Sunday, December 25, 2011

Santa Claus in Oz

Alot of people aren't aware that Old St. Nick is a regular resident in the world of Oz. L. Frank Baum wrote one of the world's first full origin stories of him back in 1902 titled The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus which covered Claus' entire life from infancy to his elder years. Claus is a child who is found and raised by the immortals in the Forest of Burzee, which is one of the countries in the Nonestica realm that lies across the Deadly Desert southwest of Oz. Burzee is also used in other Baum stories like Queen Zixi Of Ix. The land is ruled by Queen Zurline, who is possibly related to Lurline, the fairy queen who created the land of Oz. Another tie into the Oz stories is that the Nome King(here pronounced "Gnome")was one of the fairy folk who assisted Claus in his toy delivery business, although it's been suggested that its actual a different character altogether. Possibly "gnomes" are a completely seperate race than nomes in the Oz universe, which would make sense since nomes were a bunch of jerks that probably wouldn't really care about children. This book has been adapted several times, including a Rankin/Bass TV special, an anime series, and a made-for-video animated movie. There was a new animated film planned about a year ago, but no new updates has appeared as of now.

Following that, Baum did a short sequal, A Kidnapped Santa Claus, where a group of demons plan to stop Santa's plans to spread joy by kidnapping him. The fairies of Burzee fight the demons back to rescue Santa. This story has been adapted into a graphic novel, as well as probably slightly incluencing The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Prior to this though, Santa had his first crossover with the folks from Oz in the series of short stories Baum did for newspapers titled Queer Visitors From The Marvelous Land Of Oz(also sometimes retitled The Visitors From Oz). In this, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Saw-Horse, Jack Pumpkinhead, and Wogglebug are on a journey through America visiting Dorothy, and seeing the sights. They decide to get into the Christmas spirit by making small toy versions of themselves to give to the children of the world. They use the Gump to catch up to Santa on his sleigh and give him the toys to deliver, but loose a race between the Gump and Santa's reindeer.

The last official time we see Santa in the same continuty of Oz is during the fifth Oz book, The Road To Oz. Santa is one of the guests at Princess Ozma's birthday party. In fact he's given the place at the other end of Ozma at the huge table where all the Emerald City heroes and guests from other Baum novels make appearances, like Queen Zixi, and representatives from Merryland.

Christmas is possibly not celebrated as much on its own in Oz, at least as far as the original Baum stories. There is a Christmas episode of the Oz Kids animated TV series, plus a similar holiday called "Lurlinemas" is a mainstay in the Wicked books by Gregory Maguire which is basically Christmas but celebrating the fairy queen Lurline. Anyway, hope you have a great holiday season, whether in or out of Oz!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Comic Review: Ozma Of Oz (Marvel Comics)

Well, Marvel's treatment of the Oz books keeps getting better with their version of the third book, Ozma Of Oz, which was released as an 8-issue mini-series. Eric Shanower adapts it to comics, and Skottie Young has returned to masterfully handle the artwork.

We finally bring Dorothy back to the fold, who falls off a ship at sea with her chicken friend Billina, and wind up in the land of Ev. They free the steampunk robot Tik-Tok, then get imprisioned by the head-changing Princess Langwidere, the acting "head" of Ev. She's then rescued by Princess Ozma, and all her old friends from Oz. Ozma has travelled across the Deadly Desert to free the royal family of Ev from the wicked Nome King. When the heroes finally arrive at the nomes' underground dominion, the Nome King tricks most of them into becoming parts of his ornament collection, but they're saved by Billina's eggs which are like Kryptonite for nomes. After seizing the Nome King's magic belt, they restore the Ev royal family, go back to Oz, and eventually send Dorothy back to her Uncle Henry in Australia.

