Friday, June 29, 2012
First of all, Dorothy and the Witches of Oz is returning to Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow night for a special screening during the Fright Night Film Festival at the Galt House Hotel. Sean Astin, Eliza Swenson, Barry Ratcliffe, Al Snow, Leigh Scott, and Noel Thurman are all set to attend the screening at 7:45pm with a Q/A to follow. Saturday admission to the festival is $25. For more information on the festival, click here.
There will also be a screening of the movie at Winkie-Con (in Pacific Grove, California) this year! The screening will take place on July 28th at 3:15pm. Free movie posters will be available to those attending the screening of the film.
About a week ago, an Italian teaser poster for Disney's Oz, the Great and Powerful started circulating around the internet. You can see that here. It's likely that a trailer of some sort will be shown at the Walt Disney Pictures panel at Comic-Con in San Diego next month. Disney has been super quiet about the movie, so hopefully the marketing campaign will kick into gear soon and we'll get a taste of what the movie is like.
The third issue of the Dorothy of Oz comic series from IDW has been delayed for unknown reasons. It was originally scheduled to hit shelves on June 20th, and was later moved to June 27th. Not sure why that didn't happen.
The crew behind L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been making a lot of progress over the past month or so. You can catch up with the latest on the movie, by checking out the director's blog.
That's all for right now... until next week!
Thursday, June 28, 2012
That had first been published as a booklet in 1977, but Hugh's love for Oz didn't abate, and he even examined how magic worked in the Oz series. The 1990s found Hugh writing more Oz stories to be published by Buckethead Enterprises of Oz. The first was The Crocheted Cat of Oz in 1991. The book at hand, Wooglet in Oz, was published in 1993.
Wooglet, her uncle Chris (publisher Chris Dulabone), and their burro Cosmo get caught in a blizzard while camping. They get caught in a giant birds' nest, and Wooglet, a little girl who loves the Oz books, suspects they're in the Jackdaw's nest from The Marvelous Land of Oz, and begins looking around and finds the lost Wishing Pills, using one to wish them out of this.
The three find themselves on Takers' Island, full of people who are exiled from Oz because they didn't want to live under Ozma's semi-communist rule. Among them is Dr. Nikidik, who still works magic, but is limited. However, they soon realize they need to get to Oz by whatever means possible, as a fiend named Braxus is going to take Zog's evil magic supplies and use them to conquer Oz!
So, aside from Baum's Oz books, this book also draws from The Sea Fairies and The Pearl and the Pumpkin, a book W.W. Denslow illustrated. Hugh also draws many points together, trying to put the Dr. Nikidik and Dr. Pipt continuity confusion at last, and offering a different explanation for why Tip got a stomachache from a wishing pill.
While these continuity bits might stick out, the story doesn't get stuck on them and flows pretty smoothly. And the characterizations of Wooglet, Uncle Chris, and Cosmo are so well-developed, it's fun to read about them.
The book is sparsely illustrated by David St. Albarns with seven images, including the cover art. The art is well-detailed and immerses you in the story, but a result of only seven means we don't see the classic Oz characters (the last few chapters are not illustrated at all), so we can't see if the artist viewed Oz as Neill and Denslow's Oz or if he had his own ideas.
Overall, I enjoyed it!
You can get a copy here.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
When it comes to Ozian geography, a difficult topic is that of where Oz is supposed to be located. As I mentioned here, the first two books suggest that Oz might actually be on the North American continent, separated from the civilized part merely by the desert. In fact, Alexander Volkov's Magic Land books retain that idea throughout. Baum, on the other hand, started placing other fairylands across the desert from Oz as early as Ozma. Since Dorothy washes ashore in Ev while on the way to Australia, the Ozian continent (such as it is; I don't think it's really big enough to be a continent by our standards) might be in the Pacific Ocean. I don't know of anything in Baum that specifically contradicts this location, but there are some references that make it a bit difficult. For instance, how would a tornado have blown Dorothy's house to the middle of the ocean? Baum also placed Merryland from Dot and Tot of Merryland on his map of the lands surrounding Oz, and Dot and Tot accessed that country from a river in New York. Outside Baum, Pirates has Peter Brown ended up in the Nonestic Ocean after being blown off a boat at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The fact that the Nonestic Ocean has its own name is also an indication that it is probably separate from the Pacific, as is the discovery of a whole new continent in Captain Salt.
Perhaps partially inspired by Tolkien's idea that the Valar changed the shape of the world to keep mortals from reaching the Undying Lands, it may be possible that the location of the Nonestic world has changed over time. Perhaps once it WAS located in the Pacific, but the fairies moved it once mortals were likely to come across it. Indeed, one idea I've seen before is that Glinda's enchantment to make Oz invisible to outsiders at the end of Emerald City affected not only Oz but its neighbors as well. There's a pretty good short story in an old Oziana, "A Side View of the Nonestic Islands," that utilizes this idea. Another Oziana piece that might be sort of relevant is George Van Buren's "Zimbo and the Magic Amulet," in which the Pillars of Hercules are identified as a gateway between our world and the fairy one. Then there's a presence of King Anko and Aquareine's palace on James E. Haff and Dick Martin's map, even though The Sea Fairies strongly implies that they are in the Pacific. And getting back to Middle-Earth, I seem to recall someone on an online Oz forum saying it might have been Oz to which the Elves and Bilbo and Frodo Baggins eventually sailed. It doesn't look like it, but a lot of things can change in 6000 years.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
This is Tititi-Hoochoo, the Great Jinjin and Private Citizen of a country on the other side of the world from Oz. As Private Citizen, he's the only inhabitant of the land who isn't a king or queen or a servant of a monarch, so he rules over everyone else. It's one of the sort of backwards political systems of which L. Frank Baum was fond, at least in his writing.
Physically, he is a stately and handsome figure with black eyes that glow red in the center. He is described as having no heart, and hence no passion or mercy, but a large amount of reason and justice. You could argue that justice is based somewhat on compassion, and indeed it is said that no one who is innocent need fear the Jinjin. They do anyway, however, perhaps because no one ever feels they are truly innocent.
