Thursday, January 11, 2007

My latest Oz readings

It's been busy lately, so I'll just jump right in. I've read not one, not two, not even three, but four new books:

  • First came The Discontented Gopher, the old Animal Fairy Tales story by L. Frank Baum, now published as a picture-story book by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. You can take a look at my review of it right here, on my website's reviews page.
  • Next came The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the English translation of the French comic book adaptation of the book. It's a very close adaptation, and the English version takes many passages stright from the book. About the only thing that's missing is the China Country on the trip south. The art is...interesting. It's definitely European (as opposed to Oz: The Manga, which is very Japanese, even though the artist is American), and Dorothy has very...interesting hair. The important thing, however, is that it's a new Oz comic! Now if we can only get someone to start adapting some of the later Oz books as well...
  • After that, I started work on two different ones (yes, I'm nuts, but there's a good reason). The first one is Judy Garland: A Portrait in Art & Anecdote by my close personal friend John Fricke. I found this one remaindered at my local big box bookstore last year, and John put in his usual very long and charming inscription at last summer's Winkie Convention. It's not terribly Ozzy (the The Wizard of Oz section is surprisingly brief, but I guess John thinks it's been covered elsewhere already — and he'd be right), but it's a nice way to present Judy's life, in a number of photos (and it is a large number, as this is a coffee table book) alongside rememberances from many people, including Judy herself. As it is a large and heavy book, it's not easy for me to carry it around and read it wherever I go. So I'm reading this a little bit at a time with breakfast each morning, and I'm just keeping it on my kitchen counter. It will likely take a few more weeks to finish it, but at least I'm already up to the 1940s (it's chronological, divided up by decades).
  • The other big book I finished recently was The Wizard of Oz Catalog by Fraser A. Sherman. It's an attempt to catalog every Oz and Oz-related book, movie, play, television show, and so forth. It's an impossible task, of course, but this guy gives it a decent shot. Most of the stuff in here I was familiar with — heck, I have most of it — but there were one or two surprises, such as the music video in the last entry in this blog. There were a few items not in it, or that were underrepported, that I'd have been glad to help with if he'd only asked. My biggest complaint, however? Sherman seems to think that the Wicked Witch of the West's name is Blinky. Huh? Where did that come from? I've never seen or heard that anywhere before, and he gives no source. (This is not the same as Blinkie from The Scarecrow of Oz, as she's identified correctly in the entry on that book.) And hey, I'm in it! I'm listed as co-author of Queen Ann in Oz, of course, my site is in the chapter on websites, and I and my site were thanked in the Acknowledgements. Thank you! (But if I was so much help, how come I had to buy my own copy of the book? Nah, don't worry, I don't really mind.)
  • I should also mention The Wonder Book by Ruth Plumly Thompson. It's a collection of some of her newspaper work, all very short. I'm reading it in small bursts whenever I get around to a new wave of Oz readings, and it works very well that way.

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