Not much was changed from the original version of the book as far as the story or content is concerned. There are some differences in the way the characters look and seem to act. Tik Tok has kind of a Mario Bros. mustache, although I miss his helmet, but he was certainly more livelier than normal and less mechanical. Princess Langwidere has a very Grecian look to her, as if she's out of a piece of renaissance art. Billina appears more onery than normal, and Hungry Tiger is like a large plushie. The nomes are especially creepy being short little hair guys with jagged teeth, and the Nome King is a very spooky as a shorter twisted version of Santa Claus with a bad haircut. We get to see more of Ozma(especially since she's the title character)who this comic illustrates well how new to the idea of being a ruler she is, as Ozma's determination to free the Ev royal family seems to cloud what better judgement she might have. Dorothy is slightly older with a shorter and lighter haircut, but not as curly as in the original book.

Marvel did a great job promoting this, and has kept it as one of their top-selling titles. There are alternate covers to Issue #1, and a hardcover collection. A paperback graphic novel will be released sometime in 2012, just around the time when Dorothy Of And The Wizard In The Land Of Oz finishes its print run.

Emeralds: Special Edition in print & digital!

After a while, we now have a brand new Special Edition of Emeralds: Hearts In Oz in print. This is an expanded 36-page book in prestige format digest paperback at We also have this same version for download at There will be printed comic editions available from Mini-Komix by the end of January. Please check them out now!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oz Video Of The Month: Patchwork Girl Of Oz stage performance

The Los Angeles Choreographers And Dancers is a creative group of performers that recently did another season of their dancing stage version of The Patchwork Girl Of Oz. This just played in L.A., and will be in N.Y. next month. The video shows work from their prior versions of this show, as well as some other performance.

Video Review: Tom And Jerry & The Wizard Of Oz

Two of MGM's most enduring properties have been the Tom And Jerry cartoons, and the 1939 movie of The Wizard Of Oz. So it was possibly only a matter of time when it was decided to merge both of them in one production. Tom And Jerry And The Wizard Of Oz is a new title from Warner Home Video in their ongoing series of Tom And Jerry animated flicks that takes a cue from Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead where this story takes place in the context of the original movie story, but Tom and Jerry could've been seen as secondary characters who get taken along for the ride along, with a few of the other regular Tom And Jerry characters making cameos.

In this storyline Tom and Jerry are workers on the Gale farm(but not farm animals!), and promise Aunt Em to stop fighting to watch after Dorothy(apparently Toto isn't smart enough to do that!). But then, the twister carries them along with Dorothy and Toto to Oz, where Tom And Jerry are informed by a Munchkin mouse named Tuffy about Dorothy's arrival. The three of them head down the Yellow Brick Road, and get into a situation at a bridge similar to the Kalidah scene from the book. After getting hassled by some crows come, they across the Wicked Witch of the West(convincingly voiced Laraine Newman), who gets her wand broken for her troubles. After getting reunited with Dorothy and her three new friends, they go to the Emerald City. They get into the usual schpeel of touring the city while meeting the Wizard, and revieve their marching orders to go get the Witch's broom. Dorothy gets captured by the flying monkeys, so Tom and Jerry disguise themselves as Winkie guards to sneak in the Witch's castle. They discover Droopy working there as an instructor, and get chased all over the place only to find him wherever they hide at, but eventually find out the Witch's weakness to water. Tom, Jerry, and Tuffy then go through an exuberantly long routine to get a bucket of water, and then finally splash it on the Witch. They then return to the E.C. to reveal that the Wizard's a fake. He agrees to take Dorothy back home by balloon, although she misses her flight. Glinda shows up to give the deus ex machina of getting everyone back to Kansas.

I have to admit I did like this to an extent. They managed to make it a good balance between one of the numerous Tom And Jerry made-for-video animated movies and the original Wizard Of Oz. The film also gives the Oz regulars a good look, although I thought Dorothy might've looked a little too much like a Disney princess. It was directed by Spike Bradt who has done other Tom And Jerry features as well as some of the current Looney Tunes shows, and his appreciation for classic 50s-60s cartoons shows in this production. It's a good watch at least for a rental or whenever its on TV for regular Oz fans, although most modern day youngins might not totally appreciate it.