Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Check this out!

Hey, that Nome King comic strip I posted the Sunday before last? Well, S.P. Maldonado of S.P. Maldonado's Oz art asked me if he could re-draw it. I agreed, so... Check this out!

I started following his blog when I noticed it. The guy posts a new, original piece of Oz artwork drawn in his own unique style.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A rather compromising situation...

So, if you remember, sometime back I said I was going to start using Adobe Flash to do animated videos?

Well, to do my first project, a friend told me he wanted to make a video for a song he'd written and recorded, and I offered my help.

The thing is, I figured it'd work best if I animated it...

So, I decided, "Hey, he's singing the song and playing it, he should be in it, just animated."

Okay, sketching a "cartoon" version of your friend's face is one thing. Scanning it in, that's okay. Drawing over the scan with thick lines, that's cool. Drawing a body for friend in their animated form, also cool... Zooming into do detailing on certain areas below the shirt...

...

...

...

... I lost it.

... Oh, how we artists suffer for our art... In our minds!

Another "Oz in a bookstore" dream. This time, it was in a thrift store or flea market. It was a large, thick book that contained the text of "All of L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz Books, Even Little Wizard Stories." (Yes, it seriously said that!) It was a hardcover, but it was one of those where the cover is pretty soft. It said it had "selected illustrations," but the ones on the front cover were not Neill or Denslow. It looked like a poor imitation of Denslow. The characters shown on the front in a corner were the Wizard, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman.

Weird.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dreams

Okay, before I leap into a short blog, I'm going to note that the blog looks a bit different... I upgraded from template to layout at last. I removed the video player that would play the "Wonders" series (fondly nicknamed "The Wonders Widget") as it slowed down the blog for people with slow computers (like me). I also removed the link for the short-lived networking version of the International Wizard of Oz Club Forums, as that site was re-focused, and is accessible through the Club's site. Unfortunately, I couldn't retain the categories I had the links in, but I did retain the order. Also, I added a spot to view my "followers."

Okay, now for the blog...

I have a bit of a confession. I am one Oz fan who has not had a dream where he visits Oz.

I know other Oz fans have had such dreams, but not me.

I did once have a dream where I met one of my "Oz friends," and we visited a bookstore, and I came across a set of Oz books in matching editions. For some reason, I was excited, my friend was not and said it was time for them to go home. (Which I was disappointed at, because of the other, non-Ozzy half of my dream where I lost and found them at a large outdoor event...)

The set of books was quite interesting. They were all paperback, with plain spines. But the front covers each featured an illustration from the book with an odd green pattern around them. The title of the book was printed in a blank white area in a plain, elegant typeface. The author's name was below. I believe the whole Famous Forty was there... Despite the plain designs of the books, the effects of the black picture against the white background with the green pattern was quite eye-catching.

Still, I wonder if my inability to fully envision Oz visually in my mind affects my inability to actually dream about it. Seemingly all my dreams take place in the world I've been living in for over 22 years. And they're all so vivid, I have to wonder when I awake if it was a dream or if I really lived it. (How many times have I missed work because of impossible circumstances? Only in my dreams.)

And now, knowing my luck, I'll probably have my first dream in Oz tonight since I mentioned it. (Or not.)

(And here's another dream I had that I posted on my personal blog. I get a chuckle remembering it.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Gnome King and the Nome King

Yes, a blog about our favorite Ozian villain, King Ruggeddo of the Nomes, formerly King Roquat of the Rocks.

We all know that Roquat made his debut in Ozma of Oz:

This important monarch of the Underground World was a little fat man clothed in gray-brown garments that were the exact color of the rock throne in which he was seated. His bushy hair and flowing beard were also colored like the rocks, and so was his face. He wore no crown of any sort, and his only ornament was a broad, jewel-studded belt that encircled his fat little body. As for his features, they seemed kindly and good humored, and his eyes were turned merrily upon his visitors as Ozma and Dorothy stood before him with their followers ranged in close order behind them.

