Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Wizard of Oz songs on vinyl

Well, the 80th anniversary of the premiere of MGM's The Wizard of Oz is today. Looking back over my blogs about Oz vinyl records, I noticed the soundtrack album of the movie was unrepresented.

Well, let's fix that, shall we?

In 1940, the songs from The Wizard of Oz were released onto 78rpm records for fans of the film to purchase. However, this was not a soundtrack album. A soundtrack release is made of selections from a film's music, sometimes mixed differently or even using different recordings of the music designed to be listened to without the film.

This release, from Decca Records, featured new recordings of the songs, and only one of the cast could be heard: Judy Garland, singing "Over the Rainbow" and "The Jitterbug." The rest of the singers on the records were members of the Ken Darby singers, under his direction. Victor Young and his orchestra performed the music. The other songs on the records were "The Merry Old Land of Oz," "If I Only Had A Brain" (but it also included "If I Only Had A Heart" and "If I Only Had The Nerve"), "We're Off To See The Wizard" and "Munchkinland" (the entire song sequence, filling both sides of a 78 record).

These recordings used some additional lyrics for the songs not used in the film. These were added to commercial sheet music to help the songs be performed outside of the context of the movie. To help tell the story of the song during "The Merry Old Land of Oz," a soloist in the role of Dorothy says "We can't see the Wizard like this, we're all dirty." The Tin Man says he's rusty and the Scarecrow says he's lost a lot of straw, while the Lion says he's afraid of water. The chorus sings "Here we rush with soap and brush to make you clean and fair!" This line has been added to some other versions of the song, for example at the first OzCon karaoke in 2018, I was surprised to see it in the onscreen lyrics for the version of the song I performed.

This collection of records sold well for Decca and in time was reissued as a pair of 48rpm records. Later still, it made side one of a new album that paired the songs with Decca's recordings of a similar collection for Disney's Pinocchio. And that is the version I own.

The first true soundtrack recording of the movie was released in 1956, but unlike modern soundtrack albums, it presented dialogue from the film along with the songs. This meant it included a lot of the score, but it was clipped very short to reduce the audio from 101 minutes to a mere 40 minutes. A number of scenes got the cut, and oddly, the cuts eliminated any mention of the film's iconic Ruby Slippers. For the modern Oz fan, the original version of this album can be very jarring to listen to. Still, for many years, to hear the original cast of the film sing the songs without seeing the film in theaters or on television, creating an audio recording from TV or somehow owning a film print (looking at you, Rob Roy MacVeigh), this was your only option.

This version of the album would be reissued many times with very different album artwork over the years until compact disc came along. It was rebranded "The Story and Songs of the Wizard of Oz" and expanded. My personal vinyl copy seems to be a rather common one that was reissued well into the 1980s.

In 1995, Rhino Music released two new soundtrack albums for MGM's The Wizard of Oz on compact disc. The big one was a 2-disc set that I've profiled before, but there was also a single disc version that in time has become more widely available. This one featured the main titles overture, the songs of the film—opting for extended versions when available—, the Cyclone music, "The Jitterbug," the deleted Emerald City reprise of "The Witch Is Dead!" and the finale music. This version of the soundtrack is now the standard version and has been released on various CDs, digital and even some special vinyl releases.

Do you have these versions of the MGM songs in your collection? In what format? Go ahead and fire away in the comments.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

80 Years Of The Wizard of The Emerald City

This past weekend was OzCon International 2019. I attended and presented a panel on Alexander Volkov's Magic Land series as it was 80 years since his original version had been presented. I have blogged about the series indepth, but this panel was designed for those who were not familiar with the series and might be interested in finding out more. Below is what I'd written to read during my panel as well as the videos I'd planned to show during it. Not represented are the questions I received during the panel and the clips of other television adaptations I showed afterwards as we had extra time.


So, you probably didn't understand a word of that. But I think it's fair to say you recognized the story it was celebrating. Over in Russia, generations have grown up with the story of a little girl lost in a fantasy world seeking the help of the magical ruler so she can get home. But it's not Oz, but Volshebnik Izumrudnogo Goroda: translated, the Wizard of the Emerald City.

