Monday, April 27, 2015

Those Contemptible Kalidahs!

Art by Sam Milazzo from "The Way of a Lion"
One of the first monsters we meet in the Oz books are the Kalidahs. They appear even before the Winged Monkeys in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as Dorothy and her new friends head to the Emerald City.

The Cowardly Lion tells Dorothy when they are in the Kalidah forest and tells her what they look like:
"They are monstrous beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers," replied the Lion, "and with claws so long and sharp that they could tear me in two as easily as I could kill Toto. I'm terribly afraid of the Kalidahs."
 And my little story "The Way of a Lion" tells you why he said that, but that's beside the point.

For being so fearsome, the Kalidah's appearances in the Famous Forty are few and only by Baum himself. In Wizard, they appear as Dorothy and her friends are trying to cross a gulf by a felled tree. The Kalidahs pursue the travelers onto the tree, but before the monsters can cross, the tree is sent into the gulf.

Their next appearance is in The Magic of Oz in which one of them attacks Trot and Cap'n Bill, who is able to skewer it and pin it to the ground. Eventually, it frees itself and wanders off to a Kalidah magician who will be able to heal it.

There are a few Kalidah-centric stories outside of the Famous Forty. One of my favorites is "Gugu and the Kalidahs" by Eric Shanower. This story has some renegade Kalidahs invade the Forest of Gugu. Eric does feature a Kalidah King and suggests that Kalidahs are cruel beasts who abuse each other. (Gugu sees a female Kalidah being clawed at for the amusement of others.)

In Bucketheads of Oz (written by Chris Dulabone and several of his friends), a Kalidah community is detailed, particularly how they treat each other. Something about it seems a little too orderly with how long families stay together and even a "considerate Kalidah" being put on trial.

So, how do I see the Kalidahs? They are the most vicious creatures in Oz. In "The Way of a Lion," I reveal that most animals in Oz get meat from special plants. It's mentioned that Kalidahs only eat these as a last resort: half of their meal ritual is the hunt.

The Kalidahs have been skipped in most major adaptations of The Wizard of Oz. The Wiz musical had "the Kalidah people," and the movie had Dorothy and her friends being chased by giant evil puppets and attacked by live support poles and trash cans. The Muppets Wizard of Oz had Statler and Waldorf as "the Kalidah critics." Tin Man featured the Papay, monsters that could bite and kill our heroes.

Animated adaptations have been far more generous to the Kalidahs, except while many are monstrous (being large or threatening beasts, the best going to the Toho anime adaptation), few are actually menacing. The 1999 Russian animated version actually turns them into giant lizards.

In Alexander Volkov's Magic Land series, the Kalidahs were replaced by Saber-Toothed Tigers. They're largely the same in Wizard, but at the end of Urfin Jus and his Wooden Soldiers, the Deadwood Oaks are tasked with exterminating the rest of them. (One escapes this fate, but is later killed by Munchkins following advice from Tim in The Fiery God of the Marrans.)

One might ask why didn't Ozma do this? Because even though the Kalidahs are cruel menaces to Oz, they are part of it. They are not the most desirable, but they're part of nature. And furthermore, even if the Kalidahs destroy life, would destroying theirs make those who did them in any better?

So, Oz will have its dangers, and the Kalidahs aren't going anywhere.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Pearl and the Pumpkin

After The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published, other writers for children and artists noticed. More books featuring a marriage of text and illustrations began to appear. Some even view Baum's later work as his attempts to improve on what he'd done in Wonderful Wizard. (Baum felt he did well with The Scarecrow of Oz and Sky Island, actually.)

But what about W.W. Denslow? After he and Baum parted ways, Denslow released several other picture books, and of course, none of them ever gained the popularity of Oz. However, thanks to Denslow's connection to Oz, publishers such as Dover Publications have reissued some of his post-Oz work. And one of the books they chose to reprint was clearly an intended successor to the Oz illustrator's biggest success: The Pearl and the Pumpkin.

According to Michael Patrick Hearn's introduction in the Dover edition, Denslow came up with the idea of The Pearl and the Pumpkin's plot and had his friend Paul West write the idea into a story he'd illustrate. The concept of creating a musical based on the story was also there from the beginning.

