Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shanowerthon! The Adventure Of The Cat That Did Not Meow In The Night

Sometime back, I was looking at the Oz stories of Eric Shanower. I promised to look into his prose work, but decided to start with his first. His first Oz story was published in the 1976 issue of Oziana, which I owned, but I thought I'd read Oziana much as I did The Baum Bugle: one issue at a time. Well, it took me awhile to get into reading Oziana, but I finally did recently.

Shanower informs me that his story was very much rewritten by Oziana editor Jay Delkin. However, Delkin seems to have been a very supportive editor. Eric was only 13 at the time, you must remember.
Click any image to see a larger version.
Actually, I think it's pretty cool that Melody Grandy
illustrated this story.
The story itself is rather short, filling five pages, including Melody Grandy's nice illustrations. (They weren't as nice as her work in her Seven Blue Mountains of Oz trilogy, but we all start somewhere.) Ozma notices that Button-Bright has been missing for awhile and that supplies are missing. She calls the Great Detective (basically Sherlock Holmes in Oz, a recurring character in Oziana throughout the years), who deduces from the evidence (which includes a few lines about how Eureka must have seen what happened, but didn't meow, which seems like a stretch to get this Holmes-based title) where Button-Bright is.

As it turns out, Button-Bright has been sneaking supplies to a Nome who's been stationed underground in Oz since the march on Oz in The Emerald City of Oz. Ozma of course sets everything right. For sneaking around instead of telling Ozma the issue, Button-Bright is warned that if he gets up to any such future mischief, he'll have to play checkers with Tollydiggle. (They note that he's not good at checkers.)

The story's okay. I've read a couple other Great Detective stories in Oziana, and I rather dislike how there's basically a Sherlock Holmes clone in Oz rather than having a character like the Scarecrow, the Woggle-Bug, the Wizard or the Shaggy Man turn their mind to detective work. Ignoring that, this is an all right story, but I can see why Shanower has never been keen to revisit it.


Nathan said...

I remember Eric mentioning that his original title for this was "A Mystery for Ojo," yet Ojo doesn't appear in the finished version.

Nathan said...
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ericshanower said...

The main characters in my original version of the story were Ojo and Trot. The Great Detective was added by Jay Delkin when he completely re-wrote the story. I don't think any of my actual writing remains in it, only the general idea of a Nome still living underground after the events of The Emerald City of Oz. I wrote my story several years before this issue of Oziana was published. I was ten years old. What I wrote (and illustrated) was typical of a ten-year-old. Delkin was perfectly reasonable not to publish my story as written. I don't think that my credit as author is really deserved--it should have been something more like "based on an idea by Eric Shanower." But back at the time I was thrilled to have a story by me (sort of) published.