Monday, August 25, 2014

Queen Ann in Oz

I bought a new edition of a book I already owned at the Winkie Convention this year. Queen Ann in Oz had humble beginnings in the 1980s as a round robin tale by the attendees of the Oogaboo Rendezvous. None of that tale appears in this book, but it did give Eric Gjovaag the idea to collaborate with Karyl Carlson on her story idea to tell a new adventure with Queen Ann. Using snail mail, a book-length tale took shape.

After being approached by Peter Glassman, Queen Ann in Oz was submitted for publication in the early 1990s as Books of Wonder branched into printing new Oz stories. Sure, it was submitted "the wrong way" (printed on dot matrix printing paper), but it was accepted, and soon, Bill Campbell and his partner Irwin Terry were approached to illustrate it.

The book tells of how Queen Ann went out with a group of Oogaboo children and a cute little dragon named Moretomore to seek her long-lost parents. Being joined by the Shaggy Man, they travel through Sand City, Barberville, and the Friendly Forest before coming to the mysterious city of Forgetville, where they must break a mysterious curse.

The story is not very complicated, nor is there really an antagonist (the Barbers of Barberville don't intend to let the party leave, and there is the curse of Forgetville, so there are obstacles), but where the story really shines is characterization. Ann has certainly matured since attempting to conquer the world, and the Shaggy Man is his loveable old self, but the new characters of Jodie Buttons, Jo Musket, Jo Fountainpen, Jo Dragon and Moretomore are also quite well-developed. The children are not a typical happy friendly group, Moretomore has personality quirks, and Jodie's driving purpose is to make a name for herself.

The book makes an odd reference to a certain Bible story. It makes sense, it's just odd to see a Bible story referenced so directly in an Oz book. Otherwise, it's a very fun Oz book, and even creates an answer to how the Love Magnet wound up in America and what the Shaggy Man's name is.

Books of Wonder no longer prints new books, and now, the original edition of Queen Ann in Oz is no longer available new. (Okay, I'm sure someone has mint condition copies, but whatever...) 20 years later, the publication rights went back to the authors, and Joe Bongiorno of The Royal Publisher of Oz (who took the name before I could!) inquired about reissuing it. Plans soon came together to re-edit the book, restoring some of the cuts Books of Wonder made. (I couldn't spot any major changes.) Getting Bill Campbell and Irwin Terry back on board, some of the art that went unused from Books of Wonder's edition was also restored.

Even bigger, this new edition contains a sequel to the book. Karyl takes sole credit on Jodie in Oz, following up on Jodie's attempt to make a name for herself and how she made it happen, with some help from Dorothy, Trot and Cap'n Bill. It definitely makes this new edition worth purchasing on its own, as Karyl writes a whimsical tale about a young girl's persistence in making her wishes happen.

And that is not the only feature! The book also contains the script for "Another Adventure With Ann," a brief Tik-Tok in Oz follow-up skit performed at the 1988 Winkie Convention, written by Eric Gjovaag. Feeling snubbed by a late invitation, Queen Ann re-recruits Private Files to help her conquer the Winkie Country.

The new edition is available in hardcover and paperback. The hardcover is rather highly priced due to it featuring color pictures, which print on demand technology requires that every page be priced as a color page, as the automated process can't tell the difference between color and black and white pages. (Not to mention paper stock issues.) Having seen both editions, I think that if you really want this and can afford it, the hardcover is worthwhile, but the much more modestly priced paperback is just as good if you just want to read the stories and see most of the pictures.

1 comment:

Joe Bongiorno said...

Thanks for the review, Jared! I'm glad you enjoyed it! The changes are relatively minor and generally involve smoothing out the chronology and continuity with other Oz stories. There are some changes in the dialogue, as well, as Karyl, Eric and I went for a slightly more mature tone.