Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Today's Oz Comic

Okay, it may not be strictly Ozzy, but if you've read the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (as opposed to watching the movie, where the scene plays very differently), you can pretty easily jump to the conclusion that today's ehition of Andertoons may have a certain lion we all know in it.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Today's Oz Comics

Today there were not one, not two, but three Oz comics published! So let's not waste any more time!

  • Today in The Argyle Sweater, we got a little insight into the Oz characters when they were in middle school. (And naturally Glinda's the teacher!)
  • Today in Between Friends, a little insight into some of the issues older women face.
  • Today in Heathcliff, America's second favorite orange cat finds himself in a scene from The Wizard of Oz, and for a very good reason.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Latest Oz Reading

I still have a big stack of magazines to get through, and the comics order is supposed to be here soon. But I did manage to slip in one little bit of Oz reading recently, that being The Wonderful Mother of Oz by Sally Roesch Wagner, a publication of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation. I probably don't need to tell most of you that Matilda was L. Frank Baum's mother-in-law, but in cae you didn't know that, this pamphlet talks about them (and Maud Gage Baum, her daughter and his wife, of course). Matilda proved to be a huge influence on Baum, and their relationship was not the stereotypical antagonistic one between a strong woman and her possibly henpecked son-in-law. There's nothing really new or revelatory in here for most Oz readers, but I don't think we're necessarily who this is aimed at anyway. So, a pleasant little non-fiction read, extremely affordable, and if you buy a copy, the proceeds go to a worthy cause as well.

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

R. J. Matson over at Roll Call has a harsh but pretty accurate cartoon about Mitch McConnell in the wake of our most recent ex-President's second impeachment.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Today's Oz Comics

It's a two-fer, but surprisingly for Valentine's Day, neither one involves the Tin Woodman and his heart.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Latest Oz Short Story

Well if I'm not going to try to do them weekly anymore I may as well not call it a weekly story, right? Actually, I read "Little Dorothy and Toto" from The Little Wizard Stories of Oz last week, meaning to write this earlier, but life got in the way and it didn't quite happen that way. So I think I am totally justified in nto making this a weekly series (at least officially) anymore. Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the story! The Wizard expresses concerns about Dorothy and Toto wandering off and having adventures on their own, but they do just that and encounter Krinklink, a bully who can change his size to suit his needs and mood. The furniture in his castle is huge, but his bed is tiny, and he kidnaps Dorothy so that she can wash all of his normal-sized dishes. But if she breaks any, he's going to whip her as many times as there are broken pieces. It all goes well at first, and Doroty is careful not to break any. But there are so many that she eventually drops a whole stackful. Whoops. Toto, however, trying to save his mistress, goes over to the shrunken, sleeping Crilklink and tussles with him. Crinklink then reveals himsel to be—the Wizard in disguise! Yes, in an effort to prove to Dorothy how dangerous it is to wander around Oz all by herself, the Wizard disguises himself, captures Dorothy and puts her in danger. Um, what? No wonder Dorothy is so mad at him at the end of this story! But she also knows that she will forgive him…eventually…

Today's Oz Comic

Today in The Argyle Sweater, Nick Chopper makes a purchase that, if he'd thought about it a bit longer, he probably shouldn't have.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Today's Vintage Oz Comic

Today, presented this classic by Gary Larson.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

This Week's Oz Short Story

Yeah, the moment I say I'm not going to do these on a regular weekly basis again for a while, I get the chance to read one! But it occurred to me that if I'm going to reread all of the Famous Forty—which I am—then I ought to include The Little Wizard Stories of Oz by L. Frank Baum in there. Since I recently wrapped up The Patchwork Girl of Oz in my reading, this seemed like a good time to also put Little Wizard Stories on my nightstand and delve into that when the opportunity arises. I started off with "The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger", and this is just comedy gold. Our titular beasts, tired of not being taken seriously, decide to go out into the Emerald City and, respectively, tear a person into sixty pieces and eat a fat baby, then run away to the forest. Of course when they come upon a lost, crying fat baby, the Hungry Tiger picks him up and comforts him while the Lion eggs him on to eat him. The Tiger is aghast! How could he do that to a lost, crying child? When the child's mother comes along to save her baby, but trips and injures herself, this time it is the Cowardly Lion who comforts the unfortunate victim while the Tiger urges him to tear her to pieces. But the Lion and Tiger escort them both home, make sure they are comfortable and cared for, and go off realizing that they are probably never going to be more fierce than their reputations. The Hungry Tiger continues to speculate as to how fat babies will taste, however.

The volume gets off to a fun start with this tale. The two animals are clearly, from the start, all bluster and no bite, and so it comes as no surprise when they do the right thing. Their continuous banter about what fat babies will taste like and how many pieces one should tear someone into just adds to the absurdity of it all.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Toto a Go! Go!

