Thursday, August 29, 2013

Shanowerthon! Eric's Oz-Stories, Part 3

After Oz-Story 2, it seems the submissions took off, because in the remaining four issues, only one new prose story was written by Eric Shanower. (Oz-Story 6 had a previously unpublished novel-length Oz story that he co-wrote, but that will be the topic of the next blog.)

Oz-Story 3 had the debut of Edward Einhorn's Oz stories with "Ozma Sees Herself," which Eric illustrated, depicting the first time Ozma met the Cowardly Lion and later the Hungry Tiger.

Eric also provided a poem about the Glass Cat in this issue, and writing for three short comic stories, as well as his work on The Wonderland of Oz. He also illustrated two stories by Royal Historians: Rachel Cosgrove Payes' "Spots in Oz" and L. Frank Baum's The Flying Girl. (These illustrations were reused when Hungry Tiger Press reprinted the book as a standalone hardcover.)

The first of the comic stories was "Tiger's Delight," in which the Hungry Tiger and the Cowardly Lion are journeying Oz when they come to the Nursemaid Mountains, finding the Valley of the Marshmallow Babies. Surely the Hungry Tiger can finally eat a fat baby here, right? (I can't help but wonder if this was inspired by Baum's mention to his publishers of the Marshmallow Twins, some never-realized Oz characters.) The art for this two-pager was Karl Waller.

The next comic story is a one-pager and is drawn by Eric himself! It was reprinted in the hardcover Adventures in Oz collection, and is titled "Jinnicky Jarred." A couple birds observe Jinnicky in his gardens, enjoying himself before they finally fly away. It's a fun tribute to one of Thompson's most iconic, bizarre and lovable characters.

The final comic story is another one-pager drawn by Ramona Fradon. Titled "Poppies," Ozma explains to Dorothy why she wears her iconic poppies before Dorothy has a memory that makes Ozma say a very odd thing that could easily change everything we know about Oz.

On to Oz-Story 4! The back cover (not shown) here is by Eric, showing a picture of Ozma, which was seen again in the Adventures in Oz collection. (I believe both paperback and hardcover, but I've never seen the paperback edition.)

This contains Eric's new prose story, "The Salt Sorcerer of Oz," which is unique in his Oz writing for being something aside from a one-page comic to not contain any Baum-created Oz characters. The only Oz character from the Famous Forty in the story is Kabumpo.

Kabumpo is journeying from Sun Top Mountain back to Pumperdink when he is suddenly pulled toward a man made of metal named Clank, the servant of Aa the Salt Sorcerer. They seek Kabumpo's help in discovering the strange rains that have been coming down far too often lately from Cork Mountain. Being joined by a green bear called Fardels, they are captured by Geyser Gremlins, who take them inside the mountain, where they meet the ruler, the stony Magnificent Zyzzwyzz. Will Zyzzwyzz help them out, or will they have to help themselves? And what exactly is Cork Mountain corking?

Although Eric mentioned that Ruth Plumly Thompson isn't quite responsible for his favorite Oz material, I can't help but see "Salt Sorcerer" as his tribute to her. It is a lot like a Thompson story, but the more streamlined, focused approach is 100% Shanower.

As you can assume, "Salt Sorcerer" is the main feature of The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories, which also contained Eric's poems from Oz-Story as well as art and poems that appeared on exclusive art cards that came with copies of Oz-Story purchased from Bud Plant Comic Art. (I had a complete set of these, but many were lost after a move. If I have any left, they're in storage.)

Eric again illustrates the L. Frank Baum novel, Daughters of Destiny (and yes, his art was reused in their hardcover edition), and another story by another Royal Historian, "Pajamas the Sleepyhead Elf" by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, her first published story. He also provides an elaborate illustration for Thompson's short story "The Green Camel."

And now for comic work! Eric teamed up with Anna-Maria Cool again to present an adaptation of "The Wizard of Pumperdink," a Ruth Plumly Thompson story about a wicked Wizard who wants to get rid of his tell-tale beard by seeking the help of a Witch who has a trick up her sleeve!

Eric again provided the back cover for Oz-Story 5, which was a picture of Singra, Rachel Cosgrove Payes' titular The Wicked Witch of Oz from her 1990s Oz novel. The issue was dedicated to her memory, since she had recently passed away. I believe both this image and a dedication page inside were originally color plates for a very limited edition that book. (Which I don't own.)

Eric adapted another Thompson story for comics in this issue, "The First Brown-Haired Princess," drawn by Trina Robbins. It tells how a princess was born with brown hair instead of golden blonde, and how she was forced to hide it under a veil before deciding to remove it while meeting a prince, a bold act that helped the prince notice her.

Eric's other work in Oz-Story 5 is completely illustration: Edward Einhorn's "Unauthorized Magic," Michael Riley's "The Ruby Heart," Jack Snow's "The Magic Sled," John Bell's "Jack Pumpkinhead's Day in Court," and of course the first chapter of Einhorn's Paradox in Oz, which was printed at the end as a preview for the upcoming novel.

I mentioned that Oz-Story 6 had a novel-length story co-written by Eric, but that I would focus on that in my next blog. So, I shall look at his other work in that issue.

The major piece of work here is Eric's illustrations for Eloise Jarvis McGraw's third and final Oz book, The Rundelstone of Oz, which made its debut in this issue before being reissued on its own in a hardcover edition the next year. (The hardcover contained new exclusive artwork for that edition, so to get the entire Rundelstone experience, that edition is highly recommended.)

Eric illustrated for three other Royal Historians in this issue as well. He illustrated Jack Snow's "Princess Chrystal and Prince Eolus," Rachel Cosgrove Payes' "Rocket Trip to Oz" (the original first chapter of The Hidden Valley of Oz), and provided decorations for L. Frank Baum's Annabel, which, yes, were reused when Hungry Tiger Press reissued the book as a hardcover.

Finally, Eric adapts another Ruth Plumly Thompson story "The Mermaid's Necklace" for comics, drawn by Steve Lieber. This story spans six pages. It is against the law of the mermaids to lose their necklaces or else they will be strapped to rocks and left to die. But Niedra loves to slip away to the beach to observe humans, but on one occasion, she is surprised by a human man who takes her necklace. It is up to Prince Beryl to try to do what he can to recover it or else his love will die.

Well, aside from our last excursion to Eric's work for Oz-Story that I'll save for next time, I feel compelled to remind my readers that there was so much more to Oz-Story than what I've noted in these blogs. There were many other stories, poems and comics that Eric did not work on, but all still enjoyable for any Oz fan.

David Maxine has mentioned that he has a few copies of some issues left, so few that he doesn't have them listed in his online store. If you're interested, contact him to see what he has. If he can't help you out, take a look at used book sites and see what turns up, but remember that Oz-Story is out of print, and is very unlikely to ever be reissued, so what the seller asks for it may well be justified. We may see more of the materials from it reprinted in the future (I know David would like to make Rachel Cosgrove Payes' final Oz stories available for all), but not in the same format.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Characters of Oz — The Hungry Tiger

After Ozma had Dorothy freed from Princess Langwidere's tower, she went to get Billina. But on her way out, she ran into her old friend the Cowardly Lion. He then introduced her to his friend, the Hungry Tiger.

Baum is never fully clear: does the Tiger just constantly feel hunger, or is it because his hunger always returns, or is it because he constantly craves to eat a fat, human baby but hasn't because his conscience won't let him? I'm going to suspect it's a combination of the last two, but some have taken it to mean the first one.

