Monday, July 22, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

We wrap up our look at the 2003 edition of Oziana with "Dr. Byz Zaar in Oz" by Daniel Gobble, illustrated by Linda Medley (yes, that Linda Medley). Dr. Zaar is a mesmerist who comes to the Emerald City to put on a show, and for his finale he hypnotizes Ozma. But it appears he didn't fully bring her out of it, because the next morning Ozma has fired Oscar Diggs and replaced him as the Wizard of Oz with Dr. Byz Zaar! Sure enough, he is much more than he seems and has ambitions, and has Ozma under his power as he plays to become ruler of Oz. But Dorothy's suspicions have already been raised, so she does some investigating and figures out the secret of his power. True, she has to go through the old cliché of hiding under a bed while the antagonist explains his entire plan to someone bit, but it all works out in the end, with a little help from the (real) Wizard and the only character Dr. Zaar can't influence. Naturally, Zaar gets his just desserts.

My biggest question about this story is, is Byz Zaar a native Ozian? The contextual evidence is hazy, as he appears to have traveled the world with his show before coming to Oz, but it's never quite made explicit. Medley's illustrations, as one would expect from someone of her talent, are terrific. I especially like her depiction of Jack Pumpkindhead reciting Shakespeare.

Next up, 2004!

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