Monday, January 17, 2022
Yeah, I got a bunch, and one is not so recent. So, time to jump in:
- I think I may have posted this installment of TrivQuiz before (since each one is tied to a particular date, it's easy to recycle installments once a year), but despite appearances to the contrary, there is an Oz connection, in the questions at the end. (Contrary to the comment this generated on Focebook, no, Ted Cassidy did not play a Munchkin.)
- Real quick: Eno had that dream again in The Duplex.
- It politics, Dave Whamond gives us the worst possible one-person version of The Wizard of Oz.
- And the very first Oz comic of 2022? It was part of the Sunday omnibus edition of Tundra way back on January 2. Unlike most of the comics I read, Tundra is not available online, at least not for free. So I'm doing the ethically dubious thing by presenting the scan of it here.
To assuage my guilty conscience, I am also providing the link to the Tundra website where you can find out more about the strip, become a Patreon supporter, see some examples, buy books and other merch, and other good stuff. If my showing the strip here can help generate a little income, then I won't feel so bad about posting this.
Monday, January 10, 2022
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Let's see if I can hit the bottom of this pile today. If not, however, I have a few more days this week.
- Fables, Volume 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and other guests artists, colorists, and letterers is, as you can probably guess, the next volume in the Fables comic series. Rose Red is still dealing with her depression after the loss of Boy Blue, but she is forced out of it as more and more Free Fables emigrate to the Farm as Mr. Dark takes a firmer grip on Fabletown in New York City. And a new leader emerges among the witches—Ozma! Yes, we've seen her before, but this is when Ozma truly comes into her own as a character in this series and becomes a formidable force. Also, Snow White and Bigby have to deal with their cubs and their ancestry, while Beauty and the Beast have offspring troubles of their own; they just don't kwon it yet. Thumbelina also gets a story of her own, and the creators answer some reader questions, including one about Bufkin! And this is going to be the last volume of Fables I will be writing about here, as I started collecting individual issues with the next one that comes after this volume, #101. So while I haven't read them all in order, I have now read every issue of the main series in one form or another, along with some of the side issues, miniseries, and the like. At some point, I hope I can do an epic reread of the entire series, but that's a few years off.
- Colorful Corniness in Oz by Marine Elizabeth Xiques and Chris Dulabone. I've been collecting and reading the books published by Dulabone ever since he started, and now that he's passed away I am determined to finish the set. Fortunately, I only have two more to go, but this was a recent acquisition. It's a short one, but wow, they didn't spre on the color! All the illustrations (many are photographs) and even a lot of the text are in full color, fitting this tale of colors and the search for different varieties of corn. Like a lot of books written or published by Dulabone, it may not be particularly memorable, but it is a lot of fun and very Ozzy.
- From the same team comes my next book, Havenly Dreams Beneath Oz, illustrated by Dennis Anfuso. This was a fortunate get for me, as I was comparing my list of books I owned with the website's list of books that had been published, and noticed I'd missed this one. Needless to say, I sent off for it right away. Only a few weeks after the book arrived, word got out about Chris Dulabone's death. Much of this stor involves Goblin Grotto, a land underneath Oz, and the goblins who live there. Our main character is Raspberry Surely, a red goblin who doesn't receive a lot of love from the rest of her family. She sets out to find a better life for herself, something more like what she reads about in the Oz books. Yes, after many adventures, she makes it to Oz, meets some of the celebrities, and returns to a better life with a found family in Goblin Grotto. And that's about all I have to say about this one.
- My one major nod to non-fiction in this reading cycle was Ray Bolger: More Than a Scarecrow by Holly van Leuven. Believe it or not, this is the first full-length biography of Ray Bolger. There had been attempts before, including Bolger's own writings, but van Leuven was the one to finally put it all together and bring it to the public. And she does a fantastic job, making Bolger's life journey from the working class neighborhoods of Boston through the final days of vaudeville, Broadway, movies, night clubs, television, and the showrooms of Las Vegas. While the book certainly covers The Wizard of Oz, that was only one small part of his career, and this book gives equal weight to everything he did, demonstrating his abilities and adaptability. We also see just how important Bolger's wife, Gwen, was to his career, as she sets aside her own ambitions to manage Ray and help him move along to the next level. It's a fascinating look into the complete life of an important figure in the annals of oz, and van Leuven should be concratulated for finally bringing Ray's story out.