Like the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger accompanies Ozma on her quest to rescue the Royal Family of Ev, pulling her chariot. (Apparently, they agreed to it. Ozma does not have to whip or guide them.) The Nome King did not allow them into his palace to take part in the guessing game.

After Ozma of Oz, the Hungry Tiger is the faithful companion of the Cowardly Lion, and they are often seen in each other's company. Most of the time, they are at Ozma's throne, one sitting on each side of her.

Jack Snow, in Who's Who in Oz, theorized that the Hungry Tiger actually first appeared in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as "the biggest of the tigers" who tells the Lion and his friends about the giant spider that the Cowardly Lion shortly deals with. In Ozma of Oz, the Hungry Tiger is referred to as an "immense tiger," so the descriptions seem to match up. Quite a number of fans have adopted this idea. Even Rob Roy MacVeigh's abandoned animated Wonderful Wizard of Oz film seems to have intended to go with the idea. (When I was adapting the story for a script, the tiger is the only animal they meet and he mentions his conscience.) Sean Gates, writer of Barnyard Studio's L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has let me know that their film will follow suit as he shares the idea.

The Hungry Tiger serves on the jury during Eureka's trial in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, oddly saying that kittens have no consciences. That book also describes the Tiger with purple stripes, which some take quite literally, while others think it was a one-off description. Perhaps tigers in Oz have dark purple stripes?

Aside from serving as Ozma's bodyguard, the Hungry Tiger doesn't do much in the remaining Oz books. Little Wizard Stories features him and the Cowardly Lion going out to attempt to look fierce, the Lion mauling someone and the Tiger eating a fat baby, but both—when given the chance—decline in the end.

The Tiger got a title role in Thompson's The Hungry Tiger of Oz, in which he is taken to the tiny Ev sub-kingdom of Rash to eat prisoners, but he winds up sympathizing with his victims and protecting them instead, particularly when Betsy Bobbin, Carter Green the Vegetable Man and Reddy, the true ruler of Rash, wind up with them. Throughout a series of odd and exciting adventures and misadventures, the Tiger and his friends help Reddy take back the throne of Rash.

Like the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger is a faithful member of Ozma's court. Just don't make him hungry for you.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Shanowerthon! Eric's Oz-Stories, Part 2

 The second annual issue of Oz-Story Magazine brought four new stories by Eric Shanower. However, two were not prose stories. Oz-Story presented many new Oz stories in comic form as well as prose, and in some cases, Eric wrote a very short one or two-page story and a guest artist would do the art.

As said, Oz-Story 2 contained two such stories. The first, "The Greed Goblin of Oz," was drawn by Anna Maria Cool. At two pages, there isn't much to say except: the Scarecrow and Sawhorse rescue the Greed Goblin, who offers to grant them one wish each with one catch: the wish must benefit only them. What will they wish for?

The other story, "Skin Deep," was drawn by Archie Comics writer and artist Dan Parent. A young man visits Ozma's court with a bag over his head to protest a terrible enchantment that has been cast on him. He removes the bag revealing a very charming face underneath. What is his problem? Perhaps Dorothy won't like the resolution...

Being shorts, neither story is exactly a major piece of Oz writing, but they are fun just the same.

The first prose story is "Dorothy and the Mushroom Queen," accredited to pseudonym Janet Deschman. It re-appeared in The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories under Shanower's name. Bungle, Dorothy and Flicker (making a prose reappearance from The Ice King of Oz) enter the underground, mysterious, beautiful, but very disturbing world of Ma-dul-ma-dun, ruled by Queen Piopelp, who cares only for beauty and loyalty from others to herself. Among Dorothy and her friends, she only finds Bungle worthy of any attention. While touring this world, Dorothy discovers many wonderful and disturbing things, but she fears that she may starve to death, and is not sure that Piopelp will let her leave!

This story follows in the vein of Giant Garden and "Gugu and the Kalidahs." Again, Shanower manages to remain true to Baum's creation while at the same time being dark and sometimes scary. In fact, this story even has a bit of a suspenseful ending!

The final new story is one of my favorite pieces of Oz fiction ever. "Abby" serves as a type of sequel to Jack Snow's The Shaggy Man of Oz. I won't say too much here so I don't spoil it for whoever hasn't read it yet, but I do want to talk about it at length, so I'll finish looking at the entire issue, then go back to "Abby." You were warned.

The titular Abby is the adult Twink from Shaggy Man, and one night, she gets an urgent phone call from her brother Tom, who is at their childhood home in Buffalo. Urging her to come and bring along their copy of The Shaggy Man of Oz, Tom has discovered that the projection television set their father invented is still working, and it's showing what appears to be Conjo's Island again. But Abby can't just swish off to fairyland. There are still things from Abby's past that she needs to resolve: her relationships with her now-deceased parents, her relationship with Tom, and even identifying as the heroine of a certain Oz book.

What makes "Abby" work is not the fantasy, but how human it feels. It beautifully tackles the question of what it'd be like to be a kid who went to Oz and never went back. Every time I read it—even before I read The Shaggy Man of Oz—I was struck by how human the characters of Tom and Twink were reinterpreted by Shanower. After I read the book, that appreciation was even better, given how flat Snow had originally written the characters of Tom and Twink. Shanower had to do a lot of invention, and once again, it all works within Baum's universe, though none of it takes place in Oz or fairyland at all.

Sadly, "Abby" has not been reprinted. The story is a very different tone from what was in The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories. Hopefully, one day, it will be made available again.

Before I jump into my major fan-boying about "Abby," I had better mention the non-story work Shanower did on Oz-Story 2. Aside from the art director duties, he provided the back cover, which also served as a contest: "If Six Great Cartoonists Had Drawn Oz Comics!" Readers were invited to send the answers in to Oz story. Here we see Eric emulate the distinct style of six very different cartoonists.

I was considering having a new contest, but have decided against it in the end. The answers were revealed in Oz-Story 3, the winner being Don Vanni, who got a free copy of that next issue.

The artists are 1) Winsor McCay (based on his work in Little Nemo's Slumberland), 2) Harold Gray (based on Little Orphan Annie), 3) Carl Barks (based on his famous Disney Duck comics), 4) Jack Kirby (because it's Jack Kirby!), 5) Robert Crumb, and 6) Jaime Hernandez (based on his work in Love and Rockets).

This back cover is so great that it's alone worth tracking down a copy from a used book site!

And now to further commentary about "Abby."

While Abby is the main focus of the story, when the story was released, a lot of reader backlash sprung up over how Shanower reinterpreted the character of Tom in 1977. Without using the terms "gay" or "homosexual," the story revealed that Tom had just ended a seven-year relationship with his "lover" Michael. Some readers were upset that Eric had taken a pre-existing character and had made what they perceived to be a big change.

Eric's creative choice is justified. One, Jack Snow was gay, and like Jack Snow, the story finds Tom alone and without work. Second, Eric himself is gay. And third, what we know about sexual orientation today should let us know that this really shouldn't be a big thing. The story would have gone the exact same way if Eric had written about Tom's ex-girlfriend Michelle instead. The issue that the character was gay was quite blown out of proportion.

"Abby" was the first story I'd read that featured an openly gay character. At the time, the only other thing I'd read about homosexuality was an article in Charisma magazine that I found in our church's office. I remember reading it quite intently, and that it was the only article I read in it. Today, I also identify as a gay man and know that article was chock-full of misinformation about homosexuality, much of which popped up again recently in same-sex marriage debates. These two pieces of literature were quite at odds with each other. As it turned out, perhaps that article contained more fiction than "Abby.