We don't actually see a whole lot of Tititi-Hoochoo's justice, aside from his deciding to remove the Nome King from his throne after the Nome tricked the protagonists of Tik-Tok of Oz into the Forbidden Tube that leads to the Jinjin's country. He decides to forgo punishing the people who fell down the Tube despite the fact they technically broke a law, as it was not their fault.
Another thing we learn about Tititi-Hoochoo is that, being a Private Citizen himself, he favors workers in lower positions. He invites Tik-Tok, who is then serving as the only private soldier in the Army of Oogaboo, to share his throne with him.
When he reappears in Phyllis Ann Karr's Gardener's Boy, his favorite is the gardener's assistant Grewl, formerly King Krewl of Jinxland. I suppose that, in the Jinjin's view, this was a promotion.
The Great Jinjin also shows up in a short story by Melody Grandy, featured in her Zim Greenleaf, in which the Private Citizen agrees to let Zim give him a heart.
Overall, though, he remains a mysterious character, as someone with wisdom and reason supposedly beyond that of the authors writing about him probably should.
Monday, June 25, 2012
After the Wizard is pretty unusual, even for an Oz movie. The movie follows an orphan, Elizabeth Haskens, who constantly refers to herself as Dorothy and talks about Oz. Everyone at the orphanage is worried about her and they fear that she is losing touch with reality. Suddenly, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman show up while Dorothy is reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the library, and it's a happy reunion...
The rest of the movie is kind of told out of order. We find out how the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman got to Kansas and why. Since the Wizard left Oz, everyone there has stopped caring and are basically greedy... which is similar to what's going on in our world apparently. The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion all decide upon seeking out Dorothy's help. But, there's just one problem. They have no idea where she is! The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman take a hot air balloon ride to the United States, and travel to Kansas so they can find Dorothy at last.
There are some pacing problems and bits of poorly-written dialogue. The acting was impressive for an independent film; the standouts being Helen Richman as Mrs. Murphy, Loren Lester as Dr. Edwards, and Peter Mark Richman as Charles Samuel Williams.
The movie has a couple of visual effects-heavy sequences that weren't executed all that well, but considering the budget, these can easily be forgiven. My main problem with the movie was the ending. I don't want to get into too much detail or spoil anything, but I don't feel like the ending resolved some of the problems that were presented in the beginning.
Jordan Van Vranken does an excellent job in her role as Elizabeth, and I'm looking forward to seeing her continue to improve in her career. Orien Richman as the Tin Woodman and Jermel Nakia as the Scarecrow were definitely fun to watch on screen, and I like their innocent portrayals of the characters.
Overall, After the Wizard is an unusual yet often charming movie that does a nice job of making Oz relevant to today's world.
You can pre-order “After the Wizard” on DVD from Amazon here.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Up first is the privately printed picture book Dreaming in a Scarlet Slumber by Jeffrey Rester, with artwork by Denslow, Neill, Milt Youngren (The Laughing Dragon of Oz) and some original art by Luciano Vecchio.
The story takes place during The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, revealing a dream Dorothy had while in the Deadly Poppy Field. It gives her a peek into the future of Oz, some we've seen, and some we've yet to see. (And maybe we'll never see it.)
The story is short, thought-provoking and a little disturbing. Overall, it's an interesting side-piece to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and when read in the story, helps it feel more like the beginning of the great adventure series it developed into.
If you want to get a copy, contact Jeff at email@example.com
This seems to be a follow up to a previous story with the Thists from The Lost Princess of Oz. I wasn't really sure exactly who the characters were, but I didn't get lost. Apparently a dignitary named Thora is vacationing outside of Thi, and taking care of her is Thornton, who has three adopted rabbit children: Jodie, Risa, and Amanda.
Thornton gets digestive troubles and is forced to stay in bed, so Thora must take care of him, but the rabbits are quite a handful! They try to help with the limited food source and are soon aided by none other than the Cowardly Lion.
However, Jodie runs away and visits with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. Thornton and Thora soon have to go off after her and have a short adventure of their own, but don't worry. There aren't any big baddies wanting to prevent a happy ending for anyone here.
In addition to the main story, Marin retells myths and legends through books the rabbits have access to. She tells them in a very engaging fashion, and I quite enjoyed the little book.
You can get a copy here.
Friday, June 22, 2012
I haven't done one of my Oz movie blogs in awhile, probably because there just hasn't been anything worth blogging about! But, I have set up an interview with the cast of the indie flick “After the Wizard”, which will be on DVD August 7th for this week's blog. I'm interviewing Jordan Van Vranken (Dorothy/Elizabeth), Jermel Nakia (Scarecrow), and Orien Richman (Tin Woodman).
How did your casting come about, and what was your reaction when you found out that you were going to play such iconic characters?
Jordan: I didn't actually audition for the role of Elizabeth/Dorothy. I participated in the table read as a favor to Hugh, and after holding auditions he called me and asked if I'd like to play the character. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to play such a complex character. It was a little nerve-wracking at first, because so many people know and love Dorothy and “The Wizard of Oz”, but I realized that when you take away the whole “Wizard of Oz” aspect from “After the Wizard”, the film just tells the story of an orphan girl who's had a tough life.
Jermel: At the time of casting for “After the Wizard”, I was represented by an agency that sent me out on various auditions. If my memory serves me correctly, I found out about auditions for the movie relatively last minute and I wasn't sent the "sides". When an actor goes in for an audition, they are usually given material from the project called "sides" to prepare; which are lines from the script in the project. Unfortunately, there were wires crossed and I didn't see the "sides" until I was waiting to be seen at the location of the audition. As I read over the material, within five minutes or so, Hugh (the director of the film) opened the door and I went in to do the best work I could as an under-prepared artist. I must say that not having the material put me at an advantage because I didn't have the normal jitters associated with the work. I felt after I walked out of the room, that it was meant to be. About twenty four hours later, I was offered the role. I was elated to bring this character back to the screen, with my own interpretation at the director's request. I knew if it wasn't this time around, I was destined to play this character at some point in my career.
Orien: I met Hugh when I was in a play that he wrote called “Stated Income”. A few months after the play closed, Hugh came to me about “After the Wizard”. I was very pleased that he wanted me to be in his movie. We were not allowed to have our movie have any similarities to the 1939 movie for legal reasons, so I had free reign to make a completely new Tin Woodman. Once we settled on the costume, the make up and the black contacts, the character began to take shape. I tried to concentrate on a few elements such as being made of metal which affected my walk and head movements. Many of the scenes take place in the United States of America. Obviously, my character has never been there before. Everything and everyone I encountered was new and fresh. Therefore, I tried to be as innocent and naive as possible with my portrayal.
About how long did it take every day to get the make-up on and off?
Jermel: The make-up process was two-and-a-half hours to three hours everyday. This includes putting it on and taking it off.
Would you consider “The Wizard of Oz” movie a childhood favorite?
Jordan: Definitely! I even had my own ruby slippers! I still own “The Wizard of Oz” on VHS.
Jermel: I am from Missouri, so growing up this story was a childhood stamp. It truly was. All and all, I would consider it a very magical memory when I first saw it. My favorite of the films is “The Wiz”. Now that interpretation holds all my dreams of being the Scarecrow someday...
Orien: “The Wizard of Oz” movie was most definitely a childhood favorite of mine. I saw it many times.
Did you read any of the original Oz books prior to filming “After the Wizard”?
Jordan: I didn't read any of the books or re-watch the movie before filming. In my mind, I had a clear image of how I wanted to portray Elizabeth. I knew she was just a normal girl with a big imagination who was dealing with challenging obstacles in her life, and I didn’t want to overplay it.
Jermel: No, I don't recall reading the books.
Orien: I didn't actually read the book until I got the part in the movie.
How was it working with each other and the rest of the cast?
Jordan: The entire cast was phenomenal! I was really fortunate to be able to work with such a talented group of people that I really connected with. We sort of became a family on set. Almost all of my scenes were with Jermel and Orien and having such a great relationship with them off-camera really helped me be able to convey such strong emotion on-camera.
Jermel: Jordan is a very dedicated actress; she was always ultra-prepared and ready at a moment's notice to take her position as Dorothy. As a young actress should, she took well to direction on set from myself and Orien. Her career will soar, if for no other reason than being dedicated to her art and being prepared, something many actors can not say. Orien (The Tin Woodman) is so very passionate about this movie in general and the resurgence of his career, that you couldn't help but feel his contagious energy. He is a performer unlike anyone that I have ever worked with.
Orien: As you may or may not know, I happen to come from a family of actors. Hugh was receptive when I suggested my father Peter Mark Richman and my brother-in-law Loren Lester for roles in the movie. Both ended up playing big roles in the film and after many attempts at finding the right actress to play Mrs. Murphy, my mother, Helen Richman, finally won the part. Quite unusual to find a feature film with four family members playing significant roles in the film! Besides my family members, I have grown quite close to all of the other cast members. Many of us flew to Kansas and stayed together in a house for the world premiere last year.
Would you ever do another Oz movie if the opportunity was presented?
Jordan: I love what I do, and I loved playing Elizabeth. If the right story was written I would love to return to Elizabeth’s shoes and tell the next part of her life’s journey. She has a good heart, she’s grown up and matured….so it could be interesting to see where her story goes next and how her good friends from Oz fit into it.
Jermel: I don't think I would ever turn down the opportunity to play this role again. I really like all that the Scarecrow represents with his salt of the earth disposition.
Orien: I would love to do another one. We have already talked about it.
Why do you think Oz fans will enjoy this interpretation of Oz?
Jordan: I definitely think Oz fans will enjoy this interpretation. All of the magic from the original story is still here, with a few little twists. “After the Wizard” is heartwarming story that I think everyone can enjoy, even if you’re not a big “Wizard of Oz” fan!
Jermel: I believe Oz fans will enjoy this film because it's sweet and pure from the core. The original characters are in traditional costuming with a modern twist, but the back drop is 2012. This in and of itself creates a marvelous visual for anyone to see. This movie is destined for greatness, and I am standing behind it one hundred percent to witness its elevation.
Orien: Oz fans will very much enjoy this movie because we made something that is respectful of L. Frank Baum's book and the characters that so many fans adore and revere. “After the Wizard” is not a remake; it is a completely different story. In the movie, a lot of questions are answered like what happened in Oz to the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman after the Wizard left and what happened to Dorothy after she got back to Kansas.
How would you describe your experience working on the movie?
Jordan: I was only 12 when I started this project, so I was basically growing up on set. From that standpoint, it wasn’t hard to relate to Elizabeth as she matured throughout the film. I was blessed to be able to work with a group of incredibly talented and generous actors and I even got to film on location all over Kansas and see things I've never seen before. I think it was a learning experience for many of us—it being my first time acting in a lead role in a feature film, and Hugh’s first time directing. Everyone pitched in and gave it their all to put forth a great film.
Orien: Overall, this has been a wonderful experience working with Hugh and the rest of the cast doing the best we can to put something of high quality out there on a very modest budget.
A very special 'thank you' to Hugh Gross and Rita Van Vranken for helping me set up this interview! You can pre-order “After the Wizard” on DVD from Amazon here.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
How did Eureka's color change? Chris Dulabone offers an explanation in The Colorful Kitten of Oz, gorgeously illustrated by Melody Grandy.
The story jumps around in time a lot. The King of Pinkaree desperately wants a son to be his heir, but he's only had daughters. However, when a mysterious cat is rescued, it speaks to him and grants him a wish. He wishes for a son, and with a time-twisting turn, that's what he gets.
However, things aren't so easy, and by the time he dies, the catlike Prince Jeremy is missing. A grievous wrong has been committed, and only Queen Karen and a mysterious kitten hurled into the future can set everything right! Plus, the Mouskas are being invaded by the Catamarans!
Overall, Chris writes a very engaging and entertaining story that gives us an idea why Eureka might suddenly have an odd hue. However, she does drop out of it for quite a bit. However, the overall fun of the story makes up for it.
