Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Witches Of Oz teaser trailer

Blackthorn Industries recently premiered a teaser trailer for their upcoming movie, The Witches Of Oz, which can be seen online. Recently added to the cast are Sean Astin and Ethan Embry.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Comic Review: The Land Of Oz (Arrow Comics)

Acting as a continuation to the Dark Oz series, The Land Of Oz happens in a brand new timeline, although still set in the same universe as the previous Oz comics from Caliber Comics and Arrow Comics. Thanks to Ozma's dipping into the reality-altering Book of Undo, she has reset things in Oz prior to the Nome King's original takeover from ten years previously. So, a few things that are different is that Dorothy never aged physically into an adult, and most of the regular Oz heroes never took on more humanoid forms like Lion.

The series takes place directly after the prelude chapter from Arrow Anthology issue #4, where the pilot Travis, his fiance Cat, and her younger brother Sean had crashed their plane within the land of Ev, and were surrounded by Wheelers. They are saved by the straggled royal army lead by King Evardo and his cousin Langwidere(the one with the head fixation), along with their wizard commrade known as "Friend". They let their new American friends know about how Ev has been taken over by the evil Dolnar who was using the Magic Belt, along with the witch Singra(which was the name given to the Wicked Witch of the South in some books), and the disgruntled Wheelers. So the King and his men were on their way to Oz to seek help from Ozma. She in turn has been in a coma since she restarted the everything, and she also seems to be the only one who knows that everything's changed. Evardo and his party arrive in the Emerald City and let them know that Dolnar's forces are heading to conquer Oz. While everyone else holds a council meeting, Sean talks to the Gump who is now just a talking head on the wall. He tells Sean about a hidden passage that leads the boy down into a secret workshop filled with spellbooks. Dolnar attacks the Emerald City with Singra and the Wheelers. Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, along with the combined Ev and Oz forces take them on, and friend manages to get the Magic Belt away from Dolnar. Ultimately, it is Sean who appears using a magic cane(which might be the Nome King's)who channels an unknown voice to use sorcery, and stops them. Singra whips the Magic Cap out of nowhere and summons the flying monkeys to escape along with Dolnar. Afterwards, Scarecrow calls in Wogglebug for advice on how to resuscitate Ozma, who suggests seeking out Glinda. In order to make the journey, Sean uses a batch of the Powder of Life he found in the lab and uses it to bring a tin horse to life for Tin Man. Along with the Sawhorse, the Three Kings and their new Earthling friends travel to Glinda's castle, only to find that it has disappeared. There is some blinding white null space surrounding the area where it should be, so our heroes go into it to investgate. They end up getting captured by the warrior Princess Evoria and her troops, and are brought before their Mage Lord. He accuses the Three Kings of leading a wake of devastation, although its really their evil counterparts that were originally under the Nome King's control. After it becomes clear that the visiting Ozians are not the evil ones, they are set free. Meanwhile, a now younger Dorothy is wandering with Toto alone in the kingdom of Oakdale, where they are reunited with the Wizard of Oz. He takes them to the King and Queen of Oakdale whom he had previously befriended(apparently sometime in the past of this new continuity). He has a balloon constructed to send the Wizard and Dorothy back to Oz, but they are suddenly confronted by a mob of elves. They come to warn them about the oncoming evil army, but they brought with them the good Three Kings who are reunited with Dorothy. The evil Three Kings arrive, but they also have dark versions of Jack Pumpkinhead, Sawhorse, and Hungry Tiger with them. Meanwhile, Ozma is back in Oz under the watch of Wogglebug, and fighting her own personal dark side within her mind. Once she comes to terms with her own other half, the evil versions of the other Ozians disappear, while the rest of the nomes head for the hills. The Oz heroes return home with Princess Evoria(who is also called Karina)to find that Ozma has come out her coma.

This is where that storyline ends, but it was also the last issue of the entire Oz/Dark Oz/The Land Of Oz saga. Like Dark Oz, its currently unknown if this will be reprinted by Transfuzion Publishing, although it was hinted that Stuart Kerr and Ralph Griffith were planning on continuing the series past this point once they got this part to trade paperback. Bryan Bryan is still the artist, but the writing was taken over by Gary Bishop. I'd recommend tracking down this comic mostly for the lighter tone that it took with the characters to the more traditional whimsical Oz-type story.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oz/Wonderland #4 Preview now out now has a special preview edition of their upcoming Issue #4 of The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles. This includes a special cover by Alex Ross plus the scripted version of Issue #4, a look at the upcoming Prelude To Evil spinoff mini-series, character listings, and production sketches. The actual regular issue #4 is scheduled for this Spring with a cover by Joe Jusko.