"Abby" ends with Tom packing up and heading through the image projected by the television set onto Conjo's Island. Abby stays behind, deciding that she'll do a much better job of reconciling her life with her experience in Oz with her husband and children. The last thing Abby sees of Tom is Tom writing that Conjo has entered a vegetative state and he and Twiffle will be trying to leave the island for help.

So, now, what I want to know is what happened to Tom next? Furthermore, I'd love an entire Oz book written like this: a mature, adult approach to the world Baum created that doesn't need to do a dark revision. Perhaps, if Eric ever decides to write such a story, "Abby" could be included as a prelude.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Characters of Oz — The People of Evna

The Land of Ev doesn't seem very appealing in Ozma of Oz. For modern readers—particularly those of my generation or later who may have seen Disney's Return to Oz before reading the books—it's quite easy to mentally conflate the city of Evna with the images of the ruined Emerald City from the film. Most likely because Baum describes scattered farm houses on the way to the Royal Palace rather than a town where Dorothy, Tik-Tok, Billina and the captive Wheeler encounter inhabitants. Perhaps Baum moved the story along too quickly. Also not helping is the mention that part of the palace was torn down.

Zoom in on the International Wizard of Oz Club's map of the
Surrounding Countries. The faint purple highlighted line
depicts Dorothy's route from the shores of Ev to Evna.
Note comparative scale to the Land of Oz.
Ev appears to be a very small country in Ozma, because Dorothy lands on the beach of Ev in the morning, explores until about noon, about the time she was forced by Wheelers into finding Tik-Tok, then manages to reach Evna before evening. Her view from her tower prison gives her such a clear view of the Deadly Desert that she can recognize her friends from Oz as they approach the palace. (Looking the other way, she can spot the chicken coop she arrived in as a tiny black speck on the shore.) Perhaps Dorothy actually didn't go to the city of Evna at all, but maps of Oz and the surrounding countries show Ev to be a rather large country.

We also have a major contradiction on which part of Oz Ev borders. In Ozma, we are told that they re-entered Oz in the Munchkin Country, clearly pointing out the Woggle-Bug's college and Jinjur's ranch. However, in The Magic of Oz, Hiland and Loland is just across the desert from the Munchkin Country, and Kiki Aru flies there. All maps of Oz and the surrounding countries depict Ev bordering the Winkie Country.

Evna is only mentioned briefly in Ozma of Oz. It is not really revisted in any future Oz books, unless Kiki Aru visited in The Magic of Oz when he went there.

What we know about Ev is that it has an economic system, as Kiki has to steal money when he goes there. Also, the Wheeler mentions that Langwidere spends money from the Royal Treasury. Thanks to the writing on Tik-Tok's back, we know that Evna has a patent office. And at one point, there was the workshop of Smith & Tinker.

We know little about Smith and Tinker, because Tik-Tok only tells us about them. Mr. Smith he believes is dead because he was also a painter as well as an inventor. One day he painted a river so natural that when he reached across the river to paint some flowers, he fell in and drowned.

Mr. Tinker is still alive, Tik-Tok believes. He made a ladder so tall that it could reach the moon so he could pick stars to put in King Evoldo's crown. But he liked the moon so much that he decided to stay there. Neill's illustration of this event shows another Man in the Moon waiting for him. Is this the same Man in the Moon from Baum's Mother Goose in Prose? Did Mr. Tinker stay with him? And was this before or after Mr. Smith's accident?

Smith and Tinker have both been seen back on earth and alive again, but this occurs in stories outside of the Famous Forty Oz books. I myself plan to write a little about them in the near future.

The only other people we meet in Evna are at the Royal Palace. The first is Nanda, the maid for Princess Langwidere, who seems to be a very dutiful assistant.

We know little of Nanda aside from that. She seems a rather regular woman of the time, denying Billina entrance to the palace at first and later being quite frightened by the Hungry Tiger when he demands food. She does have a little bit of wit, as when Langwidere asks "is Mr. Tik-Tok attractive?" Nanda replies, "That I cannot say, Your Highness. But he seems very bright."

Presumably, Nanda isn't the only servant in the palace. There are likely other housekeepers and cooks, someone must be tending to the animals in the back, and it seems the army is at close call.

This brings us to Langwidere herself. The picture at left is what people remember most of her. Her name contains a re-spelling of the word "languid," which implies that she is rather slow or relaxed. However, there is debate as to whether her whole name is supposed to be "languid ear," "languid air" (apathy), or even "languid dear." Any of those could fit the character.

Langwidere is acting ruler of Ev when Dorothy arrives, and is not considered to be the best substitute ruler. All she seems to do is lounge around, spend as much money as she can, play her mandolin, and darn stockings. (Prompting a footnote in an Oz book!)

She is most notable for her collection of thirty heads in cabinets that she can change at leisure. Where did these heads come from? The only clue we're given is that she offers to swap heads with Dorothy, once the latter has grown a little older. Some readers assume that there must be twenty nine headless women in Ev, but it does seem rather rude to do that, even if you are a lazy, selfish princess. Perhaps the heads came from elsewhere. I've even been coming up with a concept as to where they came from, but I won't say it here. Let's just say that I think Langwidere got her demanding nature from her uncle Evoldo.

When Dorothy arrives, Langwidere is wearing a very pretty head that is kept in Cabinet 17 (nicknamed "No. 17"). However, it has a bad temper, so when Dorothy refuses to swap heads with her, she imprisons Dorothy in the tower, throws Billina in with the other animals, and leaves the suddenly wound-down Tik-Tok to serve as a new statue. When Ozma arrives and lets her know that she intends to free the Royal Family of Ev from the Nome King, Langwidere agrees to let Dorothy, Billina and Tik-Tok go, since this means that she won't have to deal with affairs of state anymore. Once Ozma returns victorious, the Royal Family of Ev allow Langwidere to retain her suite of rooms in the palace.

Finally, we may as well cover the Royal Family of Ev as there is little to say about them. The wicked king Evoldo (the same one who beat servants to death, thus requiring him to get Tik-Tok, a servant who could stand the beatings) had a lovely wife and they had ten children together: five boys (Evardo, Evring, Evroland, Evington and Evrob) and five girls (Evanna, Evrose, Evella, Evirene and Evedna). Somehow, he became very cross at having such a family and sold them all to the Nome King, who transformed them into purple ornaments to decorate his palace. After this, Evoldo regretted his actions and went back to the Nome King who refused to go back on his deal. Evoldo locked Tik-Tok into a cave, threw the key into the sea, then jumped jumped after it and drowned. (In a story in Oziana, he is discovered alive, but that is outside of the Famous Forty.)

When Ozma hears of this state of affairs in Ev, she determines to set the Royal Family free, though she wasn't fully informed of the deal Evoldo made. In the Nome King's guessing game, Dorothy managed to free Prince Evring, while the sneaky Billina heard the Nome King say what colors of ornaments he had changed the Royal Family into, so she managed to get herself a turn at the guessing game, freeing the entire Royal Family, Tik-Tok and the people from Oz. Thanks to Billina and Dorothy, they managed to subdue the Nome King and return to Evna, where Evardo (the oldest of the sons) was crowned king. The entire Royal Family attend Ozma's birthday party in The Road to Oz.