The one behind this switch was Alexander Melentyevich Volkov. He was a teacher who came across the original Baum book about 1937 when he was given the book to translate as part of his mastering the English language. He enjoyed the story and decided he would publish his own translation. His version of the story, however, would change a few things.
Now, at this time, Russia did not honor international copyright law, allowing writers to freely borrow from other works. Volkov's essentially rewriting an existing work into a new one was not unprecedented, as Pinocchio had become the Russian Buratino at the hands of Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Yet it was not even original to Russian writers. A very famous example is none other than Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, which was inspired by a part of a believed to be fictionalized memoir of the real life d'Artagnan. So before one writes Volkov off as simple plagiarism, just remember that it's a long-established tradition in literature.

Originally published in 1939, Volkov's translation was mostly a straightforward retelling of the original Oz story. The name "Dorothy" wasn't common in Russia and didn't have a real equivalent, so Volkov renamed the heroine "Ellie." Toto's name was translated to "Totoshka." The Tin Woodman was now changed to the Iron Lumberjack as iron actually rusts. The Good Witch of the North and Glinda were now renamed Villina  and Stella, respectively, while the Wicked Witches of the East and West were Gingemma and Bastinda. "Oz" was also renamed "Volshebstrany" or "Magic Land."

However, Volkov had some ideas for Magic Land and twenty years later in 1959, he revised and reissued the book with even further changes. Ellie Smith now lived with her parents in Kansas with her dog Totoshka. As the story opens, her old shoes are wearing out and her mother reads her a story about a Wicked Witch who tries to conjure a hurricane to wipe out all life on earth that she doesn't find useful. Lo and behold, this story is actually happening in Magic Land with Gingemma being the Witch. However, Villina, the Good Witch of the northern Rose Land, alters the spell so that a house that should be abandoned will be dropped on Gingemma.

But the best laid plans of mice and men so often go awry and just like Dorothy, Ellie arrives in the eastern Blue Land of the Munchkins. To her surprise, Totoshka can now talk and expresses himself quite enthusiastically. She is told that in order to return home, she must help three beings fulfill their fondest wishes. She takes with her Gingemma's Silver Shoes and along her way down the yellow brick road, she meets Strasheela who wants a brain, the Iron Lumberjack who wants a heart and then an ogre who wants to eat her after she takes a detour into a trap. Surprise! Shortly after Strasheela and the Lumberjack rescue her and Totoshka, they are joined by the Cowardly Lion on the way to the Emerald City.

There's a few expansions, such as many characters that Baum didn't name in his first book now having names. The Queen of the Field Mice is Ramina, the Guardian of the Gates is Faramant, and the Soldier who guards the palace is Din Gior. Instead of Kalidahs, we have sabre-tooth tigers. The Wizard is named Goodwin.

Volkov also made a few interesting changes. Bastinda has a cook named Fregosa who Elli confides in and makes her question just how powerful Bastinda is. When Goodwin is leaving Magic Land, an eclipse occurs, making the people believe he has actually gone to the sun. When Ellie and her friends journey south, there are no fighting trees or China country. Instead, they attempt to cross a river and it turns into a flood that separates the friends. When it comes to the colors of the Land of Oz, the eastern Munchkin Country is Blue Land and the Emerald City is still green, but the western country is now Violet Land, the northern country is Yellow Land, and the south is Rose Land.

So, there was a brand new, distinctly different Oz tailored for Russian audiences, and over the next sixteen years, Volkov wrote five sequels. These were serialized in magazines before being collected in book form, the last one actually being released five years after Volkov's death in 1977.

 The first sequel was titled Urfin Jus and his Wooden Soldiers. A woodcarver who served Gingemma finds his property overrun with mysterious thorny plants. After burning them, he discovers the ashes will bring things to life, so he creates wooden soldiers called the Deadwood Oaks to conquer Magic Land. While he quickly conquers the Munchkins, Strasheela puts up quite the defense at the Emerald City, until a traitor named Ruf Bilan helps Urfin win. After Urfin captures both Strasheela and the Iron Lumberjack, Kaggi-Karr the crow is sent across the mountains to Kansas to ask Elli and her peg-legged sailor Uncle Charlie Black to come to Magic Land.

Just so we're clear, Urfin is basically a male Mombi mixed with Jinjur with a dash of the Nome King. Uncle Charlie clearly feels a lot like Cap'n Bill. And in a nod to The Road to Oz, the return to Magic Land is achieved through a wheeled boat. Just don't ask why there's a mountain range and a desert in Kansas with all of Magic Land hidden there that no one's noticed.