The Pearl and the Pumpkin opens on the Pringle farm in Vermont, where Joe Miller (nephew of Farmer Pringle, cousin of his daughter Pearl, meaning that there really shouldn't be a "The Pearl" in the title as much as just "Pearl") is turning the remainder of the Pringle's bumper crop of famous pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns for a Halloween party. Joe figured out how to grow healthy, large pumpkins just about anywhere, and this is his reward.

However, bemoaning their loss is the Canner (Ike Cannem) and the Pieman (John Doe, no relation to Baum's own John Dough) who wanted Pringle pumpkins for their respective businesses. During the party, a third person looking for Joe arrives: the Ancient Mariner from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, except now he just runs errands for Davy Jones and his pirates in their underwater locker. And what do the pirates want? Pumpkin pie! But since pumpkins aren't found under the sea, the Mariner wants to learn Joe's secret.

Joe at first blithely refuses to share his secrets with the three men, but Mother Carey—a wise and kind sea goddess—arrives and warns Joe that they may do him mischief if he doesn't share his secret and she gives him a whistle to summon her with.

We're already seeing Denslow's style of making characters non-threatening. The Ancient Mariner came from a poem about a pretty traumatic sea voyage, and Mother Carey was actually a goddess of sea storms. But here, the Mariner and Davy Jones and the pirates are comic characters, while Mother Carey is basically a rehash of Baum's Good Witch of the North, just now underwater. In addition, the Albatross the Mariner is otherwise famous for killing is never said to be dead, and in Denslow's illustrations, appears to be alive. But it very quickly vanishes from the story.

Getting help from the Corn Dodger (a farm sprite), the Canner, Pieman and Mariner trick Joe into wishing he was a Pumpkin-head to make him give up the secret, even though he'd already decided to tell the Mariner if he asked. The Corn Dodger works this transformation, and Joe turns into a boy with a pumpkin for a torso, a jack-o-lantern head, and vines that make up the rest of his body. As a result of being "a pumpkin head," he also can't remember the secret to growing his pumpkins. The Corn Dodger can't do another transformation until the next midnight, and he can't work magic if he's captured, and the Canner has turned his eyes from pumpkins to the fine corn that makes up the Dodger's body.

Meantime, the Mariner and the Pieman decide that if Joe can't remember his secret, taking him to Davy Jones will surely scare him into doing it. And if that still doesn't work, well then the pirates will have pumpkins for their pie at least.

Denslow, I thought you didn't want to scare children, and here you are with a story where a boy is transformed and threatened to be eaten, and a fairy is threatened with being processed into canned corn. But yet these disturbing themes are present all through the story.

Using magic, Pearl and Joe are transported by the Mariner and the Pieman to Davy Jones' locker. From here, the story turns into a long chase as Joe tries to stay ahead of the pirates, using help from Mother Carey. The Corn Dodger tries to stay ahead of the Canner and is also protected by Mother Carey until the Canner finally catches him. The story reaches a climax in Bermuda where Joe's body is baked into pies in a hotel kitchen and the Canner cuts up the Corn Dodger and puts him in a giant can to be presented to the President of the United States.

Mother Carey is able to recover Joe's head and this is enough for the Corn Dodger (who emerges whole from the can) to restore Joe. (It's mentioned the pies at the hotel are thrown out, because it's only now that eating food made from a transformed person becomes gross...) Joe shares his secret and we are told the world will never experience a pumpkin shortage thanks to this!

The story is light, fun reading and actually pretty enjoyable. But when viewed critically, it lacks a clear, active protagonist. Pearl and Joe are both pretty passive and do little to move the plot along. It's mainly the characters who wrong Joe who do that. Another odd thing is how easily people take to the idea of fairies living amongst them.

And as I said, the idea of making the story into a musical extravaganza was part of the early planning, and it's easy to see how the idea was in mind, just like another Pumpkinhead-starring book released the same year: The Marvelous Land of Oz. In Pearl, all of the major players are introduced early on and if you're familiar with comedy stage productions from that era, it's easy to see how much comic running around is already in the book. And sure enough, the story was made into a musical, and like Marvelous Land's first adaptation The Woggle-Bug, it was a flop.

Perhaps The Pearl and the Pumpkin won't appeal to more casual Oz fans, but those interested in more of Denslow's work should check it out for a fun but weird story.