Disney makes a "Wicked" move

Having turned the recent Alice In Wonderland live-action movie into a success, Disney is getting the movie's screenwriter Linda Woolverton to do bring another classic Disney animated feature to life. Maleficent will be a live-action film about the origins of the wicked fairy from Sleeping Beauty. In the original version of the story, the character's name was Carabosse, but this proposed movie will probably stick closer to the green-skinned version in the Disney animated productions. This is similar to Gregory Maguire's take on the Wicked Witch of the West that he did in the hit book Wicked and the musical. Both had green skin, and both were considered very "wicked". How closely Maleficent will follow the same path as Wicked remains to be seen.

Monday, March 22, 2010

When Dorothy Met Alice

For the longest time, people have been fascinated with the concept of crossing over Oz with Wonderland. This has been the basis for comics, novels, plus several pieces of fan-art and fan-fiction. One of which is an actual musical play titled Dorothy Meets Alice(or The Wizard Of Wonderland)created by Joseph Robinette and Karl Jurman. In it, the young boy Judson is pulled into the joint worlds of Oz and Wonderland to do a book report on both of them, although the Red Queen and Wicked Witch team up to get their respected enemies. This has been done by children's theatre companies and performed at numerous schools. Alice herself had a small part in the book series, Lost In Oz, as well as the upcoming mini-series by Joshua Patrick where group of teenagers get stuck in Oz, are sent back, locked in an asylum, and meet Alice plus some other Wonderland characters beneath the asylum. Now in the field of comics and graphic novels, Oz and Wonderland have had the most frequent crossovers. The first big one was a Captain Carrot 3-issue mini-series called The Oz-Wonderland War. Captain Carrot is a funny animal superhero who along with his team of the Zoo Crew try to stop the Nome King from taking over Wonderland and freeing Oz from his control. The character designs of the characters from both titles are very close to how the were originally illustrated, and makes for an enjoyable read. A recent series is The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles where a slightly older Alice and Dorothy are roomies in Chicago(along with some other storybook girls)and a new Wicked Witch is trying to take over Oz by bringing the Jabberwocky to their world through Earth. This comic has spawned a team-up series with Jack Pumpkinhead and Cheshire Cat, plus an upcoming prequal mini-series. A comic that actually spinned off from an Oz series was Wonderland from Arrow Comics that featured the grown up Dorothy from the Oz/Dark Oz series and thrust into a version of Wonderland with a teenage Alice and her team of rebel friends.A more controversial crossover is in the graphic novel Lost Girls by legendary author Alan Moore. In it, Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy from Peter Pan all meet up for the first time as adults at an Austrian hotel just before WWI, and go over their experiences in fantasy lands which actually is alot more sexually revealing. This book is very much not for younger readers, but worth looking up. Another meeting of all three of these characters is in the webcomic Cheshire Crossing where all three girls are sent to an institution in England and each imbark on journeys to their seperate worlds which are revealed to be real. This leads to some strange pairings like Captain Hook courting the Wicked Witch. Even though the webcomic is currently incomplete, it is very interesting and incorporates elements from various sources including the Disney adaptations. Other productions of interest are the Alice video game(of which a sequal is in the works)by American McGee who was working on one based on Oz but was cancelled due to financial problems, even though some American McGee's Oz action figures were released. McGee was also slated to write the script for an Oz movie trilogy by Jerry Bruckheimer, but that project has currently fallen through. Another production worth comparing is the Alice mini-series on Syfy that was directed by Nick Willing who also did the Tin Man series too(as well as the 1999 Alice In Wonderland TV movie). Both of which take the main characters in modern day and send them to a somewhat steampunk magical world. It's a fair bet that we have not seen the last of Alice and Dorothy's pairings, because "have need for fan crossover, will travel"! Plus, with the recent revival of Wonderland in the new Disney movie, and a nearly infinite number of Oz movies in development, its a concept of fan-shipping that won't end anytime soon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Comic Review: Oz Spinoffs