In Magic Land, Elli and Uncle Charlie meet up with the Lion who helps them free Blue Land, and then with the help of Ramina and her knowledge of underground tunnels, they free Strasheela and the Iron Lumberjack to help them free Violet Land. With Urfin's supply of magic ashes now exhausted, the Deadwood Oaks at the Emerald City are taken out with flaming debris and Urfin is sent home. The remaining Deadwood Oaks are given new faces and serve Strasheela.

 In The Seven Underground Kings, Ruf Bilan fled into the Land of the Underground Ore-Diggers, who have a system of seven Royal Families who take turns ruling. This is acheieved thanks to the Soporific Waters, which send people  to sleep for an extended period of time and wipes their memeories. When each family and their court awakens, they are re-educated as to who they are and then allowed to rule for one month. Ruf Bilan has damaged the source of the water, stopping the system, meaning that over time, each family has awoken.

Back in Kansas, Ellie and her cousin Fred Canning explore a cave, but are trapped and journey to Underground Land, where Ruf Bilan claims that Elli is a powerful fairy who can restore the waters, so she and Fred are kept prisoner. Totoshka is sent to find Strasheela, who arrives with Ellie's other friends to advise on the matter, though the underground climate isn't favorable to any of them.

When Fred suggests finding another source of the Waters, they manage to set up a pump, and each of the Seven Kings decides to send the others to sleep. However, the Timekeeper Rujero decides that all of the Kings will be sent to sleep and he will take permanent ruling duties, with the former kings being sent to new jobs to work with their people.

As the Underground People move above ground, Ramina predicts that Ellie will not be returning to Magic Land before she rides home on the back of Oyho the Dragon.

 So, now on to The Fiery God of the Marrans. Urfin Jus goes south and convinces the Marrans that he's a god using Charlie Black's abandoned cigarette lighter. The Marrans are a short, primitive people who can jump high who Volkov used to replace Baum's Hammerheads. And so, he decides to go conquer the Emerald City again. Strasheela now has a Magic television set that shows him anything he wants to see in Magic Land and has dug a moat around Emerald City. Yet, even with this, the Marrans are able to conquer.

Over in Kansas, we are introduced to Annie, Ellie's seven year old sister and Arto, the son of Totoshka. She and her friend Tim O'Kelly are obsessed with Ellie's tales of Magic Land and when Fred Canning sends them two solar-powered mechanical mules, the two children ride them to Magic Land. Once there, Annie helps to free a fox who gives her a circlet that makes her invisible. As she heads into Munchkin Country, she discovers what's going on with Urfin and grabbing some Soporific Water, she manages to free Strasheela. Urfin lies to the Marrans that the defeated Marrans were killed, but when he arrives, the Marrans see their supposedly dead friends playing a game of volleyball, causing them to revolt against their "Fire God." So all goes well as Tim, Annie and Arto return to Kansas.

 Now, over to The Yellow Fog. The giant witch Arachna awakens from her five thousand year slumber and catches up on the history of Magic Land. She decides she will conquer Magic Land. She tries brute force, but the combined forces are able to repel her. So she casts the yellow fog, which begins to irritate the throat and eyes, but the people of Magic Land manage to find ways to allieviate the effects. It's not until it brings severe winter weather that Oyho goes to fetch Annie and Tim to tell them how to deal with the new climate. However, uncle Charlie makes his return and helps the people defy Arachna with a giant robot named Tilly-Willy who comes to life and fights the witch, making her fall to her death.

 All right, now on to the final book, The Mystery of the Deserted Castle. Now, if you thought Magic Land is sounding a little strange, hold onto your seats. Magic Land is invaded by aliens from the planet Rameria. The cruel Menvits control the peaceful Arzaks with their hypnotic gaze, and soon make it clear to the people of Magic Land that they're up to no good, so the people create an elaborate ruse to keep the invaders in check. But when the Menvits kidnap some citizens and even Annie when she comes in for a visit, mice manage to pipe the Soporific Water to the castle to send the Menvits to sleep. The Arzaks discover that emeralds counter the Menvits' powers and taking a lot in the rocket ship, they head back home to free Rameria.

There's some debate as to if the final book was possibly finished by a ghostwriter.

 

There's a major difference between Baum and Volkov I noticed when I read through the series. After the first story, Villina and Stella only get mentioned and aside from Annie and Arachna, most of the new characters are male. In The Yellow Fog, Tim even quotes a maxim saying that men go out on adventures and seeking fortune while women care for the home. Compare this with Baum's world where women are often the adventurous protagonists and leaders and in the case of the Patchwork Girl, even reject having a domestic role to life a life of independence. That said, after reading a number of fan sequels to The Wizard of Oz in which Oz is in trouble and they send for Dorothy, it was refreshing to see the people of Magic Land come together and face threats as a community.