Hugh Pendexter III added Denslow and West's Davy Jones' Locker to his Wooglet in Oz, meaning that Pearl could be considered an expanded universe Oz story if one wants, though it does raise the question of why people in America are just fine with fairies and otherwise presumed mythical people popping up.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Characters You Didn't Get In Return to Oz

So, Return to Oz is pretty popular for being a faithful representation of the Oz books. This may be a matter of debate, but it's generally considered a well-done film. However, there's some characters who didn't make the final cut...

The Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion and the Army of Oz
"Wait!" I hear you say, "The Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion were in the movie!" And yes, they were. But an earlier draft of the story had them having a much larger role. Either they hadn't been turned to stone and escaped with Dorothy, or were at the Nome King's Mountain with the Scarecrow and not transformed with him, and later got to try their hand in the ornament rooms.

Also in an earlier draft was a scene that was actually storyboarded (seen in the Winter 2010 Baum Bugle) in which Tik-Tok and Jack's head did not land on the Nome King's Mountain, but Dorothy finds a sandboat being rowed across the deadly desert by deserters of Tik-Tok's army. As they talk with Dorothy, Tik-Tok arrives, carrying Jack's head.

Personally, I think it was a better decision for the movie to cut these characters. As it was, the production had gone overbudget, and having these characters at the Nome King's mountain would have made for a much longer sequence and a more frantic restoration.

Those who have read Ozma of Oz will remember that Dorothy and Billina and even the Nome King are unable to locate the transformed Tin Woodman, which is referenced by Tik-Tok not being restored before they leave the Nome King's Mountain in the final cut. This let them pay tribute to the original text and also let them not have to handle the Tik-Tok puppet during the chase scene. Now imagine if two more complicated characters were added to the mix. (They already had Jack and the Gump.) If they'd gone the "We didn't find them, oh look, here they are!" route with them, doing it more than once would strain credibility.

As for the army, more characters would have crowded the chase scene, so it seems that this is a "less is more" situation. Less characters was more tension and suspense as well as focus.

The Sawhorse, the Woggle-Bug and the Hungry Tiger
Return to Oz drew most of its plot from Ozma of Oz with The Marvelous Land of Oz being close behind it. Those books had a few more featured characters who don't seem to appear in the film. Well, the Sawhorse does appear. As an illustration in a book a woman in the Emerald City was reading. It might have been nice if he'd been included in the return to the Emerald City sequence in the finale, but that would have required them to build another creature that would barely have any screentime.

Many of the above arguments about the Cowardly Lion and the Sawhorse also apply to the Hungry Tiger. Baum did little with the character in Ozma of Oz and it's hard to see how he'd uniquely figure into the plot in Return to Oz. Again, while a finale cameo would have been nice, it would also require another expensive creature to be created.

Perhaps the one character who might have been an interesting addition to the movie is the Woggle-Bug. Imagine if he'd met Dorothy near her old house and began warning her that things weren't right in Oz in an overly pompous and dignified manner. Imagine if he'd tried to distract Mombi and had Dorothy and her friends leave on the Gump without him and Mombi pushes him out of the broken open window where he uses his wings to glide back to the ground to hide and finally reappear in the finale sequence. Perhaps he might have added some much-needed levity to the movie. But then, the Henson Company would have had to figure out how to make that work, further straining the already stretched budget.

In The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma had been raised by Mombi (who was an old sorceress in Baum's world; Return to Oz mixed her with Princess Langwidere, creating a character that was a little of both but ultimately neither), but she was transformed into a boy named Tip.  Return to Oz had Emma Ridley (who played Ozma) appear in Kansas as a mysterious, anonymous girl who rescues Dorothy from the clinic. It's suggested by dialogue at the end ("I was afraid you'd drowned," Dorothy says, to which Ozma nods knowingly) that she is Ozma.

I have a theory about this: a dancing girl says that Ozma was enchanted into a mirror. As such, until Dorothy frees her at the end, Ozma only appears as a shadowy form in mirrors. If Oz is a mirror version of Dorothy's world, then wouldn't it make sense that Ozma is suddenly able to cross over to Kansas while she's under this enchantment? Or, considering Ozma appears in Dorothy's mirror at the end, maybe this is just something she can do and Mombi's enchantment let her project her entire body into Kansas.

So, if they'd used Tip, would a boy have rescued Dorothy and adventured with her to Oz? Perhaps. But unless they'd come up with a good dynamic for him and Dorothy, then we'd run into the "too many characters" problem again. And how could they pull off the restoration?

