Sunday, July 21, 2024

Today's Oz Comic

It's ironic that today's edition of The Argyle Sweater has to be printed in black and white to get the joke across, even though Sunday strips are generally prented in color. But maybe that's the paint! (One commentor pointed out that maybe the card should have been printed in color, just to make the point even plainer.)

Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Latest Oz Comic

I'm pretty sure this is a rerun, but today's edition of CowTown is pretty Ozzy!

Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Latest Reading

My reread of the works of Eloise Jarvis McGraw continues!

  • A Really Weird Summer is, well, weird, and Eloise's firsht brush with the supernatural. Nels' parents are getting a divorce and both working far away for the summer, so the kids are shuffled off to an aunt's place in rural eastern Oregon that used to be an inn. It's weird enough dealing with not having either parent, and dealing with their aunt and uncle's quirky ways, but when Nels spots a mysterious figure in a mirror, it just gets weirder. Alan befriends Nels and gives him something to focus on for the summer, but before long he realizes that there's something weird about Alan. How come Alan can't leave his rooms in the inn? Why does he never see Alan's mother, or any evidence of his father? But it takes Nels' brother, Stevie, to figure out that something is seriously wrong with Nels, and Stevie decides it's up to him to do something about it. Eloise has a great sense of knowing what's important in a kid's world, and uses that knowledge to give her stories depth and heft — three-dimensionality, as the late Warren Hollister put it. The weird stuff is never explicitly stated or explained, which just adds to the weirdness, but it is definitely there, adding a layer to at least Nels' experiences in the book. Although not the kind of book that usually has pictures, Eloise also contributed two drawings of the inn, before and after Nels' experineces, just to show how weird things are. Even though I doubt you could call this a mystery, I can see why the Mystery Writers of America gave its Edgar Award for Best Juvenile to this book.
  • Normally I only read one of Eloise's books at a time, but I know that Joel and the Great Merlini, her only book for very young readers, would be a quick read, so I added it. Joel loves doing magic tricks, but is frustrated that he can't always get them right, even with practice. So he wishes on the evening star, and the Great Merlini is there to help him out. Only trouble is, Merlini's idea of magic doesn't jibe with Joel's. Merlini practically takes over Joel's act and has Joel performing real magic, like pulling a St. Bernard out af a hat! At first, though, Joel doesn't mind, and he's a smash at the school's talent night. But Merlini's tricks are so good that Joel is suddenly doing shows several nights a week, and his schoolwork is suffering. Not only that, he becomes more and more uneasy that Merlini's doing most of the work. This leads Joel to have to make some very tough decisions, and dealing with Merlini. It's a fun little romp about integrity and persistence without getting preachy. Joel is definitely a good kid, even if it takes him a while to figure out the right thing to do.

Thursday, July 04, 2024

The Latest Oz Reading

Yup, catching up on some more Oz and Oz-adjacent reading I've done lately (for certain nebulous definitions of the word "lately"):

