Thursday, August 29, 2013

Shanowerthon! Eric's Oz-Stories, Part 3

After Oz-Story 2, it seems the submissions took off, because in the remaining four issues, only one new prose story was written by Eric Shanower. (Oz-Story 6 had a previously unpublished novel-length Oz story that he co-wrote, but that will be the topic of the next blog.)

Oz-Story 3 had the debut of Edward Einhorn's Oz stories with "Ozma Sees Herself," which Eric illustrated, depicting the first time Ozma met the Cowardly Lion and later the Hungry Tiger.

Eric also provided a poem about the Glass Cat in this issue, and writing for three short comic stories, as well as his work on The Wonderland of Oz. He also illustrated two stories by Royal Historians: Rachel Cosgrove Payes' "Spots in Oz" and L. Frank Baum's The Flying Girl. (These illustrations were reused when Hungry Tiger Press reprinted the book as a standalone hardcover.)

The first of the comic stories was "Tiger's Delight," in which the Hungry Tiger and the Cowardly Lion are journeying Oz when they come to the Nursemaid Mountains, finding the Valley of the Marshmallow Babies. Surely the Hungry Tiger can finally eat a fat baby here, right? (I can't help but wonder if this was inspired by Baum's mention to his publishers of the Marshmallow Twins, some never-realized Oz characters.) The art for this two-pager was Karl Waller.

The next comic story is a one-pager and is drawn by Eric himself! It was reprinted in the hardcover Adventures in Oz collection, and is titled "Jinnicky Jarred." A couple birds observe Jinnicky in his gardens, enjoying himself before they finally fly away. It's a fun tribute to one of Thompson's most iconic, bizarre and lovable characters.

The final comic story is another one-pager drawn by Ramona Fradon. Titled "Poppies," Ozma explains to Dorothy why she wears her iconic poppies before Dorothy has a memory that makes Ozma say a very odd thing that could easily change everything we know about Oz.

On to Oz-Story 4! The back cover (not shown) here is by Eric, showing a picture of Ozma, which was seen again in the Adventures in Oz collection. (I believe both paperback and hardcover, but I've never seen the paperback edition.)

This contains Eric's new prose story, "The Salt Sorcerer of Oz," which is unique in his Oz writing for being something aside from a one-page comic to not contain any Baum-created Oz characters. The only Oz character from the Famous Forty in the story is Kabumpo.

Kabumpo is journeying from Sun Top Mountain back to Pumperdink when he is suddenly pulled toward a man made of metal named Clank, the servant of Aa the Salt Sorcerer. They seek Kabumpo's help in discovering the strange rains that have been coming down far too often lately from Cork Mountain. Being joined by a green bear called Fardels, they are captured by Geyser Gremlins, who take them inside the mountain, where they meet the ruler, the stony Magnificent Zyzzwyzz. Will Zyzzwyzz help them out, or will they have to help themselves? And what exactly is Cork Mountain corking?

Although Eric mentioned that Ruth Plumly Thompson isn't quite responsible for his favorite Oz material, I can't help but see "Salt Sorcerer" as his tribute to her. It is a lot like a Thompson story, but the more streamlined, focused approach is 100% Shanower.

As you can assume, "Salt Sorcerer" is the main feature of The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories, which also contained Eric's poems from Oz-Story as well as art and poems that appeared on exclusive art cards that came with copies of Oz-Story purchased from Bud Plant Comic Art. (I had a complete set of these, but many were lost after a move. If I have any left, they're in storage.)

Eric again illustrates the L. Frank Baum novel, Daughters of Destiny (and yes, his art was reused in their hardcover edition), and another story by another Royal Historian, "Pajamas the Sleepyhead Elf" by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, her first published story. He also provides an elaborate illustration for Thompson's short story "The Green Camel."

And now for comic work! Eric teamed up with Anna-Maria Cool again to present an adaptation of "The Wizard of Pumperdink," a Ruth Plumly Thompson story about a wicked Wizard who wants to get rid of his tell-tale beard by seeking the help of a Witch who has a trick up her sleeve!

Eric again provided the back cover for Oz-Story 5, which was a picture of Singra, Rachel Cosgrove Payes' titular The Wicked Witch of Oz from her 1990s Oz novel. The issue was dedicated to her memory, since she had recently passed away. I believe both this image and a dedication page inside were originally color plates for a very limited edition that book. (Which I don't own.)

Eric adapted another Thompson story for comics in this issue, "The First Brown-Haired Princess," drawn by Trina Robbins. It tells how a princess was born with brown hair instead of golden blonde, and how she was forced to hide it under a veil before deciding to remove it while meeting a prince, a bold act that helped the prince notice her.

Eric's other work in Oz-Story 5 is completely illustration: Edward Einhorn's "Unauthorized Magic," Michael Riley's "The Ruby Heart," Jack Snow's "The Magic Sled," John Bell's "Jack Pumpkinhead's Day in Court," and of course the first chapter of Einhorn's Paradox in Oz, which was printed at the end as a preview for the upcoming novel.

I mentioned that Oz-Story 6 had a novel-length story co-written by Eric, but that I would focus on that in my next blog. So, I shall look at his other work in that issue.

The major piece of work here is Eric's illustrations for Eloise Jarvis McGraw's third and final Oz book, The Rundelstone of Oz, which made its debut in this issue before being reissued on its own in a hardcover edition the next year. (The hardcover contained new exclusive artwork for that edition, so to get the entire Rundelstone experience, that edition is highly recommended.)

Eric illustrated for three other Royal Historians in this issue as well. He illustrated Jack Snow's "Princess Chrystal and Prince Eolus," Rachel Cosgrove Payes' "Rocket Trip to Oz" (the original first chapter of The Hidden Valley of Oz), and provided decorations for L. Frank Baum's Annabel, which, yes, were reused when Hungry Tiger Press reissued the book as a hardcover.

Finally, Eric adapts another Ruth Plumly Thompson story "The Mermaid's Necklace" for comics, drawn by Steve Lieber. This story spans six pages. It is against the law of the mermaids to lose their necklaces or else they will be strapped to rocks and left to die. But Niedra loves to slip away to the beach to observe humans, but on one occasion, she is surprised by a human man who takes her necklace. It is up to Prince Beryl to try to do what he can to recover it or else his love will die.

Well, aside from our last excursion to Eric's work for Oz-Story that I'll save for next time, I feel compelled to remind my readers that there was so much more to Oz-Story than what I've noted in these blogs. There were many other stories, poems and comics that Eric did not work on, but all still enjoyable for any Oz fan.

David Maxine has mentioned that he has a few copies of some issues left, so few that he doesn't have them listed in his online store. If you're interested, contact him to see what he has. If he can't help you out, take a look at used book sites and see what turns up, but remember that Oz-Story is out of print, and is very unlikely to ever be reissued, so what the seller asks for it may well be justified. We may see more of the materials from it reprinted in the future (I know David would like to make Rachel Cosgrove Payes' final Oz stories available for all), but not in the same format.

1 comment:

Sam A M said...

Oh man, now I REALLY Want a copy of each "Oz Story" book!

I've always loved that "no 4" cover and the "#6" picture was always at such a small size, but now (thanks to you!) I can see both images in ALL their (almost) Full-Sized GLORY!!!

Maybe someday I'll be able to look at them in person and look through the pages myself at leisure . . .