Okay, seriously, though, where was Glinda during the events of Return to Oz? She doesn't even get a name drop. Now, possibly she was the one who helped send the key to Oz, but you'd think that even with her usual hands-off rule, she might make a concession when the fate of the entire Land of Oz is at stake.

In Sam's Return to Oz comic adaptation, Glinda makes an unannounced appearance and declares who Ozma is. My only theory is that she was attempting to get Dorothy to Oz and help free Ozma just as everyone was turned to stone, deciding that if she was successful, Dorothy and Ozma would restore her along with everyone else.

So, who knows how Return to Oz might have been if they'd added more characters to the plot? But I think it works well as it is in its final cut.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Take Me Back to Oz" and "And Justice for Oz"

I finally got some new books from Chris Dulabone's Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends. I have the credit for illustrating the second one, And Justice For Oz, but that actually came about by accident. I'm no artist, but I did sketch several non-human Oz characters around an Oz logo on some mail I sent to Chris, and he wound up asking if he could use it in a book. I gave the go-ahead, and it appears as a chapter heading on each chapter.

These two books are supposed to follow up Dulabone's The Marvelous Monkeys of Oz, which I haven't read, but it turns out these two form a story well enough on their own, although it seems the first one might have helped if I wanted a better introduction to the characters. As it is, these two actually tell a pretty interlocked story and really should have been published together as a single book.

The books are by Lisa McFauh-Queppe and Lark Vandergrace respectively, but if it wasn't for the names on the covers, I would've thought this was Dulabone's work.

Take Me Back to Oz features the disappearance of Queen Diamond Ann of Anapeland, the elected ruler of the Flying Monkeys. Her mischeivous sons take the throne as two flying monkeys are joined by the Scarecrow and Scraps to find Diamond Ann. Along the way, they are joined by an enchanted princess.

Diamond Ann is actually trapped on another in the distant future, and is given a number of slave jobs she fails at for being too considerate. She finally escapes and gets a lift back to Oz. Except, Oz is not around anymore in the future... (At least, not where or how it is in the present.)

Take Me Back tends to overindulge in the goofiness and spends little time in Oz and doesn't really feel like an Oz book. ...And Justice for Oz spends little time with Diamond Ann and does spend more time in Oz as the Scarecrow, Scraps, the monkeys and the princess search odd little Ozian kingdoms for the missing Monkey queen before returning there to confront her sons. It's still a goofy book (and has a nifty tribute to the Wizard of Oz Returns record), but is nicely toned down from the last one. Justice made for a nicer read than Take Me Back.

While the story ended well, I couldn't recommend putting these high up on your list of Oz books to pick up. If you're a fan of Dulabone's humor, then you know what to expect and should enjoy them. As with most of Dulabone's publications, this is one for those who don't mind their Oz getting a little wacky.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Disney's Journey to Oz, part 6

In my first entry of this series, I mentioned that one of Disney's first ideas for possible Oz projects was a cartoon in which Mickey Mouse would be blown to Oz. Well, an awfully similar concept was behind the September 20, 2013 episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: "The Wizard of Dizz."

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a preschool-oriented TV series focusing on problem solving, starring faithfully rendered 3D versions of the classic Disney cartoon characters.

This particular episode found Minnie Mouse and Pluto being blown away to the Land of Dizz in a shed during a tornado that interrupted a party at the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. After getting magic green shoes from Good Witch Clarabelle (Clarabelle Cow) and getting some advice from the Chipmunchkins (Chip and Dale), Minnie and Pluto head down the polka dot road to see the Wizard of Dizz in the City of Handy Helpers. Along the way, they meet Scarecrow Goofy who wants a brain, Tin Man Mickey who wants a heart to keep him running (he's a clockwork mouse, so he's part Tik-Tok), and Donald the Lion, who wants courage. Witch Pete tries to stop them so he can steal Minnie's shoes for their magic power. For Pete's part, they gave him a wig and a Witch's hat. So, they almost did full witch drag on Pete.

Arriving at the city, they're let in by the Guardian of the Gates (Daisy Duck), and let in to see the Wizard of Dizz, who appears as a mechanical eye and robotic arms and he asks them for Witch Pete's hat. They go to Witch Pete's castle, and he tells them that he's decided to become good, and asks to borrow Minnie's shoes. Minnie lets him, but he double crosses her. Using the Mystery Mouskatool of the day (a problem solving device on the show), Minnie is able to make Pete sneeze with feathers from a pillow, taking away his magic.