"Why, he looks just like Santa Claus--only he isn't the same color!" whispered Dorothy to her friend; but the Nome King heard the speech, and it made him laugh aloud.

"'He had a red face and a round little belly That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly!'"

quoth the monarch, in a pleasant voice; and they could all see that he really did shake like jelly when he laughed.


Santa Claus? Hmmm... You know, that reminds me of a scene in Baum's The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus...

His (Santa Claus') first act was to visit the Gnome King, with whom he made a bargain to exchange three drums, a trumpet and two dolls for a pair of fine steel runners, curled beautifully at the ends. For the Gnome King had children of his own, who, living in the hollows under the earth, in mines and caverns, needed something to amuse them.


Well, first off, we notice that the king in Baum's biography of Santa is the Gnome King, not the Nome King. (You realize reading that aloud will make no sense...)

Oz and Baum fans have wondered if these two kings are connected, as Baum wrote the word "Nome" in Ozma to be the same as "Gnome," but written in a style that children would find easier to pronounce. (Ruth Plumly Thompson changed the spelling to "Gnome" in her Oz stories.)

You know, I wonder if he had the same idea in mind for The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, but maybe an editor at Bobbs-Merrill thought it was a misspelling. Baum wasn't happy with Bobbs-Merrill's editions of his works, since they were mainly a large reprint house. When Reilly & Britton offered to make him their star author, he was only too glad to jump for it. Sadly, this is nothing but my conjecture, and could only be verified or disproven by an examination of the manuscript, which, to my knowledge, no longer exists. (Boy, I can digress... This paragraph was going to be a parentheses.)

Some fans argue that the existence of gnome children is proof that the two kings are not the same. I have to disagree, though Baum never mentions the Nomes having children. All the same, just because someone or something isn't mentioned, doesn't mean it's not there. And even though her books aren't the best, Nome children play an important part in Sherwood Smith's Trouble Under Oz, one being a child of Roquat/Ruggedo.

Other fans say that the Gnome King is pretty jolly. Well, we saw that Roquat in Ozma could be jolly as well in that quote above. Yet, the Nome King of the Oz books is best remembered as a villain... Or is he?

...Tiktok spoke.

"Why should you fight the Nome King?" he asked. "He has done no wrong."

"No wrong!" cried Dorothy. "Isn't it wrong to imprison a queen mother and her ten children?"

"They were sold to the Nome King by King Ev-ol-do," replied Tiktok. "It was the King of Ev who did wrong, and when he re-al-ized what he had done he jumped in-to the sea and drowned him-self."

"This is news to me," said Ozma, thoughtfully. "I had supposed the Nome King was all to blame in the matter. But, in any case, he must be made to liberate the prisoners."

"My uncle Evoldo was a very wicked man," declared the Princess Langwidere. "If he had drowned himself before he sold his family, no one would have cared. But he sold them to the powerful Nome King in exchange for a long life, and afterward destroyed the life by jumping into the sea."

"Then," said Ozma, "he did not get the long life, and the Nome King must give up the prisoners. Where are they confined?"

"No one knows, exactly," replied the Princess. "For the king, whose name is Roquat of the Rocks, owns a splendid palace underneath the great mountain which is at the north end of this kingdom, and he has transformed the queen and her children into ornaments and bric-a-brac with which to decorate his rooms."

"I'd like to know," said Dorothy, "who this Nome King is?"

"I will tell you," replied Ozma. "He is said to be the Ruler of the Underground World, and commands the rocks and all that the rocks contain. Under his rule are many thousands of the Nomes, who are queerly shaped but powerful sprites that labor at the furnaces and forges of their king, making gold and silver and other metals which they conceal in the crevices of the rocks, so that those living upon the earth's surface can only find them with great difficulty. Also they make diamonds and rubies and emeralds, which they hide in the ground; so that the kingdom of the Nomes is wonderfully rich, and all we have of precious stones and silver and gold is what we take from the earth and rocks where the Nome King has hidden them."

"I understand," said Dorothy, nodding her little head wisely.

