Monday, September 18, 2023

Last Week's Oz Political Cartoon

I saw this one in my local paper (which is now something I read on a tablet, so it's not made of paper any more; still trying to figure out what to call it!) and found it online, but things have kept me from blogging about it until today. But let's just say that Pat Bagley of The Salt Lake Tribune has an Ozzy slant on the current climate crisis.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

The Latest Oz Short Story

Another new ending for King Rinkitink from the 2016 issue of Oziana is titled simply "Rinkitink" by Karen Diket. It starts with a flashback to the last time someone survived the three trick caverns, the wizard Zenoro. Before leaving, Zenoro left behind a trinket for the next person to get through them. Sure enough, Inga finds that he has new powers, as his spoken wishes come true so long as he is in the Nome Kingdom. His first wish is that Rinkitink, Bilbil, and he would be in Gilgad, so he can't do much else with them until they return to Roquat with some of Rinkitink's guards and enough treasure to outbid what Gos and Coregos presented to Roquat before. While surprised, Roquat considers the proposition while Inga just wishes to see his parents again. Suddenly, he is with them in the Metal Forest, where Kittikut and Garee treat him to a meal of the three-course nuts. Inga returns to his friends, and uses his new knowledge of the three-course nuts to free his parents. (Thanks to the white pearl, he also learns about Zenoro and his gift to those others who survived Roquat's trap. Why Inga didn't just wish his parents away before joining them is beyond me!) During the course of events, Bilbil reveals that it was Zenoro who also transformed Prince Bobo into his current form of a goat, so Inga also wishes Bobo to resume his natural form right before they leave the Nome Kingdom—all without Roquat ever knowing about Zenoro's gift. That pretty much wraps things up, the final resolutions are tied up pretty quickly, and Bobo decides to stay in Rinkitink instead of returning to Boboland. Were I a judge, I would probably put this one in the pile for further consideration, but the convenience of a new wishing power, a couple of logic breaks, and the rapid resolution would probably knock it out of consideration for the final prize.

This Week's Oz Comic

I think this edition of CowTown is a rerun. But it's still darned Ozzy, and ties in well with the cartoonist's hometown of Kansas City.

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Latest Oz Short Story

Yet another attempt to complete King Rinkitink from the 2016 issue of Oziana, this time "The Adventures of King Rinkitink" by Robin Hess. Here, Inga may take the most direct action he could possibly take: He asks the whiet pearl to guide him to where his parents are, then smashes through the wall to retrieve them. The Nomes pretty much leave them alone as they leave the Nome Kingdom, and they make their way to Evna where they seek refuge from King Evardo XV. But by this point they discover that Bilbil is the enchanted Prince Bobo, so they go off on another adventure to call on Lionel the Loneliest Wizard, the only one who can disenchant him, who lives in the far north of Ev. Lionel succeeds, and that's the end! Lionel then sends everyone back to where they belong, and the story ends. I could see this one getting through the first round of judging, but the ease at which they find Kittikut and Garee and make it out just doesn't feel right, and I doubt I would have recommended it for the final judging.

Monday, September 04, 2023

The Latest Oz Short Story

This week's entry from the "Complete King Rinkitink" contest and the 2016 issue of Oziana is "Wrapping Up Rinkitink" by Christopher M. Diket. After a few events, Roquat finally decides to take Inga, Rinkitink, and Bilbil to the King and Queen of Pingaree—onry to take them instead to a room that cancels out magic, including the powers of the pearls. But Inga, having wandered around the Nome Kingdom and discovered the room earlier, added an escape hatch. And it turns out that Rinkitink had a magical aide of his own: A pop-up book that showed future events. This book also shows them where Kitticut and Garee are hidden, so they find them and escape. Of course their flight involves an underground lake hiding a monster and a swarm of bees, but naturally they get out and back to Pingaree just fine. I probably would have passed this one along to the second round, but in the end I doubt I would have considered it for the finals. Too many coincidences (why didn't we know about Rinkitink's book earlier?) and a rushed ending make it feel not quite right.

Monday, August 28, 2023

The Latest Oz Short Story

The next alternate ending for Rinkitink in Oz from the 2016 edition of Oziana is "A New Ending for King Rinkitink" by Nicholas M. Campbell. This one was surprisingly long and involved, and included the loss of two of the pearls! The white pearl sacrifices itself to Roquat to procure the release of King Kitticut and Queen Garee, only to then trick Roquat into falling into a chasm. That could have been it, but then Bilbil enlists the aid of his family to help escape the Nomes, because it turns out he's really Prince Bobo of the mountain goats who inhabit the mountains over the Nome Kingdom. They head to Gilgad so that Inga can keep his promise to free the people of Regos and Coregos, only to discover that Rinkitink has been deposed! They then make their way back to Regos and, with the power of the two remaining pearls, free the slaves and stop the overseers from doing any more harm. But in the course of fleeing to Coregos, Rinkitink drops the pink pearl and falls into the sea, only to be saved by Queen Aquarine of the Sea Fairies! Well, there wasn't much else this story could do, so they finally make it bark to Pingaree and wrap things up. But wow, what a whirlwind, with everything being thrown into the kitchen sink. Were I judging this contest, I might have moved this one along to the second round, but I don't think I would have given it serious consideration for the top prize.

Yesterday's Vintage Oz Comic

I'll keep it brief: This classic from The Far Side.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Today's Vintage Oz Comic

I very much doubt that the main character in this classic Far Side cartoon from today's postings is meant to be our Scarecrow. But since the exact same thing happened to him in The Marvelous Land of Oz, I'm going to call this an Oz cartoon today anyway!

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

This Week's Oz Comic

Okay, yesterday's edition of Heart of the City may not be explicitly Ozzy, but a Kristin Chenoweth namecheck is close enough in my book!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

This Week's Oz Short Story

Another alternate ending for Rinkitink in Oz from the 2016 issue of Oziana is "King Rinkitink in Oz: An Ending and a Beginninc" by George van Buren and transcribed by C. J. Hinke (van Buren writes everything he does in Latin, so Hinke is the translator). This ending tries to stick as close to what was in the published version, but without Dorothy and the Wizard appearing at all. This is also the second story that involves Bilbil holding onto the white pearl and gaining from its words of wisdom. In this case, it advises Bilbil on how to trick Roquat into transforming him back into Prince Bobo. Since Bobo had a dozen eggs with him when he was enchanted, he's able to use them to secure the release of King Kitticut and Queen Garee as well. With no trip to Oz, they then head straight back to Pingaree, but discover the fate of Gos and Cor along the way. (Fortunately, their oarsmen escape their fate.) It's brief, ticks all the right boxes, but ultimately it's not terribly satisfying, and I can see why it did not win the contest.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

This Week's Oz Short Story

Next up from the 2016 issue of Oziana was "The Rinkitink Conspiracy in Oz" by Baruch Adelman. This one misses the mark, in that it's more of an appendix to Rinkitink in Oz instead of an extrapolated new ending, so I can see why it didn't win. There are four chapters, and each one is how the story ended told from the point of view of four different characters: Rinkitink, Roquat, Dorothy, and Bilbil. Dixie Dingus is a reporter for The Emerald Examiner (apparently one of the less well-read newspapers in Oz) and has been tasked with getting the scoop on the real events. Rinkitink and Roquat give wildly diverging tales that make them look good. Dorothy maintains the published version is the correct one, but Dixie pokes enough holes in it that she, the reader, and even Dorothy have doubts. Bilbil's account is probably the most accurate, but it's also the shortest and least exciting, which is probably the point. I think this would have worked fine as a standalone story, but not as part of the book itself.

The next item in that issue is "The Adventures of King Rinkitink" by Andrew J. Heller, which was the winner and published as part of the published edition of King Rinkitink, so I can skip that. I'm going to be out of town next weekend, so I don't know if I'll get a chance to discuss the next one then, but it's short so I will try.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Latest Oz Reading

Okay, the pile is getting big again, and I still have some material in it that's been sitting here at least a year. So I may as well just do a lightning round version and give some quick impressions rather than my usual drawn-out thoughtful posts. Ready? Here we go!

  • The Oracle of Maracoor by Gregory Maguire. Book two of Another Day, the trilogy of Rain's adventures after Out of Oz. The middle book of a trilogy is often the disappointing one, as we all know what's happening now, but there's still a long way to go, but we don't get a definitive conclusion yet. But I'm happy to say that there were some surprises in this one. A few more characters from Oz turn up, and the identity of the titular oracle took me by surprise. Plus, things are set up well for the conclusion.
  • The program book for OzCon International 2023. Hey, I've been to every edition of this con since 1980, I wasn't going to stop now! I talked about the one new piece of fiction in it in last week's short story roundup, and for just about everything else, you really had to be there. (Start making plans for next year's con NOW! It will be July 26-28, 2024.)
  • Scarlet Witch #7. This issue of Wanda Maximoff's latest comic book series slipped under my comic-buying radar, so I'm thankful that a friend was able to acquire it and send it to me. Yeah, Wanda goes to Oz—and it's book Oz, with mentions of L. Frank Baum and silver shoes. Some interesting mechanics, as I gather the antagonist here is a new character, and one that may cause issues down the road. But Wanda figures out a clever way to get out of a jam, and all is right…for now…
  • Return to Oz by Joan D. Vinge. Yes, it's the novelization of the 1985 Disney movie, which I hadn't read for nearly forty years. (Hey, wait a minute, I interviewed Vinge at a panel at OzCon a few years ago, why didn't I get this autographde???) It's a pretty straightforward novelization, but there are a few scenes in it that got cut from the finished movie, and we also get to see inside many characters' heads in ways we couldn't on screen. A fun, nostalgic revisit.
  • Stairway to Oz by Robin Hess. Just how did the Shaggy Man's brother get to the Nome Kingdom in Tik-Tok of Oz? This book explains. But the stairway is still active and viable, so when an American boy and his grandparents find it, they have adventures of their own as they try to stop the latest Nome invasion of Oz.
  • Geronimo Stilton Classic Tales: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I knew there was a version of Oz in the long-running Geronimo Stilton series, but for the longest time I could only find the Italian original, and not an English translation. But it finally appeared in English recently, and I was not disappointed. This is a surprisingly faithful retelling of the original book, with charming illustrations and a lot of words enlarged and colored. I presume this is a quirk of this series, but there seemed to be no sense or reason for why those particular words were emphasized. One fun twist is that, since Geronimo Stilton is a mouse, Dorothy and all her friends are depicted as mice. This could have made for a bit of an awkward incident when the Tin Woodman chases off the wildcat. But a little change meant that in this book, doing so rescues the Queen of the Rabbits, not Field Mice!
  • Ozma of Oz, or The Magnet of Love by L. Frank Baum. This is one of L. Frank Baum's preliminary scripts for the stage show that would eventually become The Tik-Tok Man of Oz. Let's just say I believe Baum was a better author than he was a playright, even though he probably longed to be the latter more than the former. The biggest change between this script and The Tik-Tok Man of Oz is the songs, as these are all Baum's lyrics. He seems to have found a more sympatico collaborator in Louis F. Gottschalk, because they are head over heels above what's in this book. Still, it's fun seeing into Baum's mind, and the evolution of this show.
  • We've had it for a few years now, but I finally got around to reading Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation by Lou Scheimer and Andy Mengels. Not only was I part of that generation of kids who watche a lot of Filmation cartoons when they were new, they were responsible for Journey Back to Oz. But this book is also important for Laura, since they also made the Aquaman cartoons back in the '60s, and she's a big Aquaman fan. Oz and Aquaman actually take up very little of this book, but there were so many other shows I know in it that I had a great time reading this. It's much more Scheimer's life story and a chronological history of Filmation, so if you're looking for detailed production notes and episode guides, this is not the book you are looking for. There's still lots of useful information, however.
  • And finally, for now, The Maid of Arran by L. Frank Baum. (Full disclosure time: I was a proofreader on this book, and received an acknowledgement for my contributions, small though they were.) Yes, at long last, one of L. Frank Baum's earliest popular works, the play The Maid of Arran, gets a book publication. And what a book it is! It would have been of great interest if it were just the script, maybe with a few annotations and a scholarly essay or two. But editor Marcus Mébès does so much more here! There are a number of essays (plus an original short stoy by Robert Baum about his great-grandfather, later reprinted in Oziana), two chapters from A Princess of Thule by William Black (the novel the play is based on), cast biographies, a complete rundown of where the show played, and contemporary reviews. I don't see what else could fit in here! The highlight is probably "The Peculiar Pedigree of Sheila O'Mara, Maid of Arran" by Éamon S. Green, a thorough examination of the story and how it came to be dramatized—several times! No, Baum was not the first to put it on stage, and therein lies a sordid tale of copyright piracy and the state of nineteenth century show business.
All right, that's it for now. But I hope to have some more quick hits up soon, mostly on comic books and graphic novels.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

This Week's Oz Comic

All I will say about yesterday's In the Bleachers is that I don't recall ever seeing her at a Mariners' game!

Saturday, August 05, 2023

The Latest Oz Short Stories

Yes, I said stories, the plural, because there were three this week. Te main one is still the next alternate ending to Rinkitink in Oz from the 2016 edition of Oziana, which would be "A New Ending for Rinkitink in Oz" by Jared Davis. He tried to extrapolate from Ozma of Oz how Baum may have originally ended King Rinkitink, and has Roquat enchant King Kitticut and Queen Garee into ornaments. Inga is allowed to go in and try to find them to disenchant them, but Inga has one big advantage nobody had in Ozma of Oz: The white pearl! The pearl guides Inga to his parents, and all ends pretty quickly. In the ensuing events, Bilbil even becomes Prince Bobo again, and all are back to Pingaree for a happy ending. It's a clever use of Baum's own tropes, and I suspect isn't too different from what he originally intended. But I can also see why it was ultimately not picked as the winner.

I ran into another short story this week, also initiated by Davis, although ultimately he probably wouldn't take full credit for it. Over on his blog, he used ChatGPT to create a new story, "Diverse Dancers of Oz", pairing up Polychrome and Scraps in a dance recital. It's a fun little slice-of-life story about how these two characters, who rarely met in the books, might interact. But don't take my word for it, this one is available to read online, so you can go right now!

Finally, last weekend I was at OzCon International. As always, I had fun, and there was a new short story, "Button Bright's Gift: A Christmas Story" by J. L. Bell in the program book. Since this year is the centenary of The Cowardly Lion of Oz, the action takes place at Notta Bit More's circus, and involves Button-Bright and a slightly older Bob Up, now a circus roustabout. The circus is putting on a special Christmas show, and Notta is trying out a new disguise, Santa Claus. Button-Bright already knows Santa, thanks to their meeting in The Road to Oz, so he's able to give Notta some pointers. Every child coming to the circus gets to sit on Santa's lap and ask for a present, but Button-Bright never gets the chance. So how is it that there's a present on the pile for him? Let's just say Santa has all kinds of helpers. It's a fun little story, and gives Notta and, especially, Bob a little character development that they never quite had in The Cowardly Lion of Oz. If you can find it, you'll get a kick out of it.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

