Saturday, February 27, 2010

Comic Review: Oz Prequals

Caliber Comics started their Oz comic with Issue #1 and ran for twenty issues. However, there were several comic prequals that came out during the run of the original series.

It begins in Issue #0 which shows the Nome King(who is apparently Kaliko since he refers to his "predecessor")leading his troops to Oz for a new peace treaty, but his true intention is to conquer over the entire country with his Nome army and his ally, the wicked Mombi. He takes over the Emerald City, kills Jinjur's husband, turns the Good Witches into ornaments, banishes the Wizard back to Earth, entrances Dorothy, and uses magic charms from Mombi to change Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man into his evil minions. Amber Ombi(Omby Amby's nephew)who is the current Captain of the Guard manages to escape. This begins a series of one-shot specials: Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man, and Freedom Fighters, where Amber rallies the remaining heroes of Oz into a rebellion against the Nome King's forces. This is difficult with the Three Kings now turning their powers against them, including sending other troops after them like ill-tempered Munchkins, Scarecrow's crows, and Tin Man's new tin warriors. The Freedom Fighters consist of Amber, Jinjur, Wogglebug, Tik-Tok, Sawhorse, Gump, Shaggy Man, Jack Pumpkinhead(complete with plant-controlling powers), and a reluctant Scraps.

The Patchwork girl frets over her lover Scarecrow being put under a spell, so she steals the Love Magnet and sets out to free him from the Nome King's control. This becomes the basis for the Romance In Rags 3-issue series. Scraps makes her way to the Scarecrow's new castle made on the ruins of the former Wogglebug College, but her efforts aren't strong enough to stop him from capturing her commrades. The Freedom Fighters manage to free themselves, but Scraps is imprisioned by Scarecrow, and sent to the Emerald City. Now there's two inconsistancies in this part, one is that Romance In Rags ends saying that Scraps is kept in the dungeons for ten years, but escapes immeadiately in the next series, and the other is Dorothy appearing as a teenager while enthralled by the Nome King even though no length of time has elapsed that would age her naturally. The final arc in these prequals is the 3-issue series Straw & Sorcery where Scarecrow is captured by the Freedom Fighters, but escapes, while Scraps herself manages to ellude Mombi's grasp.

This is where the prequals end, and the main story doesn't pick up for about a decade in Issue #1 of the regular Oz comic. There are some dynamic changes in some of the characters in this comic from their original incarnations. Lion, Hungry Tiger, and Wogglebug all look like they might be out of He-Man, Sawhorse seems like a large wooden Clydsedale, and the Gump is a large winged moose. The prequals are currently available in comic format, and online through Drive Thru Comics.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review: Lion Of Oz And The Badge Of Courage

Before the animated movie came out, the original novel it was based on came gained Roger S. Baum(L. Frank Baum's great-grandson)status as a children's book author.

This book acts a prequal to the original Wizard Of Oz book, with the Lion being taken away from Africa as a cub to a circus in Omaha. He grows up in captivity, and is befriended by the balloonist, Oscar Diggs. One day, Oscar gives him a souvenir medal for courage, and takes him on a flight in his balloon, but they end up flying off course to the land of Oz. Lion gets seperated from Oscar whose balloon gets sent blown further away. He's confronted by the Wicked Witch of the West who pretends to have captured Oscar, and threatens Lion with this for him to find the fabled "Flower of Oz" for her. Lion then runs into a trio of fairies who are being attacked by the Witch's minion, Gloom, and then makes his way to Castle Gray. He befriends the strange springy bear-like SillyOZbul, the young girl Wimsik, and her living toys, Caroline and Captain Fitzgerald. They agree to help Lion in his quest, even though Wimsik has never left there. Along the way, they encounter the enigmatic Sign Maker, the wicked Seamstress, and the friendly dragon Burt. They even run across the Wizard of Oz himself(who is actually Oscar), but he doesn't at first recognize Lion as his old friend. In the end, its revealed that Wimsik is the Flower, and she is reinstated as a powerful magic user. Whether this is supposed to mean she's some relation to Ozma is never revealed. Afterwards, Lion is just seen on his own(without any kind of goodbye scene with his newfound friends), and loosing his badge to the Witch. This leads to his historic meeting with Dorothy and the others.

