Tuesday, March 19, 2024

The Latest Oz Short Story

Oh, hey, what a surprise, it's another story from the 2023 edition of Oziana! This time around it's "A Rotten Pumpkin" by Suren Oganessian, illustrated by David Bishop. Jack Pumpkinhead laments that he's not terribly bright or well-respected, and the Sawhorse suggests that maybe that's due to Jack always carving such a broad grin and affable expression on his head. So Jack tries a new, frowning expression. Debuting his new head at Ozma's birthday party, it quickly turns out that Jack's head reflects a new personality. He's surly, sarcastic, and caustic. He picks fights with the Wogglebug and the Patchwork Girl, and outright proclaims his jealousy of the Scarecrow by denouncing the "brains" the Wizard gave him. Finally, in a fit of anger, Jack removes his head and smashes it on the ground! This is not going to go down as Ozma's happiest birthday. But she carves a new head for her son, with the old expression. His personality restored, Jack vows to apologize to his friends, and Ozma suspects they will probably apologize to him as well, for the way they've treated him over the years.

This is far from the first time alterations in Jack's head have also altered his personality, but this is the first time I recall a story where the change was, literally, of Jack's own making—and unmaking! There's also a lovely scene at the end of Ozma and Jack just happily being together, and some great introspection from both Jack and Ozma. Bishop's art is clean and well drawn, and show a lot of ersonality, which is especially important in both of Jack's different looks. Despite the new head making our protagonist becoming Jerk Pumpkinhead, I really enjoyed this one.

No comments: