Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Little present for you all

So, earlier I reviewed Capitol Records' Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz and fairly raved about it.

However, this title is hard to find, and even if you do find it, most versions are fragile shellac and should actually be handled carefully and kept safe.

But records were made to be listened to, and considering this production hasn't been made commercially available since about 1950, how can you get a copy to listen to?

... 1950? Wait... If it was done then, and if the copyright wasn't renewed, then there's a very high chance it's in the public domain now...

So, as a little service to Oz fans, I posted all six parts on my new Tumblr blog. Below, I've linked to each entry, where you can play the files.

However, you can also use the mp3 links below to download those six parts so you can put them on your MP3 player or computer or whatever. (You'll have to rename them, though. Tumblr changes the names to random letters and numbers.) And, once downloaded, you can see that I sweetened up the ID3 tags a bit. The cover image is embedded in the files, and each part (three record set, two sides, six parts) is named after a chapter of the book, except the last one.

Part 1: The Earthquake (MP3)
Part 2: The Mangaboos Prove Dangerous (MP3)
Part 3: They Meet The Wooden Gargoyles (MP3)
Part 4: The Den of the Dragonettes (MP3)
Part 5: Old Friends Are Reunited (MP3)
Part 6: Finale (MP3)

Monday, October 29, 2012

"The Oz Enigma" Pre-Release Review

 Note: This is a review of the pre-release edition of The Oz Engima. This version was available in paperback at the Chesterton, Indiana Wizard of Oz Festival, and the final edition of the book may be revised or altered to some extent. 

The Oz Enigma, written by Roger S. Baum, attempts to take Oz into the twenty-first century without losing the essence of the original stories written by Roger's great-grandfather. Roger has written several Oz books before, and I must say that I was very disappointed after reading this book.

In the story, Dorothy and her friends are joined by new characters like Mr. Yumkin on a journey into space to ultimately stop a witch named Maelstorm and her allies Blackheart, the newly-resurrected Witch of the East, and the Nome King from destroying the Emerald City. 

I think that it's a brilliant idea, but pretty poor execution. The villains in this book is definitely where some of the biggest issues with the story lie. For instance, we are told near the beginning of the book that the Wicked Witch of the East has somehow been resurrected (or perhaps she never died). No further explanation or development there. One of his more recent books The Oz Odyssey shared this same redundant plot device.

Another villain in the story is Maelstorm, who is the cousin of the Witches of the East and West. She's basically just an over-the-top, stereotypical witch. She even says something at one point along the lines of "I love being bad because I'm a witch!". I think it would have been better to just ditch the wicked witches all together, and instead have an original, new villain who isn't related to the original Wicked Witches.

Something that is evident in this book and in The Oz Odyssey is that it doesn't seem like Roger has even read any of his great-grandfather's books. And if he has, his stories do not fit anywhere in the timeline of the original books. Yes, you could say that Roger's stories take place in the present-day Oz, but that's not even possible as somehow the same Nome King is still evil and plotting to take over Oz with no explanation as to how he's turned evil again.

There are also strange and unexplained references to the MGM movie, such as farmhands back in Kansas named "Huck and Hank", mentions of the Wizard of Oz giving the Cowardly Lion a medallion of courage and the Scarecrow a diploma, and more that I can't recall off the top of my head. There are even inconsistencies in Roger's original material. For instance, there is a land that is sometimes referred to as Candy Country, Candy County, or Candy Land. Which is it?

I think it's obvious that this version of the book was either rushed or possibly just poorly proofread and edited, because there a ton of errors throughout the book, and really hurt the overall quality of the story. I'm not sure how different the final edition of The Oz Enigma will be, but I unfortunately have to say that I would not recommend this to an Oz fan in its current state.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Volshebnik Izumrudnovo Goroda

Jared and Sam discuss the stop-motion adaptation of Volshebnik Izumrudnovo Goroda, Alexander Volkov's revision of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and its first two sequels.

You can see the series on YouTube here.

Download the episodes here. Search for the word "volshebnik."

You can listen and download at the podcast site or use the player below!


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My next Oz book

I'm working on a new Oz book. It's not really a sequel to Outsiders from Oz, but it does tie in.

Here follows a spoiler if you haven't yet read Outsiders from Oz!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lion of Oz and the Badge of Courage

This is the first time I've blogged about a Roger S. Baum book. It's the third Oz book of his I've read. Coincidentally, I also own only three of his books.

Roger, a great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, was approached by a member of the International Wizard of Oz Club to write more Oz books. His first book, Dorothy of Oz, was published in 1989 and has been adapted into an animated film which will be released next year.

Roger has produced twelve additional Oz books, the latest to be released next year. Dorothy of Oz met with warm reception, but subsequent books under Roger's name have had mixed reviews, generally due to the books practically ignoring L. Frank Baum's original continuity.

My first exposure to this story was its animated film adaptation, Lion of Oz, produced in 2000. Realizing we'd be covering it eventually in the Movies of Oz podcasts, I decided to get the book so I'd have a fuller appreciation of it.

Lion of Oz and the Badge of Courage follows a young lion in Africa who is captured and brought to a circus where he is befriended by the balloonist, Oscar Zoroaster Diggs, who gives him a badge of Courage.

In the first logic problem of the story, Oscar takes the Lion for a balloon ride, which happens to be the same fateful ride that hurls Oscar into the Land of Oz. So, it also hurls the Lion into Oz as well.

See, there was no need for this. Who takes a lion, regardless of how tame it is, for a balloon ride? Furthermore, why is it necessary that the Lion was not a native Ozian lion? In fact, the story could have been told easily with that premise.

The plot gets muddled at times but remains pretty easy to follow. The Wicked Witch of the East finds the Lion and tasks him to find the Flower of Oz, the source of all good in Oz. Lion meets and is joined by SillyOzBul Percival, a young girl named Wimsik, her toys Caroline and Captain Fitzgerald, and a baby dragon named Burt.

Along their journey, they come across a curious sign-man, mini-Munchkins, a whirlpool in the River of Flowers, a vanishing silver bridge, a seamstress who turns people into decorations for a dress for the Wicked Witch of the West, Burt's parents, and 4,999 SillyOzBuls.

Lion even meets the Wizard himself, though Roger explains that it's been so long that Lion no longer recognizes him. I guess Lion has a really short memory for faces, because his adventure seems to start almost as soon as he lands in Oz. Are we to assume he spends months before being joined by anyone? Not likely, as the text doesn't indicate that. If he forgets what Oscar looks like this easily, then why is making the Witch set him free (she lies that she has Oscar captive) such a big deal for him?

There is also a major logic problem in how the plot is resolved, but as I'm reviewing and not analyzing, I won't spoil that.

Not only does the plot suffer from critical logic problems, but the text could get downright dull to read.
Captain Fitzgerald looked at the lion, and said, "This lion must be brave. Look at his ribbon and Badge of Courage."

"Yes, he must be brave," repeated Caroline.

"We will leave in the morning," said Lion.
 Roger sounds as bored as his characters.

 There's some nasty errors. In a repeated case, "you're" is spelled "your." Very often, characters speak for more than one paragraph. Now, when this happens, there is supposed to be another quotation mark at the beginning of the next paragraph to indicate that it is dialogue, but this isn't done. And most of the time, there was no need to break into another paragraph.

Considering the publisher, Yellow Brick Road Publishers, Inc., was Roger's own company, I begin to suspect a decent editor wasn't on board. I recall Dorothy of Oz being much better than this, but that was published by Books of Wonder.

I even have to say the animated movie managed to revise and streamline the story into a better narrative, though some logic problems are still retained. Sam and I will cover that eventually in our Movies podcasts, and we've discussed bumping it up to tie in with the release of the Dorothy of Oz movie.

Unless you're a fan of Roger Baum's books, or just gotta have all of the published Oz fiction, I wouldn't recommend this one. There are much better prequel stories about the Wizard and the Lion out there.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Marathon Weekend

Two weeks ago, I showed the 1973-1974 miniseries based on Volshebnik Izumrudnovo Goroda. Not only is this series a classic, it's far from the only adaptation of the story in Russia.

Warning, this post contains some long videos!

In 1994, a film adaptation was produced. It appears it was shown in theaters, but it looks a lot like a television movie. (It seems to be listed on IMDB twice as 1994 and 1995.) Here it is:

EDIT: I have recently discovered more about Russian film-making of the sort. The above video is indeed a televised version of a play, called a "телеспектакль," or "telespektakl."

In 1999 and 2000, a fully animated series was produced, this time based a little more on the original L. Frank Baum stories. It adapted Baum's first two books, though there's a cameo by the Nome King, and it seems they planned to adapt Ozma of Oz as well, but the series was unable to be sold internationally, so it was scrapped. (It has since been re-dubbed and edited into a British film titled The Haunted Journey to Oz.)

Film has not been the only medium for the story by any means. Stage adaptations have been wide and varied, from this school production played by children...

... to this Christmas circus spectacular!

I don't expect anyone to watch all of these videos in one sitting, and maybe not even this weekend. Still, if you're interested in seeing more Russian takes on Oz, I hope you'll be back.

EDIT: Despite all these other versions, it really seems the stop-motion version is the most classic. As evidence...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ladybird's the Wizard of Oz

"Every new generation of children is enthralled by the famous stories in our Well Loved Tales series. Younger ones love to have the story read to them. Older children will enjoy the exciting stories in an easy-to-read text." 
Ladybird books are known for making classic stories accessible to little children learning to read and "Wizard of Oz" is happily one of them. But it hasn't been told just once, nor twice . . . but three times!

I will be reviewing the one that is closest to the Baum/Denslow version, which is illustrated by Angus McBride and retold by Joan Collins. Out of the three versions of the book's retelling, this is definitely the best and most faithful version. But there are two different versions and naturally it comes down to what is condensed (visually and written) as well as the packaging, like so: (Left) At first, the story was printed under the aforementioned "Well Loved Tales" banner, printed on a smooth paper surface and retold the original story, with illustrations following the Denslow designs (while also looking new). It also has some chapter titles, the endpapers at both front and back show an elaborately-illustrated tree with other famous/classic fairy-tales, possibly in the same series. This edition also includes the above quote at the top of this Post. The pages are numbered 4-51 and the Chapters included (without numbers or new page settings):
  7. OVER THE RIVER (22)
  14. AWAY TO THE SOUTH (47)
The book includes much of the dialogue and occasionally some descriptions or phrases from the original novel, but it also states how the Good Witches are sisters (like The Wiz), it briefly mentions how the Tin Woodman came to be (the faster "magic" way), the Lion does carry them over the first ditch and they cross the second ditch by a chopped tree, but there are no Kalidahs. The Scarecrow does not get stuck on the pole as they cross the river and the whole Poppy Field scenario is left out (as well as the Green Family). Dorothy is given a green dress before meeting OZ and her friends see him the next day. The Wicked Witch of the West's wolves, crows and "fierce black" bees fail so the Winged Monkeys are given their final command, Lion is spared and Dorothy's magic kiss from the Good Witch of the North protects her and Toto. Naturally the origin of the Golden Cap is left out. After the Humbug's balloon accidentally leaves behind Dorothy, they have the Winged Monkeys take them to Glinda's palace, who does agree to help Dorothy but will also use the Golden Cap to return her friends to their kingdoms (the Lion who reveals "the Beasts of the Forest have asked me to be their King!" - but this is not established) and free the Winged Monkeys by giving them the Cap. There is no proper good-bye between friends, but the Silver Shoes do fall off and disappear when Dorothy and Toto have returned to Aunt Em.

(Right) When the book was reprinted under the actual "Ladybird" banner, it was even shorter. The pictures were reused, but now were printed on a glossier type of paper that showed the illustrations' detail more properly and better (even the tint or shade of the colour is a bit more vibrant). However, only HALF of the illustrations were reprinted and even a few of them were cropped (as you can see in the comparison scans). You can also see how on the cover Dorothy has been moved further ahead of her friends, or zoomed in on, while also some possible touch ups to Scarecrow's legs and where Toto would be barely glimpsed (it also unflatteringly exposes the detail in colouring Dorothy). The endpapers now have the red background with black polka dots (representing the ladybird bug) with a "belongs to" page and the retelling has now been done by Audrey Daly. No chapter titles, no page numbering.
The story has been simplified very much, especially by removing the details, dialogue, descriptions and such from before. After Lion appears and is scolded, the journey to the Emerald City is accomplished with nothing other than "soon they were all good friends" and the text, now being heavily abridged, seems to imply that Dorothy and Scarecrow meet an Unrested Tin Woodman, the Wolves were successful in capturing Dorothy (and that is the only illustration of WWW included, with her Wolves), OZ is a humbug but not from "near Kansas" (as mentioned before), NOR is there any scene involving the balloon or how the friends got to Glinda's. But they still say what will become of Dorothy's friends. Here the abridged DOES mention Dorothy saying good-bye "I will never forget you" to her friends, while the loss of the Shoes is shown visually. As mentioned before, half of the illustrations are reused here on nicer paper, but others are left out. Actually the pictures can be divided into three sections: * Reprinted in their entirety = * Reprinted but cropped in some form (e.g. removing background colouring) = * Abandoned/Left-Out = A few pictures, now printed on glossy paper, are also a bit brighter and can make out a few little details otherwise unnoticed before (like Toto's smile when Dorothy frees Scarecrow). The one pic of the friends tree-crossing the *second* ditch has been moved to their way to the West, another manipulative assumption. You can see the changes, both in print quality and editorial, below: (For the pictures where the background colouring has been removed but the characters are left intact, that is something called "Instant Alpha" which can be seen in things such as Preview (Select tool), iPhoto, etc. Nifty little appliance . . . )
Both books include the illustration of OZ giving Lion a spoonful of courage on the page before the story begins and, on the back, a listing of other books in the series (but even this has been given the "Instant alpha" effect)
So here we have an excellently abridged edition of the Baum/Denslow Oz book adapted into a Ladybird learning to read book, also condensed even more to a state that's a slight improvement in quality but takes steps back in quantity and storytelling. If you can find the "Well Loved" version on ebay (as I believe I did) get it while you can, as the other version is more available and therefore a slight step back. Will I review the other Ladybird Wizard of Oz books? I don't know yet . . . but if I get enough responses or requests . . . Maybe.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Permament Records

J.L. Bell recently wrote about Glinda's Great Book of Records, and I don't think I ever did a proper entry on this magical item, so I might as well say a bit about it now.

The Book, which is sometimes said to record everything that happens in the world, is first introduced in The Emerald City of Oz. Glinda tells Ozma and her companions, "As soon as an event takes place, anywhere in the world, it is immediately found printed in my Magic Book. So when I read its pages I am well informed."

The remarks made by Ozma and Dorothy suggest that they hadn't heard of this book any more than the readers had. So did she only obtain it shortly before that, or just prefer to keep it hidden? Either explanation is possible.

In Land, Glinda mentions a book that tells all about what the Wizard of Oz did while in the country, but credits the information to her spies rather than magic (not that the spies couldn't have been magical). Is this Glinda talking about the Book of Records without revealing its true extent, or is this other book a precursor to the more famous one? The Sorceress tends to reveal so little that we'll probably never know.

Exactly how the Book of Records works is never clear, which I suppose is often the case with magic. I believe it was Melody Grandy in Zim Greenleaf who suggested the tome might have some kind of consciousness. I think I've seen the volume credited to both Lurline and Tititi-Hoochoo, two of the most powerful known beings in the Ozian world. Glinda also might have made it herself, but if so I doubt it's a feat she could easily recreate.

How much does the book actually cover? Despite the mentions that it records everything in the world, I would say this would have to be an exaggeration of sorts. It does, however, record much more information than anyone could use, and often in cryptic passages. In Tik-Tok, we're told that "[t]he smallest things and the biggest things are all recorded in this book. If a child stamps its foot in anger, Glinda reads about it; if a city burns down, Glinda finds the fact noted in her book." The book might well include some references to children stamping their feet, but I doubt EVERY time a child does this would be recorded.

My take would be that the tome is selective in some ways, but that not even Glinda can understand what system it uses to determine what news is worthwhile. In Kabumpo, it's revealed that news about Oz appears in red, which would presumably help Glinda find information relevant to her own nation. And in Magic, Ruggedo claims that the Record Book doesn't record the doings of animals, although this is contradicted in both Rinktink and Cowardly Lion, at least.

Thrice Rendered

So, I was asked to contribute to Marcus Mebes' first issue of Oziana after he took over as the new editor. He helped me plot a quick short story about King Bud of Noland and Jinnicky, the Red Jinn of Ev.

The resulting story, Bud and the Red Jinn; or Never (Always) Look A Gift Horse (Goat) in the Mouth, was illustrated by Anna-Maria Cool, who'd done some earlier excellent work in Oz-Story for Hungry Tiger Press and illustrated The Hidden Prince of Oz and Toto of Oz by Gina Wickwar. She'd also done several covers for Marvel's Barbie comic book series, including a Nutcracker-themed issue I'd added to my collection. While I'm thrilled she illustrated my story, the stupor of "YOUR story is accompanied by HER art" has yet to sink in.
Marcus really liked my story introducing a sour Prince Bobo of Boboland, and incorporated the character into his own story for the same issue, thus making the two stories connect. Later, he had the idea of incorporating both stories into the first volume of what would become his Royal Explorers of Oz series. (And no, I did not invent the title.) I obliged.

However, we needed new illustrations for my story. While Marcus paid Anna-Maria a hefty sum for drawing the pictures, he only had permission to use it in Oziana. However, his friend Alejandro Garcia was brought in. Alex turned out a redrawing of Anna-Maria's picture.
While we love Alex's art, for some reason, this just didn't grab us. It was too similar to Anna-Maria's original and Jinnicky's thick legs didn't look right.

What Marcus decided to do was bring in an additional illustrator. This illustrator would properly illustrate the story, while Alex would produce pictures that would be from "Tandy's sketchbook." Since Tandy wasn't present in my little story, we dropped Alex's picture.

The illustrator for the first two books is John Troutman, web cartoonist for the strips Mary Elizabeth's Sock, Lit Brick, Sporkman, and the currently on-hold Delusionary State. This is what John turned out.
To find where to buy copies of Oziana 2008 and the Royal Explorers of Oz series, see this page.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mary Louise Adopts A Soldier

And the final book. This is the final book in the series that Baum worked on before his death, and it was finished by someone else. While I've yet to find and read any books by Emma Speed Sampson, what I've read about her work leads me to suspect that she did not work on this book.

Katherine Rogers suggests in her Baum biography that Harry Neal Baum finished the book. A few tweets from a correspondent of Michael Patrick Hearn informed me that he believes L. Frank Baum's work in the book is only a small fragment. And that, I can believe!

The book opens with Mary Louise and Grandpa Jim going to greet the return of the Dorfield Regiment: a group of soldiers hailing from Dorfield and some soldiers from elsewhere who helped fill out their ranks. The two note that some soldiers might need a place to stay before getting back into society, so they consider "adopting" (a better term would be "hiring") a displaced soldier to help out at their home.

They decide to hire an odd, eccentric rambler named Danny Dexter who did quite well in the army. He takes some convincing, but eventually accepts the position.

And that, I believe, is about where L. Frank Baum's fragment ends. Because it seems he set up things about Danny that simply are not followed up on later in the book. Danny has a gash on his face that was plastered in mud that was healing it. This point seems to have been a point that Baum would have used later, but it's not used again. And also, Danny very quickly loses his quirks.

Also, a lot of the characters change. Josie comes back, but while Baum made her the primary detective in the story, she spends a lot of time off-screen and just doesn't feel like the character I've read about in the past four books. She's far too fond of Mary Louise this time around.

Mary Louise herself isn't the same. I've commented on her simplicity and often viewed this negatively (it does feel like a step back after Baum's other amazing female characters). She is more central to the plot this time, but she feels like a different character, the writer now giving her nuances and secrets, which she absolutely could not keep before. This might be seen as an improvement, but this is really a failure to maintain continuity.

A big, offensive change is in two characters I haven't mentioned before, though they've been in the background throughout the entire series: Uncle Eben and Aunt Sally. These two African-Americans are faithful servants to Grandpa Jim and Mary Louise, and they seem to have mutual respect. In Mary Louise in the Country, Mary Louise is buying dishes to replace ones Ingua broke so she won't get in trouble, and the shopkeeper wonders why she needs them, and suggests that they don't want their black servants sharing their dishes. Mary Louise refuses to reply to this.

Given how well these two are treated and how respectfully they act previously, it's a shock to have them being described as "trying to help and managing most successfully to be in everybody's way" and Aunt Sally suddenly yell, "Eben, you lazy old niggah, bring in de candied yams." They also now speak in some of the most painful phonetic spellings of dialect I've ever seen. Baum never depicted black supporting characters (not counting Father Goose's "Little Nigger Boy") this badly. Examples are in Nux and Bryonia of the Sam Steele/Boy Fortune Hunters series and Aunt Hyacinth in The Daring Twins. This tone is just decidedly different.