The book offers a good plot, and is enjoyable for anyone whose at least read Wizard Of Oz, although there doesn't seem to be any kind of time elapse between when Lion first lands in Oz and having Oscar instantly becoming the Wizard. Plus they never really show the revelation of Lion discovering that Oscar is the Wizard which never came up in the original WOO book. Sean Coons provides some great illustrations, and helps make it valuable hardcover. I kinda prefer Gregory Maguire's, A Lion Amoung Men, as an origin story for the Lion, but this book is alot better for younger readers. I'd recommend it to all Oz fans and as a fine gift for your children.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Emeralds First Look: Ozma

Here's a first look at Princess Ozma in Emeralds. She's now a little more mature physically, and become much more skilled in the arts of fairy magic. Ozma also now is very open in her feelings for her friends.

Oz comic review prelude

I've been meaning for a while to do a review of the Oz comics series from Caliber Comics and Arrow Comics. However, unlike the other reviews of Oz-related comics like Oz Squad, Dorothy, and Oz: The Manga, the original Oz comic series is broken up into so many mini-series, sequals, prequal, spinoffs, and one-shot specials that it would be unfair to do the entire thing in just one review. So I'm planning on doing them in sequential order, from the prequals, to the regular series, then the sequals like Dark Oz and Land Of Oz.

I'll give a little history of this series first. Originally, this was a comic series in the mid-90s from Caliber Comics simply titled Oz. In it, Oz has been taken over by the wicked Nome King, who has turned the Three Kings evil, entranced Dorothy, and imprisioned Ozma. This lead into some prequals which showed how Oz got that way to begin with, plus future stories where new menaces arise. Although the story goes through a bit of a Crisis On Infinite Earths plot where the given continuity gets rewritten.

The comic was written by Stuart Kerr & Ralph Griffith with most of the art by Bill Bryan. Currently, the original Oz title is being collected in trade paperbacks by Transfuzion Publishing, with plans to do the rest of the comics too. There's also a possible movie in production titled Dark Oz based on it by Perry Tao, with a novelization already in print by Aaron Deneberg.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Video Review: The Land Of Oz

As most movie buffs might know, Shirley Temple was up for the role of Dorothy in the original 1939 Wizard Of Oz movie, which of course went to Judy Garland instead. However, she eventually got the chance to star in an Oz-related production on her 1960s TV series, Shirley Temple's Storybook. This was run in black and white during its first season in the late 50s, and then in color in it second in the 60s. Each episode consisted of Temple along with an ensemble cast and playing out a children's story. The premiere episode of their second season had them doing an adaptation of The Land Of Oz, which was the first sequal to WOO.

This version has Princess Ozma(played by Temple)already in power as the ruling monarch. However, Nikidik, who outside of Wicked has never actually been shown in the books, is in this story a mean-spirited lord who wants to take over Oz. He hires the witch Mombi to entrance Ozma to coming to her, and turns her into the boy Tip with no memory of her former life. Most of the rest of the plot follows the original book with Jack Pumpkinhead and Sawhorse, although Jinjur's army of feminists is replaced with Lord Nikidik's troops, plus Glinda brings an army of toy soldiers to life and lifesize to take back the Emerald City.

