Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Royal Podcast of Oz: An Interview With David Maxine

The Royal Podcast of Oz is pleased to present an interview with David Maxine, operator of Hungry Tiger Press! As always, you can listen and download at the podcast site, or listen below.

This was one of the easier podcasts to do, as it mainly required just amplifying David's audio (I had to do this one Skype-to-phone, instead of Skype-to-Skype, but it was very audible), and trimming out mainly extra silence. Thanks again, David!

JD: How did you get into Oz?
DM: Like many, I saw the MGM movie on TV first when I was four or five years old, then when I was in second grade, my teacher read us most of the Baum books aloud, a couple chapters each day after lunch. It got me interested, and I had my mom buy me the Rand McNally paperbacks that were just then coming out. That's pretty much how it started. I joined the Oz Club when I was 13, started attending Oz conventions, and it just evolved into an obsession.
JD: How did Hungry Tiger Press come about.
DM: It's kind of the Oz Club's fault. My partner, Eric Shanower, had been considering starting a publishing company to publish his series Age of Bronze, but in the end, he went with Image Comics, so we didn't do that. But I had been trying for a number of years to let the Oz Club let me have Oziana, because I had a vision to turn it into a much more substantial magazine. I tried for about four years to convince them to let me try editing and improving it, but they kept saying "No." So, I took the idea of starting a publishing company and making an Oz fiction magazine, and started Hungry Tiger Press with Oz Story Magazine.
Recently, Eric and I both updated our websites, and I tried to improve the Hungry Tiger Website with a new blog, Hungry Tiger Talks. It's got a lot of views, and a lot of it is promotional material, or sharing items from mine and Eric's collections. Little essays or reviews that people might find interesting.
JD: And you also do CDs and really nice editions of Baum and Oz-related books.
DM: The CDs were something I never originally thought of, but when I got interested in the early Oz musicals, my friend James Patrick Doyle and I started putting together rare Oz music tracks together for our own enjoyment, and then we realized we could do a CD. This wasn't too long after it became affordable for people to produce their own CDs. I followed our first CD, "Before the Rainbow," with a 2-CD set of recordings of songs from the original Wizard of Oz musical, and the Woggle-Bug, and the Tik-Tok Man of Oz. It's done really well.
JD: Some of my listeners were wondering what's next for Hungry Tiger Press?
DM: I'm hesitant to answer that question because word gets out and people begin asking where it is and ask if they can pay  in advance, but probably our next project is going to be a cheap song book of the original Wizard of Oz musical songs, as well as the complete King Kojo. And probably soon after, the next Daring Twins book.
JD: One of my listeners was really wondering about that one.
DM: It takes time and money to do these, and while I'm proud of the Pawprint Series, they don't sell terribly well. It's more of a labor of love. The summer's really bad because of all the conventions we attend. It will happen, maybe in the next six months.
JD: You just mentioned the conventions, and I know you've been involved with the Winkie Convention the past couple years, including chairing last year's convention.
DM: Yes, I chaired Winkies last year, and will do it again next year. Basically, our conventions have been shrinking, and we lost the Ozmapolitan and Munchkins conventions, at least for right now, I wanted to be sure Winkies remained strong. Eric and I both knew people who would go to Winkies that we had met at comic and fantasy conventions. I really wanted to improve Winkies, and thought one person at the helm for a few years might be a good idea. So, we've planned to go over it for about four or five years and make the convention bigger and stronger.
JD: I actually got to go to Winkies last month, and I know you guys weren't there because you were at the San Diego Comic Con, because Eric was winning awards for his Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic series. I heard you were pretty excited about that.
DM: Oh, yes, we were, but it was really unfortunate that the two conventions happened on the same weekend. It's happened a couple times before, but not in quite a few years. There'll be no overlapping next year. It's hard not to go to Comic Con, because we have a booth every year and Eric has his Age of Bronze series to promote. But when he got the two nominations for the Oz comics, we couldn't really miss it. And he won! Both of them! And we should be at both Comic Con and Winkies next year.
JD: And even though you weren't at Winkies, you still printed up the convention book. And there were a few other things you'd arranged, like the presentation about the Flying Girl that Robert Baum gave solo, and he did a great job.
DM: Bob and I had been planning that Flying Girl talk, and we planned to do it together. In the end I wound up writing most of it, but he contributed a lot as well, and then he presented it.
