Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Latest Oz Reading

I just finished another book in my current spate of Oz-related reading. That book was Techniques of Writing Fiction by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, the final piece in my McGraw collection. Yes, I now have every book she wrote, and this one tells you how she did it. She gives some very good, common sense advice for how to write fiction, with all kinds of tips and tricks, most of which still hold up well today. Having talked with her a few times before she died in 2000, and read her articles in The Baum Bugle about how she wrote, I could clearly hear her style and sense in her writing, which is witty and charming and folksy, just like Eloise. Even though this was four years before the publication of Merry Go Round in Oz, there's a passing mention of Oz in her tale of how she first learned how to tell a story to a young audience. She also brings up examples from her earlier works, most of which I recognized (but now I'm starting to think that I should go back and reread some of her books). There's a lot of talk about writing for magazines that isn't terribly germane today, and absolutely nothing about using a word processor — plenty about making copies on your typewriter with carbon paper, however — but if you're a fan of her work, or just interested in getting some straight advice on writing from a good one, even though this was early in her career, you may just want to get this one.

The comics order also came yesterday, and since there were only two Oz comics, I read them both right away:

  • Fables #139. Part 1 of a two-art story about Boy Blue's band going back to the Fable version of Scotland. No Oz in it, however.
  • Tales from Oz #3. Okay, let's see how badly Zenescope messes up the Scarecrow's origin. (At least it can't be much worse than the origin revealed in The Royal Book of Oz.) Hmm, intriguing, and more in keeping with the Scarecrow's origin in the musical version of Wicked. Bartleby is a good man who has the trust of the people of Oz, so when he is summoned by the Wicked Witches of the East and West, it is to recruit him as an ambassador. The witches give him their word that all they ask for is loyalty, and that the people and their lands and livelihoods will not be harmed. Bartleby is successful with most (but not all) groups, then returns home to find that there is a reason they're called wicked witches. It does not go well for Bartleby or much of anyone else, including his fiancée Tessa, and the Scarecrow is the result. This book also contains the final part of "Good Dog", the story of what Toto was doing for much of the main Oz miniseries. One extra special plus to this issue is that Zenescope was selling an exclusive edition just for Emerald City Comicon while I was there last week, so I now have my first limited variant cover of a Zenescope Oz comic.
I'm working on a bit of non-fiction right now, and it's a little slower going than I'd like, but I should be able to review it some time next week at the latest.

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