The Latest Oz Short Story

Continuing with the new endings for King Rinkitink from the 2016 edition of Oziana, Dennis Anfuso gives us "A New Ending for Rinkitink in Oz", and it certainly is! Bilbil decides that he, too, needs a pearl, so the white pearl is placed in one of the gold ballss on its horns. The horn conducts the white pearl's words to Bilbil, so the goat is able to relay information to Inga and Rinkitink in real time! This proves to be very helpful when Roquat comes up with his next test: The three of them must fight two nome warriors to the death. But this doesn't make much sense, as Inga's strength and Rinkitink's invulnerbility pretty much means those nomes will lose. Even without the white pearl, Inga is puzzled by this, but it is Bilbil and the white pearl that ultimately save the day and see through Roquat's ruse. I won't spoil it here, but it is a very clever twist. It's short, but satisfying, and I suspect this one would have made it far into the judging before ultimately not winning.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Today's Oz Comic

Next time he gang pulls a "Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz" and visits our world, what happens in today's Rhymes with Orange would be a really easy way them to make some fast money.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

The Latest Oz Short Story

The second entry in the Finish King Rinkitink contest, from the 2016 edition of Oziana, is "An Epilogue to Rinkitink in Oz" by Aaron Solomon Adelman. It doesn't follow the brief, in that it's actually a few more pages tacked onto the end of the published version of Rinkitink in Oz. A reporter from The Ozmapalitan has buttonholed Prince Inga and is trying to get to the bottom of his story, but Inga maintains that Dorothy came in and saved his parents with a basket of eggs. Then a few other strange events happen, and Zella swoops in and saves the day. This proves to be the final piece of the puzzle, and the reporter figures the whole thing out. I don't want to say anymore, as it will give things away, but there are hints of other events that happened offstage, and a couple of incidents didn't quite transpire as they did in the book. It's short, it's fun, it introduces some interesting new elements into Oz, but I suspect this one got put on the "This one isn't going to win" pile pretty quickly.

Monday, July 17, 2023

The Latest Oz Short Story

If you remember my massive reread of every issue of Oziana, I managed to get through all of them—with one exception. But now that I've reached Rinkitink in Oz/King Rinkitink in my current reading, I can finally fill that gap. Because the 2016 issue of Oziana contains all of the entries for the Oz Club's contest to complete King Rinkitink. It even includes the winning entry by Andrew Heller If the cost of buying the actual published book version of King Rinkitink is dounting, this is a more affordable way to get it, with the bonus of also getting a few other versions. There are fifteen endings in this issue, including Heller's, so this may take a few weeks. (I can't guarantee one write-up a week, but I will try to do so.)

First up is "Suggested Ending to Rinkitink in Oz" by Susan Johnson, and this one, at least, seems plausible. Taking the advice of the white pearl, Inga, Rinkitink, and Bilbil decide to leave the Nome Kingdom and see what alies they can find elsewhere. Their travels take them to Boboland, where the King and Queen have been away for several years looking for their missing son, Prince Bobo. In their absence, robber barons have divided the country and taken many of the products grown there. But the King of Boboland is also a powerful magician who discovers that his son has arrived at the palace, so they return to put things back to right. (If you know Rinkitink in Oz, you'll know where Prince Bobo has been all this time.) Inga then returns to the Nome Kingdom with allies from Boboland, and with the backing of a powerful ally and the news that Gos and Cor have drowned, Roquat reluctantly grants King Kitticut and Queen Garee of Pingaree their freedom. From this point, Johnson's version ends pretty much as Rinkitink in Oz does, and all ends well for just about everyone. I like that this version ties into Prince Bobo, and that we get to see a lot of Boboland, which Baum never visited in the books. (Its inclusion on the map endpapers of Tik-Tok of Oz makes me suspect that the characters actually do visit Boboland in the original King Rinkitink.) I suspect this ending nearly made the cut.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Today's Oz Comic

Gracie uses Oz as a way to comfort herself during a difficult time in today's edition of Baldo. And if you're really interested, here it is in Spanish.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

The Latest Oz Reading

Actually, I have a lot of Oz reading, some that I've read over a year ago now, to catch up on. I hope to do a lot of it before I head to California in a couple of weeks for OzCon International (my forty-third consecutive time at that convention!), but this one is especially important because of some other entries I'll be posting on this blog soon. Don't worry, all will become clear in time.

