Saturday, February 16, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

Well, not so much of a short story as it is a roundup of all the other little extras from the 1997 issue of Oziana. So let's take a look:

  • The cover is a simple computer-printed Oz shield design that is meant to be colored. I haven't colored mine...
  • "The ABCs of Oz" is a combination quiz/word find, created by editor Robin Olderman.
  • "Percy's Predicament: Problematic, Puzzling Poesy" sees Percy Vere the forgetful poet giving a few more of his quatrains, with missing words at the end that the reader needs to fill in.
  • "Professor Woggle's Bugs: A.K.A. Computer VIROZES" (no, really, that's how the title is spelled, capitalized, and punctuated) presents some silly computer viruses and the effects they have on your computer, all tied in with something Ozzy. Remember, this was still early days of computing (the Internet was just coming into homes, and was still very much a novelty), so it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, it just seems a little silly.

Yesterday's Oz Comic

I didn't see it until this morning, but yesterday's edition of Half Full was extremely appropriate for the day after Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Today's Other Oz Comic

Y'know, I think the cartoonist is making some sort of comment about how a Munchkin sees the world in today's edition of 1 and Done. I may be reading too much into it, however...

Today's Oz Comic

Just in time for Valentin's Day, today's Pop Culture Shock Therapy features the Tin Woodman and his heart in a movie crossover you never expected (and probably wouldn't want to actually see anyway)>

Monday, February 11, 2019

Today's Oz Comics

(NOTE: I originally wrote this on February 4, but somehow it got saved as a draft instead of posting. So pretend it was a week ago as you read this, please.) Wow, if I'd waited much longer, I'd have had to title this post "Yesterday's Oz Comics"! At any rate, with Valentine's Day coming up, cartoonists are thinking about that most appropriate of characters, the Tin Woodman:

  • First up in The Gray Zone, Cupid is having difficulty getting through to Nick, possibly for multiple reasons.
  • And over in today's edition of 1 and Done, it looks like the Wizard may have given him more than just a heart. (WARNING: Not for sensitive readers, although everything is merely implied.)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

When I started reading today's "new"* edition of My Cage, I had no idea it would become Ozzy. But they snuck it in there at the end, didn't they?

Incidentally, we're experiencing a blizzard right now in our part of the world, which is making newspaper delivery sporadic. Plus, I'm heading out of town later this week**, which means the paper will be on hold. I tell you all this because, if there are any Oz comics in my newspaper comics (as opposed to the online ones I read), I may not see them for a while.

*I say "new" in quotation marks because, although these strips were not part of the original newspaper run, they have been previously made available to the strips Patreon contributors.

**Provided I can even get out of town, as more snow is expected for the next few days.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

Did you know that the events in The Lost Princess of Oz were not Ugu the Shoemaker's first attempts to conquer Oz? Eleanor Kennedy discovered an earlier attempt, which she wrote about in "The Braided Man of Oz", the final full story from the 1997 issue of Oziana. Ozma's birthday is coming up, so as everyone is getting ready, Ugu realizes that he can stop all the major magic workers at once. Since so much magic is invoked with the spoken word, he remotely puts a silence spell over the Emerald City during the party so that he can then come in and take over. His plan is foiled by the Braided Man, who comes to Ozma's party every year but nobody takes seriously because nobody understands his rustles and flutters. But under the blanket of silence, the only sound that can now be heard are those same rustles and flutters that the Braided Man has just released from his gitt to Ozma! Just about everyone is so concerned about what they can't hear that they aren't listening to the only sound out there—except Button-Bright. The flutters in the flags and the rustles in Scraps' dress make him laugh, which causes him to hear everything else again. He makes Scraps laugh, who then can hear, too. They go on and cause others to laugh, gradually breaking down the spell until Glinda and the Wizard can remove it entirely. Ugu, listening in from a distance, decides that Ozma and the others may be more powerful magic workers than he thought, and vows to try something else. In gratitude, the Braided Man is offered citizenship in Oz and his own shop in the Emerald City. He almost turns it down, as he likes the quiet and it helps him work, until Glinda offers to put a blanket of silence over his shop. He naturally accepts.

At first, I was worried about Ugu, since we all know what happens to him at the end of Lost Princess. However, the revelation that he has other plans for later and that he's doing all his magic from a distance preserves later events and makes it all work. The Braided Man is handled sensitively and very Ozzily, and it's good to see he has a place in Oz now, even if we never see him again. And both Button-Bright and Scraps handle the situation very much in character, which allows them to start solving the problem. I was especially tickled (pun very much intended) by how Scraps made the worried Ozma laugh.

