Monday, July 08, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

The 2003 issue of Oziana was the culmination of a chaotic time for the magazine. As interim editor Joel Harris put it in the issue's introduction: "This is the third annual issue I've overseen in the last six months, which must be an Oz Club record, not to mention a temporal warp." A combination of factors had delayed several issues and put Oziana in danger of ending, but Harris's stewardship not only brought its publishing schedule back up to date, it also gave it a big creative shot in the arm. Case in point, this issue's first story, "The Bashful Baker of Oz" by Kieran Miller, and illustrated by Luciano Vecchio. In the small Gillikin village of Crafton, everyone has a manual skill, and uses it for the betterment of the community. Maria's skill is baking, so she worries that her skill does not produce permanent artifacts, like furniture or books. She's also introverted and a little bit anxious, so she's afraid that everybody likes her only for her cakes and pastries, and not for her. So when the dashing Lord Luka comes calling on her from the Emerald City, naturally she eventually decides to go see him in the capital. Once she gets there, however, he turns out to be difficult to find, as nobody in the palace has heard of him. Jellia Jamb takes Maria under her wing, however, and manages to find Luka in the most unexpected place. This is a fun little story, and gives some great insight into what it's like to be a common, ordinary Ozian who doesn't live in the palace and has adventures every month or so. Maria is a great, well-realized character whom I'm sure many readers can identify with. And thanks to the rights under which Oziana can publish material from the entire Oz series, we also see quite a bit into the workings of Jenny Jump's Turn-Style shop. No, it turns out Jenny isn't the only one who works there, as she needs a whole staff to keep things going.

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