Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review: How The Wizard Came To Oz

David Abbott is a writer and illustrator who has worked on several Oz titles, including doing the artwork for the reprint of L. Frank Baum's original story of Dot And Tot In Merryland for which the original illustrations had been lost a century ago. Abbott has created several Oz books on his own of which have been printed by Books Of Wonder including: The Amber Flute Of Oz, Father Goose In Oz, and The Speckled Rose Of Oz. He even decided to do his own prequal to the original Wizard Of Oz, a few years before Gregory Maquire had started his Wicked series. Abbott started what was essentially a two-part prequal with How The Wizard Came To Oz.

The Wizard's secret origins are a little similar to most of what was referred to in Oz books. Oscar Diggs is a circus performer who learns various tricks of the trade, and one day takes the circus' balloon for a joyride, but ends up in Oz. He is confronted by the Wicked Witch of the West who runs the Winkie Country. She summons up her allies: the wolves, the bees, and the crow, but Oscar uses his ventriloquism skills to scare them all off. The Winkies proclaim him to be the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the Witch heads east to seek help from her sister. The Witch of the East tells her sister of the magical Golden Cap which she can use to control the flying monkeys. The Wicked Witch eventually claims the cap, and forces the monkeys to drive the Wizard out of the west by balloon. After landing in the north of Oz, the Wizard manages to defeat a group of Kalidahs. The grateful citizens then help him begin constuction on the Emerald City, to which the Wizard uses the trick of the green spectacles to make it seem greener than it was. The Witches then join forces to launch attacks on the Emerald City. The East Witch employs the silver shoes' magic to create a yellow brick road straight to the city for her troops, as well as a giant spider(the one the Lion later fights). The Wizard manages to ward them off with more of his circus tricks, and saves the Emerald City...for now.

This book leads into the sequal(but still prequal)How The Wizard Saved Oz. It acts as a pretty good prelude for the Oz legacy, although it seems to skip through alot of the more specific details of the Wizard's early years. There's even some lead in to the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman's origins. Donald Abbott has some slightly impressive illustrations too as he modeled his work after W.W. Denslow. If you want to see a comprehensive and enjoyable view at the Young Oscar Diggs Chronicles, then give this one a look.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving From Oz

Hope you have a great holiday and get stuffed(just not with straw).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Comic Review: Toto! The Wonderful Adventure (Part 1)

Another manga inspired by Oz to be brought over to the States was Toto! The Wonderful Adventure by Yu-Ko Osada. This came out in Japan in 2005 and ran for five volumes, although it was apparently the remake of a series Osada did back in 2002 simply titled Toto which ran for two volumes. There was a spinoff of somekind called Tribal 12 which followed for three volumes, although what its connection it is to this one is unknown other than it maybe takes place in the same fictional universe.

The story takes place in a standard shonen-styled manga story similar to ones like Rave Master and Fullmetal Alchemist where technology and magic are integrated together. Kakashi(which is Japanese for "scarecrow")is a rebellous youth who wishes to see the world that his deceased father told him about, so he stowsaway on a public blimp. This turns out bad as it gets hijacked by the Man Chicken Family, a group of bandits who look like their straight out of the Turks from Final Fantasy VII. Kakashi discovers a stray puppy on board with wearing a strange collar, and takes him in as his own friend. He is found out by the Man Chicken Family and their leader Teqilla who forces Kakashi to be their lackey on the blimp while they fly it to their hideout. The blimp gets attacked by the military, and Tequilla sacrifices the last parachute to Kakashi as he escapes with the puppy. They wake up battered in a field, and are very hungry. Luckily, they find a seemingly abandoned picnic basket which they immediatley empty, but are found out by its owner, a young girl named Dorothy. She first thinks that just the puppy ate her food, but takes a liking to him, and names him Toto. Kakashi pops up from behind a cornstalk, and gets into an argument with Dorothy who first confuses him for a scarecrow. However, the military shows up, and it turns out they're after Toto's collar. Kakashi, Dorothy, and Toto make off on a stolen motorcycle towards the city of Emerald where Dorothy's family lives. On the way, they stop at a farmhouse and are taken in by what seems like a kindly old man, but he's really the sinister Lt. Vio in disguise. He leaves Kakashi and Dorothy inside while the place is burns down, but Toto's collar transforms him into a giant creature due to the collar's magical powers.

I've liked how this series seems to be going so far, although some of the danger presented in this "Rated T" manga is very real with the heroes facing imminent death at every corner. This manga is one of several Oz titles that crosses over with Alice In Wonderland with characters from that book showing up in this storyline. I liked Yuko Osada's art style, and look forward to it progress in the future volumes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book Review: The Rundelstone Of Oz

This, the final Oz novel to be written by Eloise McGraw, was published a year after her death in 2001. McGraw also wrote Merry Go Round Of Oz, the last of the official "Famous Forty" line of Oz books stemming from the orignal series by L. Frank Baum and Rudy Thompson, as well as The Forbidden Fountain Of Oz which wasn't counted as canon in the Famous Forty. The Rundelstone Of Oz was put together by her daughter, Lauren Lynn McGraw. This was illustrated Eric Shanower, and printed by his company of Hungry Tiger Press. The story is independent from any of Elioise McGraw's previous books, although it was first concieved as a segment from Forbidden Fountain.

It opens up with a group of living marionettes called Troopadours traveling around with their human leader, Maestroissimo Furioso, who tour Oz and entertain its citizens. They enter a small village in Gillikin, and after puting on a successful show, they all go missing, except for Poco. Poco takes up being the major domo for a local "witherd", the crafty Slyddwyn. He tells Poco that his friends left him, but Poco doesn't believe him, and he starts to search Slyddwyn's castle for clues on their wherabouts. Poco befriends the local orphan boy Rolly, and frequently encounter the very perturbed Shmodda who claims that Slyddwyn stole one of seven mystic rocks called the Rundelstones. With Rolly's help, Poco manages discovers that Slyddwyn had transformed his friends into various objects, which Poco believes he was able to do with the magic of the Rundelstone. Poco eventually discovers the stone, and restores his marrionette friends to their natural forms. Along with Shmodda, they finally confront Slyddwyn who locks himself in a special room magically sealed from the inside. However, Ozma, Dorothy, the Wizard, and Lion arrive to help them. They find that a stray dog is really Furioso changed by the Rundelstone, and is actually Rolly's father. All is restored as the Troopadours head out for more fun.

This was a pretty good story, one that was focused more on original characters in the land of Oz instead of the regular cast. Eloise McGraw told a compelling tale about an uncertain fellow looking for his lost commrades. Eric Shanower offers alot of great illustrations for this, and did a great job publishing it. This makes for a fine addition to anyone's Oz collection, but also stands alone a wonderful children's book.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oz Video Of The Month: After Oz

Percy Kiyabu created this original animated short featuring the Tin Man in his quest for love.

Ozma Of Oz in stores

Marvel Comics has released its first of an 8-issue series of Ozma Of Oz. This is continuing its series of Oz books that its done adapted by Eric Shanower and drawn by Scottie Young. Issue #1 has a regular cover by Young, a variant one by Shanower, plus one by Adrian Alphona and Christina Straina. This will be a monthly series, with a collected novel set for next year.