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Mission Imp-Possible

When Wilhelmina gets three mail-order imps, she fires Frank and Lyman and decides what kind of mischief her new henchmen will do. Meanwhile, in the Emerald City, the Zoop on Emerald Mountain has hiccups, causing earthquakes. (Yeah, I don't get the geography or geology of it, either, so let's just go with it.) Knowing Dorothy will head up there to try and cure his hiccups, Wilhelmina sends the imps along to stop her, knowing that the Zoop will then rampage towards the Emerald City, because he blames Ozma for getting the hiccups. (Again, go with it.) Sure enough, Dorothy's cure almost works until the imps drop an icicle on the Zoop's head. He goes on a rampage, heading towards Emerald City, while Dorothy and the boys try to stop him, even after the imps create an ice slide that gets him going that much faster. Wilhelmina, watching all this in her crystal ball, flies to the Emerald City to gloat—only to see the Zoop kissing Ozma and Dorothy. It turns out it was all an elaborate hoax on Wilhelmina! Frank and Lyman tipped Dorothy and Ozma off about the imps, and everyone concocted the prank to get back at Wilhelmina! Needless to say, Wilhelmina is not happy. She turns the imps back into the pills that were delivered to her, and hires back Frank and Lyman as she slinks back to her castle. The Zoop claims to be cured of his hiccups, and then starts up again, worse than before—before admitting that he was kidding!

This was fun while I was watching it, but now that I've written this down I'm not so sure it's that good of an episode. So much of it depends on people tricking or fooling others that I'm not sure it's a good example to give. Also, even for a cartoon, bits of it don't make a lot of sense (see all my little asides above). Still, it's nice to see the silent Oz movies acknowledged with the character of the Zoop (he appeared in all three Oz Film Manufacturing Co. movies in 1914).

And with that, I am done with recapping episodes of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, at least for now. Boomerang hasn't shown any more recent episodes yet (and I know there are a whole lot more to go), so I will either have to wait until they show up, are released on home video, or I break down and buy Boomerang's streaming service to see the rest. But rest assured, I will get my hands on them at some point, and I will tell you all about them when I do. I am looking forward to seeing how this show handles the Wizard (yes, at last!), General Jinjur, and Sir Hokus of Pokes!

Monday, February 04, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Get Smart

The Nome King is upset that he's not in the latest edition of The Great Rulers of Oz. So he kidnaps the author, Professor Wogglebug, demanding to be included. But the Wogglebug doesn't think the Nome King is brave enough or smart enough to be a Great Ruler of Oz—so the Nome King dares the Wogglebug to come up with a plan that would work. Meanwhile, Dorothy and the guys discover that the Wogglebug is missing. They eventually track him down in the Nome Kingdom, where the Wogglebug tells them about the great plan he gave him for taking over Oz! Sure enough, at the latest council of Oz rulers, the Nome King is disguised as the wand check attendant. Dorothy and the rest high tail it to the Emerald City, only to witness the Nome King get Ozma's wand and start transforming everybody. (The most amusing one is, after transforming the Lion into a mouse, he transforms Dorothy into a kitten. Not only does Dorothy start chasing the Lion, Toto starts chasing Dorothy!) Eventually, he tries to transform himself into a great ruler, only to turn into a twelve inch long measuring device! In desperation, he gives the wand to Kaliko, who is nowhere near as adept as the Nome King. Kaliko not only ends up restoring everyone, he changes the Nome King into a chicken! Humiliated, the Nomes leave, and all is back to order. However, the Wogglebug has a new section on "The Worst Rulers of Oz" in the next edition. And the Nome King is delighted to be in it!

This version of the Nome King is definitely more of a comic foil in this show than he is in the books. But the Wogglebug's plan does just about work. The scene where the Nome King and the Wogglebug end up taunting and playing mind games on each other is a master class in narcissistic psychology, too. And it's amusing to note that the premise is based on a plot point from The Royal Book of Oz, so they are clearly not just mining the Baum books!