During the course of the Oz comic series, there were several spinoff titles. The only one that was printed under Caliber Comics was Oz: Daemonstorm which was part of a company-wide crossover event with several unrelated titles. It takes place just before the end of the original Oz comic where Jinjur, Lion, and Scraps team up with two dimensional-hopping cyberpunks to free Jack Pumpkinhead from an evil daemon. This particular one-shot is slightly unnecessary because it doesn't really add to the ongoing Oz storyline at, but worth getting if you wanted to see Scraps get some more screentime. The next one is the Wogglebug Special which is a tie-in to Dark Oz and was actually written by artist Bill Bryan. It basically shows what happened to the Gilikens during the Goblin invasion, and how Wogglebug buys it.

After this is one of two seperate issues of Arrow Anthology which was Arrow Comics' showcase of other titles and featured stand-alone short stories. In issue #2, we learn what happened to Dorothy after falling into Glinda's magic mirror and ends up in Wonderland, which leads into the 3-issue mini-series of the same name, featuring art by Danny Wall and Bert Reinke. In a plot which seems similar to Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, a secret resistance is planning on overthrowing the Queen of Hearts who has apparently recently gone evil. Alice here is a teenage English girl who has been trapped in Wonderland for years, and is the acting leader of the resistance. The Queen in turn had been using the White Rabbit to cross dimensions and either steal magic items from Oz, or trade them with Mombi. The Cheshire Cat turns up to tell the rebels that the White Rabbit has been betrayed. "Chet" lets everyone know about how he was working part-time with Rabbit for the Queen, and how she used one of Mombi's magic necklaces to subdue him. It is revealed that the Queen has been gorging down on the essences of her subjects' severed heads, and has mutated into a giant Jabba the Hutt-lookalike. Alice, Dorothy, and the other rebels launch an assault on the Heart castle, but their member Joker turned out to be a double-agent for the other side, and gets them all captured. Mad Hatter and Chet take out Joker, and free the others. They then proceed to take on the Queen's forces, and discover that she has had Tattypoo(the Good Witch of the North)as her prisioner this whole time. Tattypoo releases the Queen from her head-devouring curse which turns her back to normal, and she goes back to Oz with Dorothy, which is right at the end of Dark Oz where the timeline is being rewritten.

Following this is issue #4 of Arrow Anthology that has a prelude to The Land Of Oz. It starts out with Ozma reading the Book of Beginnings which is supposedly the counterpart to the Book of Undo shown at the end of Dark Oz. It flashes to Earth where pilot Travis, his fiance Cat, and her bookworm younger brother Sean are on a flight in Travis' plane which goes through a tornado that takes them just outside of Ev. After crash landing, they are surrounded by some ticked-off Wheelers. This leads into issue #1 of the regular The Land Of Oz comic.

I'd say that most of the spinoffs were okay in regards to the other three main series, although the stories from Arrow Anthology might have been better off included in the pages of the actual series they acted as prequals to. The Wogglebug and Daemonstorm one-shots are mainly for completionists. Wonderland on its own is a decent comic, and is yet another chance for to have Dorothy and Alice meet up in an outside story, although it might have been nicer if it Wonderland had established itself as its own series instead of it being connected to Oz first. I'm unaware of if and how these spinoffs might be included into Transfuzion's Oz trade paperbacks, but hopefully they'll be released in chronological order with each series to keep the stories straight.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Hope your St. Patrick's Day is positively Emerald!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Emeralds First Look: Jinjur

Here's a first look at Jinjur as she appears in Emeralds. Here, she's still a farmer, although she's single now, and looking for a potential new husband!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Witches Of Oz news

Here's some new info on the upcoming independent movie, The Witches Of Oz. Leigh Scott is directing it. His previous works include Dracula's Curse, Frankenstein Reborn, and Pirates Of Treasure Island. In a recent interview, he revealed that the movie takes place in modern day with an adult Dorothy as a children's author who tries to protect Earth from the Wicked Witch of the West. It will feature Christopher Lloyd as the Wizard, Lance Henriksen as Henry Gale, Billy Boyd as Nick Chopper, and Mia Sara is back in another Oz production as Princess Langwidere(she played the Wicked Witch in the Lost In Oz pilot). The film is set for limited theatrical release this summer from Blackthorn Pictures.