Baum didn't return to Ev much in his books, and he certainly did not introduce any new notable Ev citizens, but Ruth Plumly Thompson introduced many sub-kingdoms there and introduced some very memorable characters indeed. However, we'll get to them in time.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shanowerthon! Eric's Oz-Stories, Part 1

Back when we interviewed David Maxine for the podcast, he revealed that Oz-Story Magazine was the realization of a concept he had for Oziana, which the Oz Club turned down. Perhaps it was a good idea for the Club to keep Oziana as it always was, but I can't help but think that more Oz-Story would have been wonderful. New and old Oz and Oz-related stories, poems, comics, and a reprint of an L. Frank Baum book to top it off. (Perhaps if this concept had been adopted for Oziana or if Oz-Story had kept going, it would have expanded to books by Ruth Plumly Thompson and the other Royal Historians.) It ran for only six issues, and since David and his partner Eric Shanower were working on it together, every issue contained new work by Eric in some form, whether it was illustration, writing, or adapting The Wonderland of Oz comic strip into an easy-to-read format. In these blogs, we'll focus on his new writing.

Oz-Story 1 contained three new pieces of writing by Eric. "Gugu and the Kalidahs" is perhaps one of Eric's best short stories. When King Gugu discovers that Kalidahs have invaded the forest, he must investigate and set all to rights. He discovers the Kalidah renegade Bladgaar in his forest. Can Gugu, his councilors, and the animals of the forest drive out the Kalidah invaders?

Perhaps being reminded of Rudyard Kipling is inevitable, considering we're following talking animals in a natural habitat. Still, such a comparison is not an insult. Like Giant Garden, the execution of the story is well thought out and quite logical. It even feels a little dark and gritty, but still done in a way that doesn't betray Baum's creation.

Shanower's other story might be a surprise unless you're familiar with the book The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories. "The Balloon Girl of Oz" was published in Oz-Story attributed to Stephen Kane, an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles. There is no mention of him in the Salt Sorcerer book, leading us to see that Kane was a pseudonym. I have wondered as to this, but I think I've determined the answer: just starting out, Oz-Story did not want to present itself as a new Eric Shanower endeavor with other stories mixed in, so keeping the number of items with Eric's name on them low would hopefully keep other stories coming in.

"The Balloon Girl of Oz" finds Scraps exploring the countryside of Oz when she finds some pretty blue crystals. She decides to take them to the Emerald City with her, when they break and inflate her like a balloon. (They were used to inflate sagging clouds.) Barely able to keep herself on the ground, Scraps has to use all her brains to reach the Emerald City for help. It's a fun story with a nice little lesson at the end.

The final new piece of Eric's writing in Oz-Story is the poem "Parts Unavailable," musing about how one of the best things about Oz is probably its lack of faulty technology.

Both stories and the poem are all reprinted in The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories, but if you look around, you can also find Oz-Story 1 (and the other issues) on used book sites.

In addition, Eric also provided the front cover for Oz-Story 1, illustrated Rachel Cosgrove Payes' "Percy and the Shrinking Violets," wrote new dialogue and provided art adaptation for the first half of The Wonderland of Oz adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz (the remaining issues would present similar new versions of Ozma of Oz and The Emerald City of Oz, split into one half per issue), and served as Art Director for this and the subsequent five issues.

Come back next time as we look at Eric's work in Oz-Story 2.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Somewhere Is Oz

For Ozma's birthday, I've uploaded this video I've had sitting around for awhile. Back when I first transferred The Wizard of Oz Returns record album, the sound wasn't so good due to the fact that I had bought a cheap record player.

Regardless, I made a video of Dorothy's first song on the album "Somewhere is Oz" with clips from Disney's Return to Oz. The sound quality was so poor that Sam suggested I not upload it. Recently, I went ahead and got a new turntable that produced much better sound and made a new transfer. I simply replaced the audio and had a much better version, though the method I used prevented me from fading out the audio at the end.

I've posted the video in a Return to Oz group on Facebook, but for Ozma's birthday, I decided to give it a YouTube debut. Enjoy!

And if you're wondering, the lyrics are:
Somewhere is Oz
Magic land, far away
Beyond mountains
Emerald City

Oz full of laughter
Oz full of fun
Oz where I so wish to be

You needn't live there to love it
I know what I say is true
Once you have gone to that land
It lives on within you

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Characters of Oz — Tik-Tok

Dorothy and Billina were forced to climb onto a big rock to escape the Wheelers! As they waited, Billina discovered that the rock led to a path that the Wheelers couldn't reach. However, it led to a dead end. Or did it? They found a keyhole in the wall and discovered a small, sealed off cave.

Inside the cave, Dorothy and Billina found an odd clockwork man. His body and head were spherical and he was made entirely of copper. Dorothy found a sign and key on his back that instructed her on how to wind him. (Also that he was made by the firm of Smith & Tinker and that he was guaranteed to work perfectly for 1000 years.) Dorothy wound up his thinking, then his speech, then his action.

The clockwork man bowed and introduced himself as Tik-Tok. He further revealed that he was a one of a kind creation, made for Evoldo, the late king of Ev, who was so cruel that he beat his servants until they died. But since Tik-Tok wasn't alive, the beatings only kept him polished. (Presumably, Tik-Tok was made to prevent any further deaths due to Evoldo's rage.) However, Evoldo sold his family to the Nome King in exchange for a long life. After doing this, he regretted his action. He locked Tik-Tok in the cave, then threw the key into the ocean and jumped in after it, drowning.

Surprisingly, Tik-Tok knows what happened after he was locked away, also somehow knowing of the events of The Marvelous Land of Oz. Either Evoldo's actions were rather recent or Tik-Tok somehow has a news source he can plug into. (Does fairyland have its own form of the internet?)

Leaving the cave, Tik-Tok used Dorothy's lunchpail to fight the Wheelers, making one of them lead them to the city of Evna. The Wheeler did so, leaving them at the home of Princess Langwidere, who occupied the "left" wing of the Royal Palace.

Langwidere was rather rude to Dorothy, and when threatened with imprisonment, Tik-Tok was about to fight Langwidere's guards when he ran down. Langwidere left him to serve as a statue. The next day, he was discovered by the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, and then Dorothy wound him again. Deciding that he was Dorothy's servant now, he agreed to accompany her and Ozma to the Nome Kingdom to rescue the Royal Family of Ev.

In the Nome King's guessing game, Tik-Tok fared no better than anyone before him. But he ran down just before his last guess. Dorothy was sent in to wind him up and make her own guesses, and Tik-Tok suggested that she watch and see and what he was changed into for a clue. However, Dorothy wasn't able to see it. Billina later rescued Tik-Tok, knowing that he was a solid gold ornament. (It seems odd that the Nome King had no other golden ornaments, but perhaps since he was a Nome, gold was too common for him to consider until he decided to transform Tik-Tok and the Scarecrow. Perhaps other ornaments were gilded.)

Tik-Tok's actions in Ozma of Oz were very much ported directly into his role in Disney's Return to Oz, with him taking some roles of the Tin Woodman from that book as well as making the Gump from The Marvelous Land of Oz.

The Royal Family of Ev decided not to claim Tik-Tok, but let him go on to Oz with Dorothy. Perhaps it was a gift, or perhaps the fact that they had needed Tik-Tok to prevent the deaths of servants left them with some bad memories. In Oz, Dorothy left Tik-Tok with Ozma, who he served afterward.

Not being alive, Tik-Tok is the one who offers the somber reminder in The Emerald City of Oz that the Nome King's foiled invasion may only be the first invasion of Oz to occur. (How right he is.)

In Baum's Little Wizard Story "Tik-Tok and the Nome King," Tik-Tok goes to the Nome King for some new parts. The Nome King smashes him to pieces with his scepter, but Kaliko put Tik-Tok together again. After frightening the Nome King, Tik-Tok left with jewels for Ozma.

Later, Ozma sent Tik-Tok to help the Shaggy Man find his lost brother. However, Tik-Tok met with the Nome King again first. The Nome King threw him down a well, where he was later rescued by Shaggy, Betsy Bobbin, Hank the mule, and Polychrome. Shortly, he took over as the private of Queen Ann of Oogaboo's army.

When the Nome King sent Tik-Tok and his friends through the Hollow Tube, it was Tik-Tok that Tititi-Hoochoo demanded to speak with, being the lowest of the characters assembled. Tik-Tok and his friends returned to the Nome Kingdom with Quox the dragon and took the old Nome King Ruggedo from his throne, replacing him with Kaliko.

In the Famous Forty Oz books, Tik-Tok doesn't do much after that. In fact, Thompson rarely used him. Without looking at her books, I can only recall him worrying over the riddle of "GO TO MORROW TODAY" in The Lost King of Oz (uncharacteristic for a character who doesn't have emotion) and Clocker being renovated to be a "twin" for Tik-Tok in Pirates in Oz. Neill had him help the Wizard with the Scalawagons in The Scalawagons of Oz, but Tik-Tok doesn't really have any featured roles after Tik-Tok of Oz.

Aside from that gaffe in Lost King, Tik-Tok is a very consistent character. He always looks to help out in the situation, even when he believes it is hopeless. He is faithful to whoever he has allied himself with: Evoldo, Dorothy, Ozma, Betsy, or Queen Ann. He'll do what he can to the best of his ability.

Another thing about Tik-Tok is that to get the idea of how a mechanical man would speak, Baum had Tik-Tok split his words by syllables. Want to demonstrate, Tik-Tok?
Thank you, Jar-ed. Yes, I sup-pose Mis-ter Baum thought a mech-an-ic-al man such as my-self could on-ly speak one syl-la-ble at a time. And he was right. Smith and Tink-er can not be blamed for what they could man-u-fact-ure at the time, and I be-lieve that they did a very fine job of me re-gard-less.
Well, have you seen another clockwork man who could do better?

One last note: Tik-Tok's name in the Oz books is often spelled differently. I have decided on the spelling "Tik-Tok," but it has also been spelled "Tik-tok," "Tiktok," "Tik Tok," and possibly a few other variations.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thoughts on Oziana

So, last night, I finished reading the 2005 issue of Oziana. I'd already read the 2006 issue a while back, and read the 2007 issue when it came out, as well as subsequent issues. So, I've now read the entire run of Oziana, from 1971 to 2012. (I look forward to the forthcoming 2013 issue!)

Oziana contains stories, poems, art, games, and even in one case, sheet music created by Oz fans. The 1971 issue contained a letter from Harvey Plotnik, the then-president of Reilly & Lee, stating that the company had "no objections to the use of any characters and locations in the series." This has allowed Oziana to publish work referencing anything from the Famous Forty Oz books. Basing a work on other copyrighted interpretations of Oz require prior permission. (An as-of-yet unpublished story written for Oziana briefly features Tempus from Paradox in Oz by Edward Einhorn. Einhorn's permission was obtained for using the story in Oziana.)

There's a myriad of stories in Oziana, and when I told the current editor that I finally had a complete set, he informed me that I had some of the best and worst Oz fiction ever published. To be honest, I didn't spot anything that was so horrible that history would be better without it, but there are some tedious stories.

A surprising number of stories fill in gaps between Oz books and explain things. "Mombi's Polka Dot Vest" explains where Mombi got the clothes that Tip used to dress Jack Pumpkinhead. "The Merchant of Oz" explains why there is no money in Oz in The Road to Oz. "Evrob and the Nomes" lets us look at the state of the Nome Kingdom just after The Emerald City of Oz. Unfortunately, some of these stories get too carried away with explaining that they could really only be enjoyed by someone already quite familiar with the series. (Of the ones mentioned, only "Merchant" somewhat suffers from that in my opinion. The other two are fine stories on their own.)

There have been a lot of shifting opinions in Oz fiction. A lot of early Oziana stories played it safe with little new happening in Oz. Eventually, though, people began to write bold new adventures for the Oz characters. The entire 1996 issue was a story that followed up Speedy in Oz. Sometimes, stories offer peeks at the Oz characters. One tale features the Wizard coming up with a potion to turn the Tin Woodman back into flesh, and he must decide if he actually wants it. One story even features the fates of Mr. and Mrs. Yoop.

A number of Oz writers got their start in Oziana. My own story "Bud and the Red Jinn," was my first published work of fiction. I already discussed Eric Shanower's start in Oziana. Among her artwork and stories for Oziana over the years, Melody Grandy published a couple stories that would later become chapters of The Seven Blue Mountains of Oz trilogy. Donald Abbot's first version of How The Wizard Came To Oz was in the 1976 issue of Oziana. Nathan DeHoff has only been published in Oziana, but I hope he will publish some of his Oz stories in book form soon.

Just before this year's Winkie Convention, I discussed with the people at breakfast that it is quite possible that Oz has the most fan fiction ever written for it. Rachel Cosgrove's The Hidden Valley of Oz began as a story that we'd call fan fiction, except she submitted it and got it published. And if she did that, who else did? It was very fortunate that the International Wizard of Oz Club got Oziana going so that some of this could actually be seen and enjoyed by all. The legal clearance from Reilly & Lee was needed in 1971 as only the first two Oz books were public domain at the time.

Today, with people able to put out a book for free using a print-on-demand service or put it online in some form, Oziana can now afford to try to showcase the best results of Oz fan works. Long live Oziana!
To submit work to Oziana, contact current editor Marcus Mebes. You can also submit your work to the International Wizard of Oz Club's research table and possibly win a prize as well as getting your work in Oziana! E-mail the heads of the research table for more information.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oz comics! August 2013

I reflected last night that I probably should have ordered The Steam Engines of Oz #1 and Zenescope's new Oz comic. Hopefully, I can get them next month.

The Emerald City of Oz #2. Still faithful to Baum, but still quite condensed. The last issue covered six of thirty chapters, this one covers four, though there's a bit from later in the book moved to an earlier point. In this issue, we see the Woggle-Bug's college, the Cuttenclips, and the Growleywogs, all depicted in Skottie Young's wonderfully wacky style. The cover for the next issue shows bunnies, so it looks like it'll cover quite a bit of ground. I'll keep sticking around for the next three issues.

The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #10 finds Tin Man, Tip, Jack, Scarecrow and the Lion head north to Mombi's homestead to look for clues about Ozma's disappearance. Meanwhile, it turns out that Mombi definitely isn't down yet as she presents Scraps with a surprising gift. And we discover exactly what Jinjur has been digging for under the Emerald City. But why exactly?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shanowerthon! — The Giant Garden of Oz

Way back when I was re-reading the Oz books in the early 2000s (how the time has flown!), I put all of L. Frank Baum's Oz books on hold at the library, and also asked about any titles by Eric Shanower, fondly remembering his Oz graphic novels.

I remember calling them by phone (some of the librarians could identify me by the sound of my voice), and they listed the five graphic novels and a book called The Giant Garden of Oz. At this time, I didn't know Eric had done anything with Oz outside of the graphic novels, so I assumed it was a sixth that hadn't been listed on the previous five books.