I'd normally link you to where you could get a copy, but it seems Chris sold out and the book is not listed on his site. Looking at Bookfinder.com turns up nothing. Unless Chris wants to do a second printing, looks like you might have to do quite a bit of searching to find this one!
Monday, June 18, 2012
UPDATE: 6/22/2012 - It appears the issue was a misunderstanding of Warner Brothers' request by Zazzle. All people who I know were affected by this simply had to contact Zazzle, assure them that we were not infringing on Warner Brothers' rights, and our products were restored.Dear Warner Brothers,
That being said, we still very much respect Warner Brothers' copyright of their film.
It seems Zazzle.com has removed items from the shops of myself and other creators of Oz material. This appears to be due to a request from your legal department to be on the lookout for material that may infringe on your rights as owners of the 1939 MGM classic film The Wizard of Oz.
Let me say that I am sure I can speak for the other Oz fans who have had items removed from their Zazzle shops that we fully respect your rights. We do not want to infringe on your rights, and believe that merchandise deriving from the film should be licensed by you.
This is why our items have designs derived from the original Oz books by L. Frank Baum, which are in the public domain. Thus, as anyone is free to merchandise the characters from these books, by having our items taken down, you are, in fact, infringing on our rights. However, my income from Zazzle is so little that it is hardly worth trying to hire a lawyer to prove that we are in our rights.
Our designs feature either original artwork based on the books, or public domain artwork from the books, or completely original designs. My own were simple 3D designs using the Oz seal based on an image in the public domain Ozma of Oz, and logos for my own online endeavors, all of which were created by me using only public domain materials. None of these have designs inspired by your film, nor do they attempt to evoke the film in any way. In fact, I am displaying my designs below:
Part of the reason why we have low sales is because your film is the most iconic version of Oz and many collectors favor those interpretations of the characters. We do not blame Warner Brothers in the least for this, but it does make it clear that it does create something of a monopoly against a small selection of Oz memorabilia, one that would not be worth fighting in court.
Thus, I should like to pose a suggestion.
We understand that you have taken an interest in other Oz films being produced by other companies to ensure they are not infringing on your rights. We also understand that at one point, you were interested in creating a new Oz film, which would likely ensure your dominance in the marketplace for Oz collectibles, and thus you want to be sure that these companies are not taking away from material you have rights to without due compensation.
Would it be at all possible to have our work "white-listed" so to speak? This would simply ensure sites like Zazzle that our work is not infringing on your property. In fact, I used Zazzle after having my work removed by SpreadShirt.com, despite them having products using artwork clearly based on your film.
We understand you are preparing another wave of merchandising for the upcoming 75th anniversary of your film, and do not intend to compete with this. As I have stated, general familiarity with your property will ensure more sales for you, and likely keep our sales low. Even last night, a family member told me she was unaware of other Oz properties outside of the MGM film. Our work simply caters to the fans of the original books who are a very niche market, and our low prices and non-limited availability will allow our few customers plenty of opportunity to also purchase any merchandise they desire that you produce or license.
We look forward to and hope to help support Warner Brothers as you enter another period of merchandising the MGM film The Wizard of Oz. We would rather enter it as friends rather than feeling sour towards you for limiting what we may do with material we freely have rights to, which I can only hope was a misunderstanding.
Yours sincerely, Jared Davis
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Turns out, the elf is one of Santa's elves who help him in his secondary base in the North Pole. (A little explanation to reconcile Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus with Thompson's The Curious Cruise of Captain Santa.)
John the Silver Elf is fed up with working in a non-profit organization like Santa Claus' gift giving outfit, and decides to start business for himself. He leaves the North Pole for a little town in New Mexico called Ciudad del Nino.
Two children named Gideon and Faith left their Ciudad del Nino home to go to Santa Claus to see if he can do anything about all the crime. However, they meet John who has them help him steal a wagon and start his business. Back at their home, their parents are frantic with worry.
Meanwhile, in Oz (because Oz is in this book!), Glinda is following the events in her Book of Records and begins to inquire as to how the people in Oz might help.
Oz isn't in the story much, and despite the title, John doesn't go to Oz, but it makes for a very enjoyable read. Chris Dulabone and Marin Xiques have a style that would normally seem a little irreverent, but it actually works great for an Oz book. Chris even has John say that Santa couldn't publish and sell Oz books at cost, which was Buckethead Enterprises' business model.
The book is illustrated by "Anon E. Mouse," who the back blurb identifies as Marcus Mebes. ... Funny thing is, it says Marcus is "late," meaning... dead... The book is even dedicated to his memory... But... isn't he editing Oziana now? Didn't he send me those color plates for Outsiders? How was he dead in 1996?
Marcus says: "Alternate realities and time warps are dangerous things."
Anyway... I really like his work in this one. His child characters look great in this one! And his John is lovably villainous, and his Santa Claus is very friendly.
The book is also very nicely produced. Right on the cover, the grey you see is actually silver accents. The text has a bit of an odd look for an Oz book, but after you get used to it, it's charming for a Christmas story.
You can order a copy here.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Lea Michele has recently wrapped up her voice-over work for Dorothy of Oz, which is tentatively set for release next year. Read a little more about that here.
Warner Bros. has given us a little tease via Facebook at the 75th anniversary re-release of The Wizard of Oz, with an early promotional image that reveals a possible logo for the release...
Next week, I'll be sharing a text interview that I've been putting together with the cast of the upcoming After the Wizard movie; Jordan Van Vraken (Elizabeth/Dorothy), Jermel Nakia (Scarecrow), and Orien Richman (Tin Woodman). You can pre-order the slightly over-priced DVD here.
Look for the After the Wizard interview next Friday and enjoy your weekend!
When Baum wrote Ozma of Oz, he had a contract to write more Oz books, and he decided he would write four more. Ozma was the first of these four, and has been identified as some fans as being the first book of the series, meaning that it was written with a series in mind, unlike The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz. We have a villain set up, and at the end, Dorothy is given a secondary home in Oz and given an option to return.