Yay, an episode starring what is probably the most underused character in Oz circles, Toto! (Fun fact: Toto is the character with the most screen time in the famous 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz. Yes, you see more of Terry than you even see of Judy Garland!) And the DatWoO version of Toto is a real cutie pie! One night, he's awoken by a mysterious wailing sound, so he goes off to investigate, visiting everyone in their bedrooms. (Yay, these cartoon makers remember that the Scarecrow and Tin Man don't sleep!) A dash through the kitchen is also fruitless. It turns out the sound is coming from outside the Emerald City, but he can't find it in Munchkinland, Wilhelmina's castle, or the Haunted Forest. He is menaced by orks, gets caught in a storm, and befriends a family of beavers, but still no sign of what's making the sound! The orks grab him, but he bites them and is hurled to the ground, only to be saved by a friendly stork. (Shades of the Scarecrow in the river in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!) Toto keeps following his ears while hiding from the orks. He eludes them, and finally finds the source of the noise: A lost baby ork, clinging to a rock in a river. Eluding some five-eyed river sharks (!), Toto rescues the orkling and, after more shark encounters, gets it to shore. The orks menace him again at first, but their baby explains everything, so they ake him back to the palace instead. Toto jumps into Dorothy's room, licks her face, and then circles three times before laying back down in his own bed.

This was one that I really, really enjoyed. The crew were clearly trying to do something different, in that Toto is the star, almost all of the characters we see are animals, and there's no dialogue. Plus, it takes place at night, which we don't see too often in this show. It was lovely and charming. Toto's final flight over Oz on the ork's back is gorgeous, very well conceived and animated. Oh, I'm still annoyed that the orks are giant carniverous birds with teeth instead of the majestic creatures seen in The Scarecrow of Oz, but this story needed some sort of menace, and having established them, it may as well have been this version of orks.

Today's Domestic Political Oz Cartoon

Is this cartoon by A. J. Branco the first political cartoon of the Biden administration?

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Today's International Oz Political Cartoon

I'll be honest, I'm not sure what Chip Bok is trying to say in today's cartoon. Oh, I get that Beijing wants Taiwan to surrender its independance and become part of mainland China. But I'm not sure I undertand the reference to Davos Man. Is this Switzerland somehow becoming involved?

Monday, January 25, 2021

Today's Oz Short Story Remembrance

The International Wizard of Oz Club is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Oziana not only by recording some stories and posting them on YouTube, they also got a remembrance of the magazine's origins with its creator and first editor, Gary Ralph.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Today's Oz Comics

Yay, it's another two-fer, and both of these are pretty good!

  • First, in today's Red and Rover, Red is remaking a particular scene of a particular movie, and pushes the whole concept of "time lapse" to its limits.
  • And over in Nick and Zuzu, we get a new twist on how the Cowaldly Lion sees himself. The art on this, by the way, is incredible, and Nick Galifianakis draws original takes on the characters while still making them very recognizable. I especially appreciate his Lion looking like a lion, not a man in a lion suit.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story to report on from the 2020 issue of Oziana is the first part of "The Wizards of Silver and Gold in Oz" by Nathan DeHoff and Joe Bongiorno, with illustrations by Dennis Anfuso. This reads like a love letter to Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz, because it involves Quiberon (yeah, he reformed and was brought back to life) and Happy Toko and the Silver Islands and Umbrella Island ozoplanes and all kinds of stuff. Even the Neill books get involved, with the origin of Evangelina the two-headed dragon and an explanation of why the Scarecrow is in charge of Munchkin Country in The Wonder City of Oz. Not long after taking over his new post, he is surprised when Happy Toko, having climbed up his beanpole, comes to him for help. The King of the Golden Islands has conquered the Silver Islands! A group of golden wizards helped him, and now that he's conquered his neighbors, he's decided to take revenge for the slaying of his dragon and conquer not only Sir Hokus, but Oz as well. Naturally, the Golden Emperor and his wizard turn up in the Winie Country, where they encountre the Tin Woodman and Prince Corum of Corumbia. Naturally, neither tells them that Corum is the disenchanted form of Sir Hokus. This does not, however, prevent them from taking control of Jack Pumpkinhead's ozoplane, so now they can fry around Oz. Arriving in the Emerald City, a meeting with Dorothy reveals that Corum is Sir Hokus, and that dragons don't actually die, but also that dragons do not die when they are slain, but return to the home of the original dragon, at the other side of the world in the land of Tititi-Hoochoo. Ozma, Glinda, and the Wizard arrive via ozoplane and quickly dispatch the golden wizards, but the Gheewizard of Silver Island, who was the one originally seeking revenge on Sir Hokus, agrees to go on an expedition to the other side of the world to be reunited with his dragon. The party is gathered, preparations are made…

…and then it ends. It's a cliffhanger ending! So, the story will conclude in the next issue, and I'll report on it when I get that issue later this year.

And that brings my rereading of the first fifty issues of Oziana to an end. It was not my original plan, but it seems appropriate for it to wrap up in 2021, fifty years after the first issue came out. And this strikes me as a good time to announce that I will be ending my weekly short story reading with this entry, too. Oh, I have more stories to read, and I hope to tackle them at some poist. And maybe there will be some new short stories coming soon, too. But My life has gotten busy of late, and will get busier over the next couple of years, so it seems like a good time to give it a rest and focus on other things. If nothing else, maybe I can now watch and review more episodes of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz! And if I happen across another short story in my regular readings, I will likely post something here. But this has been a lot of fun, and I hope it won't be too long before I can get back to regular weekly short story readings and postings.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story in the 2020 issue of Oziana—but not the final story I'm going to review in this series—is a little short one, "Polychrome's Sky School" by Paul Dana, with an illustration by Sam Milazzo. set after her return to the sky in Tik-Tok of Oz, Polly decides it's time to pick up some magic that can help her the next time ste gets stranded on Earth. Fortunately, there is a fine sky school where Polly, her sisters, and any other denizens of the heavens can learn just that. Polly proves to be a natural, and does terrific work. The story ends with her graduation, looking forward to her next trip to Earth and what her friends might say about her new powers.

For a story that only takes up two pages, this tale packs a lot in. It is little more than an excuse to list all kinds of sky, weather, and color-themed puns, but they are a lot of fun. Even her classmates' fates depend on their names.

Since that story was so short, this will be my usual place to tell you what else is in this issue:

  • The wonderful art tdeco-inspired cover of the issue, by Able Tong, sees many Oz characters dressed in their finest to celebrate the fiftieth issue of Oziana.
  • "A Use for Jack's Pumpkins" is what I believe is the first ever recipe published in Oziana. It's for pumpkin pies, of course! It's accompanied by what is likely the oldest ever contribution to the magazine, an anonymous poem about pumpkin pie from an edition of The Montreal Daily Herald published in 1892. This poem is eight years older than Oz!

I know I said this is the final story in this issue, but there is one more that I skipped over. I'll explain why in next week's entry!

One last thing, to celebrate fifty years of Oziana, the International Wizard of Oz Club has started a video series of readings from Oziana, so far one story per issue. (I wonder what's going to happen with those issues that have only one long story?) Here's the Club's Membership Secretary, Susan Johnson, introducing the series and the history behind Oziana:

And here's the list of videos (so far), interspersed with a few other videos from the Oz Club.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

I think this cartoon by Mike Luckovich may finally be the end of the "witch hunt" jokes—at least for this administration.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: The Wizard Gets Witched

I seem to have a little extra time on my hands, for once, so I may as well see if I can knock a few more of these out and play some catch-up. The Wizard is feeling lonely, and has no one to share his successful (?) magic with. The Wicked Witch, spying on him, decides to use his loneliness to marry the Wizard! Wilhelmina points out that the Witch is really not his type, but goes ahead and whips up a love potion for her auntie. Not having any fairy dust, however, Wilhelmina uses ordinary floor dust. (Okay, I already sense trouble coming. But I have now seen a lot of this show.) The Witch covers a green shoe leather pie with the potion and, as she heads to the Emerald City, sings a song! (Oh, good, someone finally remembers that the original movie was a musical.) She offers the Wizard the pie as a peace offering, he takes a big slice, and sure enough, the Wizard falls in love with the Wicked Witch of the West! (Wow, a phrase I never thought I'd ever type.) Dorothy, the boys, and Ozma turn up as they get engaged and try to talk the Wizard out of it, but to no avail. Dorothy, suspicious that the Wizard is under a spell, asks Ozma if she can undo it, but being a good witch, Ozma can't undo a bad witch's spell. At what I like to think is the Wash and Brush Up Co., the Wizard sings a love song about the Witch while being primped. Back at her castle, the Wicked Witch continues the song about making Oz pay while Wilhelmina and the monkeys make her up. At the wedding chapel, everyone is still trying to talk the Wizard out of it, but the blushing bride flies in on her brooms and the Wizard is lost fo good. Wilhelmina starts the ceremony, which gives Dorothy an idea. If only a bad witch can undo the spell, there's only one person who can help. During the vows, the Wizard goes on about how they'll always be together, do everything together, start a family together, and nothing will ever be the same again. It's too much, even getting her powers back isn't enough to entice he Witch to do that, so she calls it off and asks Wilhelmina to break the spell. A little more dust, and it's done. The Witch and the Wizard run away from each other, and Wilhelmina vows never to get married or plan another wedding. She's still not happy that she isn't going to get her castle back to just herself, though. Back in the palace, Dorothy assures the Wizard that there's someone out there for him, as there are lots of bricks in te yellow brick read.

