Monday, December 23, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

The next tale from Oziana 38 (the 2008 issue that didn't come out until 2010) is "Polychrome Visits the Sea Fairies" by Gina Wickwar, with illustrations by Alejandro Garcia. Yup, Polly is stranded on Earth again, this time on Seal Island. She has a few days to wait before another storm comes through, so Merla and Clia come by and invite her on an undersea visit. Of course Polly accepts. (It wouldn't be much of a story if she didn't!) A couple of seals and a lone orca named Margaret come, too. (I would have loved to see Polychrome with an iridescent rainbow-striped tail. Too bad this wasn't illustrated in color!) Of course there is trouble brewing, and here it's the devil fish flexing their muscles and trying to assert themselves again. But some timely intervention from King Anko not only puts things right again, it also reunites Margaret with her pod in a very satisfying way.

As in The Sea Fairies, the visitor from the surface really doesn't have much to do here, as Polychrome is primarily just a witness to events, asking relevant questions to fill in information or move the plot along. But it's still a satisfying little story, continuing the excellent world building begun L. Frank Baum. And Garcia's illustrations are rich and lovely and highly detailed. His big all-the-characters-swimming-underwater illustration gives a real sense of both movement and being underwater, which is not easy in a black-and-white line drawing. I would love to see him illustrate an entire Oz book, or perhaps a new edition of The Sea Fairies.

As I am currently on my winter break and have a little more time on my hands, this gives me a chance to look at some of the little details of the rest of this issue:

  • Garcia has also drawn the front cover of this issue, showing a collection of characters from the issue. (Apparently Jared Davis wrote the story I reviewed last week because King Bud and Jinnicky were already in the cover illustration, and the editor asked for a story with those two.) Two more standalone illustrations by Garcia are used to fill in the final pages of the issue as well.
  • Marcus Mébès contributes a poem, "The Rainbow's Daughter: An Appreciation" and also provides a charming illustration.
  • The back cover is a colored illustration of Jinnicky by John R. Nell which, I believe, originally appeared in The Purple Prince of Oz.

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