They return to the city, where they discover the Wizard is really a normal man (Ludwig Von Drake), who gives them all gifts to make them happy before offering to take Minnie and Pluto back to the clubhouse in his balloon. However, Clarabelle arrives at the last minute and makes the Wizard leave without Minnie. The forgetful Clarabelle tells Minnie how to use the shoes to get back to the Clubhouse. Minnie awakens at the Clubhouse, where the party continues, but not before Minnie realizes she still has the green shoes.

Given that this entertainment was aimed for very young children, it doesn't seem fair to give it a critical review. I'm not entirely sure of how beneficial it proves to young minds, but the colorful design and friendly characters are probably pleasing to children. Perhaps, however, this is more of a footnote in the shared history of Disney and Oz, though its similarity to an early Oz concept at the Disney studios does add some curiosity to it.

I didn't get to this earlier due to not wanting to pay much for it on DVD, which seems to have been released before the TV debut on the same day that Oz the Great and Powerful was released to home video. I eventually added it to my Disney Movie Club cart and bought it alongside the Return to Oz Blu-Ray.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Return to Oz Blu-Ray review

Well, Return to Oz is now on Blu-Ray, and although the official release date is April 14, people who ordered it as soon as it was available are getting their copies now.

Return to Oz's Blu-Ray is an exclusive from Disney Movie Club. Exclusives are typically titles that seem to have limited customer bases. Which it seems most of Disney's live action catalog that dates before 1990 is a part of...

This means these titles aren't being treated to high profile home video releases. These are plain vanilla releases. Disney does do a nice digital master of the title, however, and there are English subtitles. So basically, when you buy an exclusive movie title from Disney Movie Club, that's what you're getting.

The movie.

I'd seen Return to Oz in HD before, digital high definition through Vudu. However, there are limitations to streaming HD in that the compression rate can limit some of the actual detail. Vudu's version had some speckles and artifacts in the beginning, and the Nome King's face on the mountainside looked like it was added in. Blu-Ray, however, has better compression rates.

I suspect most of my blog readers already know about Return to Oz, but if not, here goes:

Dorothy Gale (Fairuza Balk) has not been able to sleep since returning to Kansas after the events of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Concerned Aunt Em (Piper Laurie) takes her to get an experimental new therapy, but during an accident, Dorothy escapes the hospital and finds her way to Oz with a talking chicken named Billina. Finding the yellow brick road torn up, the Emerald City falling to ruin and all the people turned to stone, Dorothy and Billina join with Tik-Tok and Jack Pumpkinhead to save Oz from the clutches of Princess Mombi (Jean Marsh), her Wheelers, and the wicked Nome King (Nicol Williamson).

Return to Oz was not a hit, mismarketed by Disney as a fun Oz sequel, when it was more in the vein of The Dark Crystal, Legend, The NeverEnding Story and the soon-to-arrive Labyrinth. With some well-handled creature effects and claymation (everything you see in the film was actually in front of a camera), great performances, and a beautiful score by David Shire, Return to Oz truly deserves a classic status that has eluded it so far. It also ensured that first-time director Walter Murch never got a directing job again.

So, how does Return to Oz look on Blu-Ray? The answer is that it's great. The issues I noted with the digital version are gone, the 5.1 audio mix is nice and clear, and the film grain is intact. This level of clarity can be a revelation sometimes (I didn't realize that Dr. Worley's ring's gem was that round), but overall just offers a nice, clearer picture for HD displays, but otherwise similar to the version that's been available on Disney's DVD the past 11 years.

The Blu-Ray is an improvement on the DVD's presentation. In the older restoration, presumably carried out by Anchor Bay and reused by Disney, the film was artificially lightened, presumably to keep colors from looking too drab on DVD and VHS. With Blu-Ray's higher picture size and better color range, now a more accurate presentation is available, retaining the darker tones of the original film.

While Disney is not likely to flank Return to Oz with bonus features other 80s fantasy films (see above) have enjoyed, Oz fans, Disney fans and fantasy fans who want their movies in high definition would do well to pick up the Blu-Ray.

You can see some HD screencaps here.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Volkov-thon: The Mystery of the Deserted Castle

And so we come to the final book. Volkov, like Baum, wrote Magic Land stories to his final days.