- Finally, a book that I recently acquired but don't see the need to actually read, because I know the text so well already: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by MinaLima. I already have plenty of editions of this book, so there must be something unique or unusual about it for me to want to get it, but I think this fits the bill very nicely. I've heard it described as a pop-up book, but that doesn't quite fit, although there are some elements. MinaLima, an art and graphic design studio, call it an interactive book, and that's much more accurate. It's the full original novel, but every once in a while something is inserted that invites the reader to play around, such as a pull-out tornado that becomes a map of Oz (including the Gillikin Country, which wasn't mentioned in this book). It's a fun way to present the story. Aside from the interactive element, the illustrations are colorful and striking, and frequently interact with the text (or the text interacts with the illustrations; it's a hard line to define). This is one many of today's children will treasure, and then collectors of the future will try to find it with all the interactive portions intact! So maybe you should buy two, and just not take the second one out of the wrapper.
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
I may not have had a lot of time to write about it lately, but the reading has continued. So I thought I'd do a little catching up over the next few days.
- My rereading of the works of Eloise Jarvis McGraw continued with The Golden Goblet, which I believe is the last book she wrote set in Egypt. Ranofer dreams of becoming a goldsmith, but his embittered stepbrother, Gebu, who is in charge of him, will only let him assist in the smithy. But when Ranofer finds out that Gebu is using him to steal gold, he threatens to expose him. Gebu solves that by giving Ranofer an apprenticeship—in his own stonecutter's shop! As much as he hates stonecutting, Ranofer is pragmatic enough to go along and do his best. But when Ranofer finds out more skullduggery that Gebu is up to, he sees an opportunity to take charge of his own destiny. As always, McGraw does a terrific job of evoking Egypt by showing it to us through the characters' eyes, not ours. We see and hear and feel and smell Egypt as an Egyptian would, and our experience becomes richer for it. This is also a pretty exciting book, with all kinds of twists, but it all comes to a satisfying conclusion, as one would expect.
- I also read Eloise's only play, a little one-act called Steady, Stephanie! Ah, the affairs of the heart of a mid-twentieth century teenager! This comedy involves Stephanie, naturally, her steady boyfriend, Mike, and the new boy in town, Bronco, who Stephanie thinks is kind of exciting, until she actually gets to know him. Stephanie's kid sister, Georgia, pops in with the occasional bon mot, wry observation, or bit of advice. I tried to stage a production, or at least a reading, when I chaired the 2016 edition of OzCon International in Portland, as McGraw is from the area, but I never could get a straight answer on the rights. Apparently this was a bit of a relief to Inana McGraw, a guest that year and the artist formerly know as Lauren Lynn McGraw (and before that, Lauren McGraw Wagner). From what I remember, one of the characters is based on her, and she wasn't too wild about it.
- Another book from the '60s that I reread for the first time in decades was The Blue Emperor of Oz by Henry S. Blossom. This was one of the earliest extarcanonical Oz books, as Blossom self-published it in 1966, even though most of the Oz books, and their characters, were still under copyright at the time. I bought a copy of the 1982 second edition direct from Henry Blossom at one of my earliest Winkie Conventions, and this is only the second time I've read it. The Blue Emperor's drinking mug is in danger of being broken, which would be disastrous for the Blue Emperor. The problem is, nobody seems able to remember him! But he is Ozma's grandfather and Pomus' brother, so naturally Kabumpo gets involved early on. Meanwhile, in an Ohio pawn shop, Jam finds the head of the Gump, who assists him in getting back to Oz. Yes, many adventures and hijinks ensue before the Blue Emperor is restored, and everyone celebrates in the Emerald City before heading home again. This is a very Thompson-esque story, with visits to several "interesting" little communities, but the characters never lose track of their goal. It's a fun little romp, and now I'm just sorry it took me so long to get back to it.