The series promotes people coming together as a community and working towards a common goal. In a common fairy tale trope, Ellie in the first story must first help others before she can expect to be sent home. While it gives Ellie some motivation to befriend her companions, I think I prefer the original Oz story in which Dorothy just befriends them because she wants to help them. Giving her a motivation makes it seems like her friendships are a means to an end. Totoshka, however, is a great twist on Toto with his winsome and energetic personality.
Now, the books have been popular over in Russia and other nearby countries, and they've inspired a number of adaptations, from stage productions to live action television productions to animated versions. However, the most popular seems to be a 1973 10-episode series adapting the first three books. The series was animated via stop motion. That song I opened this presentation with is "The Song of the Friends," which thematically combines "We're Off To See The Wizard" with "If I Only Had A Brain," "If I Only Had A Heart" and "If I Only Had The Nerve." How popular is this song? Well...



I have some bad news if you think those puppets are charming. The series was produced by Soyuzmultfilm, who lost their puppet building to the Russian Orthodox Church about 1990 who did not give notice to the animators before sending in a squadron who threw out the puppets, saying they were "satanic" and "animated with the blood of Christian babies." No salvaging of the puppets or other materials was allowed. So, sorry for a depressing episode of "Where Are They Now?" *

The series has had its continuations. Leonid Vladmirsky, who illustrated the series, wrote Buratino in the Emerald City, sending the Russian version of Pinocchio to Oz.

Yuri Kuznetzov wrote at least four books properly continuing the series.
However, one Sergei Sukinhov has written no less than twenty books set in a version of Magic Land that only went off the first book and then created its own continuity.
If you're wondering about the proper Oz series being translated to Russian, yes, that's since happened, allowing readers to experience both series. For America, thanks to Peter Blystone, Volkov's books are available in English in the "Tales of Magic Land" series, and he's also translated a number of Sukinhov's books. I couldn't tell you about every plot beat, so my summaries there just had to skim the basics of the stories. I highly recommend checking them out.

So, back to that song, I found the lyrics and managed to translate them. The lyrics are only functionally translated, so they don't rhyme, but at least you'll get an idea of what the characters are saying. So, let's head down the yellow brick with Ellie and her friends one more time.



* Despite having seen the series lumped in with Soyuzmultfilm's work, after posting this blog, I was informed that the series was produced by Ekran, a separate company. It is entirely possible that the puppets survive!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Birthday Boy of Oz: L Frank Baum

One of our favourite days is here: May 15 - L Frank Baum's birth-date.

Literally a man of many talents (and trial and errors) who found his true calling later in life, making the most of what he did with the ones he loved and making others happy, more than even he could have possibly wildly imagined!

Two of the Biography books written about him, on either side of a page from the oversize "Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz" book by Hungry Tiger Press

Whether they were Fantasy, contemporary, Politically Romantic ("Daughters of Destiny"), science-fiction, exotic adventures or even articles.
Whether he was an author, actor, playwright, salesman, shopkeeper or whatever job he took ... he certainly touched a lot of people, made a lot of connections and released a surprising amount of ideas.

Most of all he has brought so many people together, he has created Friendships and given us beloved gatherings.

He was a man, simply trying to find his way with the right job in life, who became a Creator and Royal Historian with his dream world.

Much has been written about him and his writings, especially a certain production of a particular book which brought him security and recognition, but we may never truly fully know every single tiny little thing about him, nor should we.
We have had a semi-accurate (and that term should be considered loosely) onscreen portrayal of his writings ... so hopefully someday we will get an accurate biographical dramatization of the man.

Thank You L Frank Baum for Oz and the many stories you have given us to read ... not just fairylands, but the Flying Girl, Aunt Jane's Nieces, the Master Kay, Sam Steele / the Boy Fortune Hunters, Annabelle and many more stand-alone books and series!

We salute and applaud you sir!

Thursday, April 04, 2019

GoFundMe OzCon Campaign

OzCon International is just a few months away, held on July 26-28 at the Kellogg West Conference Center.

