tragedy from occurring.

I have little to add. It's an interesting first meeting between the Tiger and Mombi, and an interesting explanation as to how he acquired his adjective. We also get a strong glimpse at just how seriously Ozma takes her promises.

Today's Oz Comic

Who knew there were at least two different ways New Year's Eve can remind you about The Wizard of Oz? Well, John Allen tells us how in today's edition of Nest Heads. Happy New Year, everybody!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Today's Vintage Oz Comic

And Mike's Oz-themed time as an online chatter comes to a twist ending with today's rerun of Doonesbury.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Today's Vintage Oz Comic

Mike is still Ozzing it up online in Doonesbury, but something tells me this may the end of his nom de plume.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Yesterday and Today's Vintage Oz Comics

Michael's turn as an Oz-named proto-hacker has been continuing in Doonesbury, but I've been lax in posting them. So, to catch up, here is yesterday's appearance, and today's appearance. I suspect I'll be posting here again tomorrow and Saturday.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Today's Vintage Oz Comic

In today's vintage Doonesbury reprint, Mike is in search of a hacker name. He has chosen well!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Christmas in Oz

I have pretty much been watching and reviewing these in broadcast/production order, if for no other reason than it makes it easier to keep track of which ones I've done. But When I looked at the calendar and planned what to review this week, I know there was only one choice. and that is the one special double-episode they put out, "Christmas in Oz". It will be interesting to see whether or not they acknowledge The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, as they've already touched on some of Baum's non-Oz stories. Okay, let's jump in!

Dorothy is all excited about Christmas coming, but she's the only one as the rest of the gang have no idea what it is. No, they don't celebrate Christmas in Oz! The Wizard comes in and commiserates, and the two of them go through the whole litany of what makes Christmas special (well, the secular stuff, no mention of Christ). So Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion decide to surprise Dorothy and the Wizard with the first Christmas celebration in Oz. Frank and Lyman overhear, and decide if this Sandy Claws guy must be magic, and the Wicked Witch will want in on that action. Of course, their explanation of Christmas to the Wicked Witch and Wilhelmina is even more convoluted and mixed-up than what the boys are planning! On Christmas Eve, Dorothy and the Wizard show up and are surprised by the Christmas festivities, even if they may not be exactly the way they were in Kansas. The Wizard decides to apply a little magic, and calls up the real Santa! He recognizes Dorothy, of course—and then the Wicked Witch shows up, kidnaps Santa Claus, and hijacks the sleigh! Not even the Ruby Slippers can get Dorothy up there! End part one!

Part two opens with the Wizard deducing the Witch's plan, and Dorothy using the Slippers to get everyone to Wilhelmina's castle. The Wicked Witch and Wilhelmina plead their case and ask for Santa to give the Witch magic powers, but he explains that that's not how he works, and he only gives gifts to people who have been good. So Wilhelmina traps him in a cage. Frank and Lyman are antagonizing the reindeer (who they think are moose), but they're having none of that. The monkeys discover Dorothy and the gang hiding, and take them to the Witch. She has the monkeys try to get rid of the reindeer, but they won't fly for anyone but Santa. But they antagonize them into flying after Lyman. The Wizard manages to free Santa, and Dorothy Ruby Slippers them all onto the sleigh. Wilhelmina and the Witch fly after them, and Dorothy and Santa manage to get control of the sleigh. A little snow throws the witches off, and they fly off, defeated. In gratitude, Santa brings Christmas to Oz and gives everyone in Oz a present. (Even the Nome King gets a lump of coal.) Then, finally, the Wizard sends Santa back. Christmas morning, however, finds one more unopened present, for the Wicked Witch of the West. Santa has a little fun with her and gives her a new crystal ball. Having been trapped in the old one for so long, the Witch is not happy, and runs away from it. Back in the Emerald City, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Lion vow to get it right next year, but Dorothy says she wouldn't change a thing, since it's not the stuff that's important about Christmas, but who you spend it with.

This is not going to replace Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or any other Christmas special you can name, as it's nowhere near that good (or carefully plotted), but it is a fun and harmless little thing. Part of it is how they got things wrong (and how close they are to being right), like one of the talking apple trees becoming a reluctant Christmas tree, or two Munchkins named Carol singing (neither in sync, and both off key). Both Dorothy and Santa give nice, secular explanations of the holiday, and it look like this version of Oz will now celebrate Christmas, in their own way. (And no, this is clearly not the same Santa that L. Frank Baum wrote about.)

This Week's Oz Short Story

The next tale from Oziana 38 (the 2008 issue that didn't come out until 2010) is "Polychrome Visits the Sea Fairies" by Gina Wickwar, with illustrations by Alejandro Garcia. Yup, Polly is stranded on Earth again, this time on Seal Island. She has a few days to wait before another storm comes through, so Merla and Clia come by and invite her on an undersea visit. Of course Polly accepts. (It wouldn't be much of a story if she didn't!) A couple of seals and a lone orca named Margaret come, too. (I would have loved to see Polychrome with an iridescent rainbow-striped tail. Too bad this wasn't illustrated in color!) Of course there is trouble brewing, and here it's the devil fish flexing their muscles and trying to assert themselves again. But some timely intervention from King Anko not only puts things right again, it also reunites Margaret with her pod in a very satisfying way.

As in The Sea Fairies, the visitor from the surface really doesn't have much to do here, as Polychrome is primarily just a witness to events, asking relevant questions to fill in information or move the plot along. But it's still a satisfying little story, continuing the excellent world building begun L. Frank Baum. And Garcia's illustrations are rich and lovely and highly detailed. His big all-the-characters-swimming-underwater illustration gives a real sense of both movement and being underwater, which is not easy in a black-and-white line drawing. I would love to see him illustrate an entire Oz book, or perhaps a new edition of The Sea Fairies.

As I am currently on my winter break and have a little more time on my hands, this gives me a chance to look at some of the little details of the rest of this issue:

  • Garcia has also drawn the front cover of this issue, showing a collection of characters from the issue. (Apparently Jared Davis wrote the story I reviewed last week because King Bud and Jinnicky were already in the cover illustration, and the editor asked for a story with those two.) Two more standalone illustrations by Garcia are used to fill in the final pages of the issue as well.
  • Marcus Mébès contributes a poem, "The Rainbow's Daughter: An Appreciation" and also provides a charming illustration.
  • The back cover is a colored illustration of Jinnicky by John R. Nell which, I believe, originally appeared in The Purple Prince of Oz.