Friday, July 07, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

The second story in the 1980 edition of Oziana is "Colonel Cotton in Oz", written and illustrated by Tim Hollis. This is a little slice-of-life story in which the titular colonel, who runs the small Quadling town of Pitt Falls, enters into a deal with his compatriot in the nearby town of Birminooga, General Stonewall, to build a railroad to connect the two towns. In case the names don't already give it away, this takes place in the extreme southern part of the Quadling Country, which resembles the antebellum South of the United States. They even talk in exaggerated Southern accents, eat grits and hog jowls, and the main industry of Pitt Falls is harvesting Spanish moss from the nearby trees for the people og Birminooga to process. The mountain between the two towns has always travel problems, hence the need for the railroad. Surprisingly, things go well until they get towards the top, and a hillbilly (yeah, it's a Southern mountain, you knew there had to be a hillbilly) accuses Col. Cotton and his hound dog, Shortnin' Bread, of being "revenooers". Of course, all works out well in the end, and the railroad does indeed get successfully built. I think the broad caricatures and lack of the Ozian celebrities (they do show up at the very end, but play almost no part in the action) make this one of the most forgettable stories Oziana has ever published. It almost reads like a bad sixties cartoon (Hollis's art style even adds to that perception). Still, it was not an unpleasant way to spend a few minutes this afternoon.

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