This is certainly a BIG one: Celebrating the writings of L Frank Baum (who passed away in 1919) and the 80th Anniversary of MGM's "Wizard of Oz"

Everybody loves to go, though sometimes there are those who may have a little difficulty doing so, whether it's due to money or distance.

That is why I have made this campaign to ask for help, so that I may not miss out on this special event.

Normally I rely on myself and don't ask for assistance, but there are times you need to take a chance and ask for help, then see who is willing and able to help.
It's a reasonable goal and will cover the main expenses: travel, accommodation and spending.

If all goes well, some of the extra money may go to attending next year's OzCon in 2010, to celebrating "Glinda of Oz".

If you are able to help donate and spread the word around for this, that would truly show the spirit of the Oz community - where you help someone, just as Dorothy selflessly helped the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman get out of their positions through the goodness of her own heart.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-me-attend-ozcon-2019


Please and Thank you.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Meet artist David Valentin

Ever wanted to see the Oz characters in 3D, looking just like how John R. Neill drew them? Artist David Valentin has begun modeling them as a hobby. He's shared with us his work so far, Tik-Tok, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse.

And to make this a bit more than just showing off some cool art, we did a little Q&A over e-mail.

How did you get interested in Oz?
My love of Oz began very early. Growing up, the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz was my favorite fantasy film and watching it on television every year was a special treat for myself and my siblings. This was before VCRs and DVDs so as a child, watching it on TV was the only way to see it and it was an exciting event for me.

In 1989, I purchased The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History and it was at that time that I was introduced to the Oz Books by L. Frank Baum. I immediately purchased as many of the Oz Books I could find, mostly via Books of Wonder, a children’s bookstore in NYC that published great facsimile editions of the Oz Books. I was always a fan of all things Disney, Fantasy, and Science Fiction and Oz certainly fit the bill.

Years later, at age 17, my very first job was working at Books of Wonder and it was my love of Oz that started it. Of course, at the time, I think the majority of my paycheck went right back to Books of Wonder to pay for Oz books and Oz items. I’m sure the owners didn’t mind. I also began collecting Oz items wherever I could find them. Below are images of my collection when I had them displayed. Today, most of my collection is in storage where I someday hope to have the additional room to display them again. 

 
What do you do when you're not recreating the beloved characters in 3D?
Sketching and 3D Art have been a hobby of mine for over 20 years. Most of my professional work include architectural renders and character design for games including animation. I’ve attached a few examples of some of that work including one project that I completed for Topps Trading Cards a few years ago. It was to create 60 Sketch Cards that would be included in their Star Wars Chrome Perspectives Jedi Vs Sith Hobby Box. When I’m not busy, I spend the majority of my time learning new software and watching tutorials that I can utilize to bring my ideas to life.
  
In addition to my freelance work, I work at New York University full time which has allowed me the opportunity to further my education and explore new technologies in Digital Arts. I have been lucky enough to have been taught by some incredible instructors who work at Blue Sky Studios, Weta Digital, and Marvel Studios. One instructor of mine worked his magic on James Cameron's Avatar and taught me the same techniques he created for the texturing and painting of the main characters in the film.

How did you start modeling the Oz characters?
Unfortunately, due to contractual restrictions, I am not able to showcase most of the work I create professionally so knew I wanted to start a project that I could share with others. 

Being a huge fan of John R. Neill and his illustrations, I decided to create the Oz characters in 3D based on his work. There are thousands of Oz artists out there who have completely reimagined the characters throughout the years but I wanted to go back to the original illustrations and see what I could come up with. With the advances of 3D technology and my passion to further explore the different types of software available, I was finally able to create the first 5 characters, Tik-Tok, The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, Jack Pumpkinhead, and the Sawhorse.

What software do you use?
For the five characters I created, I used the following software packages: Blender, Chaos VRay, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, Marvelous Designer, and ZBrush.
 
Though it can easily become quite overwhelming, planning each stage is extremely important and there is always trial and error. The majority of the time is spent on testing materials, lighting, and textures for the characters. 
 
Before even beginning any of the work on the computer, I try and gather as much reference as possible. Luckily there are great images online for most of the Oz Characters and I gather the best ones for reference (Fig.1).

In Fig. 02, I block the initial pose for Jack Pumpkinhead using basic geometry until I get it right. I then pose a rigged “Stand In” character to pose the body. This is done using Blender, a 3D Modeling Program. I created certain characters like the Tin Woodman and Tik-Tok using a joint system which allows me to pose them in any way and if I ever want to animate them in the future, it will save me considerable time. Example of two different poses I created for the Tin Woodman can be seen in Fig. 02. 