Saturday, February 02, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

From the 1997 issue of Oziana comes "The Heart of the Matter" by Theresa Hogue. The Wizard unveils a project he's been working on for a long time, and has finally perfected: A way to turn Nick Chopper back into a flesh and blood man, no longer made of tin. The Wizard is all eager to try it out then and there, but with Ozma and Glinda on a journey into the Gillikin Country, Dorothy is in charge in the Emerald City. She decides to wait until Ozma gets back in a week, but it turns into a very tense week, with everyone having an opinion on whether or not the Tin Woodman should be human again. None of them think to ask Nick, however! He struggles with remembering how his life was as a human, versus his life of tin. The morning of Ozma's return, both the Scarecrow and the Wizard have long heart-to-heart talks with him. When Ozma enters the palace, she senses the fear and tension in all her friends, and while she's not happy that the Wizard developed his technique, she leaves the final decision to Nick Chopper. To preserve the surprise, I will not reveal what he chose, but I suspect many of you can guess.

This story raises some interesting questions, and they're handled carefully and thoughtfully. A lot of people, especially the Wizard, all get so wrapped up in their own wishes that they forget that one of their own friends, someone they all love and support, is going to be affected the most. The mood is effectively conveyed in the story, and made for a terrific read.

A NEW New Wonderland

I don't normally post items about new books here, as there are just so many of them it's impossible to keep up. (I'm at least a decade behind in buying and reading many of them.) But this one is just too important not to mention here. And you all got a little sneak peek at it during my short story reviews a few months ago, so I feel obligated to tell you about it anyway: The first book L. Frank Baum wrote for children is back in print again after 119 years! Originally entitled Tales from Phunnyland, he wrote it some time before 1896, and based it on some of the stories he would tell his sons and their friends before bedtime. Publishers weren't interested in it at the time, but after the success of Father Goose: His Book, publishers approached Baum, and he dusted off that first book and offered it to R. H. Russell. To make it appeal to buyers who would have also bought Alice in Wonderlnad, they changed the title to A New Wonderland, and commissioned Frank Ver Beck to illustrate it. It apparently didn't do terribly well, as there was only one edition. A few years later, when Bobbs-Merrill became Baum's primary publisher, they changed the name of the country and reprinted the book as The Magical Monarch of Mo, which was available for nearly forty years. The short life and small number of copies of A New Wonderland made it an expensive book for collectors to find, but now it is much easier to at least see what it is all about, thanks to this new edition published by From Alice to Oz, Ltd. All of the color illustrations are in there, in the proper places (unlike the Dover edition of The Magical Monarch of Mo, which has all the color plates as a single gathering in the middle), and it is a solid, well put-together book. The price may seem a little steep for what you get, but it's about one fiftieth of the price you'd pay for a first edition, so if you want this book. this is your best bet. But if the current price is still a little steep for you, keep your eye on that link, because W. Neal Thompson, the man responsible for this reprint, is also looking into paperback and grayscale editions that would not cost so much.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Today's Oz Comic

In today's edition of The Wizard of Id, the boys go to the wrong Wizard to get some help. But it looks like all is not lost!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: If the Shoe Fits

Wilhelmina, Frank, and Lyman come back to the castle all excited with good news for the Wicked Witch: They found the Ruby Slipper Charm! Now they can use it to wish the slippers off Dorothy's feet, and eventually free the Wicked Witch from her crystal ball so she can rule Oz. Oh, but there's one problem: You need two of the charms to get both slippers. But Wilhelmina's impatient, and thinks she can just use it twice. Off to the Emerald City, where she finds "Pigtails" and her friends at the library. She uses the charm, and it work! Wilhelmina has one of the Ruby Slippers! She tries it again—and disappears! Dorothy and Frank realize that they will have to team up to get Wilhelmina back and reunite the slippers. They go off to get help from Glinda. Meanwhile, Wilhelmina finds herself trapped under the rainbow, where the Undertaker explains all broken magic items go so that they won't be a menace to Oz. And one Ruby Slipper without its mate can't work, so it must be broken. Wilhelmina can remove the slipper and return to Oz, but she's workeed so hard to get this far that she doesn't want to do it. After Glinda explains about under the rainbow, Dorothy and the gang, along with Frank and Lyman, use the "broken" single ruby slipper to get under the rainbow. They're still stuck, however, unless either Dorothy or Wilhelmina gives her slipper to the other. Wilhelmina won't, and Dorothy knows what will happens if Wilhelmina gets them both, so they're at a stalemate. But they're surrounded by broken magic items, so something there can help them. They find a wishing cloak, and after a little experimentation, Dorothy realizes it grants the opposite of what the wearer wishes for. She wishes Wilhelmina to have both slippers, and both are back on Dorothy's feet. Now Wilhelmina is scared that Dorothy is going to leave her there, but Dorothy takes all of them back. (Come on, Wilhelmina, you've seen Dorothy be nice to you enough times now, did you really think Dorothy would strand you there?) Wilhelmina is grateful, then remembers who she is and threatens to come after the Ruby Slippers again, but Frank and Lyman seem to secretly be looking forward to working with them again!