So, how does the story go? In the first two-thirds, Danny is made chauffeur of Mary Louise's car "Queenie." But one day, Danny and the car disappear. Inquiries are made, and the existence of Danny's criminal uncle Jim O'Hara is made known. The local police and Josie O'Gorman begin searching for the missing car and Danny.

One night, Mary Louise goes out being unable to sleep and finds "Queenie" back in the garage and a light on in Danny's room. Assuming he's returned, she goes to see him and finds his Uncle Jim, who takes her in "Queenie" to a crossroads where he goes off with someone else to catch a train to Santa Fe, intending to relocate to China. He passed several bad checks but Danny has vowed to pay them off. This makes Mary Louise find more respect for Danny.

Mary Louise and "Queenie" are found, and Danny has returned. Hearing that his uncle has jumped off the train near Albuquerque, Mary Louise decides to go try to find him before the authorities and Josie do.

And now, we reach the last third, revealing a whole new subplot of a German base hidden in Mexican America that Jim is tricked into helping with before he escapes and alerts the local authorities to, which suggests he may get a pardon. Oh, and he's splitting his oil wells with Danny.

And pretty much, Mary Louise has fallen in love with Danny.

So... Yeah. The part that I felt was not written by Baum felt loose and incompatible with the previous four books. Characterizations are off, and it feels like it was written in a rush to finish a book by someone else. I'm not sure how to feel about this. While it contains some work by Baum, it's very little. Do we count this as a Baum book?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Royal Podcast of Oz: It's For Kids — An Interview With Robert Payes

In this episode, Jared talks to Robert Payes, the son of Rachel Cosgrove Payes, author of The Hidden Valley of Oz and The Wicked Witch of Oz. Discover the environment this Royal Historian raised her children in, and discover what she may have meant by saying "Oz is for kids."

As always, you can listen and download at the podcast site, or use the player below.



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Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekly Update: 'Dorothy of Oz' Merchandise and Other Things

Happy Friday!

Merchandise connected to the upcoming Dorothy of Oz movie is starting to appear on store shelves. This is a very interesting move for the film's marketing, as it won't be another year until the movie is actually released.

Anyway, Oz fans have been spotting licensed cosmetic/beauty products at Dollar General stores. Products include bubble bath, hand soap, cosmetic sets, nail polish, lip balm, and a beauty kit.

Photo Courtesy of Walter Krueger
In other news, actor Jermel Nakia is now set to attend the After the Wizard screening in Memphis, Tennessee on October 27th with Jordan Van Vranken. To reserve seats and receive more information on this event, contact afterthewizardreservations@gmail.com.

That's it for this week. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Outsiders" rejects

In my first, incomplete draft of Outsiders from Oz, I was trying too hard to write in a Baum-like tone. Still, there were a few little parts that I didn't use in the final version that I still like.

The first draft did not have Ozma's journeys at all, but I still wrote the Sawhorse out of being able to help the Wizard and Button-Bright. I had originally planned to do a separate story in which Ozma and the Scarecrow would go investigate some odd occurrences and meet some very strange people, but my editor insitsted I make Ozma's tale part of Outsiders and furthermore weave the two tales together. That worked.

Here's some excerpts from that first draft. A description of the Valley of Mo for those unfamiliar with The Magical Monarch of Mo. A little of this made it into the final version, but it's very cut down and re-worked there. Very much, I had to keep my exposition to what the story needed, and I think the final version does that very well.
If you've never heard of the Valley of Mo, I suppose I should tell of it. No one dies in Mo, and no one grows older. Food and necessities grow on trees and bushes, so the people are happy and contented, having little to worry about. All animals there can talk, and are held in as much regard as the people. Sweet and perfectly flavored lemonade falls from the sky when it rains, and when it snows, the people are ready to receive perfectly buttered popcorn. There is very little water to be found in Mo, for most people drink root beer from the river, or other drinks from streams and springs.

Lest you think the people were unhealthy, let me assure you, they were not. Since all food found in Mo is natural, it is much more wholesome than the food we have in our countries. In fact, the Valley of Mo supplies Santa Claus with candy for him to give out, and this is why your Christmas candy always tastes much better than any other kind.

The Monarch and his wife had ruled Mo for many years, and no one can remember when they did not rule the Valley. While their sons sometimes wish they were king instead of their father, they have learned to be content and enjoy that they would never have to hold court.
A little bit of gOZsip going on. I really don't like how the prose reads, but I do like the joke about the Tin Woodman's vanity. The description of the Scarecrow, however, did resurface in the final version, word for word. This is from when I tried to write Ozma in by inserting new chapters before we wound up starting over again from scratch, which turned into the final version you can read in the finished book.
That evening, while the Wizard and Button-Bright prepared to leave south, Ozma was delighted to have a visit by her old friend, the Scarecrow.

A long time ago, the Scarecrow had been a common scarecrow, until Dorothy found him and took him to meet the Wizard, who gave him some brains. When the Wizard left the Emerald City, the Scarecrow was left in charge until he helped Glinda find Ozma. Since then, he had been living happily in the Winkie Country, just west of the Emerald City.

Ozma and Princess Dorothy relaxed in the parlor as the Scarecrow entered.

"Good evening, your Majesty!" he said as he entered, bowing low, then needing to be helped back up. He sat down across from the two girls.

"How is the Winkie Country these days?" asked Ozma. "I haven't visited in awhile."

"Oh, it was a big to-do a couple weeks ago!" the Scarecrow chortled. "Some of the Tin Woodman's nickel plate flaked off and he had to get re-plated!"

"Why couldn't he just get the spot covered up again?" asked Dorothy, already guessing the answer.

"He tried, but it didn't match the rest of the plating, so he had to be plated all over again."
Again, too much exposition here. I go into great detail about what the Wizard and Button-Bright have in their knapsacks when this bit of detail is going to be very unnecessary.
Button-Bright and the Wizard could not use the Red Wagon, because Ozma required the Sawhorse, so they traveled by foot. Button-Bright usually wandered, so he didn't usually carry provisions, but this time, he was wearing a knapsack filled with necessities. A magic charm could clean his clothes clean, in case he didn't have a spare change for a long time, and ever since his friend Ojo had arrived in the Emerald City, never-ending bread and cheese had become a staple for travelers. Using a similar charm, the Wizard had made a bottle of water that never emptied, because even in a fairyland, some water might not be safe to drink. Indeed, with the possibility of magic water anywhere, one had to be careful of the water they used to drink and bathe in. There was no charm to keep someone from needing a bath, except a bar of soap that Jellia Jamb had tucked in.
Finally, here's a bit I wrote about the Forest of Burzee that I wrote down, intending to have Ozma talk about it at some point. That point never came, so here it is.
"What is it like?"
"It's a beautiful, green place, where trees grow strong and healthy, almost halfway to the sky. The grass and moss are as soft as down, and all animals live in peace."
"Do you think we'll wind up there?"
"I don't know where we'll find ourselves."
"Well, it sounds like a nice place to find yourself."
"It is."
 You can see the finished story in Outsiders from Oz.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls

On to book four!