  • "Heart of Tin", the first novella in Dorothy Must Die Stories Volume 2 by Danielle Paige. Yeah, besides the main Dorothy Must Die series, Paige wrote a bunch of interrelated novellas, each from the viewpoint of a different character. As you can probably guess from the title, this one is about the Tin Woodman. It seems the heart the Wizard gave him worked a little too well, as he decides that he has fallen in love with Dorothy, and is sad that he'll probably never see her again. You can imagine his delight when she comes back to Oz, but he's confused and disappointed when she doesn't return that love. But his feelings become even more befuddled when Dorothy and Glinda use him and his love for Dorothy to carry out their agenda, and turn Tin into something even he doesn't understand. All I'm going to say about this one is, I think I'm going to need a complete Dorothy Must Die timeline once I finish the final novella (and there are five more to go)!
  • The Silver Shoes of Oz by Marin Elizabeth Xiques. This is both a reread and a new book, as this was originally published by Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends oer thirty years ago, and became one of their most requested reprints once it went out of print. Not long before he died, publisher Chris Dulabone finally put out a new, print-on-demand edition, which is what I read recently, even though I also have the first edition. Coming back across the Deadly Desert from a diplomatic mission to Foxville and Dunkiton, Ozma finds the long-missing Silver Shoes and brings them back to the Emerald City. Betsy Bobbin wants to investigate all the powers of the shoes, so she is allowed to take them out on an adventure with Scraps to test them out. Together, Betsy and Scraps find new Ozian villages, find out more about the shoes, and foil yet another attempt to conquer Oz. It's fun, if not particularly earth-shattering. The illustrations are by the late Chris Sterling, and I forgot just how good of an Oz illustrator he was.
  • Death Sleeps Lightly by Rachel C. Payes, the writer first published as Rachel C. Cosgrove. Yes, I'm still trying to acquire all the works of this Royal Historian, and this is one of her earliest after her foray into Oz. It's a murder mystery, in which young secretary Jill Haynes takes up a position on an isolated island assisting Mrs. Weber. Soon after she starts the job, Mrs. Weber dies under mysterious circumstances. Naturally murder is suspected, and as the most recent arrival to the household Jill is about the only one not suspected of the crime. Her curious nature leads to her snooping around and uncovering all kinds of clues, which eventually leads to the killer's identity. It's not a groundbreaking example of the genre, but Rachel plays the cards well and keeps everyone on their toes. She even throws in a little romance with Jill's attraction to the dashing chauffeur.
  • The Umbrellaphant in Oz by Carol P. Silva and Marin Elizabeth Xiques. Another latter-day offering from Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends. It's been a little while, and I don't remember much about it. But the star is Umbo, the flying umbrellaphant seen in Captain Salt in Oz, and he ends up saving the animals of the Springbok Forest (visited in many Tails books) from a three-eyed witch. I may have to reread this one sooner than anticipated.
  • Pick Your Own Quest: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Connor Hoover. Remember the old Choose Your Own Adventure Books? Yeah, this is in the same vein. You take the role of Dorothy and have to make choices along the way that can veer the story off in all kinds of directions you never anticipated. You may end up going home alone, or with one of your new Ozian friends. You may help an army of Scarecrows overrun the Emerald City. You may end up living in Oz, or stranded on a desert island. This was a lot of fun, and some of the storylines were very imaginative. But at only 135 pages and over thirty different endings, they tended to go very quickly! I'd love to see someone try to tackle a bigger, richer version of this, with more to do and even more ways to explore Oz.
  • Green by Alex Gino. I got this to take part in Down the Yellow Brick Pod's book club. I got it about a week before the meeting, so I had to put aside another book and tear through it! Fortunately, it's a short enough read that I got it done in plenty of time. Green is a non-binary middle school student with a supportive family and friends. Lately, they've been having odd feelings around another student, Ronnie. Green's not sure if Ronnie, who is definitely a cis male, would be interested in a non-binary person like them. But when the school puts on a less-than-traditional version of The Wizard of Oz, Green and Ronnie are thrown into a lot of work together as they both try to figure out their feelings. This was a fun read, and an eye-opener for this old cis guy. Green is a great kid, but they have to go through all the same angst that all the rest of us have to go through in middle school, and it all feels very raw and authentic to me. Now I want to compile a list of stories that revolve around putting on a stage production of The Wizard of Oz, as I now have at least a half dozen of them in my collection.
  • Finally, a book I may never quite get around to reading, but I've wanted to get El Mago de Oz: Edición Anotada for years now, but the few times I ever saw it for sale it was way out of my range. But I recently tried to find it again and discovered Buscalibre not only had it, it was on sale, so I snatched it up. I've been studying and learning Spanish for some time now, and this may be the ultimate test (well, before I try Don Quixote, at least). It's a translation of the 2000 edition of The Annotated Wizard of Oz by Michael Patrick Hearn, but this one is even bigger than that book because the text of The Wizard of Oz is in both the original English and a Spanish translation. This may be one to wait on until I'm retired.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

The Latest Oz Reading

Yes, I'm reading a lot of Oz stuff again. Not only that, I also have a pile of stuff I've read but not discussed here yet, some going back two or three years now! Yes, it's been a crazy time for me, but I'm on my summer break right now and I'm trying to deal with a lot of the clutter in my life right now, while I have the chance, before my summer gets extremely crazy in a few weeks. But more on that as things get closer, although there may be some hints in what I've been reading. Let's start with some books I've reread:

  • The Lost Princess of oz by L. Frank Baum. My slow progression through the Oz books, in order, has reached 1917. Lost Princess is particularly important to me because it was the last of the Baum books I owned as a kid, although I'd read the library's copy first. I then got it for Christmas from my always-supportivg grandparents. Looking in that original Reilly & Lee white edition, I noted the the inscription read 1975. This was a little over a year after I started collecting the books, so this year marks my fiftieth year as an Oz fan! Getting back to the story itself, it does hold up as an exciting adventure. It might seem overwhelming to keep track of as many characters as Baum put into this book, but they're all distinctive (well, except maybe for Betsy Bobbin and Trot), and it's plot is tight. Perhaps Baum should have introduced Ugu a little earlier, but the shock opening of so much Oz magic missing all at once certainly grabs the reader.
  • Kabumbo in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson. No, I'm not jumping ahead in my FF reading, it's just that the long-delayed Clover Press edition, with new illustartions by Sara Richard, arrived. Richard's style is a lot different from John R. Neill's, but her work is still gloriously Ozzy. Naturally she had to draw Ruggedo as a giant with the palace on his head, and it has the same impact as Neill's version. My biggest complaint is that there aren't enough illustrations. Come on, Clover Press, Oz is such a vivid place, let's see more of what it looks like! If you can't spring for more full-page color illustrations, put some black-and-white line drawings in the text.
  • Grampa in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson. Since it turns one hundred this year, and I needed some information from it for something coming up, I thought I'd also reread another Thompson book. I've always said that the basic stories of both Kabumpo and Grampa are the same, and reading them back to back just cemented that for me. These are archtypical Thompson, with a prince going out into Oz to save the kingdom and find a wife, only to find that their future bride was already traveling with them under an enchantment. That doesn't make Grampa any less fun, as it also has unusual locations and characters. Grampa didn't strike me as being quite as strong as Kabumpo, but it was still a fun read.
  • Visitors from Oz by Martin Gardner. Did I mention my busy summer coming up? I wanted to reread this for another project that's coming up. For a book about Dorothy traveling back to modern-day America, she takes an awfully long time to get there. And when Gardner takes unnecessary side plots, he doesn't mess around! On their way to the remote part of Oz where they can visit America, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Sawhorse end up visiting the old Greek gods of Olympus and Wonderland! But after these diversions, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman finally make it to modern-day New York to help a movie mogul publicize his upcoming Oz movie. It goes about as well as you'd expect, with the tabloid press accusing them of being actors (and the Tin Woodman a robot), a rival studio sending mobsters to go after them, you know, the usual sort of thing. It is pretty clover, though, and Dorothy has much to contemplate about how much America has changed since she last lived there. This being Gardner, mathematics is used in a clever way to travel between Oz and New York. I think Gardner was much more successful writing articles and essays about Oz, but an a one-time experiment, this is a fun one.
  • Master Cornhill by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. My reread of the works of Eloise Jarvis Mcraw has hit the '70s, and this is one of my favorites. Michael Cornhill is eleven and finds himself on his own in London during the Plague and must figure out how to survive. He taken under the wing of Tom Godfrey, a balladeer, but his friend Susanna keeps reminding him that it's not the only, or best, way to make ones lot in life. Then the Great Fire of London strikes, and everyone does all that they can to survive. McGraw had written historicals about ancient Egypt and the Old West, but this is her first one about Great Britian, and it's clear she's done her research. The little details and Michael's reactions feel so genuine and give a real sense of what seventeenth century London must have been like.
  • One new book I recently read seems to be the second of a series of non-Oz books by L. Frank Baum, after The Maid of Arran. The new reprint edition of The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows and Interiors makes one of Baum's rarest books available again. This is for Baum completists only, as it's exactly what the title says. It's an interesting time capsule of the early days of department stores and how they attracted customers. Baum compiled many clever ways for stores to display their wares and draw people in. Had his fiction writing career not taken off the way it did, this kind of work may have supported Baum instead. Since I've now read some new Baum reprints, I'm now adding Baum's non-Oz books into my regular readings, but most of them I already have and they'll be rereadings.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Today's Recent Oz Comic

Free Range is one of those comics I don't read on a regular basis, if at all. So I'm grateful to my man in Japan, Michael-sensei, for spotting this edition from the other day. This is one that was probably inevitable, but I don't think anyone has done it before.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Oz in Jeopardy!

I haven't had a chance to do ose of these in a very long time, due to all kinds of technical issues, as well as just not having time. But Jeopardy! kindly put up this clip from a recent show highlighting one category. Let's see how long it takes for its inclusion here to become apparent:

Yeah, not long at all, was it?

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Today's Belated Oz Comics

I know the past few months have been crazy, both personally and professionally, but I didn't realize just how crazy until I found a bunch of Oz comics from April I never posted here!

  • From Close to Home on April 9: Okay, he doesn't look terribly Ozzy. But under the circumstances and with that dialogue, maybe we can name him an honorary Ozian.
  • From Cornered, also on April 9: Yup, I think we're all glad he didn't join Dorothy and the gang.
  • From Baby Blues on April 10: I'm not sure if Hammie really knows what a witch is and can do. But at least Darryl is using it to his advantage.
  • And finally, from Wondermark for April 10: They use John R. Neill's art from The Scarecrow of Oz one more time.
  • There was also apparently an Oz reference in Six Chix on April 11, but my access to that appears to no longer be valid. If anyone out there can find it and send it to me, I would be grateful.