This had a decent production value for a 60s TV show, and is very enjoyable to watch. Some of the puns might seem a little stale by today's standards, but if you still like the 1939 movie, then you shouldn't have problems with it. The detail to some of the characters is impressive too, like they're right out of the book, especially Mombi and Sawhorse. Aside from Temple herself, there is literally an all-star cast in it. Johnathon Winters is Lord Nikidik, Agnes Moorehead as Mombi, Sterling Holloway as Jack, and Mel Blanc as the voice of Sawhorse. This is currently on DVD with another episode featuring The Reluctant Dragon, and is for sale at Amazon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wicked Years trilogy foreign photo covers

Last fall, European and Canadian paperback copies of Gregory Maquire's Wicked trilogy have been given photo covers. The one for Wicked itself is based on the musical poster, Son Of A Witch is similar to that except with Liir and Elphaba instead of Elphaba and Glinda, and the one to A Lion Among Men features a slightly more realistic-looking lion(as apposed to a "Lion")as Brrr with Elphaba. These are available from foreign online dealers like and

Monday, February 15, 2010

Book Review: In Search Of Dorothy

In 2006, David Anthony started the first of a planned 3-part sequal to the orignal 1939 Wizard Of Oz movie.

In Search Of Dorothy takes place about twenty years after Dorothy went back to Kansas, and Scarecrow is now Emporer of Oz with the help of Tin Woodman, and the Lion as the Captain of the Guard. Scarecrow longs to see Dorothy again, and develops a Tornado Travel Machine to try to find her in Kansas. At the same time, an old woman comes across the Wicked Witch of the West's crystal ball abadonned in the woods, and becomes possessed by her spirit. The old woman catches a ride with the Scarecrow as he activates his tornado gizmo to go to Kansas. However, he ends up in a different part of the country. Scarecrow is lucky though because its conveniently Halloween time, and everyone he meets thinks he's a guy in a costume. He befriends a bull named Bull and a tree named Tree(real original names!), and manages to find out that Dorothy is at a conference in Kansas trying to convince a bunch of scientist bigwigs that Oz was a real place. This is more than a little weird, because you'd think if a farmgirl went around saying that she went to some imaginary fairyland, that she'd get institutionalized. I guess the people in this story were a little more optimistic about how people would treat someone that most would see as being delusional. Meanwhile, Lion leads an expedition to see why there is a shroud of darkness surrounding the Wicked Witch of the West's old castle, and discovers that its guarded by a fearsome beast where the Witch's spirit is raising her forces from through her crystal ball. Scarecrow manages to find Dorothy, although her niece Audrey is kidnapped by the old woman under the Witch's power. The old woman makes off with Dorothy's ruby slippers back to Oz, so Scarecrow, Bull, and Tree go after her.

This leads into the sequal, The Witch's Revenge, where we're introduced to the Good Witch of the South(Glinda's the North one in this). The third part of the trilogy is currently in production. I think this trilogy would appeal to fans of the 1939 movie, although Oz-purists might be a little mixed about it. This first book might seem better when read with the second, but I'd still recommend it on its own too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Emeralds First Look: Jellia Jamb

Here's Jellia Jamb as she appears in Emeralds. She is still Ozma's head of staff, although she's recently gotten the attraction of Ozma's "son".

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Oz/Wonderland comic on the way is coming out with a comic spinoff to its series of The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles. In this new prequel, The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles: Prelude To Evil, young Sarah Holmes who has a troubled homelife has her destiny altered after a gathering with Alice Liddell and Dorothy Gale. The comic is being written by Ben Avery and Casey Heying, with art by Brianna Garcia and Pedro Maia. It will also feature three seperate covers by Arthur Suydum. There are supposed to be three issues altogether of this title, but whether this is an entire mini-series or a series of one-shots like the Jack & Cat specials is currently unknown. It is set for release on March 3rd from comic sellers everywhere.

Oz characters in Lullaby

A few years ago, Alias Enterprises(now Lamp Post Inc.)did a comic titled Lullaby written by Ben Avery(who also wrote The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles)and illustrated by Hector Sevilla. It combined several fairy tale characters into a single continuity, similar to Veritgo Comics' Fables series. The series was split into two 4-issue mini-series.

