Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Winkies/Oz Con International 2015

Jared Davis reports from Winkie Con 51/Oz Con International 2015 in San Diego, featuring assistance from Aaron Pacentine, Sam Milazzo, Colin Ayres, Miriam Goldman, Rachel Anderson, and guest appearances by Eric Shanower and Emma Ridley.



Download this episode (right click and save)

You can also subscribe to the podcast on the podcast website.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Let's go back to Oz!

Hey, it's been awhile since I posted anything...

To be honest, after this year's Winkie Con, I kind of had trouble getting back to my routine. Even my sleeping schedule has suffered. (I was getting up pretty early, then I went to Winkies, and now I just get out of bed in time to get ready.) Also, I had some commitments for The Baum Bugle to rush out. But here we are, so let's get ready to go.

I'm still very excited about NBC's live version of The Wiz debuting December 3. Keep an eye open, because the last two musicals also had a "making of" special that aired a week or two before the production. (They've put these on the DVD as well.)

The entire main cast has been announced:

Dorothy - Shanice Williams
Aunt Em - Stephanie Mills
Addaperle (The Good Witch of the North) - Amber Riley
Scarecrow - Elijah Kelley
Tin Man - Ne-Yo
Cowardly Lion - David Alan Grier
Gatekeeper - Common
The Wiz - Queen Latifah
Evilene (The Wicked Witch of the West) - Mary J. Blige
Glinda - Uzo Aduba

Uncle Henry has not been announced, but he is usually a minor role as it is, and a friend informed me he usually doubles as Evilene's Lord High Underling. I'm looking into doing a special podcast about The Wiz musical in November, so we'll see how that turns out.

In smaller-time Oz news, but no less important, John Troutman revealed a conceptual version of the cover of his upcoming Oz comic Cryptozoology in Oz, which appears to be starting soon.
The comic will be available to read at Troutcave Comics, but John also lets those willing to drop some money get the entire comic ahead of time on Gumroad.

And to let you know what you're in for, John has also released a collection of his Lit Brick Oz strips on Gumroad.

(If anyone's wondering, that's the Tin Woodman's old head there.)

The strips appeared as part of the Lit Brick webcomic in 2013, around the time Oz the Great and Powerful was released in theaters. They cover Baum's fourteen Oz books, as well as The Sea Fairies, Sky Island and Little Wizard Stories of Oz. Note that Troutman doesn't shy away from irreverent humor. There's also a few new pages to make this a proper Lit Brick issue. And it's just $1.

Or, if you like Troutman's work, you could get all of his comics by contributing to his Patreon for $5 a month. You'll get access to all of his comic collections (including the hilarious Gospel of Carol) and be helping him out as well.

Oh, and tomorrow's Ozma's birthday. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Magic Scroll of Oz

At Oz Con this year, I met Ray Kelley, who was handing out cards promoting his e-book, The Magic Scroll of Oz, which was available through Amazon's Kindle service for only $.99. At that price, I decided it was worth a shot and downloaded it the next time I was near a Wi-Fi friendly spot and began reading it on my trip home.

This is not a long book, and the author said he wanted to be faithful to Baum's world. However, opening the book reminded me of stories I'd read in Oz Reimagined. Yes, the book does cleverly stay in Baum's world, but it's not in the same style. Although it doesn't get excessively violent or explore mature themes, this is not an Oz book for young readers.

The book opens by revealing that Dorothy has tired of Emerald City life and now helps Jack Pumpkinhead on his farm. There also seems to be a rift between Dorothy and Ozma.

Glinda approaches Dorothy with a quest to recover the Royal Historian's magic scroll, which can alter the past, present and future of Oz. Dorothy uses a remaining scrap to create a live stick figure man named Stickler, who gives advice and points the way to the rest of the scroll.

Dorothy is joined by the Cowardly Lion and Sawhorse as she travels north towards the Land of Ev to recover the scroll and discover who was behind the theft.

The book is a fine adventure story and cleverly makes use of Baum's world, even making a visit to Merryland. However, its tone is very dour for an Oz book. Much of the theme seems to be Dorothy revisiting already trodden ground. There is almost no humor to the story. That, however, is the stylistic approach, not a flaw.

There are some continuity gaffes as well. Dorothy mentions facing the Scoodlers with the Wizard, when it was the Shaggy Man. There's a reference to Nome King's tunnel still being open, when The Emerald City of Oz says Ozma closed it. (But, to be fair, Jack Snow makes the same gaffe in The Shaggy Man of Oz.)  Tik-Tok is found in the Royal Palace of Ev and said to be the Royal Army, which is not in line with Baum's books. No explanation is made as to why Tik-Tok has returned to his country of origin. In addition, the rift between Dorothy and Ozma never feels as if it's properly addressed.

Altogether, it's a fine read and also sets up possibilities for what could be even better follow-ups. At the modest price, it's worth checking out.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Leaving Winkies

Relaxing for a bit alone before I check out and ultimately begin my journey home after a wonderful Oz Con/Winkie Con 51. New friendships were formed, online ones improved by meeting them in person, and old friendships strengthened.

So many people were just so wonderful this weekend as we celebrated many anniversaries in the Oz fandom, from Baum's "The Scarecrow of Oz" to Disney's "Return to Oz" to Broadway's "The Wiz" to Gregory Maguire's "Wicked."

Big thanks to Freddy Fogarty and John L. Bell and everyone who worked their butts off to make sure everyone had a delightful time. Your efforts were, as far as I could tell, very much appreciated and fruitful.

It was wonderful to meet Emma Ridley, Justin Case and Paul Maslansky, three people who helped bring one of the more iconic (via emergence through cult classic status) Oz films to life, as well as Craig Miller, who helped promote it, and Kevin Kidney, who helped ensure some treasures were not lost forever.

A big vote of confidence for my old friends Karyl Carlson and Eric P Gjovaag as they attempt to create another delightful convention in Portland, Oregon next year. I believe in you guys!

As I said last night, this convention really is like an annual family reunion (except you actually want to see these people), and each year, leaving seems to get a little more unwelcome, even though you know sticking around would just pin you with an unwieldy charge from the hotel...

I'm writing this from my bed in my room as I slowly get dressed in the clothes I'll have to wear for about two days as I make my way back home via Greyhound.

Thank you, everyone who joined us this year, and for everyone else, I heartily recommend joining us in Portland next year.

We did a live con recap podcast with several guest voices and also have audience commentary to supplement the next episode of Movies of Oz. Perhaps I'll add some photos to the former post.

Peace.