Another fun episode, and this one really gives Wilhelmina a chance to chew the scenery. Just about everyone gets a moment to shine. And I'm now down to only two more stories left on my DVR I haven't seen yet. However, there are also a bunch more coming this week. My DVR doesn't seem to know which episodes they are, and I'm pretty sure they're ones I already have. However, there are also thirteen or so episodes I don't have already, so it's possible they may be among this new batch!

This Week's Oz Short Story

We're back to Oziana again on a regular basis, and I plan to run this series until I run out of issues—or another anthology cowes my way! The first full story of the 1997 issue is "The Forbidden Cave of Grapelandia", a sequel to a story from the 1991 issue, both by Fred Otto, This story is charmingly illustrate by Melody Grandy. By this time, Fred had passed away, but he had left a few stories for Oziana to publish in the coming years. (I'll be reporting if this ends up being the case!) In this tale, Princess Prunella has been told for years to stay away from the back of one particular cave, but now that she is disenchanted, Duchess Myrna decides to see what's up and takes Prunella and the castle watch dog, Comfort, spelunking. There are good reasons for the ban, however, as there is a sheer drop that they all tumble down into a family of dragons! Myrna and Comfort are led away by the parent dragons, but Prunella befriends the dragonette who tries to reunite the princess with her mother. Myrna and Comfort, meanwhile, have an encounter with the Ruby Imps, who are in league with the dragons and some other mysterious entity. Both parties make their way out by separate means, and discover that the dragons and imps are working for the Duchess of Grapelandia, the Duke's mother and the one who enchanted Myrna in the original story! (She really doesn't seem to have anyone's best interest at heart besides her own.) Once the Duke comes home and finds out what's going on, he takes action and blocks off the passages from the castle to the cave. The Duchess, not having actually dealt with the imps for many years, is trusted to stay out of trouble now that everyone knows, and the cave is put off limits again—but I doubt the Duke believes that will be totally effective!

It's a little slice-of-life story about a part of Oz away from the celebrities in the Emerald City, so the stakes are not terribly large. Not a lot actually happens, either, but we sure get some insight into the royal family and history of Grapelandia. I don't recall if there were any other adventures in Grapelandia, but I hope so, as I'd like to read them!

Today's Oz Comics

A double dose of Ozzy goodness this Sunday:

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Today's Other Oz Comic

Since I'm not a regular reader of Macanudo, I had no idea that today's edition of the strip was Ozzy. Fortunately, my man in Japan, Michael-sensei, alerted me to it. I would have liked to see Judy Garland try to get her mouth wrapped around Dorothy's line from it!

Today's Oz Comic

With The Wizard of Oz back in select theaters next week for its eightieth anniversary, it seems highly appropriate for Frank and Ernest to go see it, too.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

I am presenting this cartoon by Sean Delonas without any commentary on my part because, frankly, it doesn't need any. He sets it up beautifully.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

This Week's Short Story

I have finally completed reading The Lost Tales of Oz with it's final tale, "The Puppet-Mistress of Oz" by Andrew J. Heller. Dorothy, Betsy, and Trot begin reminiscing about how they first came to Oz, and as she tells her story, Betsy and Trot wonder about some of the coincidences that led Dorothy to killing two wicked witches and exposing the Wizard, and why Glinda didn't step in to help any earlier. This leads to some awkward questions, which brings them to question the Wizard. It seems there is a power behind the scenes pulling the strings of Dorothy's first trip to Oz, and now that this character has been exposed, they need to take action. It's kind of a creepy conspiracy story, And while it all makes sense and holds together well, it's also disappointing that some of the characters act the way they do—but I think that's the point! Also, everything happens because of a prophecy! Really? I'm getting a little tired of pre-ordained events because someone made them up. Also an intriguing aspect is the revelation that Dorothy wasn't the first American to come to Oz in order to restore peace, but none of the earlier visitors were successful. Now there's a story someone should tell! Maybe in The Lost Tales of Oz, Book II?

Next week, we're back to Oziana for good!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

After yesterday's spin on the trope, my second favorite political cartoonist, Tom Toles, puts his own twist on it in light of what's happening in Congress right now.