One thing we notice is that Volkov tended to make use of his old characters as much as possible, where Baum would have characters come in and go again and sometimes never return. This is not to say either is a problem, but it does speak of the differences of the two worlds: Magic Land feels smaller and more interconnected as a result (which is in its favor as it is hidden in America somewhere), while Oz feels larger and if a character doesn't reappear, it's more likely that they're just going about their lives and didn't get involved in this particular story.

The Mystery of the Deserted Castle opens not in Magic Land nor in Kansas but in outer space as the rocket ship Diavona from the planet Rameria heads to Belloria (Earth). Volkov explains quite a bit about the ship, Rameria, and the two races of the planet: the amiable, hard-working, inventive Arzaks and the lazy and cruel Menvits, who have the power to make the Arzaks forget their accomplishments and stay subservient.

Although Volkov takes his time to tell the story, it can be recapped briefly: the Diavona lands in Magic Land, outside the abandoned castle of the giant wizard Hurricap who had made Magic Land magic (kind of like Lurline, but not immortal). The newcomers take possession of the castle. Having the birds and gnomes spy on the newcomers as much as possible (some birds are killed when the Menvits fire their ray-guns), the people of Magic Land try to discover as much as possible from a safe distance. Also, Strasheela has the Magic Television set.

Urfin Jus, who became a gardener as well and had his regular food festivals interrupted by the newcomers, manages to sell his vegetables to the newcomers and get what information he can. The Menvits capture Mentaho (a former Underground King) and his wife as they learn the language and discover that the Arzak people who came with the Menvits are actually friendly. Furthermore, they discover that if the Arzaks are holding emeralds, they are immune to the psychic control of the Menvits. Mentaho lies to the Menvits about Magic Land to make the newcomers hesitant to openly attack, the main elaboration being that there are giants are all around. (The gnomes keep everyone else informed of what Mentaho says and Tilly-Willy walks around with different painted faces regularly.)

Because this is a Magic Land book, Annie and Tim are sent for by means of Oyho the Dragon, and Fred Canning joins them to help the people of Magic Land build a mine. However, they are hesitant to blow up the mine, and try to put Soporific Water into the Menvits' food instead, though it seems they might not have a choice as the Menvits are becoming frustrated with the repeated failures of their attempted attacks (thanks, eagles and Gingemma's black rocks!) and want to blow up the Emerald City and the rest of Magic Land before returning to Rameria. They also kidnap Annie to confirm what Mentaho said. (Thanks to the gnomes, she's in line with him.)

Luckily, the Soporific Water comes through the newly constructed pipes just in time, putting the Menvits to sleep and putting the Arzaks in charge, who get ready to head back to Rameria with plenty of emeralds in tow so they can fight against the Menvits' psychic powers. Oyho takes Annie, Tim and Fred back home.

Magic Land has definitely developed over the series. By this book, Strasheela has united so much of Magic Land and has such a good surveillance system that there was pretty much no need to call for Annie at all. Yes, she helped (Ramina and her mice are actually instrumental in bringing the Soporific Water to the castle, and Annie summoned them), but it's really pretty minor considering what else was being done.

One might well gape at using invaders from outer space in a book that was inspired by Oz, but may I remind you that Ruth Plumly Thompson's Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz and John R. Neill's The Wonder City of Oz also go beyond the stratosphere. In any case, Volkov doesn't make the invaders far too fantastic.

In any case, we've seen how you could take a concept like Oz and go in a different direction than Baum while not going overly dark or adult in theme. Although, Baum's feminist fairyland certainly becomes a patriarchal society here...

So, this wraps up Volkov's series. He died in 1977 before the book edition was published in 1982. However, Magic Land had captured the imagination of readers, and spinoff novels exist, just as they do with the original Oz series. Blystone has translated a series of books by Sergei Sukinhov, but I've yet to get those. But now that we've got these done, I think I can say that we'll be back to Magic Land someday.

All pictures in this series are by Leonid Vladimirsky. They—and more illustrations—can be found with the Russian texts of the series at

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Hanging with Ed Cao

Jared talks with his friend Eduard Cao about all things Oz! His role in the recent revival of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, his own Oz film, and a lot of talk about Disney's Return to Oz.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Check out the podcast website to subscribe on iTunes and in the new Podbean iPhone app!