The first volume begins where Alice is "Hand of the Queen" from Wonderland and she sets out to discover a rise of dark magic going on in some of the surrounding kingdoms, and after some investigating, she learns that the darkness seems to originating from the land of Oz. Along the way, she teams up with the son of the Pied Piper and a half-werewolf Red Riding Hood who are searching for Red's missing grandma. They then enter the realm of the World Tree where Pinocchio has become bonded to it, and his friend Jim Hawkins(from Treasure Island)is trying to save him. It is revealed at the end that the Tin Woodsman who was unkowingly causing the World Tree go out of control with his corrupted heart, but is saved by Alice and the others. In the second volume, the five heroes merge ranks on their quest to Oz, and discover that their common enemy is referred to as the Unnamed Mage, who its hinted is actually the Scarecrow, although possibly with some Wicked Witch influence.

The comic never went past the two volumes done of it(each one of which is available as graphic novels), although there was a seperate one-shot of the Pied Piper. You can find most of these issues available online at Lulu and Wowio.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Emeralds Sketches: Omby Amby, Hungry Tiger, and Nick Chopper

Here's some early sketches additional Emeralds characters. Omby Amby is the guardian of the gate to the Emerald City("No one sees the Wizard!"). Hungry Tiger is similar to the other animal lords of Oz as he can now take on a human form, so I thought he's look dashing in a dinner jacket. Nick Chopper has now gained back his original human form, and is retired from being the Winkie Emporer.

Video Review: The Wonderful Galaxy Of Oz

There have been numerous anime adaptations based on the Oz books. From a feature-length movie, to a TV series(which was shown on HBO in the 80s), but the one that was really off the wall was The Wonderful Galaxy Of Oz, also known as The Galaxy Adventures Of Oz. First broadcast in Japan as Space Oz No Bouken, this was a complete sci-fi retelling of the original Wizard Of Oz story.

Set in the year 2060, farmgirl Dorothy from the planet New Kansas and her robot helper Chopper end up going on a ship that heads to the distant galaxy of Oz. Upon arrival on an alien world, they befriend Plantman(this show's Scarecrow), and later on the easily-frightened Lionman who apparently shops at the same store as Chewbacca. They decide to go see the amazing Dr. Oz who rules this galaxy about getting Dorothy back home, but the doctor is out as the conniving witch Groomhilda has taken over with her army of Skeezers. Dorothy and her friends learn they have to find three magic crystals(at least its not jewel shards!). After eventually collecting all the crystals, Groomhilda summons her shadowy mistress witch to finally conquer the galaxy, but a good space fairy manages to save them all. Dr. Oz is put back in charge, and sends Dorothy back to her homeworld.

This was originally a 26-episode series that was broadcast in parts of Europe, but apparently the only English-language dub of it ever made is a 75-minute compilation movie. The movie is currently available on DVD from sellers like Amazon. It makes for a good little showing for the young'ns, and a decent trip down memory lane for fans of late 80s/early 90s animation.

Monday, February 8, 2010

New Emeralds Swag(FOR A LIMITED TIME!)

Since we've run out of the 2010 calendars, we now have several Emeralds different items for sale. First up is this 10.5 x 3.5 bookmark featuring the main cast for $2.00.

We've also got this 2.5 x 3.5 "Think Emerald!" magnet for $2.00.
Finally, we have this great 8 X 8 mousepad with Ozma and Dorothy for $8.00.

All of these are items are available only for a limited time! So please help support Emeralds.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Plaza Theatre's 70th Oz-iversary!

The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, GA. just celebrated its 70th Anniversary Gala. It is Atlanta's only independent cinema, and recently became a non-profit establishment. This special event was hosted by Robert Osborne from Turner Classic Movies, Karl Slover who was one of the original Munchkins, and the cast of Blast Off Burlesque masqueraded as characters of from the Wizard Of Oz movie.The Plaza also had several screenings of the 1939 film, along with other films from its first year, including Gone With The Wind and Gulliver's Travels. In honor of the Plaza's 70 years, the local Alcove Gallery now has a special Flying Monkey t-shirt by H.C. Warner for sale.

