Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Latest Oz Reading

And at last, I've come to my next cycle of Oz reading, just in time for the holidays. And oh, this is going to be an interesting run!

  • Father Goose's Year Book by L. Frank Baum. Yeah, finding this was a fluke. It's neither a particularly common book to find, nor a terribly desirable one. But I was idly surfing one day, did a search for it, and found one at an extremely attractive price. So I snatched it up. As a Baum book, this is great to have. As the last gasp of his Father Goose franchise, however, it's no great shakes. Illustrator Walter J. tries, but he's no W. W. Denslow. And this time around, Baum's poetry is a little more wry and topical, reflecting what's happening each month, so they're aimed more at older readers than those in the original Father Goose: His Book. Of course this is book is 113 years old, so a lot of the poems have not aged well, reflecting both old cultural references and outdated attitudes. Still, this is nice to have in my collection, especially considering how few Oz fans probably have it in their own.
  • The O. Z. #1 by David Pepose and Ruben Rojas, with Whitney Cogar and DC Hopkins. From one of the oldest items in my collection to the most recent! I was part of the highly successful Kickstarter campaign to get this new comic book off the ground, and so I was certainly happy to see it turn up (still looking for you, The Red Queen of Oz). I was a little skeptical about another "war in Oz" project, but this has some new takes on the trope that gives it a new look. Dorothy Gale is an Iraq veteran and the adopted namesake granddaughter of the Dorothy Gale who first went to Oz. Naturally, she's dealing with PTSD, and a tornado picking up her SUV and taking it to a wartorn Oz doesn't help. Fortunately she lands amongst the rebels, including the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion, fighting against Emperor Scarecrow. They know how to get Dorothy home, but on the way to the wizards who can help her, Dorothy realizes that these people are losing and needs an experienced leader to help them, so she decides to stay in Oz and help them. This comic hit home the big thing a lot of these post-modern Oz adaptations neglect: A strong central protagonist. Having this version of Dorothy at the center just hits home how much a part of The Wizard og Oz Dorothy is in that story. Giving this Dorothy some background and strife makes her a rounder, more sympathetic character, and gives the story a sharper focus.
There should be a lot more of these Oz reading updates in the next few weeks. I'm interested to see what all I have myself!

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