Friday, September 06, 2013

Shanowerthon! Trot of Oz

Oz-Story 6 contained a long Oz story by Eric Shanower and San Francisco poet Glenn Ingersoll. The editor's notes by David Maxine explain the story's origins:
In 1982, Glenn Ingersoll and Eric Shanower began writing Trot of Oz, a new "Trot and Cap'n Bill" book. Glenn wrote the first chapter, Eric the second, Glenn the third and so on. They would only set two rules: each chapter would end with a cliffhanger, and there would be no stupid little countries. There was no outline, no discussion, the story simply came to life. It is incredibly seamless considering how it was written. The characterizations are true and consistent, and the pace is fast and addictive. So join tiny Trot and the Cap'n as they discover the secret of the Multiplying Overcoat. Eric Shanower has supplied illustration more than a decade since the story was completed in 1988.
The story finds Trot and Cap'n Bill boating on Lake Quad, when they are surprised by the sea monster Quaddle, who tells them that a group of people underwater need a champion, so he takes Trot and Cap'n Bill to find them.

What they find is a country of mushroom people (not the same type as in "Dorothy and the Mushroom Queen," if they are related at all, these are definitely another race). A recent lakequake has destroyed their Shroom City. The Shroom people need to start rebuilding, but the despot imprisons Trot and Cap'n Bill as Quaddle runs away, being easily distracted.

A wicked Shroom named Rottug switches Cap'n Bill's body with a stel's (a different type of mushroom people), then switches himself into Cap'n Bill's body so he can use five fingers to take the Multiplying Overcoat, an object which is sacred to the Shroom people, though some don't believe in it anymore. Soon, an army of Cap'n Bills swarms over the ruined city, conquering what's left of it. Trot and two Shrooms named Musharoo and Shruvm escape to the Land of the Multiplying Overcoat where they learn what they must do in an all or nothing attempt to defeat Rottug, which will mean many endings for the Shrooms and Shroom City, but new beginnings as well.

So, can Trot and her Shroom friends defeat Rottug? Will Cap'n Bill get his body back? Will Quaddle stop running around?

I agree with David on the story's consistency. It barely feels as if it is two writers switching between chapters, though once you have that in mind, you can spot where they drop challenges for each other. Also, yes, Trot and Cap'n Bill (the only traditional Oz characters in the story) are excellently in character. The pace is indeed exciting and the reader will be loathe to put it down if they need to stop reading to attend to another matter.

So, congratulations to Glenn and Eric on this collaborative effort. It is quite well done. Perhaps one day it will be reprinted in book form. Until then, it's one of the many things worth tracking down Oz-Story 6 for.

Well, we're about at the end of the Shanowerthon here. But we're not quite done yet!


Glenn Ingersoll said...

I learned a lot from that collaboration about setting challenges. It was pretty exciting to see what Eric would set up for me but pretty amazing seeing what he'd do with I gave him.

Glad it worked for you, too, Jared!

ericshanower said...

I loved that project. It seemed like it was taking forever at the time, but it's surprising now to see we wrote it in about six years. Glenn's first chapter was delightful and really set the bar high. I was always excited to get a new chapter from Glenn.
I was conscious the whole time that I'd have to write the final chapter and wrap up the story in a satisfying manner. I was simultaneously worried about and looking forward to that challenge. I think I was the culprit who introduced the body-changing stuff. I remember about three quarters of the way through Glenn and I lamenting that I'd done that, since it was a huge pain to write characters' minds in the wrong bodies and keep everything from descending into incoherence.