Once I have the final pose, I import him into Marvelous Designer (Fig. 03) which is a clothing simulation software. I create each article of clothing using patterns and stitch them onto the character. Once I get this right, I export the clothes into ZBrush, which is a sculpting programs where I add the details.

Fig. 04 shows the original clothes I created for the Scarecrow before I changed his pose along with various heads I created for Jack. I use a Wacom Tablet with ZBrush to sculpt the details. It feels like playing with digital clay and you can add as much detail as you want.

The next stage (Fig. 05) involves using Photoshop and Illustrator to create all the textures that will be applied to the final model. You can think of textures like wrapping paper that completely surrounds the model to give it the look. Texturing a character takes the most time as I’m constantly testing the look development of the scene.

Next stage is lighting the scene using virtual lights. In Fig.06 you see a test using outdoor lighting that I didn’t wind up using for Jack Pumpkinhead.

Finally, a scene is rendered in the computer using Chaos VRay and I combine all the render elements back into Photoshop. Fig.07 shows six of the render passes I use most of the time but more complex scenes use about a dozen separate passes.

Finally I combine and tweak all the passes to create the final completed render (Fig.08, at the top of this post.)

What are your favorite Oz books, films, plays, music, etc.?
Besides the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz film, I enjoy all of Baum’s books but especially enjoy The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz. I reread Marvelous Land right before leaving my small town in Puerto Rico after finishing high school. I moved back to NYC on my own when I was 17 and while I never met any talking Pumpkins, I can surely say that most of the people I met at the time in NYC were just as colorful. 
 
I’ve seen many stage shows of The Wizard of Oz including one in Madison Square Garden which starred Eartha Kitt as the Wicked Witch and Mickey Rooney as the Wizard and also had the opportunity to attend an Oz Benefit Concert starring the singer Jewel as Dorothy. While all were entertaining, I found a VHS Copy of the Children’s Theatre Company production of The Marvelous Land of Oz to be most faithful to Baum’s Oz. Another favorite of mine is Disney’s Return to Oz because it features more of the characters found in later Oz books. While I absolutely love the visuals in Disney’s Oz The Great and Powerful, I personally wished they had stuck to the original stories.

What are some of your favorite things about Oz?
I think the overall theme in the first Wizard of Oz story is a sentiment I hold very dear to my heart. In the end of the first book, Dorothy and the other characters finally realize everything they always wanted was already within themselves. I remember as a child believing in that and it suddenly became clear that life wouldn’t have to be a struggle. It’s a belief I wished more people possessed, especially these days where people blame others for their unhappiness. One cannot find happiness anywhere unless you already have that happiness within.
 
And last but most important, tolerance and acceptance of everyone is key within the Land of Oz, where we find thousands of different types of characters who all learn to work and live with one another. This to me is why I love Oz so much and wish more people would learn from reading the beloved stories by L. Frank Baum.

If you enjoyed seeing David's work, check out his website and follow him on Instagram.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Hit the Bricks with PJ Blankenship

After a long hiatus, the Royal Podcast of Oz returns as Jay chats with PJ Blankenship, creator of the upcoming Hit the Bricks, a fiction podcast featuring modern adventures in Oz!

You can listen, download and subscribe at the podcast site, or use the players and links below. The Royal Podcast of Oz is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play Music and other podcast services and aggregators that mirror these.



Right-click to download the episode.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Oz in 2019!

Happy New Year everybody!

Sorry for the lack of posts lately from all of us (and for those of you who don't like keep hearing "happy new year" after a week).

Calendar by the International Wizard of Oz Club, each month focusing on a certain possession of a different member with a story

Oz has a few specials this 2019:
* 100 years since L Frank Baum died on May 6, 9 days before his birthday, before his penultimate book "Magic of Oz" was published
* 80th Anniversary of the 1939 MGM film

More updates and Announcements will be declared once information has been known.

Personally, I will making work on MANY Oz illustrations for a few story / book-related projects as well as continuing with my Oz-related commission (check out "Devotion" on DeviantArt to find out - there should be 14 pages, so just check my page for any missing pages - Hand-Sam-Art).

There are also some new Oz books I have and will be reading soon, so when I can I may provide reviews.


Not much to read now, but a small update never hurts.

Here's a good one for all of us and Oz this year!