Saturday, August 04, 2007

My latest Oz readings

Just got through the latest wave of Oz books (that have been sitting in my to-read pile for over a year...), plus a couple of recent acquisitions from the comic shop. So here's what I've now read:

Hollywood's Child: Dancing Through Oz by Caren Marsh-Doll is a quick, breezy read through the life of this fascinating woman. She grew up in Hollywood in the '20s, and so entered the movie business at a pretty young age. She recounts her adventures working on all kinds of pictures, as well as her later careers on Broadway, as a dance teacher, and as a wife, mother, grandmother, and now great-grandmother. She also survived one of the worst airplane crashes ever in California! But I wanted to read this book for her encounters with Judy Garland, including being Judy's stand-in for The Wizard of Oz. Caren doesn't actually appear in the finished film, but because she was similiar in build and color to Judy Garland, she got to stand in while the technical jiggery-pokery was going on around her and Judy was with her tutor, then step out of the way so Judy could do the actual take. Because of that connection, Caren Marsh-Doll has found a new career on the Oz Festival circuit!

Forever in Oz by Melody Grandy, who really needs to write more Oz books! This book is a follow-up to some of the events of The Tin Woodman of Oz, as the Tin Woodman, the Tin Soldier, Chopfyt, and the Tin Woodman's former head (!) all get together to figure out who is who and who gets what. Then there's the question of Nimmie Amee's daughter, Forever. Who's really her father? This is all worked out in a satisfactorily Ozzy way, thanks in part to Zim Greenleaf, the Wizard of the East and Melody Grandy's greatest creation. To be sure, at the end, the status quo will never be the same, which will probably preclude this book from ever being considered part of the main Oz canon (not that that's easy to figure out these days, anyway). Perhaps that's one reason this book was privately printed. Well, if you want a copy, you can e-mail the publisher at this address.

Dorothy Meets Alice, or The Wizard of Wonderland, a short play script about Alice and Dorothy crossing paths in the Tulgey Wood, where Oz and Wonderland meet, thanks to the dream of Judson, who still has to write a book report by morning. The Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion meet up with the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Dormouse, while the Queen of Hearts and the Wicked Witch of the West discover a connection. It's all fun, and the characters are well handled. I gather that there's also a musical version, so I'll have to get that sometime, too, and see how it translates.

Speaking of Dorothy meeting Alice, issue #2 of The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles came the other day. This has been a fun comic book series that I wish came out more often. These guys know their Oz, as there are references to many of Baum's books beyond The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and many favorite characters from later in the series show up — although I think Tik-Tok looks too much like his appearance in Return to Oz. In this issue, now that Dorothy's back, she's the highest ranking member of the court available, and so must take charge of the war effort against the nomes. But even with advice from Alice, she's not sure if she can handle things. There's also an interesting back-up story featuring Cap'n Bill dealing with mermaids in a Chicago fountain. I suspect this is setting something up.

Finally, a quick shout-out for another comic, Abigail & Rox in the Land of Enchantment. Neither Laura nor I were quite sure why we ordered it, until I read it. It very much reads like an Alice in Wonderland pastiche, with a few shades of (among other stories) Lions, Tigers, and Bears and Abadazad. It's a lot of fun, and there are previews in the back of Oz characters appearing in the next issue in the art in the back. So if you're interested, go check to see if your local comic shop has it, or can order it for you.

No comments: