Sunday, April 01, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Story

The 1990 issue of Oziana wrapped up with "The Final Fate of the Frogman", written and illustrated by Eric Shanower. Woot the Wanderer comes to the Truth Pond, where the giant frog who used to be the Frogman (first introduced in The Lost Princess of Oz) stops him from making the terrible mistake of drinking the water. While taking Woot to a stream of perfectly ordinary, drinkable, non-magical water, the frog tells his tale. It seems that way back, his dip in the Truth Pond did more than compel him to tell the truth—which proved to be problematic enough. Over time, it became apparent that the waters of the Truth Pond causes one to look at the truth of oneself, and that did not work out well for the Frogman. He eventually realized he was a frog, not a man, and started acting more like a frog all the time. This proved to be especially uncomfortable when he enrolled for a time at the Royal Athletic University and had a disastrous encounter with Professor Wogglebug. He couldn't find a place for himself anywhere, becoming a pariah via his enormous size, his absolute candor, or both. He eventually comes to the Truth Pond to guard it and creatures who came to it from its waters, but even that doesn't all go well. This is a thought-provoking story about the nature of truth, and whether or not it's a good thing. Using Woot is inspired, even though he has very little to actually do except be a receptive audience for the frog's tale. And it certainly explains why we haven't seen the Frogman in the Oz books for nearly a century (although one incident is clearly set after The Wonder City of Oz, so maybe he was hopping around a bit in the post-Baum Oz books).

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