Okay, first, the almost-marry-the-villain-because-of-a-love-potion story has been done to pieces in cartoons. But this one also felt like it was going somewhere, but then didn't. The fairy-vs-floor-dust thing was a non starter, and Dorothy didn't trick Wilhelmina into undoing the spell, she just managed to use a little psychology on the Wicked Witch by having the Tin Woodman ask to hear their vows. Maybe this was a case of the script needing one more pass to tighten it up. The songs, however, were fun, and made this episode a little different.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Doozy of a Woozy

While heading out to the annual Oz kite flying festival, Dorothy and the boys don't know they are being spied upon by Kaliko. But the Woozy follows them, inadvertantly burying Kaliko. So the Nome King decides to enlist Woozy's aid in his latest scheme to take over Oz. Phase one involves Kaliko whispering to Woozy to get him angry, then leading him on a chase to get Woozy lost. Once a scorched Kaliko gets back, the Nome King has him build a wooden Woozy so that they can sneak into the Emerald City and take over from within. They get to the Emerald City, only to find that Ozma is still there. A little fast thinking and the Nome King's impression of Woozy makes Ozma think it's the real thing, but she insists on giving Woozy a bath! The wooden Woozy gets washed, rinsed, and dried, assaulting the Nome King and Kaliko with water, bubbles, and hot air. Meanwhile, the real live Woozy finds some friendly forest animals to help him find his way ack to the Emerald City, but since they're burrowing animals, they take him underground. And considering how big Woozy is, that takes a really big tunnel! Meanwhile, Ozma feeds Woozy with large quantities of food, which means a new hazard for the Nome King and Kaliko. They decide that as soon as Ozma puts Woozy down for a nap, they'll make a run for it. Rocking "Woozy" to sleep causes the Nomes to roll around in their contraption, but they make the run for it as promised. To avoid Dorothy and the boys coming back from the kite festival, they make a quick turn off the yellow brick road, only to go tumbling down a hill and crashing around some more. (No, this was not the Nome King's smartest plan, and that's saying something!) They finally smash their wooden Woozy when they crash into the real Woozy, who gets so angry at them he starts flashing fire from his eyes and chases them off.

Okay, that was pretty much just silly. And I'm amused that, for once, this story doesn't focus on Dorothy and the main characters from The Movie, as we see them head ou at the beginning, arrive back at the end, and that's about it. And while this version of Woozy isn't much at all like his namesake from the books, he's a fun, loyal, mellow character in his own right. And finally, I suspect Ozma knows exactly what she's doing in this one, tormenting the Nome King by being kind to the beast he's built. Did he really think he was going to fool anyone with a wooden Woozy on wheels?

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Latest Oz Reading

It has been a lot longer than I realized since I last read The Patchwork Girl of Oz, for although I remember most of it from my numerous childhood readings, there are a few things that stood out now that didn't before, at least not in the same way. The big one is the name of the fluid that causes Ojo to head off on his quest in the first place. For decades, I thought it was the Liquid of Petrification. But a talk about the 1914 film version at the Winkie Convention in San Diego a few years ago made me realize I may have misread the word this entire time. So while I continued my rereading of the Famous Forty, I paid extra attention here. Sure enough, every time it comes up, it's the Liquid of Petrifaction! D'oh! Still, I know now.

The other big thing that struck me this time around is that the Horners mine and use radium. I'm not sure of the exact timeline, but I know that nobody knew anything about just how dangerous radium was at that time, which is why so many of young women who used to paint glow-in-the-dark watch faces would come down with mysterious cases of cancer well into the 1920s. Yet here are the Horners mining it, decorating their houses with it, and even consuming it as medicine! Why aren't the Horners all keeling over from radiation poisoning? Or maybe the Horners have horns on their foreheads and pink, blue, and green hail because they are mutants. (Hmm, come to think of it, that may also explain the Hoppers and their singular legs as well!) This is my Books of Wonder/William Morrow edition—yes, the one with the altered text and deleted illustration—so I can't help wondering if it might have been a good idea to alse change the radium in this book to some other material. (The magical element gaulau that Baum created for Glinda of Oz might be a good candidate; ironically, in that book, gaulau is said to be more powerful than radium!)

As a bonus read, I also read Baum's treatment for a possible stage verision of The Patchwork Girl of Oz, written not long after the book. Only one was known to exist until it was reprinted by the Pamami Press, but since they do extremely limited edition handcrafted books, it's still something most people don't have access to or have read. Baum the old theater hand can clearly be seen in this, but you can also see the germ of how it would eventually turn out, as the first feature-length Oz movie a year later.

The Oz readings may be scarce and spread out a bit here, as I recently received some magazines I want to catch up on, but never fear, there will be more at some point!