Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Latest Oz Reading, Comic Books Edition

I may not have been blogging much more than Oz comic strips lately, but that is far from the only Oz reading I've been doing. In fact, I have a decent little pile of Oz and related books I've read recently that I want to blog about before putting them in my inventory. So I will start by catching up on the comic books.

  • First, Oz: Reign of the Witch Queen is just about over at Zenescope, as I've now read issue 4 and issue 5. I just don't feel a lot of connection to this book, mostly because Zenescope's take on Oz has so little connection to any other version of Oz. Witch Queen is all about Dorothy being a badass and becoming the new ruler of Oz while wearing as few clothes as possible. Uh-huh, yeah, whatever. Zamora, the resurrected Wicked Witch of the West, has taken over Abraxas Academy (which is probably nothing at all like either Hogwart's or Shiz University, uh-huh) as her base, while Dorothy and her allies keep getting pushed back. Dorothy finally realizes that she has to go on the offensive and face Zamora — her mother. Then comes the twist ending of issue 5 as a character makes a surprise appearance, setting things up for an all-out battle royale in the finale. And I just hope this really is a finale. So far, at least, Zenescope has made no announcements of a further Oz series, at least, which is fine with me.
  • In much better news, The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West is back! Reimagining Oz as the Wild West should have been absurd, but it works here! Wisely, I think, the new publisher, Aspen Comics, decided to reissue the series from the beginning. Aspen is a bigger publisher, so they can get new readers hooked by starting over, rather than expecting them to catch up. Wisely, for those of us who bought the olh Big Dog version, they've added some new material in a backup story going back to the origins of Oz and the witches' talismans. Again, for those just joining the fun, issue 1 sees Gale and her horse, Toto, coping with being in Oz for three years since the cyclone whisked them away, and she took possession of the Wicked Witch of the East's ruby spurs and six-shooters. The yellow brick road keeps disappearing on them, and now she's being menaced by flying gorillas. But she also picks up two traveling allies in a lion and a disgraced former sheriff, still wearing his tin star. In issue 2, the Wicked Witch of the West makes her first appearance, and Gale picks up her third companion and my favorite character in the book, a giant living Native American kachina doll, called a scarecrow by the Tin Man. She's great, and she doesn't even talk! It's good to have this book back, and I am really looking forward to revisiting the story. I hope it goes long enough to continue where the original series left off!

Today's Oz Comic

Another one? Michael-sensei just keeps digging them up for me. Technically, this is actually yesterday's comic, I just got it so late that I decided to wait until morning. And Mr. Boffo points out that who the hero of a story is depends on your point of view!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Oz in Jeopardy!

"Well it's about time!" I can hear you saying already. "The new season has been going on since mid-September, do you mean to tell me that there have been no Oz-related clues yet?" Not at all! Quite the opposite, in fact. I just needed some breathing space and to just get the first one out! And here it is, from the September 24 match, for $600 in the Jeopardy! round category Books By Chapter Titles (they give you a chapter title, you respond with which book it's from):

Dylan, the defending champion, correctly asked, "What is The Wizard of Oz?" and went on to win the game.

And there should be more Oz in Jeopardy! posts soon!

This Week's Oz Short Story

After a hiatus, it's time to start this up again. I don't have any new stories to read, however, so the plan now is to go back and reread some other ones. To start, I am going through The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies by L. Frank Baum, a 1976 collection of some of Baum's short stories edited by David L. Greene. This was a book I decided I didn't really need when it first came out, and so I didn't get it then. (Cut me some slack, I was only ten at the time!) I regretted that decision in later years, and tried for many years to track down an affordable copy. I finally managed to get one at the Winkie Convention a few years ago, and finally decided the time was ripe to dig in.