Today's New Oz Comic

Today in Barney and Clyde, let's just say he's not wrong. (The Wizard of Oz did top the AFI's list of best fantasy films, and came in at #43 in their top thrillers. Had the sci-fi list been longer than just a top ten, it could have made that one, too.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Today's Vintage Oz Comic

Today's rerun of Liberty Meadows is but a tiny part of a long, complicated, recurring story line. So don't try to understand what's going on, just appreciate that Frank Cho slipped in a reference to The Wizard of Oz.

Monday, June 17, 2024

New "Wicked" Ad!

Last night on the Tony Awards, a new ad for Wicked debuted. (As if they really need to tell Broadway fans about it!) It looked a lot like this:

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Today's Oz Comic

Over in Loose Parts today, an insight into an Oz that could have been.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Today's Oz Comics

Something old and something new today:

  • The old is this classic encounter, which was reprinted today on
  • The new is today's edition of Herb and Jamaal. I'm with you, Jamaal. There was a year or two as a kid that I had to go to bed early during the annual television broadcasts, because the Wicked Witch and the Winged Monkeys were freaking me out so much. This was before I became an Oz fan, however.

Friday, June 07, 2024

Today's Vintage Oz Comic

A little bit of Oz creeps into today's classic rerun of Bloom County.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Latest Oz Comic Rerun

PreTeena wrapped up in 2008, and so this is the third goaround for reruns on GoComics. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy Teena's taste in show tunes while she's taking a bath!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Wicked Trailer Is Here!

Well I know what I'm doing on Thanksgiving this year (and it does not involve a turkey):

Monday, May 13, 2024

The Latest Oz Short Story

Not only the latest, but also the last, at least for now. The final story from the 2023 issue of Oziana is "Glinda and the Glass Cat" by J. L. Bell, with illustrations by Anna-Maria Cool. Bungle, the Glass Cat, is causing mischief in the Quadling Country. Chasing some of the denizens of the China Country, Glinda corrals Bungle and mentions earlier escapades with the Cuttenclips and the citizens of Bunnybury. Glinda admonishes Bungle, and warns the cat to avoid the hills to the east. But besides being a powerfur sorceress, it seems Glinda is also a master psychologist, because she knows those hills are now irrestistible to Bungle's feline curiosity. Wouldn't you know, those hills are where Glinda has relocated the Hammerheads! Bungle is not wild about meeting them, so she seeks refuge in a neighboring forest, which turns out to be the Fighting Trees! Duly chastened, Bungle thinks it may be best to stay away from that part of the Quadling Country for a while. What really struck me about this story is that every single character was created by L. Frank Baum. There was no need to use characters created by any other writers, nor to create any new ones. Yet it is totally original and in keeping with all that we know already of those characters. This is quite an accomplishment for such a brief story.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Today's Oz Camic

Today in Bizarro, Dorothy delivers an environmental message. (Maybe he needs to use some Baum's Castorine! Yes, they're still around!)

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

The Latest Oz Short Story

My life has been crazy busy lately. How busy? I read "Fortune Favors the Wogglebug" by Paul Dana with illustrations by Dennis Anfuso from the 2023 edition of Oziana a couple of weeks ago, but I'm only getting around to writing it up now! It seems the Ozites took the death of L. Frank Baum pretty seriously. Who would tell their stories now? Professor Wogglebug takes possession of the magic telegraph, because Dorothy is sure that she won't use it again, and he's interested in it. The Professor is ruminating about how he would like to have the books written, with a lot more puns (he did manage to sneak a couple of chapters into The Emerald City of Oz), and how the telegraph symbolized that dream for him. Then, much to his surprise, a message comes in over the telegraph, from a writer with the initials RPT who also loves a good pun&ellips;

This is a fun little behind-the-scenes look at how the Oz stories came to be published in our world, and why the tone changed from one author to the next. (I wonder, did the Patchwork Girl correspond with John R. Neill? Who were the sources for the other writers after World War II?) We also get a little look inside the Professor's head.

Only one more story to go in this issue! I'm not quite sure when I'll get to it, but things have eased up a lot, so probably soon.

Today's Oz Comic

It barely counts, but see if you can spot a reference to an Oz character in today's edition of One Big Happy. (This is not the first time this character has been referred to in this way in this comic...)