Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Latest Reading, Part II

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.
Yay, I've hit the floor! That is, indeed, all for now. But I have a few other titles I'm working through, so there will likely be an update before too long.

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