Roquat returns in the final of the four books, which Baum intended to be the last Oz book. Angered by his treatment by the people from Oz, he begins to plot revenge, and, under the guidance of his new general Guph, allies himself with dreadful warriors outside of Oz. In the end, though, they invade Oz, but are so thirsty by tramping through a dusty tunnel (thanks to magical interference by Ozma), they drink from the Forbidden Fountain of Oblivion, causing them to lose their memory.
The Nome King reappears in "Tiktok and the Nome King," a picture book in the "Little Wizard Stories" series. It is revealed that despite losing his memory, the Nome King still has a rash temper. His more proper return is in Tik-Tok of Oz, in which he has captured the Shaggy Man's brother, and Queen Ann of Oogaboo attempts to conquer him. Also, Baum reveals that he had forgotten his name (though in Emerald City, Ozma does tell him his name), so he took the new name Ruggedo.
In Tik-Tok, Ruggedo is relieved of his duties as king of the Nomes, succeeded by his steward Kaliko, because he broke a commandment of Tititihoochoo, the great Jinjin. While he was initially going to wander the surface world, Kaliko allowed him to stay in the underground Nome Kingdom.
Baum used Ruggedo one last time in The Magic of Oz, in which he allies himself with a young boy who has learned a magic word of transformation. He has apparently been exiled from the Nome Kingdom again. However, when the magic word gets flung about too much, the Wizard of Oz manages to learn it and uses it to defeat the villains, and later, Ruggedo's memory is wiped again and he is allowed to wander the Land of Oz.
That was how I decided I would approach the character of Ruggedo when I decided to include him in Outsiders from Oz. Initially, I decided I would either intend for it to take place between Baum and Thompson's books, or I would just be ignoring Thompson entirely. However, after reading Thompson's books, I found it impossible to try to say that her stories would be nonexistent in my Oz, so I have a brief mention of Jinnicky, letting my readers know that my Oz is the one in the Famous Forty, not just Baum's books.
Still, I thought Thompson wasn't kind to Ruggedo at all. In Kabumpo in Oz, she reveals he's taken up life underground as a petty thief, befriended by a rabbit named Wag. Using some magic he discovered, he turns himself into a giant and carries off Ozma's palace on his head! In the end, Ruggedo is restored to his proper size and exiled from the Land of Oz.
In Thompson's The Gnome King of Oz, he manages to return to Oz and cause trouble, but his plot is foiled by new boy hero Peter. He is struck mute and given another bath in the Fountain of Oblivion. Later, in Pirates in Oz, he manages to find the kingdom of Menankypoo outside of Oz and is later restored to his old self. He allies himself with some pirates, convincing them to invade Oz, but when he almost succeeds, Peter, assisted by Pigasus and Captain Salt, manage to defeat him again and he is turned into a stone jug.
Ruggedo made his last Famous Forty appearance in Handy Mandy in Oz, in which the Wizard Wutz disenchants him, but later Himself the Elf turns them both into cacti.
There have been various stories restoring Ruggedo to his original Nome form. Some even have him reform or have him "done away with." (One has him turned into a liquid and poured into the ground.)
I decided I wanted to do a more character-based journey with Ruggedo in Outsiders. I was inspired by reading Alexander Volkov's The Yellow Fog and reading about Urfin Jus, who is comparable to Ruggedo in that he makes serious trouble for the Magic Land in the series. In The Yellow Fog, though, Urfin is roaming through Magic Land after being subjected to the Sophoric Waters (sic), which is basically the Water of Oblivion, except the memory loss is temporary, but it does allow one to be taught new behavior in the interim.
Urfin is shown great kindness by the people he meets in the Magic Land on his way back to his old home, and when he is tempted (more than once) to cause more trouble for them, he rejects his old ways and begins a new, peaceful life, and in this and the final Volkov book, he even serves as a great ally to the heroes of the series.
So, I wanted to handle a Ruggedo with no memory and have him go on a character based journey. I don't want to spoil what I do with Ruggedo in Outsiders, but I do maintain that the character doesn't reform at the end. What he says about himself near the end is exactly how I perceive it.
Still, the loss of memory made for a fun character. Ozma gets to take care of an old enemy who doesn't even realize that he considered her his enemy. I also avoided calling him "the Nome King" as he wasn't the king anymore, except at one important plot point where it needed to be said.
One thing that popped up while writing was "why isn't Ruggedo a cactus?" I came up with an idea, but my editor suggested I just have Ruggedo pop up in the story with no explanation as to why he's a Nome again. When I explained this to Eric Gjovaag at last year's Winkie Convention, he agreed. (Eric, if you don't remember this, don't worry. I do!)
Aside from the Famous Forty, so many other Oz stories using Ruggedo have been written, and not only does not explaining why he's a Nome again allow my readers to use their imagination to fill in the blanks, it also allows them to fit my story in with a continuity consisting of their other favorite Oz pastiches. Even Chris Dulabone commented that he doesn't see why my story couldn't fit in with the books he's published. (Though he is curious as to where it would fit on a timeline, to which I have no idea.)
I want to work with Ruggedo again, as I do want to explore how his life will go after his adventures in Outsiders. There might be a straw hat involved.
To see how I handled Ruggedo, go ahead and get Outsiders from Oz in hardcover or paperback!
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Here are some reviews of two Oz books I've read recently. Again, they are both published by Chris Dulabone, though the first one is a later one by Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends, while the second is an earlier book from Buckethead Enterprises of Oz.
Dr. Angelina Bean in Oz is by Ruth Morris, and is a follow up to her earlier Oz book, The Flying Bus in Oz. I haven't read that one, but the back cover of this book advertises that one with enough information to fill you in on anything that goes on in it that this story doesn't.
A little girl named Joy has her two dolls Angelina and Mellie. Angelina is considered to be the smarter of the two dolls, and even claims she has fourteen Ph.Ds, meaning she's Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Angelina Bean. Joy has all the Oz books and visited in Flying Bus. Angelina reads the Oz books and feels Ruggedo was woefully mistreated in them, and wants to go to Oz to help Ruggedo finally get the justice he deserves. Through a surprise gift, Joy, Angelina, and Mellie soon find themselves in Oz, where Angelina starts looking for Ruggedo, much to Joy's disappointment.