- I've been wanting to read the Royal Explorers of Oz series for some time now, and finally broke down and acquired the omnibus edition of all four books in one. It's a little daunting to read them all at once, so I figure I'll just stretch this out over time by just reading one book at a time. Naturally, I started with Book I, The Voyage of the Crescent Moon. It's just a nice little sail around the continent on the Crescent Moon, with Captain Samuel Salt entertaining such visitors as honeymooning couple Maria and Derek (from The Bashful Baker of Oz), the Red Jinn, Trot and Cap'n Bill, and some visiting mermaids, among others. While they do a lot of exploring, Salt and his crew also have some tasks to perform. They then cross paths with Prince Bobo of Boboland, who is not the most diplomatic or savvy ruler (early on in the book, he manages to offend Queen Zixi of Ix by presenting her with a mirror!). But the Crescent Moon takes him home anyway, after Bobo's crew mutinies, as it's on the way to Ozamaland. That's right, in Book II, Tandy's finally going home!
Monday, December 27, 2021
Now that the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, it's time to get to work and, among other things, close a few tabs in my browser—like these two recent Oz comics:
- Ruthie, the main character in One Big Happy, has never quite gotten the initials for "automated teller machine" quite right. (Once, many years ago, two comics had this same joke! one of them was Ruthie in OBH.)
- And in this old Garfield throwback, Garfield does his best impression of the Shaggy Man in the land of the Cuttenclips, but somehow a different Oz book gets invoked instead.
Tuesday, December 21, 2021
It's appropriate that The Wizard of Oz was on TNT last night, because David Cohen of the Asheville Citizen-Times had this to say about the senior Senator from West Virginia.
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Today in TrivQuiz, we find out the connection between Glenn Miller and The Wizard of Oz—or to be more accurate, a song form The Wizard of Oz. (Actually, it's my understanding that Miller's version of "Over the Rainbow" was a major factor in its early days in making the song the standard it is today, long before everyone saw Judy Garland sing it every year on television.)
Sunday, December 12, 2021
Not much new, but fun stuff, as always.
Sunday, December 05, 2021
Yeah, another busy week, and they've piled up:
- I dunno, does this edition of TrivQuiz count? Well, one of the albums mentioned sounds almost like The Wizard of Oz…
- John Cole has this editorial cartoon about a recently announced candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania.
- I got into Skin Horse for it's Ozzy connections, but in this behind-the-curtain strip from today, writer Shaenon Garrity is in august company. The lead name at the top of the second column is especially well-known to Oz fans.
- Finally, I have yet to mention here a new strip that recently started on WebToons, Fleischer and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The premise is, what if another famous fictional Kansan went to Oz instead of Dorothy? The trouble is, the character is still under copyright and trademark protection, so they can't actually say who he is. You'll just have to be a super guesser, man. I was tickled by Dorothy's cameo, and thunderstruck by the most recent strip that makes it extremely clear that this is the Oz of the books, not one made famous in any dramatized versions. Definitely bookmark this one and check it out every few days.
Wednesday, December 01, 2021
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Oh, I have been vory busy lately—reading lots of Oz and Oz-adjacent books, but not much spare time to write about them here! But I've managed to carve a little time out rght now, so I'm going to see how many I can write about now.
