Saturday, January 25, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

The third story in the 2009 part of this flipbook edition of Oziana is "The Ransom of Button-Bright" with a script by J. L. Bell and art by S. P. Maldonado. This is Oziana's first ever story told in comic book form, and it really works well in this format. If you recognize the title as being a parody of the classic O. Henry short story "The Ransom of Red Chief", you probably already have a good idea of what happens in this story. Wandering in the woods, Button-Bright (pretty sure that he is lost again) is taken by a pair of wannabe bandits, hoping to ransom him off for a lot of money from his friends in the Emerald City. Naturally, things do not go as planned, and Ozma and Joe King make a counteroffer that, by the time they get it, the bandits are only too ready to accept. The fun part of it is that Button-Bright remains pretty oblivious throughout, and just sees it all as another adventure, which totally fits his character. A classic Ruth Plumly Thompson character makes a welcome appearance at the end to fetch Button-Bright, too. This was a lot of fun, and not to be taken too seriously at all, thus fitting one of the themes of this issue.

1 comment:

J. L. Bell said...

This was the first story I attempted in comics form. Originally I formatted it according to the rules of picture-book writing, in which writers are NOT supposed to designate page turns, describe pictures, or otherwise stick their noses into the process of making the art. I sent it to Eric Shanower, the only Oz comics creator I then knew about. Eric gently told me that's not how the comics industry operated. (I hadn't met him yet, so this must have been around the turn of the millennium, before I started venturing west.)

Years later, I was editing Oziana, and I saw Shawn Maldonado write on some Oz forum that he wished he could draw a comic about Oz. I asked him if he was serious. He said he was. And he was brave enough to consider my story. I don't recall whether I'd created a full script for the story already or did so then, but soon I had a real comics script winging his way. Shawn's style makes a good match for this comedic tale.