"For the reason that we often steal his treasures," continued Ozma, "the Ruler of the Underground World is not fond of those who live upon the earth's surface, and never appears among us. If we wish to see King Roquat of the Rocks, we must visit his own country, where he is all powerful, and therefore it will be a dangerous undertaking."


In this quote, we get a good, all-around look at the Nome King. He seems to be, in fact, not inherently evil, but is more comparable to a loan shark, or a bank who is ready to repossess. (Baum dealt with several through his life.) He's ready to take back what is his, which happens in the Oz series. He made a deal with Evoldo, and kept his end of the bargain. Ozma takes a bargain he offers, and sure enough, Billina wins the bargain in the side of Oz fair and square. (Notably, she made a deal with the Nome King to take part in the bargain.) Ozma takes the Magic Belt, and his scheme to conquer Oz in The Emerald City of Oz was to get the Belt back. (While Ozma could be seen as confiscating the Belt, it is notable that she may have been overstepping her boundaries, though it's actually Dorothy and Billina who take the belt, but Ozma didn't return it.) After Emerald City, Roquat becomes Ruggedo, and adopts a more villainous attitude.

The whole bargaining bit does seem to match the Gnome King. He does bargain with Santa for toys for his children in return for an item Santa wants. Likely Santa's compliant attitude towards him warms him up to voting for Claus' "reward" at the climax of The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, this way he can make more deals with a client who keeps his end of the bargain. Remember that by Ozma of Oz, the Nome King is feeling bitter that other humans are taking his minerals without a proper exchange. (I once theorized that perhaps his ornament collection was the result of many exchanges he'd made for use of metal and stone.)

So, is the Gnome King of The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus the same as the Nome King of the Oz books? I think so.

(Everyone is welcome to disagree.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dragging my feet

Sorry that I haven't done a good blog in awhile, I kind of lost some of motivation, there.

Yesterday, I attempted to finish re-editing Wonders 11, but then wound up talking to some other Oz fans on Pidgin, then called another on Skype. Due to my buggy computer, (WHICH I MIGHT BE REPLACING NEXT MONTH, WOO-HOO!) the fourth time was the charm (after a reboot), and Sam Milazzo and I spoke for over a half hour. (As for the other two Oz fans, I won't say who they were...) It's odd, calling someone who's living in Monday morning, when it's still Sunday evening for you... (We figured out the time difference was exactly fifteen hours.)

Ugh... And I need to hit Adobe Flash hardcore. I kind of got myself in a pickle, but hope to make a non-Oz music video, completely animated, for Halloween.

In fact, it seems I might be having my hand in FOUR Halloween videos this year, two of them Ozzy... Heheh... "HE IS COMING... FOR YOUR CHILDREN... YOU CAN'T HIDE..."

EDIT: Oh, Blogger has enabled Blog-following, which is like subscribing to YouTube channels, just for blogs. Some of my more vocal blog commentators will find (if they check my Blogger profile) that I'm watching them! Unlike YouTube, it can read just about any RSS feed on any site, but works best with blogs.

There's spots where your "followers" appear on your blog's sidebar. However, it isn't appearing here, because I'd need to change my blog from "Template" to "Layout," and doing that will delete all of my links that I got so nicely set up... (I tried it before, and was lucky I was able to restore it.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Scot

I took a photo of my cat Scot last Friday, and got it yesterday:



Unfortunately... I'll never be taking any more photos of him: please see this entry in my personal blog.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Anything of Oz

I know I keep bringing Al Cook up, but why not? He loves John R. Neill's artwork, and said that this was his favorite piece:



He and I were talking about this piece (via IM), and he mentioned that he thought it would be great if someone made a story out of it. Then he went on to say that it would be even better if it was a series of interconnected stories...

... So... Considering that I administrate a site for fan fiction... I whipped this up: LINKAGE!

We're both stumped as to why Neill drew the "OZ" insignia backwards, though... "Z" is a pretty hard letter to do backwards.

It dried...

Well, it took awhile, but my Winter 2007 Baum Bugle is dry now, and I actually read it a few days ago... (Just didn't blog about it until now.)