This was actually the first of the Mary Louise books I picked up. I'd gotten an Amazon gift card for Christmas last year and as I was collecting the Aunt Jane's Nieces series at the time, I decided to see if I could find any of the books I still needed on Amazon. I saw this one available for a nice low price, so I bought it. This prompted me to look for the rest of the series.

This one was published in 1918, the same year the last Aunt Jane's Nieces book was revised and reissued. Both that ending and this book at hand give us a big look into Baum's patriotism.

Mary Louise and Grandpa Jim are urging people to buy war bonds to help fund the United States' war efforts. People are reluctant, so Mary Louise suggests she and her girl friends go about soliciting door-to-door, organizing as "The Liberty Girls."

While the Liberty Girls are successful in raising their goal, Mary Louise finds circulars denouncing America's involvement in the war and discouraging buying bonds. Who printed these circulars and why are they doing this? Are they German spies and sympathizers?

The Liberty Girls decide to start a thrift shop, all profits going to buy encouraging gifts for the troops (treats, games, cigarettes, etc.), and during this endeavor, Josie O' Gorman arrives in town and begins investigating the mysterious circulars. Her investigation takes her through several suspects, and at one point, she even has to feign a quarrel with Mary Louise.

Soon, Josie has decided she has picked out the entire spy ring, and when she finally apprehends the suspects, it turns out most of them were innocent of the scheme. While the troublemaker is finished off, Josie feels quite distraught over her error.

The final chapter, one of Baum's most obvious anticlimaxes (even the trip south in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz can even be read as further developing the characters after their visit with the Wizard), reveals how the Liberty Girls find new avenues to support the war effort.

Mary Louise gets to shine when it comes to patriotism, and to her credit, she is the one to form the Liberty Girls, though it is Irene who comes up with the new enterprises. Alora's in the Liberty Girls as well, and the airplane factory (though no mention of Stephen Kane is made) reappears and plays a role in the plot as well.

The most disturbing thing is how quick our protagonists demonize people of any German origin. It must be noted that Baum had some German ancestry himself. While these spurious suspicions seem dated, it's not like we're very different these days. Not too long ago we were quick to suspect people from the Middle East or who were obviously Muslim. We no longer demonize Gemany, but it's not because we advanced, we just don't fear them any more. Thus, in many ways, a big part of the book is dated, a product of its time.

And as it is, Baum makes it clear that not every German related person is anti-American. Not only are some of Josie's suspects innocent, but a suspect of Mary Louise, while he hates the idea of people having to go to war, is actually very patriotic. When his son is injured in the war, he takes it as a badge of honor. He explains it as that he hates the war, but loves the country.

Next up is Mary Louise Adopts A Soldier. This is considered Baum's last Mary Louise book, but I have heard that some say that only some of it was by Baum and the rest was finished by an editor at Reilly & Lee, or possibly Emma Speed Sampson. I'll give you my opinion then. That will also conclude these blogs about the last series that L. Frank Baum created.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Wizard of 3D

Real 3D picture! Red/blue glasses required.
As this article announces, Warner Brothers is indeed converting MGM's The Wizard of Oz to 3D. This has proved a little controversial to Oz film fans and cinephiles alike. On one hand, some would like to see this classic in 3D. Others feel that giving such a modern treatment is disrespectful to a classic film.

Counter arguments to "No 3D" often call up recent 3D conversions, such as The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and even Titanic.

As I stated in this blog entry, those arguments don't really hold. The directors of those films are still alive and were involved in the 3D conversion process, able to give final approval. Warner Brothers is at the disadvantage of not being able to consult Victor Fleming or Mervyn LeRoy and can only do the best they can.

Regardless of whether or not this is respectful, it is without question that Warner Brothers will ensure the original two-dimensional version will still be available. In fact, they've confirmed that it will be one title among a collection of the company's biggest properties, including Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (if the 3D Oz conversion is successful, I'll bet this will get it next) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

A question many have is: will there be a theatrical release of the 3D version of Oz? While it has not been confirmed, I should not be surprised if this is the case. In 2009, two screenings of the new HD print of The Wizard of Oz were shown in one-night events at select theaters. This will likely be the same case again next year.

As for me, I am not a fan of 3D films. The only film I've seen in 3D is The Adventures of Tintin, and that was only because it was the only screening of the film I had time for. I don't plan to buy a 3D television, much less a 3D Blu-Ray player, so I don't plan to purchase the 3D home video release.

However, if it is indeed released to theaters, I'll make the attempt to see it.

Monday, October 08, 2012

You're a Grand Oz Flag

The first mention of a flag for the Land of Oz appears in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, in which it's described as such: "This flag was divided into four quarters, one being colored sky-blue, another pink, a third lavender and a fourth white. In the center was a large emerald-green star, and all over the four quarters were sewn spangles that glittered beautifully in the sunshine. The colors represented the four countries of Oz, and the green star the Emerald City."
 I can see sky-blue for the Munchkins and lavender for the Gillikins, but why would the red Quadling Country be represented with pink and the yellow Winkie Country with white? Indeed, when L. Frank Baum next describes the national flag in Magic, he writes, "From a hundred towers and domes floated the banners of Oz, which included the Ozmies, the Munchkins, the Gillikins, the Winkies and the Quadlings. The banner of the Munchkins is blue, that of the Winkies yellow; the Gillikin banner is purple, and the Quadling's banner is red. The colors of the Emerald City are of course green. Ozma's own banner has a green center, and is divided into four quarters. These quarters are colored blue, purple, yellow and red, indicating that she rules over all the countries of the Land of Oz." This description makes more sense, and it's the model that's been used for most Oz flags I've seen, including the ones that came with copies of Glinda. They also incorporate the O-with-a-Z-inside symbol that John R. Neill presumably created. Here's one such flag, although the picture is upside down:
For what it's worth, I've heard that Baum's original manuscript used "Ozmites" instead of "Ozmies" for inhabitants of the Emerald City, but neither term is used elsewhere in the series. Getting back to the flag, one interesting suggestion I've seen was that the banner that shows up in Dorothy and the Wizard was an old one with faded colors, which would explain why they're all so light. In Captain Salt, there are Oz flags that are simply solid green with the Oz symbol in the middle, which sounds like a better description for the flag of the Emerald City (or the banner of the Ozmies/Ozmites, if you prefer) than for the nation as a whole. The books never pay much attention to the flags of the smaller countries within Oz, and the implication in Magic seems to be that they're simply solid in color. In the 1987 Oziana, however, editor Robin Olderman held a contest to design a flag for one of the colored quadrants. The cover of that issue featured Olderman's own design for the Quadling flag, as drawn by Melody Grandy.

The winner of the contest with this one for the Munchkin Country.
 Since I haven't seen any other attempts at quadrant flags (I wonder if any of the old contest entries still exist), I don't see any particular reason not to accept these two. What the Gillikin and Winkie flags look like, I couldn't say.

Mary Louise Solves A Mystery

On to book three!

