Tuesday, November 17, 2020

This Week's Oz Short Story

Wow, this quest to reread every story in Oziana is just about done now, how did that happen? (Relax, I have more stories to read once this is done!) Can it be only two years ago now that the 2018 issue came out? Well, here it is again, and I'm starting with "The Strongman of Oz" by Jay Davis and Jonathan Miranda, illustrated by Sam Milazzo. Theo St. James is the strongman in Bailum and Barney's Consolidated Show circus, and he's about to enter the big top when he is magicked away to the Kingdom of Dreams. There, Myletta, the Witch of Dreams, demands to know information about the Wizard of Oz so that she can use him in her plans to conquer the waking world. But Theo has no idea who the Wizard is, until he discovers that he is Oscar, one of his old circus colleagues. Theo then reflects on his times with Oscar, and how prickly they could be together. But the Wizard holds no grudges, and comes to Theo's rescue. In the Emerald City, both Theo and Oscar deal with their issues, and then Theo is given the chance to start an amazing new life.

This is a fun story because even though the threat from the Witch of Dreams is serious, it's not the main thrust of events. It's much more of a character study about how others (Theo, in this case) have perceived the Wizard when he was still working in America. We all know that, although he's a stand-up guy now, the Wizard has had a bit of a shady past, and it colors how Theo sees him. Fortunately, the Wizard is not a vindictive man, and he and Theo work things out.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Well, here's a story that came from AIM. Jon found me on AIM and we'd begun RPing, where you have a cast of characters you control and basically type a story about them interacting.

Of course I'm a fan of Oz in all mediums, Jon is more acquainted through the movies. Still, he'd previously asked to do Oz-based stories in the past. This one was one that I thought could potentially work if we reworked it into a proper short story. I posted it on my blog with a basic edit, then Marcus Mebes asked if he could put it in Oziana on the stipulation that it get a better rewrite.

Jon created the character of Theo, I helped him come up with the backstory that linked with the Wizard. Myletta was initially unnamed in the original version, but I came up with it in time for the Oziana rewrite. Jon wanted to have a scene where Theo is tied up, so that was one thing we made sure to work into the story. Creating lore around the Kingdom of Dreams was basically on the fly and a lot of fun. Very little was added from the original RP session and it was basically unchanged aside from rewriting it in proper prose.

Jon wrote all of Theo's dialogue and everything his character did. Again, in the rewrite, outside of putting it in proper prose, I didn't change it. Jon also approved the rewrite before I sent it.

Also, surprise, I made use of Notta Bit More and Bob Up from The Cowardly Lion of Oz. I really don't like that book, but I think the characters can be redeemed by being in a good story, which is now even easier since the book is public domain. While this story didn't do that, it gives them another character to work with.

Sam did more illustrations that what was used in the Oziana printing, but they will be used in a book printing in the future. This story and "Tommy Kwikstep and the Magpie" from The Lost Tales of Oz set up elements for my next Oz novella, "The Good Witch of Oz." Which will include the stories (and lots of illustrations by Sam) in the book edition, which will have "And Other Stories" added to the title of the book, this way people can have it all in one volume. Jon's input is also going to feature in "The Good Witch of Oz."