Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Latest Oz Reading

I just wrapped up The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion by Jay Scarfoen and William Stillman, which pretty much describes what's in the book. Compared to some other books about The Movie (including two previous books by the same authors), this is pretty light on text and more focused on the pictures. That's okay, as one aim of this book is to showcase new material that has surfaced in the past few years. And there is a lot of stuff in this book that I'd never seen before. (The one color test picture of Judy Garland in her blonde wig shows just what a wise choice it was to start over again!) I'm also going to have to update my FAQ a bit (for example, it wasn't Jell-O that tinted the Horse of a Different Color after all, just the same vegetable-based dye they use in Jell-O). But the fact that it covers more recent discoveries only highlights what isn't in this book. It's been some time since The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History and The Wizardry of Oz came out, and I'm not sure it's fair for new readers to have to hunt these two books down to understand all of the context of this book. My other complaint is that The Movie is frequently referred to as Turner Entertainment Company's The Wizard of Oz. Technically this is true, as Turner has owned The Movie for some time now. But when it's referred to in that way when talking about the making of The Movie back in 1939, it stretches credibility, as Turner didn't exist back then, and it was made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Still, these are two relatively minor quibbles, and I think fans of The Movie should definitely get this book.

I had a little money left on a gift card I got at Christmas, and decided to use it on some old Oz comics I hadn't already bought.

  • Emeralds: Hearts in Oz by Jer Alford and Erin Ptah is a fun little romp, and these two definitely know their Baum. Things have progressed a lot in Oz, and some of our old friends are looking more human. Jack Pumpkinhead even decided to ditch his old body entirely and become a real boy, who's developed a crush on Jellia Jamb. Glinda, meanwhile, has decided to renew the Order of Witches, and picks new recruits to take various points on the compass. Dorothy is the first to complete her training, and has returned to the Emerald City as the new Witch of the East. (Naturally, Betsy and Trot are in training to take West and North.) This is a fun little book, and I really hope Alford and Ptah can do more, as I want to see where this goes. But I also don't think that I can recommend this book to everyone, since some Oz fans won't appreciate how much Oz has progressed, and just how much Dorothy has grown up. I also wish the art could be in color, as it looks great. The only character's depiction that didn't ring true for me was the Sawhorse, as he looks more like something you'd find in a child's nursery and not outside for a woodsman to use.
  • When I bought Graphic Classics Volume 15: Fantasy Classics, I didn't quite get that it was part of a long series of collections of stories in various genres, retold in comic book-style format. All I knew is that it included an adaptation of L. Frank Baum's short story, "The Glass Dog", which first appeared in American Fairy Tales. Antonella L. Caputo's adaptation is pretty straightforward, so it's the fun art by Brad Teare that really makes this. A lot like the story it's based on, it's light and breezy and moves along at a good clip. I don't think there's any need for everyone to get this, but if you're interested in how the story was adapted, and you can find an inexpensive copy, you may enjoy this. (No, I haven't read the rest of the book yet, but I plan to soon.)
And finally, I didn't read my weekly Oz short story from Oz Reimagined because another opportunity popped up online. "The Easter Bunny of Oz" by Nathan DeHoff showed up on the Royal Forums of Oz the other day, and so I saved it to read this weekend, feeling it would be an appropriate time. Sure enough, it was. It really helps to know your Oz canon for this, as it refers to characters and events from Merry Go Round in Oz, Kabumpo in Oz, and even The Woggle Bug Book. But the basic core of the story should be fine for anybody no matter what your experience of Oz is.

I have a few more interesting items that I'm going to try to read this week, and maybe I'll have my final Oz reading post of the current cycle next weekend. Or it may take longer. We shall see.

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