When the book arrived at the library and I picked it up, I was surprised to see that it looked like a fairly normal novel. "Oh, cool!" I thought, "It's a really long one like one of those books of manga." Then I opened it up.

It was a regular prose and picture Oz book, but by Eric Shanower.

I discovered later that this was part of a wave of new Oz fiction published by Books of Wonder. Peter Glassman approached many Oz fans about publishing new Oz books. Along with Eric Shanower were books by Eric Gjovaag and Karyl Carlson, Bill Campell and Irwin Terry, Donald Abbot, Robin Hess, David Hulan and others. I have yet to get all of these books.

The story of The Giant Garden of Oz finds Dorothy (accompanied by Toto and Billina) going to visit Aunt Em and Uncle Henry on a new farm they've moved to. It's not a farm just like the one back in Kansas, because while Aunt Em and Uncle Henry can work it and grow crops, they also have magical conveniences to help them do their work much more easily. Also, the animals on the farm can talk, making that part easier.
Things are going well on the farm, but the next morning, they discover that the vegetable garden out front has grown to an enormous size, preventing them from easily leaving the farm. Dorothy, Billina and Toto head out alone to get to the Emerald City for help.

What I found impressive is that most would have just had the garden get bigger, but Eric thinks it out logically: the vegetables have grown larger, so they're all squeezed together, a row of carrots even upsetting the house.

Journeying away from the farm, Toto and Billina mysteriously disappear, along with the basket containing Dorothy's food for the trip. Dorothy has to continue on alone. Along the way, she is joined by Imogene, a cow who gives different kinds of milk and other dairy products based on her moods. (A pretty exciting day yields whipped cream, for instance.) They soon run into the Wizard, who has taken up ballooning again.

I rather liked that theme that Uncle Henry and Aunt Em and the Wizard were picking up on their American occupations that they'd previously failed at. As Dorothy explains, "In a land where no one grows older and no one can ever die, I've got all the time in the world."

And yes, Imogene is based on Dorothy's pet cow that replaced Toto in the 1903 Wizard of Oz musical extravaganza. Shanower's Imogene is a very different character, however.

Dorothy, Imogene and the Wizard try to save Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, Billina, and Toto, but are beset by a storm and giant moles who pull Dorothy and Imogene underground for a rather spooky experience! And that's not even the biggest thing to happen! (Pun quite intended.)

As I said, Eric takes a very logical and reasonable approach to magic and how things in Oz work. Even though the story has been criticized for having a rather dark tone, at no point does it feel like Eric is being unfaithful to the world that Baum created. Oz, as Baum wrote it, can be a scary place, and Eric embraces it. The Oz characters feel like fully three-dimensional characters, particularly Dorothy, as Eric often tells us what she's thinking. All of this well-done storytelling has led to me actually calling it one of my favorite non-Famous Forty Oz books, a point even Eric has wondered at.

I bought my own copy of Giant Garden eventually and have read it a few times over the years, making sure not to enjoy it too often. I once began to read it in 2011, as I was heading to the Winkie Convention and had it with me for Eric to sign. I wound up not finishing it due to the other Oz books I'd picked up then, but he did autograph it for me!

 Books of Wonder no longer lists The Giant Garden of Oz on their website, so it is currently out of print. But it can be found for a reasonable price on many used book sites.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Characters of Oz — Billina

Once, a tiny chick was hatched. The boy tending the hens took a liking to it and named it Bill, though he actually wasn't sure if it was a girl or a boy. Well, as Bill grew older, it became clear that it was a girl, but the name was never changed. Eventually Bill was sold and was put on a chicken coop on a ship headed to Australia.

One night, the coop was washed overboard in a terrible storm. All of the other hens scattered away, but Bill stayed right where she was, and noticed a young girl climb aboard the coop.

The next morning, Bill laid an egg and began crowing loudly, waking the girl. When the girl asked what had happened, Bill suddenly began speaking like a human being. The girl soon revealed that she was Dorothy Gale. When Dorothy heard Bill's name, she decided to call Bill "Billina" to feminize the name. Billina didn't much mind, and soon adopted the name.

Dorothy and Billina washed up on the shores of Ev, where they had many amusing conversations, and Billina found a golden key while digging for bugs and other tiny creatures to eat. When Dorothy found the warning "Beware the Wheelers" in the sand, Billina suggested that they were automobiles. However, when the two did meet a Wheeler, it was Billina who correctly identified it and the two fled for safety, where they discovered Tik-Tok, who helped them reach the city of Evna.

When Princess Langwidere decided to punish Dorothy for refusing to surrender her head, she said she would eventually cook Billina. Billina bluffed that her breed was poison to princess, so she was instead kept to lay eggs. (Langwidere added that if Billina didn't do this, she would be drowned in the horse trough.) After Ozma rescued Dorothy, Dorothy set Billina free.

Billina, Dorothy discovered, had been fighting with the rooster. By the state of her, she'd won.

Billina joined Dorothy and Tik-Tok in going with Ozma and her troops to rescue the Queen of Ev and her children from the Nome King. Along the way, Billina had to stop to lay an egg, which the Scarecrow collected.

Upon arriving in the Nome Kingdom, none of the Nomes seemed to notice Billina, but she paid attention to what was going on. After eating some crumbs, she went to sleep under the Nome King's throne, where she managed to overhear the Nome King tell his Steward what he had transformed the Royal Family and the people from Oz into.

The next morning, Billina was discovered when she laid her egg and cackled. The Nome King yelled at her that eggs were poison to Nomes.
 The Scarecrow started to get this egg, but Billina made him refuse to get it unless the Nome King let her guess in the ornament rooms like her friends. He eventually agreed.

Of course, Billina knew what to look for and found and restored everyone (except the Tin Woodman, who they would find on the way back to Evna), but the Nome King was defiant and set his army to attack. Thanks to the Scarecrow hurling Billina's eggs and Billina telling Dorothy to take the Magic Belt, the Nome King was soon subdued and the entire company left the Nome Kingdom.

In Evna, Billina was awarded a necklace of pearls and sapphires by the new King of Ev. She went back to Oz with Ozma, where she decided she would stay, even chiding Dorothy for going back to "that stupid, humdrum world."

In The Road to Oz, Billina reveals that she has been hatching chicks, and she names them all Dorothy after Dorothy. In The Emerald City of Oz, she reveals that when her chicks turn out to be roosters instead of hens, she renames them Daniel. All of her brood wear lockets with the letter "D" and Dorothy's picture inside. The people of Oz are welcome to any of the eggs that Billina and her descendants don't care to hatch.

Billina generally retires to her Emerald City home with her children for the rest of the Oz books, but she does accompany Dorothy on her tour around Oz in The Emerald City of Oz. Surprisingly, she is quite a strong feminist character, even if she is just a chicken.

In The Emerald City of Oz, the Nomes had once believed that there were no chickens in the Land of Oz, but the Nome King says that a goshawk told him of Billina and her brood. However, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, we are told of a rooster and a hen in the Emerald City who just laid an egg. What became of this pair? Did Billina's key role in Ozma of Oz make people forget about them?