This copy, I am told, is indeed a first edition. I got it at the Winkie Convention this year. Eric Gjovaag had asked me to watch the Swap Meet Table for him so he could try his hand at the auction and asked if there was anything I wanted he could try to bid on for me. While the auction has many delights, I decided this was the only thing I really wanted. (Anyway, you can actually add quite a bit to your collection at Winkies without spending a lot of money.) He managed to win the bid at my maximum price, so thanks again, Mr. Gjovaag! (And I had a lot of fun manning the Swap Table as well!)

This one had a surprising opening. For the first several chapters, Mary Louise, Grandpa Jim, and Josie O'Gorman are not present at all. It's as if the story was originally not going to be about them at all, but as we'll see, Baum is just opening the story in a very different manner.

Mrs. Antoinette Seaver Jones is close to death and needs to get her final affairs in order, so she sends for her separated husband and painter, Jason Jones. Jason is given money to come in, but upon him seeing Antoinette, she promptly dies. Jason is now the sole guardian of Alora Jones, Antoinette's 11 year-old daughter and is to manage her great fortune until she turns 18.

Jason takes Alora back to his small studio apartment, and soon, a woman Alora recognizes only as her mother's nurse arrives and demands money from Jason. He grudgingly gives it to her. Soon, Jason gives up painting and takes Alora to live in Italy.

Here the story jumps ahead four years, and such a time lapse is unique for Baum, I must state. Mary Louise and Grandpa Jim happen to visit Italy and meet Alora when their carriage breaks down outside their home. Mary Louise feels sorry for Alora, who has only had her basic necessities met, while Jason spends his time reading books, otherwise ignoring Alora, who grows to despise him.

The two girls become friends, and when Jason becomes unnerved about Italy joining World War I, he decides to move back to America, Mary Louise and Grandpa Jim suggesting they move to Dorfield so the two girls may maintain their friendship. Finding a modest cottage, Jason takes the suggestion.

In Dorfield, Alora finds a letter from Italy saying Jason's "prisoner" was released as was wished. She shrugs this off. Soon, though, she is relieved that Jason finds a new hobby: airplanes. This means she'll see him even less.

The maker of the airplanes that catch Jason's fancy is none other than Stephen Kane, brother of Orissa Kane, the titular character of The Flying Girl series that "Edith Van Dyne" published in 1911 and 1912. No mention is made of Orissa, so one may assume that she is either still flying her airplane at this time, or she has retired, or possibly she died in an airplane accident. Since she is not mentioned, I may guess her time of fame has ended and one of the latter two possibilities are the case. Hopefully, she retired from being an "aviatrix" and was either married, or helps Stephen train his customers in flying their airplanes.

Mary Louise and Grandpa Jim invite Alora to go with them to Chicago. Jason is reluctant, and mentions that according to the will of Antoinette, if Alora is completely neglected for sixty days, she is to be given over to a new guardian, and Jason will not have any further share of this income. He had earlier revealed to Mr. Conant (who he hoped to hire as lawyer) that he was using some of Alora's money to make investments in his own name so he could live modestly after Alora turned 18. Alora, however, defies his reluctance and he lets her go.

In Chicago, Alora suddenly disappears and Mary Louise instantly fears that she has been abducted, and thus, Josie O'Gorman is called in to find the missing heiress.

While Josie and Mary Louise confer and make inquiries, we shift to Alora and reveal that "her mother's nurse"—who introduces herself as Janet Orme—did indeed manage to enter Alora's hotel room and kidnap her, taking her to an empty house where Alora is imprisoned, until Janet is paid more money. About two weeks in, Alora is about to pledge $50,000 to Janet when Josie boldly enters and rescues the heiress.

Meanwhile, Mary Louise notices an announcement of an art exhibit, noting that a Californian artist named Jason Jones has won the grand prize. She decides to see this piece of art herself and talk to Jason, surprised that he turned from airplanes and reading long enough to create an amazing piece of artwork.

What Mary Louise discovers solves many questions as to Alora's wondering of why her mother married such a man, and why any father would neglect his daughter affection. The Jason Jones she has known the past four years is not her father. The man Mary Louise finds is indeed the actual husband of Antoinette Seaver Jones, and is indeed an artist who went to California to improve on his art while his cousin, also named Jason (it ran in the family, he explains) produced subpar art, and both artists used the same name, thus attaching the "real" Jason to the "false" Jason's work.

A confrontation with the "false" Jason is cancelled when word arrives that he died in an airplane accident. Instead, his actual estranged wife, Janet Orme Jones, comes forward and reveals she had conceived the plot to get a share of Alora's inherited millions. It was also she that served as the mysterious "prisoner" when she arrived in Italy.

Janet is let off very easily. The actual Mr. Jones allows her to reap the rewards of one of her late husband's investments, forcing her to live modestly ever after.

The story is very intriguing, but par for the course of the Mary Louise series, Mary Louise remains a bland protagonist. While she helps Josie get the information to find Alora, her "solving a mystery" as stated in the title is simply her trying to meet Jason Jones at the art exhibit. The book is titled after this incident: a mystery solved by sheer luck. She was in the right place at the right time.

Josie again proves to be a winsome heroine, and Irene returns from the first book and also befriends Alora as well. To be honest, it would have been more interesting if Irene was the lead character, as she is a girl in a wheelchair who has decided not to fall into despair over her lot in life. That alone makes her more interesting than Mary Louise.

I do have to wonder why Baum never made Mary Louise interesting. Certainly it was no difficulty for him in practically everything else he'd ever written. One of two possibilities arise: either he kept her neutral for story ideas or it was intentional. After all, even Josie tends to point this out very blatantly...

Friday, October 05, 2012

Marathon Weekend!

Hey, Angelo didn't feel like blogging this week (despite the big news that Warner Brothers has confirmed that the MGM classic The Wizard of Oz will be one of the first classic Hollywood movies to be converted to 3D), so how about some fun?

Sam and I have been planning to cover the 1974 stop-motion series based on Волшебник Изумрудного Города, or The Wizard of the Emerald City, Alexander Volkov's re-writing of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for Russian children. It wasn't just a translation, Volkov put several spins on the story, such as having Dorothy become Elli, Totoshka talking, and Gingemma (the Wicked Witch of the East) be indirectly responsible for Elli arriving in the Magic Land, causing her own demise. I plan to cover Volkov's series later and won't spoil any other changes just now.

 Volkov wrote five sequels to the series, the first two (Urfin Dzhus and His Wooden Soldiers and Seven Underground Kings) telling more of Elli's amazing adventures, and the other three (The Fire God of the Maronnes, The Yellow Fog, and The Secret of the Deserted Castle) following her little sister, Anna. These stories were not based on the Oz books, though there are some wink and nods to the original series.

This animated series adapts the first three books, which I suppose we could nickname "The Elli Trilogy." Even if you don't understand Russian (I don't), you should be able to follow the first five episodes generally well enough with basic familiarity of the original story. The second story—spanning episodes 6-8—is vividly animated enough for you to get some idea of what's going on, but the third, condensed into the final two episodes, might prove trickier to get a handle on.

In any case, there's some lovely animation here and some excellent music.

