Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Podcast update

I had planned to release a podcast in March in which I interviewed Peter Hanff and Sam and I began our discussion of the PanMedia anime series based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz and The Emerald City of Oz.

However, while recording did happen, I'm afraid you're not going to hear what we recorded. I had updated my call recording software, and the resulting audio turned out choppy and generally inaudible.

Sam and I have already agreed to re-record our discussion, and I hope I can interview Peter again. I know I wanted to do a bold new format for the podcast in 2014, but things have not been working out. Believe me when I say that no one's more aware of this than I am.

That said, we do plan to deliver another L. Frank Baum birthday special in May.

Monday, April 21, 2014

New from Fairylogue Press

Sometime back, I reviewed Namesake Book 1. Well, now I have Book 2 in hand. The collected print edition of this popular and well-done webcomic is nicely presented and matches the first Book well. Megan Lavey-Heaton continues some great writing, working with Isabelle Melancon's beautiful art for a gripping fantasy epic.

The story of Namesake continues as Emma and her friends in Oz head to the Emerald City to try to find Ozma. Along the way, the mystery of Emma's presence in Oz deepens and we learn more about Warrick and Selva, the Tin Woodman's grandchildren.

Meantime, Emma's sister and friends try to figure out how to get Emma back. Also, we see Alice and Mr. Dodgson, who attempt to go to the mysterious organization Calliope for help.

Book 2 also contains a bonus story about Warrick that was not released online.

Namesake improves on the concept of crossing over fantasy worlds by largely keeping them separate. In this way, it avoids problems other crossover tales—such as ABC's Once Upon A Time—encounter. Large, complicated casts of characters with backstories are not a problem here, the focus being more centralized on Emma and her friends, many of which are original characters and are free of expectations of previous incarnations.

Namesake has been developing much more from the point where Book 2 ends and plans are already in place for Book 3.
Also available from the same crew is a little comic titled Knot, which can be neatly described as a traditional fairy tale for the 21st century. Isabelle Melancon writes and draws this 11 page tale.
A princess' parents call for sorcerers to find a cure for her sadness. No one seems to be helping until the smallest sorcerer gets caught in the knots in the princess' hair. Untying one, he begins to get to the bottom of the princess' trouble. (Namesake fans will easily spot Warrick making a cameo in the tale.)

Both Namesake and Knot are highly recommended. It's refreshing to see quality storytelling and art in a highly-available format.

Namesake is available in three forms: e-book ($5 each), softcovers ($20 each) and hardcovers ($30 each). The entire comic can also be read for free online through the archive. Knot is available in a standard comic book, printed on high quality paper. ($5) Both titles (as well as Book 1, an upcoming comic, and art prints) are available in Fairylogue Press' online store.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Stealing the Ruby Slippers

So, recently we helped promote a Kickstarter for Who Stole the Ruby Slippers? The documentary will cover the 2005 theft of a pair of screen-used Ruby Slippers from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The case is notable for being unsolved, with no leads and no arrests made. Just the thing for a nice crime story, right?

Amanda Moon thought so and has turned out her first novel Stealing the Ruby Slippers, which creates a fictional tale about what may have happened to the historic pumps. The book follows the viewpoint of Jared (...) Canning, who breaks into the museum and makes off with the Ruby Slippers.

Moon opts to open the story with the theft, throwing the reader right into the action and following the aftermath. She reveals backstory and motive throughout the novel instead of loading the reader with it near the beginning: Jared is not an Oz or Judy Garland fan, he is doing a job on behest of someone who will pay him so he can pay off his gambling debts. There's just one major snarl in his plan: his buyer is in New Orleans, and as Jared tries to keep the shoes hidden, Hurricane Katrina strikes.

Complicating matters is Jared's girlfriend Kelly, who discovers the shoes and—being a fan of the movie—is excited that these are actually in her reach. Also, a couple friends of Jared's saw the shoes when Kelly found them. Also, the guy he owes money to is impatient for reimbursement, and isn't afraid to rough up his debtors. As matters grow worse for Jared, it's all he can do to try to keep the Ruby Slippers from being discovered or himself intact.

While I don't want to spoil the ending, the fact remains that it's based on a true unsolved crime, so there are a couple twists awaiting the reader. The book is mainly told from Jared's perspective in the first person in present tense. However, due to the way the story flows, this changes. It's not usual, but it does heighten the suspense and make the character feel a little more relatable. Moon certainly is invested in her storytelling, making the text enjoyable to read. Overall, it's a fine first novel.