Perhaps the biggest reason I wanted this is that some of the stories are from the first fantasy book Baum wrote, which he originally titled Tales from Phunniland. After the success of some of his other books, this was finally published in 1900 as A New Wonderland with the name of the country changed to Phunnyland. Three years later, the name of the country was changed again and a new introduction written for The Magical Monarch of Mo, under which the book is now generally available. I always wanted to read the original printing, however, and The Purple Dragon does indeed have the original introduction and spelling of the country. (It is certainly more affordable than the original printing of A New Wonderland, which now sells for thousands of dollars.) Baum's introduction is nice, as are David Greene's foreword. The first story is, naturally, the first one in the original book, "The King's Head and the Purple Dragon", all about the king's misadventures after his head is bitten off by the purple dragon. The king manages to get by with a variety of other heads until an enterprising woodcutter manages to set everything straight. I've known this story for decades now, but it's still fun, once you buy into the absurdity of how things work in Phunnyland. While reading it, I couldn't help wondering if Ruth Plumly Thompson has access to Baum's non-Oz books not published by Reilly and Lee, because there are a lot of similarities between the king's head here and what happens to Fumbo's head in Grampa in Oz.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Today's Oz Comic

What, another one? Yes, another one! This one is from another strip new to me, Break of Day. Enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Today's Oz Comic

No, really, I have other things to blog about besides comics! But Michael-sensei keeps finding new ones, and unlike a lot of the other posts, these are short and easy to fit into my busy life! For instance, take today's edition of Misc Soup. I wonder if they were trying to do that to pull in TBS' broadcast of The Wizard of Oz last night? (Probably not, as TBS is on cable, and these old-fashioned antenna wigglings would have had no impact!)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Today's Oz Comic

Over in Pop Culture Shock Therapy, another character who wasn't in the book gets interjected into things to ask the Wizard for something. The possibilities here of what he's asking for are mind-boggling.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Today's Oz Comic

I suspect that toady's Loose Parts is from an alternative version of Oz where Nimmee Amee's devotion to Nick Chopper caused her to take some extreme actions of her own.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Today's Other Oz Comic

Okay, now it's just starting to get ridiculous! Michael-sensei found a third Oz comic today, so go take a look at today's LooksGood on Paper to see a somewhat mrre modern and jargon-filled request for the Wizard.

Today's Oz Comics

A surprising double dose of Oz political references in mainstream comics today. In fact, in my weekly reading of these two strips, they came up next to each other!

  • First, in today's Doonesbury, a surprise Oz reference right at the end. (Okay, yeah, Doonesbury straddles the line between a mainstream comic and a political one. But I read it every day, so it's a mainstream one to me.)
  • Second, in Frank and Ernest, for some reason the Scarecrow is running for office. This being F & E, however, it was just to make a Baum-worthy pun. I also like the Tin Woodman's cameo.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Today's Oz Comic

Yet another new one courtesy of my man in Japan, Michael-sensei. This one is an installment of Close to Home and involves the immediate aftermath of the Scarecrow getting a brain.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

A quickie here: Jimmy Margulies' reaction to the latest Republican debate. I don't think this looks good for Jeb!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Today's Oz Comic

Once again, Michael-sensei has uncovered a little gem. Today's Looks Good on Paper uncovers another, previously unknown friend of Dorothy. I just want to say that I really like the art in this one. I think it captures the look and atmosphere of The Movie particularly nicely, without being so close that Warner Bros. lawyers have to get involved.

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Annual Halloween Report

Whoops! Forgot to report on the actual Halloween doings here. It was a surprisingly quiet Halloween, as we got only about 700 or 800. If that sounds like a lot to you, it probably is in your neighborhood. But last year, we planned for 1200, and ran out. This year, we planned for 1500, so we have quite a bit left over! (My parents-in-law were visiting, to see the excitement, and they ended up taking some of it home with them.) Since it was pretty clear early on that we were in no danger of running out, Laura gave a big ol' fistful of candy to the first Dorothy who came to the door. So, I did the same for the other two Dorothys who came by. I'm pretty sure I saw a fourth Dorothy out on the sidewalk, but she never came to our door. That may have been the same Dorothy I saw running up the street after hearing a loud banging crunch, like of an egg being thrown and broken against the side of a house, but I couldn't say with any certainty. But we had three Dorothys at the door, plus one generic scarecrow girl and a couple of lions.