The series has been uploaded online many times, but I have found what seems to be an official upload and created a playlist. You can watch below or pop open into the full YouTube website. Enjoy!

For those who want to select episodes to watch, go to the playlist directly with this link.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Politically Oz

With the first presidential debate just finished, how do politics work in the Oz books?

Well, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is very much a story about political upheaval. No, I'm not saying it was a political allegory, the politics are right there.

Dorothy lands in Oz, her house killing a Wicked Witch who happened to rule the Munchkin Country. The Munchkins are left without a ruler, save the mysterious King of the Munchkins mentioned briefly in Ozma of Oz and The Road to Oz. (Appearance so brief, most people forget he exists.) Taking into consideration the entire Famous Forty, they have no ruler until The Giant Horse of Oz when King Cheeriobed is assigned the task.

Dorothy and her friends go to the Winkie Country and destroy the Wicked Witch of the West. Almost immediately, the Tin Woodman is assigned as her successor.

Finally, most importantly, the Wizard leaves Oz and names the Scarecrow his successor.

The Marvelous Land of Oz has even more politics, with Jinjur uprising against the Scarecrow and overthrowing him, and while he manages to make her flee the palace briefly, she is eventually ousted by Ozma.

Furthermore, it's revealed that the Wizard had usurped the throne from Pastoria, but as Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz exposed, it wasn't that simple, really.

Ozma tells us in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz that the four Wicked Witches of Oz leagued to depose the king, who was eventually taken by Mombi. This was Ozma's grandfather, and she and her father lived in this captivity, revealing that the Wizard himself would have found the Land of Oz without a central ruler.

Baum rarely does political shake-ups of this scale again. In Tik-Tok of Oz, Ruggedo the Nome King is deposed and replaced by Kaliko. The Scarecrow of Oz sees government reform in Jinxland as new, young rulers take over from King Krewl. Rinkitink in Oz sees the overthrow of the old monarchy of Regos and Coregos, and changes of rulers happen in Glinda of Oz for the Flatheads and the Skeezers.

Generally, this was par for the course with Baum. Are there wicked leaders? Replace them with good leaders. This also happens in Sky Island and some of his non-Oz books, including some books in The Boy Fortune Hunters series. Political upheaval is the plot of Fate of a Crown and also plays a role in Daughters of Destiny, in the exchange of rulers. Politics are also the plot of Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work, though it is simply two men running for district representative, not quite as major, but it's still there.

Thompson would generally follow suit in her Oz books. Sometimes a small kingdom had a wicked or less-than-worthy leader and by story's end, they'd be replaced. Sometimes the proper rulers had to be restored. Occasionally, Ozma would be ousted from her throne, but—usually with help from a new friend—things would quickly be set to rights again in short order.

Most of the rest of the Famous Forty leaves the status quo as is for Oz. Merry Go Round in Oz finds a new king needed for a country, who is found. The Mimics successfully invade Oz in The Magical Mimics of Oz but they are quickly repelled once Ozana, Ozma and Glinda arrive on the scene.

The most fun example of politics in Oz is found in The Wonder City of Oz by John R. Neill, though I have heard this plot was created by the infamous editor. Jenny Jump arrives in Oz and asks about the next election (I noted that 1940, the book's publication year, was an election year). Ozma allows an "Ozlection" and she and Jenny run against each other, having a gentle competition for each others votes. No mudslinging is involved. Ozma eventually wins, Jenny throwing a fit, later placated by the newly created role of Duchess.

Generally, Oz is depicted as a monarchy. Before the Wizard, it seems it was a family line was the standard procedure for successive rulers of Oz. Like in the Old Testament of the Bible, if a ruler is ousted, their conqueror takes their place. Save Wonder City, Oz is not a democracy or a republic. The Emerald City of Oz reveals that there is a fair bit of communism at work in Ozma's rule as well: everyone shares with everyone else, paying some sort of tribute of their wares to Ozma, which she uses to provide for those who can't get help elsewhere. It is suggested that free enterprise is allowed and encouraged, just money is not involved.

While there is a good deal of political activity in the Oz books, we never get the same upheaval as we do in the first two books. For this reason, fans such as John Troutman and Gregory Maguire have stated that while they enjoy the latter books, they never reach the same level of intrigue as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

What Did The Wogglebug Map?

When a set of maps was used for the endpapers of Tik-Tok of Oz, L. Frank Baum placed these maps within his fictional universe by crediting them to Professor Wogglebug. He then started mentioning the maps in his stories, as in the beginning of Rinkitink: "If you have a map of the Land of Oz handy, you will find that the great Nonestic Ocean washes the shores of the Kingdom of Rinkitink, between which and the Land of Oz lies a strip of the country of the Nome King and a Sandy Desert."

In Glinda, after hearing about an impending war between the Skeezers and Flatheads, Ozma observes, "I know that on Professor Wogglebug's Map of the Land of Oz there is a place marked 'Skeezer,' but what the Skeezers are like I do not know." The implication is that the maps the readers can see in the books are also used within Oz itself. If this is the case, however, it is rather odd that the Skeezers would be marked on the map at all, living in a remote part of Oz as they do.

Plenty of other places on the outskirts of the land are also shown, including Jinxland, Oogaboo, and the Yip Country. Baum probably included them because he had ideas for stories set there, but what's the in-universe explanation? One suggestion I've seen and liked is that the Wogglebug purposely included remote lands to show off his knowledge, which would be in character for him.

When you take later books into account, however, what's odd is that the Professor would have left off so many places much closer to the Emerald City and his own college. This isn't so much of a problem in Baum, but becomes more of one once we add Ruth Plumly Thompson and others to the mix. It appears that the Wogglebug also made a few mistakes on the maps, or else the omniscient narrator did. For instance, Hiland and Loland really should be on an island, and it makes narrative sense based on John Dough and the Cherub for the Isle of Phreex to be nearby. James Haff and Dick Martin fixed this on their maps, but in doing so they contradicted the text of Rinkitink.
Other items for which there are conflicting references include the locations of Ev and of Ojo and Unc Nunkie's old house. In Ozma, the party crosses the desert from Ev and ends up in the Munchkin Country. Later, however, Ev is west of Oz, across the desert from the Winkie Country. And at the beginning of Patchwork Girl, Ojo claims to be able to see the Hammer-Heads' mountain from his house, and we know from Wizard that the Hammer-Heads live in the Quadling Country. After that, however, Dr. Pipt's house is said to be near the Gillikin border.

On their way to the Emerald City, Ojo and his companions come across the Scarecrow on his way to Jinjur's house, and we know from Tin Woodman that she lives in the northern Munchkin Country. I would take the Hammer-Head reference with a grain of salt anyway, considering how far west it is of Munchkin territory. Or maybe there's more than one mountain where Hammer-Heads live.

Regardless, Baum (or should I say Professor Wogglebug?) still went with a southern location for Ojo and Pipt's houses. This was another thing Haff and Martin changed for their maps. Who's right? Perhaps we'll never know, unless we can go to Oz and see for ourselves.