Surprisingly, Ruggedo is looking for Angelina. He has his own plans in mind and asked a magic lake to show him his perfect ally: Dr. Bean. What does Ruggedo plan to do? Is Angelina thinking properly? Will everything turn out all right?
The story is rather fun, even though it branches off into some very... well... girly stops. (A place where they have tea parties over and over, and time even stops outside so they can have as many as they want without losing any time. ... Seriously?) There's some other really interesting stops, including some rather elitist communities.
The book is illustrated by Dr. Corrine Morris, who uses one of the simpler art styles seen in these books. It's charming nonetheless.
You can get a copy here.
A more intimate reformation likes in the story of Coke Kane, a drug addict who is transformed into a giant playing card, specifically, the King of Spades. He manages to enjoy his new life, and the companionship of Ozma's confidant Jennifer.
However, one Willie Lie proves a tough one to reform as he doesn't care to be reformed and flatly lies to Ozma. In fact, he even tricks Spades to take him to Ev where he meets with Kaliko who has some rather nasty plans for Oz.
So, can Willie be reformed? Will Ozma stop Kaliko's evil scheme in time?
The book is rather good story, though I must admit I didn't care for how the Nomes were handled.
Marcus Mebes illustrated, and I think this is one of his best illustration jobs, from the few I've seen.
You can get a copy here.
Monday, June 11, 2012
They are said to have been a gift to King Kitticut's ancestor by the Queen of the Mermaids. Exactly what the ancestor did to earn such a gift isn't stated, but I remember reading a short story (by Fred Otto, I believe) that had Prince Brawn of Pingaree killing a sea devil. Makes sense, but I don't think the story was ever even published. In some ways, the Pink Pearl is similar to the protective circles that the mermaids make in The Sea Fairies, but it's actually more effective. While the fairy circles stop anyone or anything hazardous from touching an enchanted person, the sea devils are still able to capture Queen Aquareine and her companions by totally surrounding them. On the other hand, when the Nome King tries to trap King Rinkitink in a magical net, the power of the Pink Pearl enables him to walk right out of it. Similarly, he remains suspended above the bottomless pit that the Metal Monarch opens under him.
I don't know that the fairy circles would have been able to protect someone against such things. Also, the Pink and Blue Pearls transfer their power to anyone touching the bearer. And the White Pearl apparently has other powers beyond simply advising, as it supplies a boat that Prince Inga uses to sail to Regos and Coregos and free his people. Of course, magic like that seems like it would just make things too easy, and it kind of does.
In order to compensate somewhat for this incredible power, the story has Rinkitink, oblivious to their powers, accidentally throwing out the shoes that contain the pearls. Also, in the Nome Kingdom, there's a point at which Inga and Rinkitink split up and divide the pearls between them, so that the prince has the strength and the king the protection.
I'd say it's a credit to L. Frank Baum that he managed to make the story engaging even when the hero has almost limitless power. It makes it all the more disappointing that Inga isn't able to save his parents in the end, even with that power. It's likely that he DID have Inga succeed in his original King Rinkitink manuscript, but in making it into an Oz book he had Dorothy and the Wizard show up and bully the Nome King into letting everybody go. I'd like to know the original ending, and I'm not sure why Baum couldn't have had the people from Oz come onto the scene AFTER Inga had already won the day.
The idea of magical talismans that grant such powers was one Ruth Plumly Thompson used in Hungry Tiger, although here the items are only protective. The three Rash Rubies protect the ruler of Rash from danger on land, in the water, and in the air, respectively. I'm not sure why fire is left out of the picture, but the earth ruby protects against that as well, as seen with the fire fall.
Since the rubies will only work for the rightful ruler, Irasha throws them away when he steals the throne, and his nephew Evered has to find them. Like the Pink Pearl, they also protect anyone who's touching the ruler when he's carrying them. Evered does eventually find all three, which turn out to have been discovered by appropriate people. While the pearls were likely on Thompson's mind when she wrote this story, the tale itself is quite different from Rinkitink.
I'll be quite active at the convention this year. Friday night, I'm giving a presentation about Ruth Plumly Thompson, the second Royal Historian of Oz.
In preparing for this one, I had to research her life and found out quite a bit about her, so my presentation wound up focusing on her life a bit. But I also touch on her take on Oz, and there'll be plenty of pictures in the slideshow.
I looked into getting footage of Thompson for the presentation from her Christmas 1963 television interview. It aired on WCAU, which was CBS in Philadelphia at the time, so I looked up Philadelphia's CBS, contacted them, and discovered their archives were at Temple University.
After a few months, Temple U couldn't find it, and then we discovered why: WCAU is now NBC, and the archives would be with NBC or whoever they may have turned them over to. I attempted to contact them, but they never responded. Well, it was worth a shot. (Darn NBC...)
On Saturday, I have a costume for the costume contest. I was a lot of fun to figure out how to pull it off. I'm not saying who or what I'm dressing up as, but I think it's going to be fun.
After the costume contest (should things go the way they have the past two years), I'm presenting the standard quiz. I found a different way to do it, which in itself is a tribute to Thompson. Anyone taking it should read Sky Island and be sure they know their Baum Oz books.
Finally, Sunday morning, there'll be a panel on Oz blogs. I'll be on the panel, as will Eric Gjovaag, and John Bell will be hosting it. I've heard they want to get some other bloggers in, but we'll see.
Not that I'm doing everything, of course! We'll be hearing from Susan Morse (Dorothy's singing voice in the 1964 Return to Oz), Caren Marsh-Doll (Judy Garland's stand-in on the MGM adaptation of The Wizard of Oz), and Eric Shanower is having some sort of presentation.
Plus, we'll have the Auction, the Dealer's Tables, the Swap Meet Table, and a new game show called "It's The Baum!" And, of course, you get to hang out with some great people!
And there's the Winkie Research Table, which, if you want to submit art, fiction, or scholarly pieces for, better get on it! You could win some cold hard cash. (Even if you're not there.)