The program book is something I'd been wanting to do for a number of years, and the previous chairmen didn't think it was a good idea. So, when I chaired the convention, I went ahead and did it and everyone liked it so much, it's a new Winkie tradition! In the future, we should continue to have a nice program guide.
JD: Oh yeah, I didn't get around to reading mine until I got home, but it was really well put together.
DM: That may have been why some were hesitant about the idea. 140 pages is a bit to read and look at when you're at the convention. But it does provide supplemental material for the convention, if people have the time to look at it, for example this year's had a lengthy excerpt from "The Flying Girl," and some samples of Frank Kramer's drawings, which was the background for Atticus' presentation on him.
JD: There's a question someone brought up, and I think you've mainly already addressed it, they asked about this surge of going over to print on demand. You've already mentioned you put a lot of work into your books, and that really sets it aside from the plain vanilla reprints that have appeared, using just the text or using a poor scan.
DM: I think the strength of Hungry Tiger Press is that we do put together these handsome editions, and there are so many mediocre or horrid print on demand titles, like the Aunt Jane's Nieces reprints, where you'll find it's just an e-text dumped into a generic format, with a generic cover, and they want $30 for it. Why not re-typeset it, or get the original halftone plates, or get someone to write a foreword? These little things make the book a lot more interesting.
JD: Someone also asked about the Wonderland of Oz comic strips that you've reprinted. He was wondering how they were compiled.
DM: It's a long, complicated process. Eric and I had been both been collecting the strips, and right after we began Hungry Tiger Press, we acquired large collections of the strips. And Eric had bought issues of "The Funnies" that had reprinted them in color. We got the idea to reprint all of the material in a gigantic book called "The Wonderland of Oz," but it seemed an awful lot of work to get done. So, when I was doing Oz-Story, he had the idea to just do chunks of it, and we printed half of "Land of Oz" in the first issue, and throughout the six issues, reprinted the series through "The Emerald City of Oz." We plan to eventually finish "Patchwork Girl" and "Tik-Tok," perhaps as separate volumes, but we do intend to finally make the complete volume. We have to carefully scan and restore the artwork, and Eric adds touch-ups and word balloons, because we felt that was easier to read than the strips' original format.
JD: There was an interesting listener question that I made sure you knew about in advance, because it's not really Oz-related, but it's what are you and Eric doing about Proposition 8 in California?
DM: It is an interesting question. We haven't really had to do much except be happy it's been overturned. We're registered domestic partners in the state of California, which the state views as the same as being married. But if it's not recognized by federal law, there's still no difference between being registered as domestic partners and marriage in California. It's been overturned, so it's just a matter of time until it's all settled. I hope that answered the question.
JD: I'm actually running out of questions here! But back when I interviewed Eric Shanower, there was a question he said I should really ask you, and that was how did you meet the late James Patrick Doyle?
DM: It was through what was then the Ozzy Digest, which has since become Regalia. James was a lurker there, and I had been posting about the 1903 Wizard of Oz musical and some sheet music I had, and in 1997, I turned on the computer one day, and there was a notification that he wanted to chat with me. In 1997, I hardly knew what chatting was. And he says, "So, you want to talk about the 1903 Wizard?" And he started sharing information, then music files, sheet music, and all these resources. He made a presentation at the centennial convention in 2000, but shortly after, he died very suddenly in 2001 with no warning. It's quite a loss.
It's not as well known as his other Oz projects, but he did write a new musical based on "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," for the Toronto Civic Light Opera Company. They're mounting a large scale revival of it this Christmas. If you can go, it's a really faithful adaptation, it's got the field mice and the China Country. It's not your typical Oz musical.
JD: All right, and is there anything else you'd like to add before we close out?
DM: I certainly reccomend the Winkie Convention next year to anyone who likes Baum or Oz. There's a monthly e-mail newsletter that has updates and a lot of information about the convention. And you can also check Hungry Tiger Talk and the Winkie Con Facebook event page. Tell your friends about Baum and Oz, and the Winkie Convention, and keep Oz alive!
JD: And with that, I gotta get going, thanks again, David.
DM: You're welcome!
JD: And that closes out the Royal Podcast of Oz, have a good day everyone and thanks for listening!

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