Keeping Up Appearances: Dorothy and Alice

We have often discussed the differences between the world of Oz and the dream worlds of Alice and most of all what sets the two main girls apart. A few weeks ago I finished this drawing I did of the two. It's hard to tell the girls' ages here, but I went for between 6 and 12 here.
As you can guess, I went straight to the book and did not go for the film versions (you have more freedom following the original book than copyright material), also choosing to give Dorothy farm shoes rather than Silver or nicer ones.

Now as Jared said years ago, Dorothy is American on a poor farm just barely getting by; while Alice is British, in a household who has a nursemaid and kittens and therefore fine living. Now I admit I have never taken classes that teach etiquette or such manners, but I have seen the different ways in which things are demonstrated and you can pick up a few things if you pay attention...

Both girls know manners and how to address people, but in similar actions they show differences.

Dorothy, being poor, wouldn't think too highly of herself, so she would probably have her hands out in front, sometimes holding them together. She wouldn't quite be in the right time or character to put her hands in her pockets, maybe she would but not constantly or by means of being difficult. Also, being a bit easier of mood, Dorothy would feel at ease with her legs a bit apart. As those who have read "Through the Looking Glass", will remember the Red Queen instructing Alice to
"Look up, speak nicely and don't twiddle your fingers all the time . . . open your mouth a little wider when you speak and always say 'your Majesty' . . . turn out your toes as you walk -"
And Alice would have been instructed to hold her hands behind her back when reciting lessons in class.

I could be wrong, but farm peopledespite all the hard work—still manage a free and easy attitude and one of the ways of expressing that lifestyle is the way you sit. Slouching is not recommended or good for health, but it can show eagerness or a more interested way of viewing things. Sometimes you can even have a foot sticking out or swaying about, as Dorothy shows. Notice how I gave Dorothy's arms more than one position, so that you can choose to see her either holding her hands together in her lap or by her sides.

Alice, however, is not brought up to sit likewise. Straight backs, hands tidy and neatly placed on the lap, knees and feet together, all in a chair. Now there's more than one way to sit: up (on a chair or something firm) and down (on the ground). Dorothy is cross-legged and Alice brings her feet out to the one side. Drawing this bit of the girls sitting on the ground was a little tricky, but their characters showed through after some thought.

In one episode of The Nanny where company is expected, Gracie and Maggie Sheffield curtsey, when their father instructs them "No, no. Straight backs." (To which his son says "I'm getting the disturbing feeling he's done that before.") Since Mr Sheffield is British, this simple rule would appropriately be suited to Alice. Now while far from royal, Dorothy does have manners and bows to Royalty (even if its Oz-related). The difference in their bowing can also apply to their hands: Dorothy grasps her dress almost completely in her hands, while Alice uses only a few of her fingers (and may or may not hold out her pinky finger).

Now, shedding tears is natural for girls (and guys can do it too, whether we deny it or not, some of us just look cool trying not to show our tears). I'm no expert in the difference of how girls cry, but it's not that hard to figure out if you know the characters well enough. Dorothy is allowed to express her emotions and Alice is brought up to be tidy and proper, but I'm sure both girls would at least have a handkerchief ready in their pockets when needed. In trying to show the differences between these two crying, my guess is that Dorothy would hide her face in her hands, or cross her arms around her folded-up knees Alice would not be allowed to make such a mess and therefore be expected to cry into a handkerchief (or apron as you can see), or most likely have one handy to wipe away her tears.

It should also be noted that the emotions of British are usually more subdued than American or other countries, they would cry but just not necessarily think it a big deal (and at times find it a bit much, but I'm merely going by how I've seen it portrayed in comedies).

Now as I said before, I've gone back to the books version. Meaning I have avoided the film treatments. Nothing is wrong with them, but it can get tiring. Whenever something, show or book, includes both Alice and Oz, they always seem to follow either the book or Disney cartoon of Alice and with Dorothy they go for . . . you guessed it, MGM. Have a look at these scans from "the Jolly Pocket Postman" . . .
You can see the strong resemblance to the original John Tenniel illustrated scene in the above image (except for her lack of stockings) and while Dorothy is not an exact replica of Judy Garland, the white jumper with particularly-warm-blue gown, the sparkly red shoes and brown-haired dog is unfortunately a very recognisable one. On the other hand, look at how more like the book Alice and the Oz Trio are in this picture: a four-legged walking Lion, a more slightly robotic-like Tin woodman and a blue-suited Scarecrow with a carrot-like nose (that last one of which is not as apparent here).
The blue that you see on Alice is the type of Blue that I prefer with Dorothy. So here we have another example that shows the difference of Doorthy and Alice's characters, in their appearance and similar actions, not to mention the way in which most people—studios or publishers—tend to portray these characters. One is always by the book or by an animated film, while the other other is always by the musical more than the book.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Mary Louise in the Country

And onto the next book!

Now that Mary Louise and her Grandpa Jim (aka Colonel Hathaway) are free to live together without fear of pursuit, they decide to spend their summer in the country in a summer house they've bought near a little town called Cragg's Crossing.

Mary Louise's eye gets caught by the neighboring home of Hezekiah Cragg ("Old Swallowtail," as the locals have nicknamed him) and his granddaughter Ingua. Ingua's a wild child who hasn't had proper upbringing. Her grandfather should be rich, but lives like a miser. As Mary Louise befriends the girl, she is confused by Ingua's story, so Josie O'Gorman is called in!

Josie poses as a sewing girl and manages to befriend Ingua so well that the girl confides her darkest secrets to her. Following Hezekiah by night, Josie hears machinery in a secluded area, such as a printing press. She thinks she's solved it when Mary Louise manages to convince Hezekiah to buy Ingua some new clothes and the shop keeper thinks the provided money looks suspicious: Mr. Cragg is in a counterfeiting operation!

Soon, Nan Cragg and Mr. O'Gorman show up on the scene. Nan's Ingua's widowed mother, who now works for the Secret Service herself and is determined to support her father. Mr. O'Gorman follows Josie by night, and presents the results of his own sleuthing: Cragg is not counterfeiting money. He is breaking America's non-neutrality stance by aiding a revolution in Ireland against England. However, Cragg has been misinformed: the revolution's already happened, so his partner—the long-thought missing "Ned Joselyn"—has been stealing Cragg's money. No worries, Nan manages to subdue Ned. The stolen money is returned to the Craggs, so they may finally begin a more respectable life.

That's the story, simplified to a synopsis. The story is actually filled with great character moments for the girls, and some nice intrigue as Josie investigates Cragg. Ingua is quite a fun character. She's almost like a Caucasian version of Topsy from Uncle Tom's Cabin, resigned to the fact that she's just not a good girl, but she's much more apt to try to improve herself, though she is proud.

Josie gets a bit more development as she improves on her craft. Like Sherlock Holmes in The Yellow Face, she discovers that even brilliant detectives can slip up.

Unfortunately, Mary Louise is quickly relegated to secondary role. While she's a good influence on Ingua (like Eva is to Topsy), she doesn't get to develop or really get defined any further. Josie says it herself: Mary Louise is simple and sweet, and that's all she's got going for her.

Excellent L. Frank Baum mystery, but the title character is still sadly skipped when it comes to characterization.