You can get more information about how to get to Winkies here.
If you want to take advantage of that deal, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, but I'll need payment for your copy very soon.
Friday, June 08, 2012
Jared: You ever seen the silent Oz movies?
David Tai: No.
Jared: Baum brought in a weird looking character called the Zoop. Always wanted to put it into a proper Oz story.
Jared: I'm trying to get the Lonesome Zoop established as a character before I write him (or her?) in. I'm going to make it an animal that can dig.
David Tai: All righty. So, why is it lonesome?
Jared: Because it doesn't know what to do or who to trust. It's desperate.
Jared: I know exactly where the Zoop where go. The Zoops live in Orkland with the Orks in a peaceful coexistence.
Jared: I need to name the Zoop.
David Tai: Betty Zoop.
Jared: Well, I don't refer to its gender, so it could be...
David Tai: Letta Zoop
Jared: Lyla Zoop.
David Tai: So it's a girl!
Jared: So, lead male characters, 5. Lead female characters, 3.
David Tai: How goes it now?
Jared: I think I will call her Lola.
The Zoop was a strange beast appearing in the Oz Film Manufacturing Company's films. For some reason, people seemed to be afraid of it. The Magic Cloak of Oz has it say that Nik the Mule is in its part of the forest, so perhaps it likes its privacy. The Patchwork Girl of Oz, however, has a man run away from it after it seems to playfully wag its tail by him, so maybe it's actually not a really bad beast.
Years ago, I was writing a story that would reveal the mythical Fountain of Youth was in Oz, but the story just wasn't working at the time. The Zoop was in the story as the Fountain's guardian. The story had a few good ideas, but overall, I'm glad I abandoned it at the time. I just really wasn't ready to write an Oz story.
While I was developing Outsiders from Oz, I remembered that old story and thought to redevelop the Zoop for the story. As you can see above, we decided to make the Zoop a girl. In the films, it seemed to come off as male, but since I established the Zoops were a race and not a single creature, it would make sense that were also girl Zoops.
I decided I wanted the character to have a name beginning with the letter L to tie in with it being the Lonesome Zoop (Lola is pretty lonesome when we meet her). The name "Lola" has always struck me as a funny name, so I decided to give it to an Oz character, rather than to make up a name. Plus, it began with the first two letters of "lonesome." So, Lola it was.
Some elements I rewrote made it sound like Lola had a special bond with another character. Who it was, I think my readers can guess, but I never expected that character would get a potential love interest! Anyway, it didn't feel right for Oz, so I revised it.
That being said, I wound up liking Lola quite a bit. I think I'd like to write about her again, should the opportunity arise...
If you want to find out how Lola's story unfolded, go ahead and get Outsiders from Oz in hardcover or paperback!
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Dagmar in Oz by Chris Dulabone
This short Oz book is partly meant to reconcile the events of Dorothy and the Magic Belt with the Famous Forty. It explains that Nikidik left the youthened Mombi and young Nikidik with a couple who emigrated to Oz so they could have a family while he could leave Oz and work on his magic. Young Nik and Mombi bathe in the Truth Pond, restoring Nik's memory and Mombi's true age and form. Mombi leaves, but young Nik (going by Putnam) decides he'll reform.
Meanwhile, Dagmar, Queen of the Scoodlers, wants revenge on the Shaggy Man for tossing the Scoodlers' heads into the gulf back in The Road to Oz. Developing a paste that makes people do her bidding, she heads to Oz! Can she be stopped before she reaches the Emerald City?
The book is pretty short and ends rather abruptly, but it's also a rather fun read. You can get it here.
I am not familiar with Perry Mason, but the story didn't really suffer from that. The Oz characters stay in character, though I was surprised by the character Allidap, who is said to be the Wicked Witch of the West. I wasn't aware she'd been resurrected! Guess I missed that one...
The book isn't illustrated, and ends with a little surprise and lesson for the people in Oz. It was a very enjoyable story.
You can get a copy here.
Dorothy, Betsy, the Sawhorse and the Scarecrow set out to find help, and meet Miss Dickshon, a lady who deals in words, and eventually meet Ozmella, Ozma's aunt.
The story is quite a full-blown Oz adventure and wraps up rather nicely. However, I felt the writer did a little too much name-dropping where not needed. Quite surprisingly, a number of characters from still-copyrighted books appear, including Notta Bit More and Jenny Jump. Overall though, it was a lot of fun!
You can order a copy here.
Monday, June 04, 2012
So how does someone get into this life? As in the Great Outside World, it often involves being in the right place at the right time. For the most part, the protagonists in the series end up being offered homes in the palace or somewhere almost as nice, although some of them do refuse. And how do you become a protagonist? All too typically, it's based largely on connections. That said, it does seem a bit easier to make friends with Ozian celebrities than with movers and shakers in the mundane world. There's the potential for anyone in the country to run into Dorothy or the Scarecrow and make friends with them. And the protagonists do often perform major services for the kingdom, but that isn't strictly as necessary as just getting along with the established celebrities.
Do the characters living in luxury work? Well, some do. Many have positions at court, and even the ones who don't officially take part in Ozma's counsel meetings. This generally seems to be because they WANT to help out rather than because they have to in order to earn their keep, though. Similarly, we're assured that the working-class Ozites enjoy their lives and are quite comfortable. It's likely true that an Ozian farmer has an easier life than a mundane one, if only because the magical climate means growing crops is much easier, and it's uncommon for disaster to strike. Still, I have to wonder if any of the people who have to do manual labor for a living would prefer to hang out with the famous folk in the capital. In The Patchwork Girl of Oz, we're offered this exchange:
"In this country," remarked the Shaggy Man, "people live wherever our Ruler tells them to. It wouldn't do to have everyone live in the Emerald City, you know, for some must plow the land and raise grains and fruits and vegetables, while others chop wood in the forests, or fish in the rivers, or herd the sheep and the cattle."Shaggy kind of contradicts himself here, because at first he says Ozma basically tells everyone what to do and where to live, then cites the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Jack as people who would rather live in the country. In all of these cases, however, they're living there because THEY want to, not because of any orders from Ozma. Mind you, these three are probably exceptions to most of the rules anyway, what with two of them being major players on the political scene even before Ozma took the throne, and the other being essentially her child.