Another curious thing: anyone who knows about chickens knows that a hen cannot hatch eggs without being fertilized by a rooster. We are never told of a rooster in Billina's life. Did she somehow just start reproducing asexually? Or is that rooster from Wonderful Wizard getting around?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Some thoughts about the Winkie Convention

The following blog entry is not the work of any planners or staff of the Winkie Convention. I am an attendee, a participant, contributor and volunteer, pure and simple.
In exactly one year, the Winkie Convention will be meeting for its 50th convention in San Diego, California. The move from Pacific Grove was due to some complications and the fact that if you're serious about doing events like this, they need to be booked early. A big plus is that they're able to set this up so that the cost of attending will be much nicer than we had it at Asilomar. This way, it will be less of a kick to the bank balance for a family to attend.

We have been notified of two things: unlike our Asilomar years, the registration doesn't include meals. But more importantly, after 2015, at present, we don't know where Winkies will go. Options for venues are wide open. For those traveling, it'll be quite an adventure. To keep up on Winkies, subscribe to the Winkie Newsletter and keep an eye on the Winkie Facebook page.

But more importantly, a number of people come to Winkies from out of state. I, for one, traveled halfway across the country the past four summers to attend. Sam travels all the way from Australia and has had to deal with jetlag thanks to a 19 hour time zone difference. Other attendees have come from other countries and even further east than me.

So, for us, unlike our dear west coast friends who drive back home after the convention, we wind up expanding our time out in California to justify the time traveled.

My first year, I was quite unseasoned. My travel schedule was so tight, that when I got off my bus, I met my ride to Asilomar, went to Winkies, got registered, experienced the convention, and then had to promptly leave before lunch on Sunday.

The next year (2011), I was a bit looser. Sam and I arranged to meet in Los Angeles and travel the rest of the way together. I'd booked a hotel to stay at since we'd be arriving in Salinas the night before the convention. We stayed the night, had breakfast, then headed over to Asilomar, where we met other early Winkies. After lunch Sunday, we traveled between Pacific Grove and Salinas on the local transport, visiting the Steinbeck Center, having dinner, Sam unsuccessfully trying to call home, and seeing Green Lantern. (Also getting creeped out by what sounded like late night violence. We survived. Kind of.) We caught a 1AM bus out and split up in Los Angeles.

Year three, I set it up so I could arrive early Thursday afternoon and head on to Asilomar. Sam hadn't told me he was going, but the registration desk lady spoiled it. Thursday, I hung out with the fellow Winkies and we went out for pizza, David Maxine and Freddy Fogarty helped me replace some missing toiletries I'd left, and then I helped set up.

Sunday afternoon, I wound up hanging with my new friend Jeff Bjur, and we drove up to Santa Cruz (Goodwill and record store browsing) and Gilroy where we caught the final moments of the Garlic Festival. Then back to Salinas where I caught a film (The Amazing Spider-Man) and then caught the bus home.

That brings us to this year. I arrived in Salinas late Wednesday, where I stayed at the same hotel I did two years ago with Sam. By the time I checked out, I was quite willing to never go back. I browsed a few shops and read an Oz book over some iced tea, then waited to meet up with Sam by the time he arrived. We were picked up by fellow Winkie Tim Tucker, and we all went to In 'N' Out Burger for lunch before heading to Asilomar, where we had dinner and (the next morning) breakfast with fellow Winkies while waiting for the convention to start.

After the convention, Jeff drove Sam and me to Monterey, where we hung out at a bookstore (with fellow Winkies Peter Hanff, Michael Riley, Colin Ayres and Atticus Gannaway), and then we spotted Shawn Maldonado across the street. Jeff wound up dropping all three of us off in Salinas. We hit up the Steinbeck Center again, had dinner, and then Sam and I waited hours to see Man of Steel before heading out to catch our bus back to LA.

For some reason, there is nothing like a superhero movie that you have your reservations about right after an Oz convention.

SO, that leaves me with the question: what am I going to do next year? It'll be a whole new place to visit, so looks as if I'll have many, many options!

The Characters of Oz — Ozma

If there is one character who gets a little difficult to explain the early story of, it's Ozma. In her first appearance in The Marvelous Land of Oz, she is referred to as the daughter of King Pastoria, the king before the Wizard took the throne. In The Tin Woodman of Oz, Baum writes that Queen Lurline left Ozma, a member of her band, to rule Oz.

If you assume that Pastoria had a wife, did Lurline make her carry a baby, similar to how the virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus? But the Famous Forty Oz books never mention Pastoria's wife. (Mr. Flint in Oz by Ray Powell introduces Ozette, Ozma's mother, but this is not a Famous Forty book. Nor do I really consider it canon.) From the indications in the Famous Forty, Pastoria was a single father, Lurline providing him with a daughter that he adopted.

In The Marvelous Land of Oz, it is said that the Wizard turned Ozma over to Mombi, but Ozma seems to indicate in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz that Mombi was responsible for her abduction as a baby. In the story Oz and the Three Witches by Hugh Pendexter III, it explains how the Wizard turned Ozma over to Mombi to protect her. That is my general idea as well.

However Mombi got a hold of Ozma, she disguised the princess by turning her into a boy she called Tippetarius, who went by "Tip" for short. Growing up as the working boy on Mombi's farm, Tip had no idea that he was an enchanted princess. He did many typical "boy things," such as fish and play outside in addition to his work, but he resented Mombi.

Finally, Tip decided to scare Mombi one day by building Jack Pumpkinhead. While Mombi was startled, she brought Jack to life. No longer needing Tip's services, she decided to turn him into a marble statue. Tip decided to run away with Jack, taking with him the Powder of Life. Thus, he had the adventures in The Marvelous Land of Oz: how he brought the Sawhorse to life, allied himself with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman against General Jinjur's revolt, met the Woggle-Bug, helped create the flying Gump, and met Glinda who captured Mombi and forced to reveal his true identity.

Tip was hesitant to become a girl, but he eventually agreed to be restored to his true form. Mombi performed the spell to restore Ozma, and soon, she was the princess ruling the Emerald City.

Ozma's transition from Tip is not a major theme in the Famous Forty. Some excellent stories outside the Famous Forty have addressed it, but they all seem to note that the transition was rather smooth. As she herself says, I'm just the same Tip, you know; only—only—" Jack Pumpkinhead concludes this by saying "
Only you're different!" Ozma apparently embraces her full identity.

In Ozma of Oz, Ozma sets out to rescue the Royal Family of Ev from the Nome King, meeting Dorothy for the first time, the two becoming fast friends. But however noble Ozma's intentions were, her actual right to get involved and confiscate the Nome King's magic belt has been questioned. Not to mention that she is quite unprepared to meet the Nome King.

In Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, Ozma welcomes the old ruler of Oz to remain as a permanent citizen and important member of her court. The Road to Oz shows Ozma throwing a grand birthday party, and The Emerald City of Oz features Ozma welcoming Dorothy and her family to Oz to stay for good. However, it also sees Ozma deciding not to defend her fairyland, deciding to reason with invaders set on conquering Oz. She says that no one should have the right to kill another, and she does have a point, but likewise, they do not have a right to invade Oz. (Except that Roquat wants his belt back.) It is the Scarecrow who comes up with a non-violent way to defeat the invaders.

In later Oz books, Ozma generally rules Oz, making several questionable decisions. Seemingly, it was she who abolished currency in Oz and set up a somewhat communist format in which everyone helps each other out by sharing their goods with each other. (Although we frequently meet people in Oz who prefer to keep to themselves.)