Comic Review: Dark Oz

Set right after issue #20 of Caliber Comics' Oz comic, this 5-issue series of Dark Oz from Arrow Comics concludes the original storyline, but with an agressively bleaker attitude.

We open with a lengthy recap of the previous series, but soon find Dorothy, Trot, Betsy Bobbin, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Hungry Tiger still searching through Glinda's seemingly deserted castle for clues to the Fountain of Youth to restore Dorothy to her proper age. However, the castle has been taken over by Stitch, the "son" of the Scarecrow that he had made with the Powder of Life back when he was evil and under the Nome King's control. Stitch has raised an army of living scarecrows to go forth and conquer Oz. Dorothy gets sent into a magic mirror, which leads into the Wonderland mini-series. Meanwhile, the Gilikens are invaded by the Goblin army, and its surviving leaders take refuge in Emerald City. Ozma goes to reestablish relations with the suceeded Quadlings, but is met with a near fatal arrow to the chest. She is saved by the Wizard's magic, but realizes that Oz is no longer the peaceful land she once knew. Amber Omby and Lion reclaim the Winkie capitol, but only hold on to it briefly as the goblin hordes overwhelm and kill them. Scraps shows up at Glinda's castle to free her friends, but Scarecrow sacrifices himself to stop Stitch and his mad army. The Wickedest Witch it turns out has captured Glinda herself, and drained her of her life essence just before launching her final assault on the Emerald City. The Goblins kill most of the remaining heroes, including Trot, Sawhorse, Betsy Bobbin, Jellia Jamb, and Tik-Tok. Scarecrow shows up not dead, and has salvaged Glinda's mystic Book of Undo. Whether this is some alternate version of the Great Book of Records is never explained, but after the last of her friends are killed by the Wickedest Witch, Ozma uses the Book to rewrite the history of Oz, and erasing the Witch from existence.

The story continues in the The Land Of Oz comic series where they totally open in a time-altered version of Oz, sorta like in Star Trek 11. There is also the Wogglebug Special that takes place prior to Dark Oz issue #3. The actual Dark Oz comic wraps dangling plotlines, but only by having everyone die a horribly bloody merciless death. It's more than a little depressing to see your childhood favorites get murdered in the most brutal manner possible. They could've just had some sort of time-anomaly that caused Oz to go back to being a land of fancy and fantasy that it was before the Nome King messed it up. I'm unaware if Transfuzion Publishing is planning a trade paperback collecting this or not, but I'd recommend seeking out these comics at least for seeing how the original plot comes to an end.

Monday, March 8, 2010

AnachroCon to play Heartless

AnachroCon, Georgia's first ever full-fledged steampunk fan convention, will screen the short movie, Heartless: The Story Of The Tin Man, which is film about the Tin Woodman's origin from Whitestone Motion Pictures. The con runs from Apr. 30-May 2, 2010 at the Wellesley Inn Atlanta Airport Hotel. The film is scheduled to play on May 1st at 12:00 PM in the Spirit Of St. Louis room. Pre-registration is still available online.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Royal Historian Of Oz comic coming soon

Tommy Kovac is going to release a brand new comic series titled Royal Historian Of Oz from Slave Labor Graphics. Kovac has just recently completed an official comic sequal to Disney's 1950s Alice In Wonderland titled Wonderland, and has had some work printed in Oz Story. This 5-issue series is coming out this June, plus the first issue of which will be only $1.00.

Dark Oz movie gets new studio

The Dark Oz movie based on the comic has been picked up by Framelight Productions. They currently have plans to do films based on comics like Deadworld and Chi-Chian, but so far none have been produced. Stuart Kerr & Ralph Griffith's comic has already been turned into a novelization, and is currently being collected in trade paperback format by Tranfuzion Publishing.