"Poor things!" said Scraps.
"I'm not sure they are not happier than the city people," replied the Shaggy Man. "There's a freedom and independence in country life that not even the Emerald City can give one. I know that lots of the city people would like to get back to the land. The Scarecrow lives in the country, and so do the Tin Woodman and Jack Pumpkinhead; yet all three would be welcome to live in Ozma's palace if they cared to. Too much splendor becomes tiresome, you know."
Mari Ness writes of this dialogue: "Previous books had already shown that certain characters, thanks to their friendship with Ozma or by virtue of their uniqueness, were able to ditch the idea of work entirely, living in luxury surrounded by servants, but this is the first indication that Ozma is actually ordering the workforce around to ensure that the system works." Still, when do we see Ozma actually tell anyone they can't live where they want to? Indeed, despite Shaggy's warnings, Ozma gives all of the major players in this story who come from the poorer parts of the kingdom (Ojo, Unc Nunkie, Scraps, the Glass Cat, the Woozy, and possibly Dr. Pipt and his wife Margolotte, depending on your source) homes in or near the Emerald City. And while we see most of them pitching in during emergencies in future books, none of them really appear to work regular jobs after that. Indeed, the Patchwork Girl's willful laziness would become a plot point in some later stories. Not that Scraps, who requires nothing but some occasional stitching to remain functional, is getting fat on the blood of the working class. Still, I can see others being resentful of her being afforded a privileged status simply for being unusual and having connections.
Here's another bit where L. Frank Baum attempts to explain away what could easily be seen as unfairness, this time from Glinda:
Dorothy, resting herself at her fairy friend's command, and eating her dinner with unusual enjoyment, thought of the wonders of magic. If one were a fairy and knew the secret laws of nature and the mystic words and ceremonies that commanded those laws, then a simple wave of a silver wand would produce instantly all that men work hard and anxiously for through weary years. And Dorothy wished in her kindly, innocent heart, that all men and women could be fairies with silver wands, and satisfy all their needs without so much work and worry, for then, she imagined, they would have all their working hours to be happy in. But Ozma, looking into her friend's face and reading those thoughts, gave a laugh and said:Ness also comments on this, saying, "This might be just a tad more convincing if Ozma weren’t currently sheltering a group of people actively avoiding work. (We later see them happily working at a game of croquet.)" John Bell addresses much the same subject in John R. Neill's The Scalawagons of Oz, when he writes, " Even though Ozma, the Wizard, and others piously proclaim that everyone in the Emerald City must be diligent and useful, most of our favorites actually yearn to shirk work....Right after they scold the Bell-snickle, Dorothy and her girlfriends (even Jellia) choose to spend their afternoon trying on clothes ." So there does seem to be a general sense of unfairness, with some Ozites working so that others don't have to. It's still preferable to the way we do things here in the United States (we don't, for instance, see Ozma actively PREVENTING anyone from access to basic needs, and there doesn't appear to be an Ozian equivalent of Wall Street), but I could foresee a problem if a great many laborers marched on the Emerald City demanding the same magical and other luxuries afforded to Ozma's favorites. I don't know that I could even imagine how Ozma would deal with such a thing; with all the crises that face Oz throughout the series, we're generally assured that the majority of the people love Ozma and are content in their situations.
"No, no, Dorothy, that wouldn't do at all. Instead of happiness your plan would bring weariness to the world. If every one could wave a wand and have his wants fulfilled there would be little to wish for. There would be no eager striving to obtain the difficult, for nothing would then be difficult, and the pleasure of earning something longed for, and only to be secured by hard work and careful thought, would be utterly lost. There would be nothing to do you see, and no interest in life and in our fellow creatures. That is all that makes life worth our while—to do good deeds and to help those less fortunate than ourselves."
Literary merit aside, it actually works well because Oz has largely been a niche market. The big reason for print on demand is that the idea of supply vs. demand is now a thing of the past with this model. If someone wants the book, they can buy it, a copy is created for them and sent to them.
I used Lulu.com to publish my book Outsiders from Oz and had to face a number of limitations. The interior of the book can be as fanciful as you want, as long as your page size fits one of the pre-set page sizes.
Color plates are impossible with Lulu. If you want interior color, you have to have it set so that every page will be priced as a color printing page, and to have a blank page in there would be a waste. To justify the cost, color would have to be used quite a bit in the book. Color printing of course means a higher price, which can mean your customers might think twice before buying.
Sam Milazzo suggested we have illustrated endpapers in the hardcover version, but these are also impossible to set up with Lulu, as is a design to be printed on a cloth cover. And speaking of hardcover, I attempted to price the hardcover version as low as possible, but Lulu required a markup that brought the lowest price for the customer to about $25. Some have bought this version as they want hardcover copies and I'm very flattered they had enough faith in my work to put up that much money!
When you buy your own book, they don't charge you any markup, so it does allow me the opportunity to buy books for customers and sell them at a reduced price. I have offered to do this for attendees of the Winkie Convention this year. (E-mail me at email@example.com for more details.)
Right now, we're working on something special for anyone who's bought the book: a color plate with a brand new illustration (a scene I really wanted to see illustrated, actually). I intend to give these out at Winkies this year and then mail them off for anyone who mails in a self-addressed stamped envelope. (International folks can make other arrangements.)
I can see it getting to a point where most books are printed through print on demand. Google Books makes some of its public domain books available to a service that uses a machine to print and bind a book in a matter of minutes. (With that service, there is a way to get a new copy of Dot and Tot of Merryland with Denslow's illustrations, but I held off buying it and then decided against it when I got an actual early Bobbs-Merrill edition.) Once the customer understands that these are made on demand and can't be shipped automatically, it's fine.
Still, print on demand does have its limitations, so the making of a lavishly produced book is still going to be a craft worth preserving.