Since we're an all-ages blog, I need to warn that this is not a book for young readers. It is not an Oz book, nor even a piece of Oz-themed fiction, such as Wicked or Was. This is a crime novel. There's violence, frequent uses of profanity, and references to sex and drug use. Kelly is described as attractive, and there are several low-brow comments made on her figure and her intelligence. This is a novel for the mature reader.

Stealing the Ruby Slippers is set to be released next month, and copies can be preordered from the author for $10 each. For a crime novel with a hint of Oz in it, check it out!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Interview with Danielle Paige, Author of 'Dorothy Must Die'

I recently got to interview the wonderful Danielle Paige, author of the new book Dorothy Must Die.

Give us a quick rundown of the premise of Dorothy Must Die. 
Short version: Another girl from Kansas lands in Oz via tornado and learns she has to fight an evil Dorothy. Long version: Amy Gumm lands in Oz and is inducted into the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, a group of not-so-wicked witches that are determined to rid their land of Dorothy. But first, she has to take the Scarecrow's brain, the Tin Man's heart, and the Lion's courage. 
How did you approach writing this book? It's a rather drastic departure from the Oz everyone knows and loves. Was it difficult to find a good balance between staying true to that and creating something new?
I was terrified at first of stepping onto Baum's Yellow Brick Road. But once I got started, I did so with abandon. I enjoyed pushing the characters to their limits, but I think that each character still possesses, at his or her core, something of what we first fell in love with in Baum's original. Dorothy may now be wicked, but she is still loyal to her friends. 
Were you at all influenced by the original Oz books? Or is the story mostly derived from the 1939 movie and your own ideas?
I read all fourteen Baum books, and I've seen the movie so many times, but the books have a wealth of amazing characters and lands to explore. I was so lucky to have so much to work with. 
It was reported last year that The CW was planning a TV series based on Dorothy Must Die. Is that still in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
I can only say how much I would love to see it on screen!
There have been plenty of revisionist takes on Oz over the years, from Wicked to the Syfy Channel's Tin Man. What makes Dorothy Must Die unique? Why should Oz fans check it out?
I love all things Oz, too! Wicked and Tin Man and Return to Oz are all fabulous. But I think there's a place for my Dorothy, too. As a writer, I felt like there was another story to tell. And as a fan, I could not let go of this idea of what happens after Dorothy goes home from Oz and has to go back to being a normal girl in Kansas. Could she leave Oz behind? I think she can't. I think she longs for the beauty and the magic and, to a degree, the fame she achieved there. I think she longs for it, and out of that longing, a new Dorothy begins to form.
Your first book was just released, but are you already planning on writing sequels?
There will be two more books! Working on book two now.
The original story was written 115 years ago, and is still relevant and popular today. Why do you think Oz has withstood the test of the time?
It's America's fairy tale. The theme of good vs. wicked is timeless, and Baum's characters and settings are among the most imaginative in all of literature. I hope he wouldn't mind the update.
Thank you so much, Danielle! 

Dorothy Must Die is now available from Harper Teen wherever books are sold. Click here for more information.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Characters of Oz — Bungle, the Glass Cat

So, Dr. Pipt knew how to make a powder that could bring things to life. But if he knew it could do that, he must have used it before, right?

Indeed. It seems he would have had more than one test subject, but the only one we meet is Bungle, the Glass Cat.

Bungle began as a glass ornament shaped like a cat. It featured emerald green eyes, a ruby heart, a spun glass tail, and tiny pink balls in its head for brains. When it was brought to life, the cat adopted a female gender.

The Glass Cat was tasked with catching mice, but she refused to as they would be clearly visible inside her body. Thus, as she wouldn't serve the purpose that she was brought to life for, she was considered a "Bungle," thus her name.

Bungle wasn't an entirely useless creature and would provide company for Margolotte as Dr. Pipt worked. As she did not need to be fed or cleaned up after, she made an ideal pet.

However, Bungle was also a cat and acted as such. Her decision to come when called was entirely voluntary and she often enjoyed going out on her own. Being able to speak, she would express her opinions, her vanity, and her believed superiority, particularly over her pink brains, which would move, leading her to point out, "You can see them work!"