Baum allows Ozma to be abducted once in the Oz series in The Lost Princess of Oz. Thompson occasionally had the Emerald City nearly conquered or invaded, but Ozma was really only abducted a couple times, though one of those times involved her being put under an enchantment and almost everyone in Oz forgot about her. (So I guess the Emerald City actually was conquered, but only Dorothy and Pigasus knew it.) While Ozma might not be the wisest ruler and has a lot to learn, she seems very capable. At least she knows when to seek help (usually from Glinda). She may not be a perfect ruler, but she's getting there.

Due to Ozma's seemingly smooth transition from Tip to her true self, Ozma has been viewed as a transgender icon. Some people have even cited Ozma's story as inspiration for their own coming into their own gender identity. In addition, some interpret her relationship with Dorothy as more than just close friends, and see her as a lesbian character as well.

So, Ozma, a girl, rules Oz. Now what? Talking chickens?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Farewell, Margaret Pellegrini

MGM Munchkin Margaret Pellegrini passed away this morning at the age of 89. Margaret was the recipient of the L. Frank Baum award in 2012 and became a fan favorite with her appearances at many Oz events over the years. She will be missed.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Shanowerthon! Eric in Oziana

After Shanower's Oziana debut in 1976, he didn't appear again in the magazine for six years. In Oziana 1983, he provided the front cover and illustrations for the final story. In 1984 and 85, he provided illustrations for one story each (including Fredrick Otto's fine story, Mombi's Pink Polkadot Vest), and also 85's cover.
It was in 1987 that another story by Eric (working on his Oz graphic novel series at the time) appeared in Oziana. Titled "The Two Peters," it features a little boy named Peter being read the end of Pirates in Oz as a bedtime story by his grandfather. The boy wonders if it's a coincidence that the boy in Pirates and himself are both named Peter, and he wonders how he came to have the name. Shanower doesn't say it, but I think that the grandfather might be Peter Brown himself. It's a very short and sweet story.

Eric continued contributing illustrations for stories in 1989, 1992, and 1994. He also contributed covers for 1990 and 1992.
The 1990 issue also contained a new Shanower story: "The Final Fate of the Frogman." In this story, Woot the Wanderer comes across the Truth Pond but is met by the Frogman who has shed his clothes and, retelling the story of his life since The Lost Princess of Oz, reveals that he now guards the Truth Pond so that others may not share his sad fate of being honest all the time. While it's a rather somber story, there is quite a bit of humor in it as well.

Shanower provided a partial story in 1993: "The Silver Jug." The story tells of a servant of Glinda's named Amanda who isn't the best at her job by a long shot. While Glinda is away, she tests Amanda by tasking her to care for a wax-sealed silver jug. If it is opened, it must be sealed again by the time Glinda returns.

The following year found two conclusions to the story being printed in Oziana: one by M.A. Berg and the other by Fredrick Otto. Both involved the jug being opened and Amanda having to get help to take care of the result.

In 2003, "The Final Fate of the Frogman" and "The Silver Jug" were among stories and poems by Shanower collected into the book The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories. "Frogman" differed a little from its Oziana publication. In Oziana, the Frogman confronts the Wizard about how he lobotomized Jenny Jump in The Wonder City of Oz. In the collected edition, in regards to copyright, it has been changed to the Glass Cat's change of brains. (Oziana stories are allowed to use anything from the Famous Forty Oz books.)

"The Silver Jug" did not use either Oziana ending, but instead, Eric wrote his own ending. Amanda frees baby dragons from the Jug and they fly across the Deadly Desert, Amanda pursuing in Glinda's swan chariot. However, they are eaten by a much larger dragon and Amanda decides that she has to take the dragon back to Glinda so she can explain what happened. However, the dragon needs to save a friend of hers, and Amanda winds up being the surprising key to the dilemma. Although Berg and Otto's endings to "Jug" were fine, Eric's is excellent!

The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories is still available from Hungry Tiger Press, and several issues of Oziana are available from the International Wizard of Oz Club. (If you can't find the issue you want there, check used book sellers' sites.)

For anyone wondering, "The Two Peters" was reprinted in the 2011 Winkie Convention program book as part of the celebration of the 80th anniversary of Pirates in Oz. If you want a copy, contact David Maxine to see if he still has any copies left.

Friday, August 02, 2013

The Characters of Oz — The Gump

Once, long ago, a creature called a gump was slain in the Land of Oz. Its head was stuffed and mounted and displayed as a trophy. Somehow, the Wizard got a hold of it and had it put in his palace.

We are never told what a gump was like. Its head resembled that of an elk with large antlers and a long beard on its chin. What its body was like is never revealed in the Famous Forty Oz books.

This trophy remained in the Emerald Palace up through the time of Jinjur's invasion. When the Scarecrow returned to take his throne back from Jinjur, he and his friends found themselves trapped in the palace. To escape, they decided to make a flying machine from what they could find in the palace.

Tip and the Sawhorse brought a sofa (and later fetched a matching one), the Scarecrow brought clothesline, the Tin Woodman brought palm fronds, Jack brought a broom, and the Woggle-Bug brought the gump's head. The Tin Woodman put all these pieces together into an odd flying machine that used the sofas for a body, the broom for a tail, the fronds for wings, and the Gump's head for a head. Tip brought it to life with the Powder of Life, but he didn't have enough for the sofa legs. But as they needed to fly, not walk, they decided it would be all right.

When the creature was brought to life, it immediately flew into the air, but Tip called it back. It remembered being in the forest and hearing a loud noise. Then he was revived as their flying machine. This establishes that the Powder of Life can restore dead matter to life, complete with personality and memories intact. But it must be noted that the Gump was stuffed and had no internal organs. What effect it would have on a dead body with all of its organs still inside was not explored in the Famous Forty. (There is very much an in-canon way to do zombies in Oz.)

The creature was at first called a "thing," but soon was just called "The Gump," even though just part of it was a Gump. (Okay, actually part of it was part of a Gump.) The entire company climbed inside and set off to Glinda's palace. However, it soon became night and the Gump missed Glinda's palace altogether. It crash-landed in a Jackdaw's nest, where it was quite damaged. After an attack by the Jackdaws (which the Gump managed to flop its remains and scare some off), the Woggle-Bug was able to restore it with a Wishing Pill.

After the restoration, the Gump flew back to Oz. They discovered that they were over the Munchkin Country, and then headed on to Glinda's palace. The Gump later flew the Scarecrow and his friends back to the Emerald City instead of them marching with Glinda's guards. Later, it followed Glinda and the Sawhorse as they chased Mombi.

At the climax of The Marvelous Land of Oz, the Gump is used to invade the Emerald City so Jinjur can be captured and Ozma can take the throne. As its reward, it asks to be dismantled and have its restored to its place on the wall.

According to the Famous Forty Oz books, that is where it stays. Dorothy meets it in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, and it tells her that it doesn't speak often, and that Ozma doesn't like it to speak much. I suppose having such a character around (a head mounted on a wall) would be unsettling for anyone.

In Baum's Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz, the Gump is still a flying machine and it carries the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, the Sawhorse, Jack Pumpkinhead and the Woggle-Bug to America and serves as their official means of transport. In one story, the Gump races Santa Claus' reindeer and loses to them. But overall, the Gump is a very minor character in these stories, which are of debatable continuity.

So yes, somewhere in the Emerald Palace is a living head of an animal mounted on a wall. Quite odd indeed.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Colin Ayres — Oz Across The Pond

Jared talks with friend and writer of The British Blog of Oz, Colin Ayres. A fan of Oz since childhood, Colin gives his perspective on being a fan of Oz in another country.

As always, you can listen and download on the podcast site or use the player below!



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