Book Review: Magician Of Oz

James C. Wallace II recently sent me a copy of his book to review, Magician Of Oz, which is supposed to be the first of at least a 3-part series.

The story takes place in modern day where Jamie Diggs is the great-grandson of Oscar Diggs, the original Wizard of Oz. Jamie and his family lives in Indiana, and aside from knowing his great-grandpa was a famous magician, he had now idea of his life in the fairy realm. His family opens up an old trunk of Oscar's, which contains several old magician items. This sparks Jamie's want to become a magician himself, but the illusionist-type and not the actual wizard-type. He joins up with the Brotherhood of Magicians, and learns some of the tricks of the trade. Two of his prizes which belonged to his grandfather are a mystical coin and a somewhat enchanted pocket watch. Later on, while exploring the woods near his home, Jamie ends up being transported to Oz. He is then taken by Polychrome to the castle of Glinda, where he mmets the good witch along with Ozma and Dorothy. Ozma reveals that she had Jamie brought to Oz so that he could be Dorothy's friend, and while he's there he realizes that he can use actual magic if the right choice of words are used in a spell. However, like all Oz stories, there has to be a main antagonist, and this time around its the trees! Apparently they're still p.o.'ed about from when Tin Woodman used to chop them down. It's unknown if he was the only woodchopper in Oz, otherwise they'd be campaigning against every ax-men there. Headed up by the disgruntled Leader of the Sycamore and his Council of Trees, the collected flora of Oz head out to the Nick Chopper's castle, but Jamie is able to use a magic spell to make them forget their hatred. Granted, the idea of just taking away someone's anger with magic is a little too easy. It's like if someone killed your brother, but your anger would cause some kind of major political upheaval or inconvenience for someone in authority, that using magic to give the victim amnesia about it somehow justifies it. This is one of the few flaws I always had with the Oz stories is that Ozma was shown as being a just ruler who cared for her people, but if someone was try to bring up something like women's liberation or the use of free magic which might shake up the system, the "monarchy" only wanted to set things to a state of stability without really wondering why an underappreciated party(in this case, talking trees)might have a legitimate reason for their grievance. But anyway, Jamie eventually goes back home to Indiana despite how much he and Dorothy seemed to have clicked.

The book follows a good narrative, mainly more for younger readers, although I'd recommend adding some illustrations to it in future editions. Copies of this are available in paperback at Amazon and Lulu, and the second volume is due out this spring.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Video Review: The Princess Of Oz

Eduard Cao put together an original independent film(which could be viewed as a "fan film")recently titled The Princess Of Oz. This was originally supposed to be a children's play that was turned into a movie as a take on The Marvelous Land Of Oz but with a few twists, like Dorothy being in the story(again?), along with Scraps the Patchwork Girl, Lion, and Tik-Tok.

The story involves mainly involves Dorothy coming across a strange peddler who presents her with her silver shoes last seen in Wizard Of Oz, and gets sent to Oz. There she runs across the girl Tip and Jack Pumpkinhead who she "grew in her garden". While this is going on, the witch Mombi allies herself with General Jinjur and her lackeys, the Jinjettes, as they plan to take over Oz. Sometime later, the living life-sized ragdoll Scraps befriends Jack P., and eventually the Scarecrow who is now King. The story unfolds to reveal the true heir to the throne of Oz(guess who!), plus Scarecrow and Scraps fall in love.

The movie is shot like an old silent movie, although there is spoken dialogue in it, and was largely inspired by the original Patchwork Girl Of Oz film from 1914. The production is currently incomplete, but Cao is planning on finishing it up sometime soon. There are clips of it, behind the scenes footage, and interviews with the cast and characters on Cao's YouTube page.