When Dr. Pipt had to send Ojo to the Emerald City, he sent Bungle along with them, thinking that he might be rid of Bungle. Aside from her snarky commentary, Bungle adds little to Ojo's team and is left behind once Ojo reaches the Emerald City. The Wizard changes her pink brains out with clear ones to reduce her vanity, but by her next book appearance, they were pink again.

Perhaps her feline shape mixed with the Powder of Life helped Bungle not break so easily, because she soon began exploring Oz independently, her small size and transparency likely helping her observe without being seen. In this way, she learns many things about the Land of Oz, and it is this exploration that leads to her second Baum role in The Magic of Oz, in which she tells Trot and Cap'n Bill about the Magic Flower and leads them to it. She winds up having to rescue them as well by having to find the Wizard for help. But then, the Wizard needs some help himself when she finds him, which she's able to.

The Glass Cat didn't reappear in the Famous Forty Oz books. Typically, I avoid mentioning other works, but she is the main character of the story "The Ruby Heart" in Oz-Story 5 by Michael O. Riley which finally addresses what would happen if Bungle broke. It's also a very good character piece for her. She also makes a notable appearance in Eric Shanower's The Blue Witch of Oz. Finally, Gina Wickwar's The Hidden Prince of Oz reveals where the Glass Cat was actually made.

Like Eureka, Bungle is once again a feline character based on the way cat owners interpret their cat's personality. Bungle is vain and haughty and has a very high opinion of herself. The fact that she is also an animated glass ornament only ties in with her vanity. Bungle's vanity makes her a little difficult for other characters to work with, but she is not condemned for her attitude: this is simply who she is.

Friday, April 04, 2014

News!

Marc Berezin reports that a new film adaptation of Volshebnik Izumrudnovo Goroda (Alexander Volkov's The Wizard of the Emerald City, his Russian rewrite of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) is set for release in 2015. And it even has a teaser trailer!



The Royal Blog of Oz friend Zach Allen and his fellow Oz crew have their eyes turned on to helping Oz-stravaganza in Chittenango be even better with their presence. But they need funding for travel expenses and have turned to Indiegogo for help.



Finally, I'm sad to report that a friend and Oz fan has crossed the Shifting Sands. John C. Ebinger was literally the first Winkie I ever met. When I first attended the Winkie Convention in 2010, he picked me up from the Greyhound Station in Salinas and took me the rest of the way to Asilomar. In the next three years at Asilomar, I'd keep an eye open for him and say hello and chat a little. He told me he was working on an Ozopedia and he always had his camera ready.

Last year was the last Winkies at Asilomar, with plans to meet in San Diego this year. Even though I knew that someday I wouldn't see some beloved faces return to Winkies, it'll be very sad not to see John among all the familiar and new faces.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

New 'Legends of Oz' Stills & Clips!

The UK website for Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return has launched, and with it, some new stills and clips!

In this first clip, Dorothy (Lea Michele), Wiser (Oliver Platt), and Toto are arrested by Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy) for eating candy.



In the second clip, Dorothy and friends encounter fireflies while on board Tugg (Patrick Stewart).



Check out some of the new stills below, and see Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, opening in the U.S. on May 9, and in the UK on May 23.






Tuesday, April 01, 2014

More Kickstarter Updates!

Well, I wound up signing up for another Oz writing project that has a deadline, so... Yeah...

Anyway, here's updates on Ozzy Kickstarters that are running we've talked about in the past.

First up is Who Stole the Ruby Slippers? It has less than two days left and they are still quite under the minimum goal! They've added some cool new perks (including Ruby Sneakers and a poster) to entice pledges. Help this dream go over the rainbow!



The Tik Tok Man of Oz is still doing quite well, and is hopefully on its way to meeting its last couple stretch goals! Which could be covered if a couple people could go for the $1000 pledge, which nets you all of the souvenirs AND an original painting of an Oz character by Eric Shanower. That alone would be worth $1000! Eric doesn't do private commissions, so this is a rare opportunity to get your hands on some of his actual artwork.



Finally, Polychrome managed to meet its minimum goals, but you can help make the book even more elaborate and get a few perks. While the book doesn't seem to be set in Baum's Oz, it has been getting some good press, even by Mari Ness, who is a Baum fan.