- The Wonderful Arts of Oz by Daniel "Munch" Kinske. This is a big coffee table book that is pretty much what the cover says. This folio has many examples of art (Oz and otherwise) by W. W. Denslow, work done for the 1902 musical stage extravaganza version of The Wizard of Oz, photographs of Ozcot, L. Frank Baum's Hollywood home, the stage show of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, Oz illustrations by John R. Neill, and publicity material and photographs pertaining to both the 1925 silent film and the famous 1939 Technicolor film adaptations of The Wizard of Oz. It is a glorious book, and many of the pictures were new to me. Even the ones I knew could reveal new insights when reproduced at this size, however. It includes an introduction by Judy Garland's photographic stand-in, Caren Marsh-Doll. I do hove two complaints. One is that the font Denslow is used for many large blocks of explanatory text. Denslow works great for headlines and other short snippets of text, but it is very hard to read in extended passages. The other complaint is that it only goes up to 1939! So much Oz has come along since then, and there is plenty of material for a second volume. I would have also liked to see more from the books, as the Neill section is frustratingly brief. Still, this is a spectacular volume, and I very much appreciate having it.
- I picked up a whole bunch of fun items from Lulu Publishing, including a reproduction of the Fall 1961 Reilly & Lee catalog. It's brief, and there's really not even that much about Oz, but it's a fascinating look at what else the publishers of the Oz books sold. I'd love to see other catalogs from Reilly & Lee's history reprinted in a similar form.
- The Bashful Baker of Oz by Marcus Mébès reprints a charming tale from the 2003 issue of Oziana (which I talk about here). I was mildly disappointed that it wasn't expanded more into an even longer story, but it still works, and I'm happy to have this.
- Dorothy ond the Wooden Soldiers of Oz by Ken Romer is a brief little tale, adapting some characters and incidents from the second Magic Land book, Oorfeen Deuce and His Wooden Soldiers, published in Russia. This is nice because the pages are big and the illustrations are simple, allowing the readers to color them. I doubt many Oz scholars will take this seriously, but I will certainly enjoy having this in my collection.
- My reread of the Oz series continues with a slight sideways excursion to Sky Island, prepping the way for Trot and Cap'n Bill to make it to Oz in my next wave of Oz reading. Unilke The Sea Fairies, this is a tightly plotted tale, with Trot, Cap'n Bill, and their new friend Button-Bright having to deal with one obstacle after another in their efforts to reach home again once they reach the titular island. I couldn't help but thinking how much easier it would have gone for the Boolooroo if he had just let them go. But he had to have his way, which led to his downfall. Much is made in this book of the appearance of Polychrome, but it's little more than a cameo, as she just comes in for a few pages to straighten things out in the Pink Country, and then she's gone again.
- That wasn't the only Baum book I got to read over the past few weeks. I was asked to be part of the proofreading team for a new book, and I was happy to look at The Maid of Arran, believed to be the first widely published edition of one of L. Frank Baum's earliest works. This was a play he wrote and starred in as a young man. It was while he was touring with The Maid of Arran that he met, wooed, and married Maud Gage, in fact. This is much more than a reprint of the play, however. It has many essays of background and analysis of the play, its part in Baum's career, the other people involved, publicity material, contemporary critiques, and even an excerpt of the novel A Princess of Thule, upon which the play was based. It is, in my opinion, the best analysis of a single work by L. Frank Baum since The Annotated Wizard of Oz. Besides the color paperback version I linked to above, it is also available in black and white and a deluxe hardcover edition.
- I finally got to read a proper Baum Oz book with Tik-Tok of Oz. Having now seen a production of the play it's based on, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, which in turn was based on Ozma of Oz, I can certainly see the throughline from one version to the next. Yes, a lot of this retreads Ozma of Oz, but there are a lot of original elements that make it nicely Ozzy in its own right. Quox the Dragon is especially fun.