Today's Oz Comics

My man in Japan, Michael-sensei, has found two more!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

My Ozzy Halloween Eve

Yesterday wasn't even Halloween, but it turned out to be very Ozzy. First of all, I was subbing at one of the local middle schools, and they had a pep assembly. The ASB officers were running it, and one of them had a blue checked dress and sparkly red shoes. That was the only Oz costume I saw at work, but Laura saw more! As a reporter for the loral paper, she had to find all the local costumed characters, and lucked out at the local beauty school! Here's the photo of the whole crew:

This will probably run in Monday's paper, and if not, well, it's here now! Then, after we picked up my car from the shop (it really needed a tune-up and some major work on the electrical system), we realized we had enough time to go get some badly overdue haircuts. Guess where we went? Yup, the local beauty school! I got my hair cut by the Wicked Witch of the West. I was a little worried during the shampoo.

Snip snip here, snip snip there...

Laura, meanwhile, got hers cut by the Cowardly Lion, with final inspection by the Scarecrow. They all posed for this great picture.
Tonight, we are planning for as many as 1500 possible trick-or-treaters, and as in years past, I suspect we'll see a handful of Dorothys, and maybe one or two others who can pass off as Oz characters. I'll give you a full report some time tomorrow. If you're going out tonight, remember to have fun, but you'll have more fun if you play it smart and play it safe so that you dan't get hurt.

Today's Oz Comic

No politics involved this time, thank goodness. Today, Mother Goose and Grimm shows us that not everybody believes that The Wizard of Oz is a movie with a happy ending. It's all in your perspective!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Simpsons, Halloween, and Oz

Besides Oz, I'm also a big fan of The Simpsons. I've been watching them sine they were shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show. And the best time of the year for The Simpsons is Halloween, when they break format and show three highly improbable (even for the Simpsons!) stories for the season. So imagine my surprise when this year, they actually had a proper Halloween episode, about dealing with the holiday and Lisa getting scared and Bart going out trick or treating and the like. Entitled "Halloween of Horror", it opens with the family setting up their house's Halloween display. Just as they're about to start, neighbor Ned Flanders ("Stupid Flanders!") strolls on over and asks about the Simpsons' usual Halloween tradition:

FLANDERS: Halloween at the Simpsons, what a classic tradition. Are you heading up to the treehouse to tell three horrifying tales?
HOMER: Eh, we’re doing it next week. It’s going to be Psycho with Skinner and his mom, Muppet Wizard of Oz—I’m Scarecrow Fozzie—and then, uh, one where furniture gets smart and takes over the world, or something.
FLANDERS: Mmm! Sounds chilling.
HOMER: Eh, people love it.
They didn't quite get this year's Treehouse of Horror episode quite right, but that middle one sounds intriguing, right? Of course, in the actual production of The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, we all know that Kermit was the Scarecrow, and Fozzie was the Lion.

But wait, there's more! Later on, in the same episode, on Halloween itself, the kids are coming into the school in costume, when this character shows up.

See who's standing right in front of Principal Skinner? That's the only one he makes a specific reference to, saying, "There's no place like home." But wait, there's even more! Besides the show, Bongo Comics puts out an annual Treehouse of Horror comic book. This year, one of the stories is a take-off on the classic silent sci-fi movie Metropolis, with Marge being replicated as an android. When she is overpowered and melted, here is her reaction:
So over all, it's been a very Ozzy Halloween for The Simpsons.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Today's Other Political Cartoon

And Michael-sensei has found another one! In this one, Michael Ramirez appears to be approaching things from the Democratic side. (I'd like to point out to every single person involved in the political process, from the candidates and party leaders to the cartoonists, that the election isn't for over a year! Do we really want or need this long to decide??? Look at how long elections take in other countries, and figure out a way to shorten the process, please.)

Today's Oz Political Comic

Today, Tom Toles has some particularly relevant comments on what's happening in Washington. But that's not why I'm showing it to you! Instead, look at what the kids in the background are wearing. Doesn't that girl look awfully familiar?