Friday, October 21, 2011

"I spent my better years as a goat"

Mr. Nathan DeHoff recently reviewed Oziana 38, including my first short story (and first published Oz story), "Bud and the Red Jinn." (The clever subtitle "Don'tAlways Look a Gift HorseGoat in the Mouth" was a title suggestion by the editor, and I suggested it be a subtitle instead.)

As I wrote when I reviewed the issue, I was familiar with the characters, only needing some extra basics on Jinnicky. However, one character proved to be an odd one to tackle: Prince Bobo of Boboland.

Bobo was introduced in Rinkitink in Oz, spending most of the story as a surly goat named Bilbil. When the Wizard meets him, he's able to see that Bilbil is the enchanted Bobo and the Wizard and Glinda restore him.
Bobo humbly begged Rinkitink's forgiveness for having been so disagreeable to him at times, saying that the nature of a goat had influenced him, and the surly disposition he had shown was a part of his enchantment. But the jolly King assured the Prince that he had really enjoyed Bilbil's grumpy speeches and forgave him readily. Indeed, they all discovered the young Prince Bobo to be an exceedingly courteous and pleasant person, although he was somewhat reserved and dignified.
Sounds like he might be a nice guy, right? But at the end, Baum gives us a bit that suggests all might not be what it seems with this handsome prince:
And Bobo replied with a smile: "Like all your songs, dear Rinkitink, the sentiment far excels the poetry."
Hmmm... Something could be up there. Like he's masking his true feelings. Anyway, however you want to interpret this, it's all Baum ever wrote about Bobo, and the character never resurfaced in the later Famous Forty +.

When the editor and I were plotting my little story, we built up the story about Bud and Jinnicky meeting at a party held by Zixi and a guest would arrive with the worst gift you could give the Queen of Ix. I just randomly said "Prince Bobo of Boboland," and he was in, and I quickly came up with the idea that he was "attempting to re-establish diplomatic connection." In our plotting, he remained very much the nice guy Baum left him. He'd be an unaware antagonist.

However, when I was writing it, it struck me it would be more interesting if Bobo had a bit of an attitude. I mean, given what happens in my story, anyone might get upset at someone telling them they couldn't give someone a certain gift, and then not being able to give them a reason. But to play that up a bit more was irresistible, and I made it part of my take on Bobo. I did tell J.L. Bell about my story at Winkies a bit, and said Bobo was "a jerk," but that might be a bit much.

Bobo as drawn by John R. Neill
Anyway, that was just my story alone. However, my story is being incorporated into the first volume of the upcoming trilogy Royal Explorers of Oz by Marcus Mebes, Jeff Rester, and myself that will explore Bobo's character further. (It's mainly been written already.) I got to rewrite the first chapter that had my story in it, and got to work with Bobo a bit more and then added a small part later in the story. Bobo is one of the main characters, along with other Oz favorites like Captain Salt, Ato, and Tandy. And given more time, I do believe Bobo being called "a jerk" might be just a bit too nice...

Anyway, after I'd written and edited and sent in my story, I began to think how the characters would look. I knew I would want the Queen Zixi of Ix characters to look like how they do in Fredrick Richardson's illustrations for that book (I'll say it again: Neill's Zixi is ugly compared to Richardson's). Jinnicky's look was already established by Neill and it was impossible to think of him looking any different than that.

But what about Bobo? Neill had only drawn him once, and it wasn't much to go on. However, as I tried to visualize the story even more, Bobo suddenly grabbed a face that was in the back of my mind.

For you Doctor Who fans, yes, that's Francesco from the episode "Vampires of Venice," played by the amazing Alex Price.

I was excited that Anna-Maria Cool was going to illustrate my story, so I sent that first screencap as a suggestion for how I thought Bobo could look. This is what she came up with:
So, looks I had a pretty big hand in defining a character for Prince Bobo of Boboland and his look as well!

1 comment:

Sam A M said...

When I first (and ONLY) read "Rinkitink in Oz" online YEARS ago, I must have missed that "young" bit in the text and have always imagined him as an OLDER man, as the name 'Bobo' does sound like something you wouldn't put on a child, unless it was a teddy bear or something to play with.

When I first saw THAT drawing of Prince Bobo (with Facebook tags) I thought it was YOU, actually!