- Finally (for now), my new job has given me the financial security to take up collecting the works of Rachel R. Cosgrove again, and I managed to pick up her second book (after The Hidden Valley of Oz), Forsythia Finds Murder. She was married by this time, and so this is also the firstbook to be published under her new name of Rachel C. Payes. Forsythia Brown is a successful young New York author who, faced with a case of writer's block, heads to a resort in the Poconos to work through it. There, she meets the usual eccentrics and other characters who inhabit a novel such as this. It takes quite a while for anyone to die, but even before it happens all the players have their backgrounds and motives aired out, and it really comes as no surprise when the titular murder finally happens. Naturally Forsythia becomes a suspect, and also provides the final clue that solves the issue in the end. She even manages to find romance amid all the turmoil! Aside from being a gripping, if perhaps too pat, mystery, this shows us a window into the upper crust of New York society of sixty-some years ago. Lots of alcohol and tobacco are at the center of much of the socializing, and some characters also prove to be incorrigible gossips. It is not a book I would recommend to most Oz fans, but if you are interested in this side of a Royal Historian, you may want to track down a copy. I had hoped to read all of Rachel's book (that I don't already have) in publication order, but acquiring them all is proving to be a scavanger hunt, so i may jump around a bit.
Thursday, November 11, 2021
The nice thing about holidays is I can take a breather from my busy life and catch up on some stuff, before the weekend rolls around. And it's a good thing, since yesterday was a two-hander.
- As much as I want to see the movie in the final panel of this flashback edition of Candorville, I would think that Munchkin would end up being chased by Miss Gulch!
- Meanwhile, Bound and Gagged has a famous patient. But good grief, what kind of hospital has a ward devoted just for heart transplants? It may now be a relatively routine operation, but it's still rare.
Sunday, November 07, 2021
Things are gradually settling down again, and I hope to start doing these daily again (on days when there are Oz comics, of course) soon. But until then, these weekly roundups seem to do just fine.
- Our first comic of the week, on November 1, was this comment on where Dorothy was going in 1 and Done. Yeah, more than one person has wondered what was really so great about Kansas that Dorothy actually wanted to go back to. Of course she eventually brought Uncle Henry and Aunt Em to Oz and moved there permanently. I'd probably do the same thing!
- On the same day, Oz is mentioned in this rendition of TrivQuiz. I'm pretty sure this is a rerun, as TrivQuiz often does, and that art sure looks familiar.
- The next day, on November 2, this is happening in Working Daze. I think they need some sort of control device. Maybe one that can be worn on the head, possibly made of gold!
Sunday, October 31, 2021
It has been a crazy, busy week around here (fortunately I also haven't been called in for jury duty ye—four more days to go), and the Oz comics have been piling up. So I'll do a quick anthology reaction here:
- In Wednesday's edition of One and Done, Dororthy asks a pretty good question!
- Based on what he drew for his Wednesday political cartoon, I think Gary Varvel is not a fan of our current president and his administration.
- Based on what he drew for his Wednesday political cartoon, I think Nick Anderson is not a fan of the events of January 6.
- Yesterday's edition of Six Chix (by my favorite of the Chix, Stephanie Piro) has the start of the crossover you know we all want. Hmm, and since both are currently controlled by Warner Bros.—
- And in today's Breaking Cat News, one of the items you have to look for is an Oz character!
- There was also an Oz comic in Tundra on Thursday, but that's not a comic that just throws its archives up on the web for all to see, you have to be one of their Patreon backers to see it. Stiil, maybe I can put it on the scanner and show it to you all later (purely for educational, illustrative, and archival purposes, of course).
Sunday, October 24, 2021
It's been a crazy weekend, trying to get ready for an even crazier couple of weeks, starting tomorrow, with all kinds of things happening at work, Halloween and a brief cross-state road trip to celebrate, and then jury duty thrown on top of that! However, things are falling into place now (I already know I don't have to report to the courthouse tomorrow), so I can finally post the pair of Oz comics that showed up this weekend.
- First, I'm not sure if Mother Goose is in costume, in character, or if she actually is Dorothy, but she's definitely doing something Ozzy in Friday's edition of Mother Goose and Grimm.
- In Break of Day that same day, witches go on a road trip. Yeah, this is a lot more subtle, but with that punchline, I think I can call it Ozzy.
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Peter Kuper, among other things, has drawn Spy Vs. Spy in Mad Magazine for the past many years. The other day, he had this advice for the season on his political cartoons page. I don't think this one has much about politics, though, and that's okay.