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Tin Man origin movie

A new independent live-action movie from Whitestone Motion Pictures titled Heartless: The Story Of The Tinman is currently in production. The short film is written and directed by Brandon McCormick, plus co-written by Charlie Wetzel. It stars Elizabeth Keener as Nimmie Amee, Mark Ashworth as Ku-Klip, and Joshua Harrison as Nick Chopper. The movie will be available free off the Whitestone website in April, plus screened at several upcoming film festivals.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Emeralds First Look: Lion

In Emeralds, the once "cowardly" Lion is now the one true King of the Forest, along with his mate, Queen of the Field Mice.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Comic Review: Oz comic series

Taking place about a decade after Oz: Straw & Sorcery, the regular Oz series from Caliber Comics opens up with a trio from Earth winding up in the Nome King-dominated Oz. Kevin, Peter, Mary, along with their dog Max, get whisked away via a strange book they got a yard sale, and awaken in the middle of Munchkin Country, where some nasty Munchkins chase after them. Kevin, Peter, and Max manage to fend off the small advesaries, but Mary gets seperated from them. She is rescued by Jack Pumpkinhead, who then leads her to the Freedom Fighters camp. Kevin and Peter meanwhile find their way to an abandonned Munchkin village and learn what has happened to Oz over the last few years. They then go to the Scarecrow's large barn, and accidently free him from the enchantment Mombi placed on him by removing his amulet. Having no idea what has happened to him, Scarecrow decides to take his new friends to his old friend the Tin Man, who is of course still evil. They free him though, and they journey to the Lion's realm. The Nome King sensing a change in the wind sends Mombi and the Ladies Auxiliary Brigade(General Jinjur's old troop?)after the Freedom Fighters. Tik-Tok sacrifices himself to let the others get away, which leaves Wogglebug and their one flying monkey commrade, Nameless, flying off to seek the help of the Monkey King. After a fierce tussel with Tin Man, the other heroes free Lion, and decide to head to the Emerald City to confront the Nome King directly. They're overwhelmed by endless nomes, and Peter is captured, but relays the good news of Three Kings release and the new hope to Princess Ozma in the dungeon. After run-ins with Bane wolves and giant spiders, the remaining Freedom Fighters carry on, but then duke it out with the Three Kings as they think they are still evil. Kevin and Mary reunite, and all the fighters put aside their disbeliefs to join Ozma in freeing Oz once and for all. Ozma and Wogglebug go to the four kingdoms of Oz to rally them together to rise against the Nome King, but realize that the Quadling country has seceded. Peter meanwhile manages to escape, and frees a grown-up Dorothy of her enchantment. Amber Ombi leads the Freedom Fighters on a final assault on the Emerald City. Mombi makes a hasty exit by making the Ozians believe they've been sent to Earth. The Nome King then pulls his final trump card with the Magical Cap to control the flying monkeys. The Freedom Fighters succeed in freeing them, but the Nome King manages to escape. The Wizard then reappears, and sends the trio from Earth back home.

This leads into the next story arc which the new artist Tim Holtrop takes over. In it, an army of goblins have resurfaced in the Quadling lands, and met with an alliance with the Quadlings. The goblin king, Kaylor, has his shaman Krakatos resurrect both of the Wicked Witches into a composite incarnation called the Wickedest Witch. Ozma's court then seeks to restablish its reign, and sends Lion, Scraps, Jack, and Jinjur to start a treaty with the Quadlings, which they're unaware of their goblin alliance. Dorothy, Betsy Bobbin, and Trot leave to seek out the fabled Fountain of Youth(which is apparently in Oz)to return themselves to their former ages. They leave with Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Hungry Tiger to Glinda's abandonned castle in the north(North?). The combined Goblin and Quadling forces take over and decimate the Winkie country, and the Lion's animal kingdom. Jinjur and Jack sneak into to the goblin's underground lair to witness the Wickedest Witch killing off Kaylor and his son to become the new Goblin Queen. Jinjur ends up getting captured while Jack is pushed off a cliff with his head getting splattered.

After twenty issues, the series was moved to Arrow Comics, and retitled Dark Oz. There was a special with the Daemonstorm crossover going with most of the other Caliber titles, but I'll cover that in the Oz spinoffs reviews. I'll say that the comic keeps very close to the idea of the original Baum books, and that Bill Bryan's artwork really helped bring it to life. Tim Holtrop's artwork was fine, but seemed to redesign the characters a little too much, as it was evident from his Jack Kirby-influences. Stu Kerry & Ralph Griffith's writing help bring a new maturer level of adventure to Oz on par with Lord Of The Rings. The original 20-issue run is currently available in trade paperbacks from Transfuzion Publishing.