As you may be aware, I started rereading the Oz books as a regular part of my reading some time ago. The plan was to go in order, but when I chaired the 2016 edition of OzCon, I broke that and read Rinkitink in Oz as we were celebrating that book's centennial, and I wanted to give a few comments on it. Those of you who know your Oz history probably also know that Rinkitink was originaly written as a non-Oz book around 1905. (My suspicion is that he wrote it in the hopes of it being a follow-up to Queen Zixi of Ix and it would also be serialized in St. Nicholas Magazine. I wonder if anyone has checked the files of St. Nicholas, if they're still around, for any correspondence with Baum? But I digress…) At that point, I had only read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz anyway, so I said to myself, "Well, if King Rinkitink had been published as a stand alone book, it would likely have come out between Land and Ozma of Oz anyway. So this is a good insight into Baum's writing of that time." All well and good—until I got through The Scarecrow of Oz. What to read next? After all, I'd already reread Rinkitink in Oz.

For those who may not know, Rinkitink in Oz is an exciting adventure story about Prince Inga of Pingaree whose home is conquered and destroyed, and his only aides in rescuing his family and people are the visiting King Rinkitink from the kingdom of the same name, Rinkitink's surly talking goat Bilbil, and the three magic pearls, which King Kitticut had only recently revealed to his son. Inga, Rinkitink, and Bilbil make it to the twin islands of Regos and Coregos, which they eventually conquer, but King Gos and Queen Cor flee with Inga's parents to the Nome Kingdom, where the Nome King promises to hold the King and Queen of Pingaree. In the published book, Dorothy discovers what's going on and swoops in to save everyone with a basket of eggs, which is not a terribly satisfying conclusion, and Inga doesn't get to save his parents at all. I've often said that my favorite Oz book is the first eighty percent of Rinkitink in Oz, because it just kind of falls apart when the old familiar Oz characters are introduced. Oz fans have long wanted to know how the story originally ended, but no manuscript has ever been found.

Enter the International Wizard of Oz Club and the Royal Publishers of Oz! They collaborated on a contest to complete King Rinkitink! They chalenged writers to take over the book from a new chapter 20 (where Oz characters first appear in the published version) and write a new ending. King Rinkitink, as a standalone book, was finally published in 2017, with a new prize-winning ending by Andrew J. Heller and new illustrations by Javi Laparra. I'm not sure this is exactly how Baum might have ended the book, but it is at least a satisfying conclusion, and it comes about through the efforts of Inga and Rinkitink, not someone else swooping in and taking over. The one change made to the earlier part of the book is that the name of the Nome King is changed from Kaliko to Roquat. That makes sense, as Roquat would have been the king in 1905. (He ended up changing his name to Ruggedo, but he was deposed and replaced by Kaliko in Tik-Tok of Oz. Despite the name, he is quite clearly Roquat in Rinkitink in Oz. In fact, the Nomes as they first appeared in the Oz books probably originated in King Rinkitink.) There were some references to Oz that, while I was reading it, I was surprised were left in, until I got to Helller's conclusion. Although nobody goes to Oz, nor do any characters from Oz appear, it's clear that this version of King Rinkitink takes place between Ozma of Oz and The Emerald City of Oz, as the NOme King has already had his first encounter with Ozma and Dorothy.

Heller does bring Inga's adventure to a satisfactory conclusion, but it does get a little silly at the end when we find out the final fate of Rinkitink (much as Baum wrote it in Rinkitink in Oz) and Bilbil. Things start to spiral out of control for a bit. However, the characters recognize this and comment on it.

Okay, that's it for now. Like I said, I will tell you why I needed to write this up very soon. And I hope to have some entries about other things I've read soon as well.