Hmmm... Is it fair for me to talk about Oziana #38? I mean... I have a story in it, helped with another, then checked half the issue for typos. So... Hmmm... How to tackle this?
So, Oziana is the creative magazine of The International Wizard of Oz Club. It began in 1971 and has been published by the Club until now. #38 (which is retroactively numbered, since we had an issue for 2007, then a double issue for 2009 and 2010, so #38 is meant to fill in for 2008, with a new issue coming later this year for 2011 and one already in editing stages for 2012) is the first issue to be hosted on Lulu.com, meaning the Club is free from paying for a print run, while at the same time offering a high-quality printed magazine. By permission of Reilly & Lee, Oziana stories are allowed to freely reference any books and characters from the Famous Forty. A number of Oz writers who are well known today got their start in Oziana.
Alex Garcia of Spain illustrates the cover of #38 as well as two stories. The cover shows a variety of characters from the story in a welcoming and exciting pose against the Emerald City.
The first story is "Executive Decisions" by new Oz writer David Tai. And this is the story I claim I helped with, though really, David did just well on his own. David served as editor on my upcoming book Outsiders from Oz, and there is a part in the book in which Dorothy is left to manage affairs of state in the Emerald City while Ozma is away. David thought I should tell about what Dorothy would do, but I was too busy writing everything else to throw in another subplot, so I decided not to visit this.
Another thing that happened was my blog about The Lost King of Oz and the surprising responses to it. David decided to tie these together into his first Oz short story.
"Executive Decisions" finds Dorothy fulfilling the duty of holding court so the people of Oz can air their grievances. When Mombi enters the throne room complaining about mushroom people building a tunnel under her house, Dorothy, Trot, and Betsy are surprised to see Mombi alive. They begin investigating Mombi's execution, and begin to find many questions before they finally get the answer.
Not only does David tell a good, compelling story and keep the characters in character, he manages to make Dorothy, Trot, and Betsy sound like different characters. (Let's face it, some stories feel like they used Betsy or Trot to avoid overusing Dorothy. Yes, Thompson, I'm looking at you.) Kim McFarland, author and illustrator of A Refugee in Oz, illustrates the story, with wonderfully done depictions of the characters taking cue from Neill, while mixed with Kim's own style.
And then we come to "Bud and the Red Jinn" by Jared Davis. I was commissioned to write the story simply because King Bud of Noland and Jinnicky the Red Jinn of Ev were on the cover but were not in any of the stories. Since I was still at work on Outsiders at the time, I got help coming up with the plot. As it is, the story is only three pages long, stretched to four with a couple of beautiful illustrations by Anna-Maria Cool.
Writing this story was fun. When I was asked to write about Jinnicky, I had to admit that I'd read nothing substantial featuring the character. I quickly got a copy of The Silver Princess in Oz. This way, if for some reason we couldn't be cleared by Oziana's Famous Forty permissions, I could claim the character's depiction was based solely on public domain material. I had read Queen Zixi of Ix many times, so I was familiar with Bud and other characters that I might reference. (And we managed to get Anna-Maria to base her Zixi on Fredric Richardson's instead of Neill.)
The story simply has Bud and Fluff making a formal visit to Zixi for her Queen's Festival, where Bud meets Jinnicky for the first time. (Since Ix is bordered by Ev, it made sense that he might be invited as well.) The two become friends and head outside, where they intercept a surprise visit by Prince Bobo of Boboland, who is about to make a very serious mistake.
I came up with the idea that Bobo has been sailing around the Ozian continent to make peaceful connections with all countries, and I'll tease you now that what I wrote for him in Ix is only a very small part of that adventure!
As for how good "Bud and the Red Jinn" is, I couldn't say. I don't think I'm qualified to as the writer. But I will say that I don't overindulge in details. It's a very quick read, and I got to read it to my parents a while back in the course of ten minutes. (So it's not boring either, it seems. They stayed awake.)
Next up is Gina Wickwar's wonderful "Polychrome Visits The Sea Fairies," again exquisitely illustrated by Alex Garcia. Polychrome meets Merla and Clia (mermaids from The Sea Fairies) and is allowed to have a mermaid's tail herself as she goes underwater, where she assists Queen Aquareine and King Anko in dealing with some of the last of Zog's devil fish.
While Gina's story isn't very long, it does give us a welcome revisit to the Sea Fairies, very much in character.
Gina's Polychrome story is complemented by a full page illustration of Polly by Marcus Mebes, accompanied with a poem.
Following this is Jeff Rester's "Thy Fearful Symmetry," another story involving Mombi, this time explaining how she's wrapped up with the Hungry Tiger. It's illustrated well by Dennis Anfuso.
To be honest, of all the stories in #38, Jeff's was the one I liked least. There isn't much humor, and at times I thought of Kipling rather than Baum, and not in a good way. And the use of old English and the Tiger even quoting a bit of scripture threw me off a bit. However, the concept and plot are good, so I still enjoyed it.
Finishing off the issue is "The Bashful Baker's Honeymoon" by Marcus Mebes, again elegantly illustrated by Alex Garcia. The story follows up with Maria and Derek from "The Bashful Baker of Oz" from Oziana 2003, sending them on a much postponed honeymoon aboard the Crescent Moon with Captain Salt, Ato, Tandy, Roger the Read Bird, Trot, Cap'n Bill, and a couple old friends from Shipwrecked in Oz, another previous Oz story by Marcus. Oh, and we might have a visit from a certain prince in here as well.
"Honeymoon" is just a honeymoon, a travelogue taking us around the coasts of the continent where Oz lies, and for what it is, it reads quite well.
So, overall, Oziana is back in the 21st Century and in good hands. #38 is a strong start, let's hope all of the creative Oz fans can keep it up.
Buy Oziana #38 here.