(1st of 3 overdue blog entries I usually do... Ah, well, it's not like I make money from blogging...)

I was a little surprised to find my name credited as a contributor to this issue's Oz and Ends, but I guess maybe it was from a posting I'd done on the Club forums.

This issue highlights the centennial of Ozma of Oz with articles about it from Atticus Gannaway and Micheal O. Riley. Gannaway examines the uniqueness of Ozma, while Riley talks about how Ozma was the first book with a series in mind and how it and the next three books work as a unit.

Shortly after reading this issue, I called Matt Bloom, who mentioned (without my bringing it up) that Ozma opens with the storm at sea, instead of Baum's usual exposition to introduce the characters. He also noted the man who Dorothy mistakes for Uncle Henry. I jokingly claimed it was "a ghost," and then Bloom asked "Is there a precedent for ghosts in Baum?" (Yes, there is.)

Eric Gjovaag was allowed a number of pages (the article spans six) to review the Tin Man mini-series. In addition to the review and pictures, Oz collector Sharon Ray offered a side bar that covered many of the Tin Man promotional materials, all of which were give-aways or used in promotion, and not sold. The fourth page of the article contained responses to the mini-series from fans. Included is a brief excerpt from this blog. (I'm one of the more positive-sounding people...)

Also included are the customary book reviews, as well as the Fred Meyer memorial quiz, and a list of the L. Frank Baum award winners.

And yeah, that's it...

Just wait until the next issue...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sketchy Details

I've been a little excited about that animation to open the Wonders finale. (I wanted to be a Disney animator when I was a little kid. Now, I have the opportunity to animate, but I wouldn't do it for Disney...)

Anyways, here are some idea's I've had... I sketched these with ink pens and mechanical pencils on scrap paper, so...


The Palace of the Emerald City, based on a photo of the Mitchell Library in Glasgow from Al Cook's blog.

A sketch of the towers of the Emerald City. Those squiggly lines are supposed to represent marble, which I can't seem to draw...

This is how Ozma's dress will look from the front in the animation. I've done no back sketches. Note that the sleeves (which are supposed to be green) attach to green cape/cloak, that I plan to have a gold version of John R. Neill's OZ insignia on the back. Also, I was going to do a full body picture of Ozma, but had no room for her head in proper proportion, so just imagine that Ozma's dress is on a headless mannequin, or Langwidere is modeling it without wearing a head...

Ozma's face, not too different from Neill's idea. I can't seem to avoid making her hair look wet...

THIS is not going into the animation, it was just a fun scribble...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Universe Is Not Liking Me Today

Get up, 5:15 AM, got to get ready for work. They have me come in an hour earlier than I was originally scheduled. So, I work an eight hour shift, which I don't mind. I even don't mind too much when they forget to give my break. So, I manage to get off work, and it's still raining out.

My bus is, as usual, late, but my umbrella serves me well. So, I get home (my knee is feeling worse than ever since last week), check the mailbox, and there's the new Baum Bugle! (And a bank statement and a political pamphlet...)

As I try to head to my building, I try to close my umbrella, but in doing so, turn my mp3 player (hey, when you have to wait for a bus, you gotta find some way to kill time) back on, as I'd just turned it off. I have a minute battle between the two, trying to get one closed and the other to stay off. And, to make the mix even sweeter, my right eyeglass lens falls out (fortunately on the Bugle).

I head upstairs, unlock my door and head in, fix my glasses, and then discover a large corner of the envelope that the Bugle is in is wet. I tear open the envelope and discover the Bugle and the two inserts for the Fred Meyer Collection Auction and the Wizard of Oz cruise next year are also wet. (I swear, the mailmen around here...)

I did flip through the Bugle to make sure the pages didn't stick, but full enjoyment will have to wait until it dries... Luckily, I have tomorrow off.

(I'm not complaining about my day, just hoping you all get a chuckle out of reading it. The usual rule is that "It's funny when it's not you," but even I got a chuckle or two out of looking back over it.)