Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Equine Paradox

In this month's free TIGER TALE on our main website we offer the lyrics to L. Frank Baum's song "The Equine Paradox,"  from his 1905 flop stage musical The Woggle-Bug, which was an adaptation of Baum's second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904).   

It would be nice to imagine the song referred to the Sawhorse, but it really doesn't. The song featured music by Frederic Chapin.  

The short life-span of The Woggle-Bug musical has caused the original sheet music to be very rare today. But it has all been reprinted in our Complete Sheet Music from The Woggle-Bug.

Only a handful of song sheets survive - several of them in only one known copy! Hungry Tiger Press takes great pride in having collected all of them for you in a handsome and affordable volume.

All of the Woggle-Bug music that is known to survive is in this volume, including Paul Tietjens's "What Did the Woggle-Bug Say?". This volume also contains a reprint of the original Woggle-Bug program book, contemporary reviews, articles, and photographs. Plus a generous appendix featuring several songs from Chapin's 1902 hit, The Storks, and an informative foreword by David Maxine.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Wiz and Me - Part Two

Recently I blogged about the first time I saw the original Broadway tour of The Wiz on stage and how it pushed me into a career in the theatre.

I began my theatre work as a Production Assistant at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. In 1984 I was working on a musical that was being choreographed by a lovely woman named Carmen De Lavallade. On opening night I discovered that Carmen De Lavallade was married to Geoffrey Holder and that HE was coming to the opening night performance!

Geoffrey Holder was the director, costume designer, and artistic conscience of the original production of The Wiz. He is also an actor and he had recently played Punjab in the film version of Annie and was well known for his 7-Up commercials as the "un-cola" man. I mentioned to Carmen that I wanted to meet him and she said, "Of course!"

I'd had only a little warning. I called home and asked my mom to bring me my Wiz LP which she kindly did. I also borrowed the Polaroid camera from the stage management office and snapped one photo of him (see above).

Carmen introduced us, but he was on his way out to a party. There was only time for a quick hello. I told him The Wiz tour had been what made me go into theatre work. Then Geoffrey Holder signed my Wiz album. I wished we'd had a chance for a longer conversation - but that would have to wait until our next meeting.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sis Sez Sunday - 9

 Is it really Valentine's Day? No?

Phew, it's still August. That was close!

This Ruth Plumly Thompson and Marge cartoon originally appeared in King Comics No. 11 from February 1937.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Wiz and Me

Continuing along with these Ozzy memories from the 1970s, one of the most influential events in my life has to be seeing the national roadshow of the original Broadway production of The Wiz on February 24, 1979.

I had just seen the film version starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson a month and a half earlier when it had opened in December 1978. I had liked the film version well enough and was playing the double-LP soundtrack album a lot at home. After seeing the film I started playing the original Broadway cast album a lot, too. And I was now eager to see the stage show which was coming to town to play at Popejoy Hall on the University of New Mexico campus. This is where all the big touring shows and concerts played.

I bought two tickets to the show. I was going to see the matinee by myself, and my mom, sister, and I were going to see the evening performance that night. Somehow I felt a deep connection to the show - even though I had yet to see it

This was the first Broadway tour I'd ever seen and the magic and intensity of the performance were incredible. The brilliance of Geoffrey Holder's making the Tornado a human dancer, the faithfulness to Baum's story, the fact that Dorothy was such a believable little girl . . . well it all uhm . . . utterly blew me away!

The program book said Dorothy was to be played by someone named Debbie Malone. But there was a photocopied insert in the program saying that the role of Dorothy was NOW being played by Lillias D. White, and let me tell you, she gave and sang a performance for the ages! For those that might not know, Lillias White has gone on to become a legend and Tony Award winning Broadway star. You can read a bit about her here.

I loved the second performance just as much. I had really never seen "magic" happen on stage before. I don't mean tricks, smoke, and flying monkeys; I mean the stage disappeared and I was sucked into the show. Like when reading an Oz book and the words fade away and you're just absorbing the adventure. It was so wonderful and magical that I knew I had to be a part of it and try to make that happen for other people.

So I decided I must work in the theatre, and eventually I did. And that is why seeing a touring production of The Wiz was so influential to me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dorothy Goes Hollywood!

A few days ago in Jared Davis's Royal Blog of Oz, Jared was discussing Ruth Plumly Thompson's 1925 Oz book, The Lost King of Oz, and he made a historical connection that I have never heard anyone make before. Here is Jared's Lost King blog.

In The Lost King of Oz Thompson's story primarily focuses on old Mombi (the witch from The Land of Oz) and the long-lost King Pastoria (Ozma's father).  Halfway thru the book Dorothy is walking down the road, encounters a Wish Way, and accidentally send herself back to the United States for a brief visit. She "lands" in Hollywood where she stumbles on a film crew making a silent film. Having returned to the United States after so many years in Oz, Dorothy begins to age rapidly and is suddenly an adult young woman. Luckily she wishes herself back to Oz, the aging process is reversed, and all is fine."

The connection Jared made was pointing out that 1925 was also the year the silent film version of The Wizard of Oz was produced and how Thompson referenced the film in Lost King. This ghastly film starred Larry Semon as the Scarecrow, and Semon's real-life wife, Dorothy Dwan, as an all grown up Dorothy Gale. The film is truly quite loathsome.

But it seems pretty obvious (after Jared pointed it out!) that Thompson was indeed working a subtle reference to the 1925 film (and offered an excuse for Dorothy to be an adult in the film) into her 1925 Oz book. The additional character of Humpy, the live stunt-man dummy, is clearly another bow to 1925 Hollywood and the film.

In 1939 Thompson was told by the Oz book publishers to tie her 1939 Oz book, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, into the release of the 1939 MGM film. (I'll save all that for another blog.) So Jared's theory seems right on target.

So, ever wonder what Dorothy Gale would look like all grown up? Well, here she is! Perhaps she's wondering what on earth possessed Larry Semon to make such a bad film.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't BLOG a Book by its Cover

Well, actually, that's exactly what I'm gonna do!

Last week I had to purchase a lot of fourteen old books on eBay to get ONE that I wanted. The lot was poorly presented - just titles and a quick, dark photo of all the spines. But it listed a book I wanted. I bid. And I won. 

They just arrived. And after pulling out the book I'd been bidding on, I took a few minutes to see what other stuff was in the box. It was pretty much a lot of old crap: forgotten novels, cheap reprints of old poems, a few religious tracts. Eric was sitting beside me as I showed him the box of mediocre loot and he said, "Any of those have Denslow cover designs?"

I said I doubted it, that the only one with a halfway decent cover was a budget reprint of J. M. Barrie's novel A Window in Thrums. I pulled the book from the foot-high stack to show Eric and I said something like, "Well I'll be hornswoggled! It IS a Denslow cover!"

From what I can tell in the W. W. Denslow bibliography, this is a "stock" cover design that Denslow did for the publisher Donohue, Henneberry & Co. in 1899. It has been reported on several different books, including George Elliot's Adam Bede and Victor Hugo's Hans of Iceland. I have not actually seen any of these others so can't tell if the colors or imagery might have been different.

As you can see, Denslow provided a handsome but generic cover design. The main motif seems to be an assortment of wax seals and it's printed in jade green and dark red. Denslow's seahorse monogram appears in the lower right corner of the scroll on the front cover.

Hooray for accidental acquisitions!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pretty in Pink

When I was twelve or thirteen I was just starting to get serious about my Oz collecting. However, I had not yet joined the Oz Club, and rare Baum and Oz books were few and far between in Albuquerque in the mid-late 1970s. So I kept my eyes out for anything new and Ozzy that I could find: new picture books, coloring books, puzzles, toys, etc.

But one day I walked into a Walgreens and hit the Ozzy jackpot! There on an island display was a vast array of Wizard of Oz beauty products for little girls!  My heart leapt up! My pulse throbbed with Ozziness! I clasped my little hands together in Ozsome joy! And then it hit me!

How am I, as a twelve-year-old boy, ever going to be able to buy all of these delightful (but horrifically embarrassing) little girl's beauty products? Damn!

Well, I went home and told my Mom I'd found something I had to have. I needed an advance on my allowance. Then I invoked the "tried and true" cry that all Oz kids use on their parents: "Someday these will be so rare and valuable! It's an investment!"

I think I actually feared that there would be a "run" on little girl Oz bubble bath and explained that we had to hurry back to Walgreens. You see, I wanted my Mom to do the actual purchasing as I was far too mortified to purchase such dainty Oz collectibles myself.

We went back and I picked out one of each (plus a couple duplicates) and put them in our shopping cart. My little sister, who had accompanied us, gave me some very strange looks. Trust me - there is nothing in the world so embarrassing as having your little sister watch you buy little girl Ozzy cosmetics when you're just turning thirteen!

Well, I suffered through my humiliation, took my treasures home, and set up a display shelf in my bedroom. As you can see, the various products are really well made, and the designer put a lot of work into Ozzing them up. Each product has an Ozzy label, the sponge is shaped like the Wizard's balloon, the bars of soap have Kansas sunflowers on them. There's an atomizer cap for the Dorothy cologne. The "compact set" came with more Dorothy cologne, a little compact with Judy Garland on it, and a lip gloss!

The Ozzy Foaming Bath Beads gift set was a personal favorite. It came in a box that looked like a strip of film and the packets of bubble bath were presented as film frames. In the ensuing decades, the pink bubble bath powder has bled through the envelopes and discolored the pictures.

Interestingly, I have never seen any of these sets in anyone else's collection, at Oz con auctions, or even on eBay. Maybe most were bought by little girls who used them instead of little gay-boys who saved and protected them for future generations.

They were produced by the Ansehl Company of Saint Louis and each has a copyright to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for 1976. The back of each box describes the contents in an Ozzy way. Here's an example: 

"The favorite bath set of everyone in the Land of Oz. Here are bath delights to make any day extra special, especially for someone you like very much. Be sure to save the beautiful, authentic motion picture scene from The Wizard of Oz. Suitable for framing."

Sigh . . . I guess if I can blog about this, I can blog about anything!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Siz Sez Sunday - 8

All Aboard!

It's Sea Sick Sis Sez Sunday!

This Ruth Plumly Thompson and Marge cartoon originally appeared in King Comics No. 11 from February 1937.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ozma meets the Lorax

As almost all Oz fans know, August 21st is Princess Ozma's birthday. And while we could have birthday cake and a glass of Lacasa, I decided to present the story of Ozma and the Lorax.

However, in today's blog the Lorax is not Dr. Suess's  moustachioed, tree-loving furball, and Ozma is not our beloved Princess.

Instead Ozma is the name of a record album by the grunge band the Melvins produced by Boner records in 1989. There isn't any Oz content except for the album art, which is taken from John R. Neill's endpaper design for the original edition of The Emerald City of Oz. Note, too, that Ozma's crown has been redesigned to sport an M instead of a Z.

But there is one other Oz connection that some folks may not be aware of. The bassist for the Melvins was Lori "Lorax" Black. And Lori is the daughter of Shirley Temple. Shirley loved Oz from her youngest days, she is long rumored to have been a possible casting choice as Dorothy in the MGM Wizard of Oz film, and she eventually starred in the 1960 TV production of The Land of Oz where she herself played Princess Ozma! Little Lorax was six when her mom starred in The Land of Oz. Pictured above are Lorax, her mother, and The Beatles.

The Melvins' Ozma is really not my kind of music. I suspect it isn't a favorite in the Emerald City either - where, in fact, Eureka and Bungle have started a boycott of the album after they saw the photo of Lorax on the album's liner notes (see below). Apparently they don't like the way Lorax plays with her cat. I've told them that the cat actually doubles as Lorax's bass guitar. Happy Birthday, Ozma!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Dorothy Goes to Comic Con

So, I blogged a while ago about how hard it was to find the Dorothy of Oz trading cards at San Diego Comic Con. Well, that's because the Dorothy of Oz folks were stirring up a ruckus OUTSIDE of Comic Con on the streets of San Diego. And here's the YOU TUBE clip to prove it!

Of special interest to our readers are a few special appearances in the video. Long time Winkie Con attendees Barbara and Jeff Taylor can be seen at markers :53 and 3:14 in the video. And Ozopolis writer Kirk Kushin can be seen at markers 2:01 and 4:43 and a bit at the very end.

You can also spot an assortment of Star Wars stormtroopers, a zombie, and a Dorothy in a plastic Judy Garland wig. Ahhhh. . . . Comic Con!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Royal Podcast of Oz

Well, this will be an easy blog!

I'm simply going to suggest you listen to a podcast interview I did for Jared Davis's blog a few days ago.You can click on the podcast player below or go listen or download from Jared's web page at The Royal Blog of Oz

Powered by Podbean.com

So, give it a listen! I talk about how Hungry Tiger Press was founded, how I came to create Oz-story, and I offer a little background information on the Winkie Convention. There's lot of other cool stuff on Jared's blog, too, so take a minute and look around.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Read like an Egyptian!

Our latest Pawprint book, Sam Steele's Adventures - The Treasure of Karnak has gotten more than the usual amount of publicity. The latest is a nice review in the glossy British magazine Ancient Egypt. It just appeared in their August/September 2010 issue.

It's a very good review and I will quote the last few paragraphs:

"Written for teenage boys, it is perhaps surprisingly violent for its time, and its historical accuracy is of some dubious quality; but having said that, it is no worse than many novels set in Egypt written in the last one hundred years, when authors should have known better.

"This edition has an excellent introduction by Egyptologist David Moyer, who provides some background on the author, on the Egypt of the early 1900s and on the ancient period relevant to the novel. This is supplemented by extracts from Baum's own account of a trip he made to Egypt in 1906. 

"The Treasure of Karnak is a great historical thriller, designed to quicken the pulse of any red-blooded young male (and possibly even older ones too!)." The full review can be read on-line at the Ancient Egypt website.

If you've never read one of Baum's Sam Steele books - why not give this one a try?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ozma of Oz - the Marvel way!

Today you get a sneak-peak at the cover design for the first issue of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's adaptation of Ozma of Oz.It will be coming your way this fall from Marvel Comics.

Skottie's art is great! Dorothy Gale looks much the same as she did in Wonderful Wizard but she's gotten a Neillish haircut, Tik Tok is all wound-up for adventure, and all I can say about Billina is, "Bugs and worms, watch out!"

You can see some other cool things on Skottie Young's TweetPhoto page. Check it out!

The Marvel Ozma of Oz should really be super! I can hardly wait!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Keeping a Record

After writing a few days ago about how I was first introduced to Baum's Oz, I got to thinking about my earliest Oz memories, and that made me think of this record.

I probably saw the MGM Wizard of Oz film for the first time when I was four or five years old. I watched it on a small black-and-white television my parents kept in the kitchen. After I'd seen the movie this couple times, but before I'd discovered the Oz books, I can remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom staring at this record jacket and playing the record on my small phonograph. My Dad was a Hi-Fi nut and so of course I had my own phonograph from before I can remember.

This album is rather odd and it confused me greatly for a year or so. But I loved the cover art. I could look at it for hours - and did! The confusing part to my five year old self was separating the conflicting imagery on the album cover from my memories of the film. On the one hand the Scarecrow looks quite a bit like Ray Bolger; yet the Cowardly lion seems to be a real Lion. I knew the characters were portrayed by actors - my Mom had explained all that - and I'd heard all about Bert Lahr and Judy Garland. But how, I wondered, did Jack Haley get his legs inside those super narrow tin legs in the costume on the record album? And why does Dorothy look sorta ... well ... different? She reminded me of Kathy Garver on Family Affair but with a That Girl! flip hairstyle.

But the songs on the album were really confusing!  Side A features Disney Studio singers performing four songs from the MGM film - plus a song called "Happy Glow" subtitled The Scarecrow Song. Having only seen the movie two times at this point (and each viewing a year apart) my six-year-old imagination plugged this oddball song into my memories of the film. Side B of the album was even weirder. It featured songs from something called The Cowardly Lion of Oz. I paid little attention to this and think on the whole I didn't like the B side much. But I remember when I next saw the movie,  the year after I got the album, that I was really surprised when Margaret Hamilton didn't sing "Just Call Smarmy." In the year of playing the record to pieces, my imagination had smooshed this song into my memories of the film.

This Disneyland LP was originally released in 1969. That year The Wizard of Oz aired on March 9th. I suspect that I got the record shortly after seeing the movie on TV. I have one other major Oz memory from 1969. I was lying in bed and supposed to be asleep. I could hear my Mom and Dad in the kitchen watching the news on the little black-and-white TV that I'd watched The Wizard of Oz on a few months before. My Mom heard me stirring and she came in to check on me; she was obviously kind of upset. She said, "Honey, Judy Garland died tonight."

I don't think I knew exactly what it meant. But I remember asking her if we could still watch The Wizard of Oz on TV. I worried that if Judy Garland was dead, somehow the movie might cease to exist, too. Or perhaps I thought of it as something that was enacted live each year.

Mom assured me that we could still watch the movie. And of course we did. Who's to think one could get nostalgic for watching The Wizard of Oz on a ten inch black-and-white television with commercial interruptions.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ozzy Birthday to You!

This fine August 15th gets a second blog post to celebrate the birthdays of two of the original Royal Historians of Oz.

Jack Snow was born on August 15, 1907. He was of course the author of The Magical Mimics in Oz (1946), The Shaggy Man of Oz (1949), and Who's Who in Oz (1954). He also wrote many short stories for magazine Weird Tales and there are two collections of his short stories: Dark Music (1947) and, from Hungry Tiger Press,  Spectral Snow (1996).

Lauren Lynn McGraw was born on August 15, 1944. She is the co-author of both Merry Go Round in Oz (1963) and The Forbidden Fountain of Oz (1980). In recent decades she has been primarily a Fine Artist living and working under her new name Inanna McGraw. You can see some of her work at her website. You can also read the first three chapters from her uncompleted mystery novel Death by Dingbats in our free on-line Tiger Tales - Click here.

So Ozzy Birthday!

Sis Sez Sunday - 7

Well, Sis says that it's Sunday again and it's time to hit the slopes!

This Sunday's installment originally ran in King Comics No. 10 from January 1937.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eric and Skottie and Oz - Video

Today we share a 10 minute video treat from Brick and Tiger at One Shot Presents - an interview with Eric Shanower and Skottie Young on their double Eisner Award-winning Wonderful Wizard of Oz from Marvel Comics. It's a great little interview.

If you don't have a copy of the hardcover edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz yet, well don't delay!  Order one today! Marvel may not be keeping the hardcover edition in print after the paperback comes out next month. We still have about ten copies in stock at our on-line store. If you'd like to get an autographed copy, just let us know in the "special instructions" field when you're "checking out" and Eric will be happy to sign your book for you.

Oz about it?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Oz Connection

Well, lots of you posted comments that got us part of the way there! But Bill Campbell found a completely different way of connecting Jane Pellew to the Oz series than the one I had been looking for! Hooray! That's what makes it all so fun! Here's a bit more on how Jane Pellew in Kentucky connects to Oz.

As several of you have pointed out, Jane Pellew in Kentucky by Margaret Love Sanderson was published in 1936 by the Reilly and Lee Co. of Chicago. And Reilly and Lee was the publisher of the original Oz series.

But the book's connection to Oz is stronger than just that. Jane Pellew is actually a reprint of The Campfire Girls in Old Kentucky (1919) which was also published by Reilly and Lee and also credited to Sanderson. But the actual author of the book is Emma Speed Sampson who took over the writing of L. Frank Baum's Mary Louise series after his death. Sampson wrote three Mary Louise titles and two Josie O'Gorman titles, all using Baum's pseudonym Edith Van Dyne. And the final link in the chain connecting Jane Pellew in Kentucky to Oz is that L. Frank Baum was also the author of the Oz series.

Sampson also wrote books under her own name, but for the two series discussed here, she wrote under a pre-exisiting pseudonym: Edith Van Dyne for the Mary Louise books and Margaret Love Sanderson for the Campfire Girls series.

But how did we get from The Campfire Girls in Old Kentucky to Jane Pellew in Kentucky? Well in 1936, at the height of the depression, Reilly and Lee decided to repackage a handful of their series books in very cheap editions. They dubbed the new imprint "The Rei-Lee Adventure and Mystery Stories" and they printed the books on crappy paper and sold them for 25 cents a copy. The title change occurred because Reilly and Lee had lost or did not want to renew their license to call the series "Campfire Girls," so they simply retitled the book to omit the "Campfire Girls" trademark.

I think our little game of Oz Connection was a great success! Let's do it again sometime!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kevin Bacon in Oz

We're gonna try something a little different today!

Occasionally my Ozzier friends and I play a little game called Oz Connection. It's kind of a three-way combination of Ozian lore, Trivial Pursuit, and a pop-Culture quiz all rolled into a game approximating the party game called "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." It's an amusing thing to do while driving to an Oz Con. It goes something like this:

One person says, "E. B. White," and then another player must try and link E. B. White to Oz as closely and quickly as possible. While there are probably MANY different routes, the first to pop into my head was: E. B White wrote Charlotte's Web. In the 1973 film version, the voice of the Goose was contributed by Agnes Moorehead; and she played Mombi in the Shirley Temple television production of The Land of Oz. 

Ok - we're slightly nuts!

Anyway, I thought I'd try a little Oz Connection contest here on the blog. Up above, you have no doubt noticed the book cover for Jane Pellew in Kentucky. In the blog's "comments" tell me the Oz Connection. I'll post MY connection string in a day or two.

Possible Spoiler Alert!
In future Oz Connection posts (assuming I try this again) I should probably hold all comments for 24 hours so that as readers post responses they don't spoil the fun for others. So please add YOUR comments before looking at everyone else's comments. And just because someone has proposed a connection string doesn't mean there aren't other or better strings to be found.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You've Got To Be Carefully Taught - BLOG 50!

Wow! Fifty blogs in fifty days! It's really kinda surprising. Today you get the story of how I was introduced to Oz and the bizarrely coincidental twist that set everything in motion.

I had first seen the MGM film when I was about four or five, and I had liked it. But my real introduction to the real Oz was in second grade at Monte Vista Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where my teacher, Mrs. Strong, read us the Baum Oz books a few chapters a day after lunch. I was utterly hooked and soon made my Mom buy me the Rand McNally paperback Oz books that were just then being released. But there is a fascinating back story to all this that I didn't discover until thirty years later.

As many of you know, in the mid 1990s I became very interested in old, old recordings from the 1903 Broadway Wizard of Oz musical and I began researching and collecting 78s, wax recording cylinders, piano rolls, and the like. The first time I ever spoke publicly about old Oz records was at the 1996 Oz convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Jane Albright, who attended my talk, told me she'd recently heard from an Oz Club member in California who had several old Oz records. Jane suggested I contact her, which I did as soon as I got home. Her name was Virginia Hawthorn. We talked on the phone and Virginia sent me a tape with a number of Oz records on it, recordings of "Sammy" from the 1903 Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow and Tin  Woodman’s "Football Song," and even a record of some of L. Frank Baum's Father Goose jingles. I quickly found out that Virginia and her husband Tom also ran one of the best vintage recording auctions. I was soon buying lots of stuff from their auctions:  Very little Oz material, but lots of early 1900s pop music and vintage opera.

Well, Virginia and I became friends. We exchanged recording information on occasion. And after Eric and I moved to California, we would meet Virginia and her husband Tom a couple times a year at an old record show, or if Tom and Virginia were down in San Diego we might go to dinner.

Several years ago, Eric and I were visiting the Hawthorns at their home in Roseville, California, and as we were chatting over iced tea I mentioned that I grew up in Albuquerque. And Virginia said:

 "Wow, so did I! What part of the city did you live in? Where did you go to school?"

I rattled off various schools I'd attended - one of them being Monte Vista Elementary School where I'd gone for 1st and 2nd grade.

"I went to Monte Vista, too! Who were your teachers?"

"Well," I replied, "First grade was Mrs. Flanagan, and second grade was Mrs. Strong." (shown at right)

"I had Mrs Strong, too!"

In dumbfounded amazement, I said, "You know, it was Mrs Strong who introduced me to the Oz books!" Then the stars fell into alignment, Ozma smiled, and Virginia said,

“Well, I introduced the Oz books to Mrs. Strong!"

Virginia explained to me that when she had been in Mrs. Strong's class, a generation earlier, the class had been very large. And to calm the unruly kids down after lunch Mrs. Strong would read aloud to the class. She asked for book suggestions and little Virginia quickly suggested the Oz books and even brought a few in. Oz became a tradition in Mrs. Strong's class. For twenty-five years, until her retirement, she read the Oz books aloud to a group of eager six and seven-year-olds. I was one of the lucky kids.

So, as you've just finished reading blog fifty, it's important to realize that had Virginia not introduced Mrs. Strong to the Oz books, and had Mrs. Strong not made the Oz books into a classroom tradition, and had I not been in Mrs. Strong's class, well . . . there might just be no Tiger Talk blog, or Hungry Tiger Press, and Eric Shanower might be the husband of someone else!

Special thanks to Mrs. Lena Z. Strong and Virginia Hawthorn for affecting my life so thoroughly.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Josie and the Pussycats in Oz

No, not really. But sorta.

At San Diego Comic Con International I picked up a DVD of several episodes of the mid-1970s Saturday morning cartoon series Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space. I'd liked and watched the show as a kid. Alas, I can't say it holds up very well. But a most unusual realization occurred to me. Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space is almost assuredly one of the reasons I've always had a fondness for Ruth Plumly Thompson's most off-the-wall Oz book, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz (1939).

Many Oz fans kind of hate Ozoplaning. I agree it's a very atypical Oz book - it hardly even seems like an Oz book! - but it does have a lot of originality and action in it. It was also the last of Thompson's "official" Oz books and I've always kind of thought maybe she was just tired of Oz and decided to write her own fantasy and just  stuck the Oz characters in it to fulfill her yearly Oz book contract. Thus, while it isn't necessarily a good Oz book,  it is a good Thompson novel. In the book the Wizard has just invented a pair of magical airplanes. While he is showing these "Ozoplanes" to our Ozzy friends, one of the ships is accidentally launched and we're off on an adventure in the sky. While these things are called Ozoplanes, they really function much more like spaceships.

And here's where Josie and the Pussycats come in to it. On Saturday morning television in the early 1970s it seemed like everyone went to space! We '70s kids drank Tang, we ate Space Sticks, and we watched Josie and the Pussy Cats in Outer Space. Heck, even the Partridge Family went to Outer Space! So I think by the time I got around to reading Ozoplaning it had some goofy camp-appeal as a kind of Wizard of Oz in Outer Space thing. Josie and company begin their space adventure in much the same way the Oz characters do in Ozoplaning. It's an accidental launch in a vehicle no one knows how to fly and they get lost in space.

When I asked Eric Shanower to design a new cover for our Hungry Tiger Press edition of Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz a couple years ago, he drew exactly what I imagined and wanted. Amazingly, it looks a LOT like the Josie image at the top of this blog post! But then again, Josie's ship looks a lot like an Ozoplane! (See the model sheet for Josie's Spaceship at the bottom of this blog.)

While I readily admit Ozoplaning is a really weird Oz book, I must also admit I would REALLY love to have an Ozoplane of my own. I'd even settle for a toy Ozoplane!

So next time you sit down to read Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, don't bemoan the fact that it isn't in the same mold as Patchwork Girl, Merry Go Round, or Lost Princess. Just mix yourself a glass of Tang, dust off your beanbag chair, and realize that Ozoplaning far outshines Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space!

Monday, August 9, 2010

When in Amsterdam ...

In 2006 Eric Shanower journeyed to the site of the ancient city of Troy in northern Turkey. You can read his great report on his travels by Clicking Here. There are a lot of great photos, and a lot of terrific background information on Eric's Eisner Award-winning series Age of Bronze. You can also see photos of the all-blond Eric Shanower.

On the way home from Turkey Eric had to change planes in Amsterdam and he had a several hour layover. And knowing I have a fondness for foreign editions of the Oz books, Eric wandered into an antiquarian bookstore and found me a present! A copy of the 1940 Dutch translation of The Wizard of Oz titled De Grote Tovenaar van Oz. Hooray!

This edition is translated by Henrik Scholte and features handsome pictorial endpapers and many black and white illustrations by Rein Van Looy. This translation and Van Looy's illustrations have been reprinted multiple times most notably in the 1962 and 1971 editions of Wizard.

While Van Looy's cover is very much inspired by the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz film, his interior illustrations are much more his own. Interestingly, Rein Van Looy also illustrated the 1959 Dutch translation of Eloise Jarvis McGraw's Moccasin Trail.

Needless to say I was very pleased with my present. But do take a few minutes and read Eric's account of finding it in Amsterdam - or better yet read the whole travelogue!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sis Sez - 6

It's Sunday night and it's time to see what Sis is up to this week.

This Sunday's installment originally ran in King Comics No. 10 from January 1937.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Drink Me!

This is a  wonderful advertisement for a Return to Oz Ovaltine-like chocolate milk drink called Oz (Ozu in Japanese). The ad was originally published in the Japanese movie theater program for the release of Return to Oz in Japan in 1985. No example of the actual drink mix has come to light, but I'd be happy to try a glass of the stuff.

I'd also like to know what happened to the great Return to Oz costumes made for this advertisement. I want them!

Ok - we've had our Ozu chocolate milk, and it's time for bed. Phew! Just dodged the bullet again on the blog deadline! Back to normal schedule on Monday.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cave Men in Oz

Today has been very busy and for the first time there was a danger on no daily blog post. But I hate to break stride this early in the life of this blog. So you get ...

An original drawing by Dick Martin for The Ozmapolitan of Oz (1986). This was the the only Oz book Martin both wrote and illustrated. The drawing shows two prehistoric Ozzy cave dwellers. I'm not really very fond of the idea of Ozzy Cave Men. They just don't seem very ... Oz-like to me.

However, in one way this drawing is very Oz-like! Dick Martin based the characters' appearance on two long-time members of the International Wizard of Oz Club: Rob Roy MacVeigh and Robin Olderman.

Phew! Guess I dodged the daily blogging deadline just in time!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How Dorothy Got Carded

One of the most talked about of the Oz-related freebies at this year's San Diego Comic Con was a trading card set promoting the new film version of Roger Baum's Dorothy of Oz (1989).

The cards were highly talked about because no one could figure out where to find them! There was no Dorothy of Oz booth. Paramount didn't have a booth. So where were they to be found? Were you supposed to go wander the streets of downtown San Diego and hope you would stumble across them?

Actually, that's exactly what you needed to do to find a set! They were being handed out on the street a few blocks from Comic Con at Paramount's off-site venue. Someone botched the publicity on this one!

Ah well . . . eventually a friend of mine found them on the street and brought me a few. Other Oz friends dropped still more off at the table. And then I found one on the floor near the hot dog concession, so I ended up with several sets. Hah!

The cards are moderately attractive on the "character" side (shown above). Each card features a pencil sketch of one of the characters. But the back sides of the nine card set sport a lovely full-color painting of the Emerald City. If the movie looks like the Emerald City, it should be quite a treat - visually at least. Though I must say this is the most phallic Emerald City I have ever seen.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm doing Fuzzywell, thank you!

Continuing with the reports on my adventures at Comic Con, I hadn't looked to fill any holes in my Ruth Plumly Thompson King Comics collection for several years. But the various Thompson posts in this blog got me a little revved up - so on Wednesday "Preview Night" of Comic Con, things seemed a little slow and I headed off to browse a bit.

In half an hour I was back to our booth with a new treasure! King Comics No. 80  from December 1942. This issue contains Thompson's letter to the readers in which she, as Jo King, and the other characters from the comic strips tidy up the castle and do "War Work" This issue was published almost a year into World War II. There is also a full page "Pet Post," and finally a double-page short story, illustrated in color, called "The Adventures of the Fuzzywells."

This late into RPT's King Comics career, she was not always writing a story for each issue, so this is a nice little find. The "Fuzzywells" had first appeared in her children's page for the Philadelphia Public Ledger.

So that was the fun for Wednesday night of Comic Con. Now I just need a few minutes to sit down and read the story!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Monkey Prints

Another Ozzy discovery at Comic Con this year was a  very cool Winged Monkey print by Chet Phillips, called "The Refined Henchman."

The archivally produced (and signed) print shows a Winged Monkey sipping tea with an Ozzy stained glass window behind him (a detail from the image is shown at right). The entire image can be seen and a print ordered at this link.

Chet Phillips's illustration website focuses largely on his book The Society of Sinister Simians, which, in Phillips own words, "explores the mysterious world of an evil collection of vicious and power hungry primates that held sway over the land centuries ago. Thanks to the efforts of the ill-fated Sourcrust archeological dig of 1887, details of this foul organization have finally come to light. In this book you will learn of The Society's immortal leader, his powerful and brutal cadre of ministers and advisors as well as a variety of assassins, spies, soldiers and frightful supernatural figures."

There were several neat freebies with purchase of the Winged Monkey print and the Winged Monkey pin-back button at Comic Con: the Sinister Simians trading card puzzle, a Sinister Simians postcard, and a Steampunk Monkey Nation business card (shown at  right).

So check out the "Refined Henchman," Phillips's neat book, and a lot of other cool steam-punky monkey stuff.

"Fly!  Fly! . . . Fly!"

Monday, August 2, 2010

Winkie Con 2010

Today's TIGER TALK is written by Laura Gjovaag, editor of the Winkie Con newsletter and blogmaster of Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog where she writes about comics, life, and Aquaman.

Report on the 46th Annual Winkie Convention
Pacific Grove, California
July 23-25, 2010

The Winkie Convention started as usual with people slowly filling the courtyard in front of the Asilomar Conference Center's Fred Farr Forum. The Chairman for this year was Bob Baum, great grandson of L. Frank Baum (at left). Greetings were exchanged and friendships renewed. Each registration packet included a name tag, a pair of green glasses, the directory, a history of  the Winkies, and the Winkie Con Program Book.

During dinner in Crocker Dining Hall, this year's chairman Bob Baum announced that "not nobody not no how" was getting into the evening program without green glasses. After dinner, Freddy Fogarty led the group in a round of People Bingo in the courtyard. For those unfamiliar with the game, it is a bingo sheet with each square describing people who you might find at the convention.  This was a great success, as everyone scooted around asking, "When did you first attend a Winkie Convention?" and, "Did you come from out of state to the convention last year?" Carrie Hedges was the first to get a single row and Bill Thompson got the prize for filling in the entire sheet.

The evening program launched with a rousing Show and Tell. Quite a few people got up to show off treasures or to tell about news that had happened in the last year of interest to Oz fans.  It was a solid start to the evening. Afterward, Bob Baum insisted that everyone wear their green glasses and play along with a Buzz Word story.  Each key character was given a statement to say or action to perform - or both - as Bob read the story of Dorothy attempting to reach Winkie Con. The crowd was good, Clare Baum took pictures, and much fun was had by all.

Next came the Green Glasses contest. Contestants came up and the hope was that the cheering of the crowd would result in a clear winner. However, everyone cheered so loudly for each contestant that Bob made an instant executive decision to award prizes solely by height!  Aaron Almanza (on left in photo) and Eric Gjovaag took 1st place, Karyl Carlson and Laura Gjovaag took second, and coming in shortest were Lynn Beltz and Susan Hall (on right in photo).

The first formal presentation of the evening was Atticus Gannaway who offered an amazing look into the life and work of the lost illustrator of Oz, Frank Kramer, who illustrated The Magical Mimics in Oz and The Shaggy Man of Oz.  Although Atticus did not go into great detail about the lengths he went to in order to gather this information, the effort was clear in how much he was able to locate and bring to the attention of the audience.

After Atticus finished, Laura Gjovaag took the stage for a moment to announce that Eric Shanower and Skottie Young had just won an Eisner for their adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published by Marvel Comics.  A great cheer went up in the hall!  After the evening's events at Winkies, the pair went on to win a second Eisner for the same work at San Diego Comic Con, hundreds of miles away.

Next up, Gita Morena and Bob Baum (both great grandchildren of L. Frank Baum) gave a presentation on what it is like to be a part of the Baum family and how it affected them both growing up and as adults.

Saturday morning came gray and cloudy as usual for Pacific Grove. After breakfast the Winkies gathered in the Forum courtyard for the Masquerade.  This year we had only three entries. Karyl Carlson came as Queen Ann visiting the Emerald City. Susan Hall made for a very grumpy Ruggedo, demanding her magic belt from a strangely absent Dorothy and scowling at the balloons that various people attempted to convince her were big yellow eggs.  And a strange new character was Eric Gjovaag as Ozzie McTavish, power hitter and center fielder of the Emerald City Green Sox, hoping that someone will write him into an Oz story.  McTavish also boasted of defeating the Narnia Lions and the Wonderland White Wabbits in the championship, and explained that the Emerald City Green Sox are the only big league team in Oz. The Munchkin Minor League team produces a lot of shortstops. 

Larry Hollister announced the start of the treasure hunt and set out instruction sheets.  People began to hunt for the pieces immediately, including one found before Larry finished announcing the hunt..

People headed to the Afterglow Living Room to tackle the Quiz. The Quizzard this year was Susan Hall.  There was a tie for 1st place, both winners getting 26 out of 30 questions correct.

After the quiz, Freddy Fogarty (on left) started the Returning to Oz Collector's Roundtable.  This was a lively and educational discussion of the movie Return to Oz and the merchandise available related to it. Everyone had a good time.

After lunch the auction preview was opened up by Bill Thompson. The auction ran briskly this year, with many great treasures ending up with new owners. A first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz went for $2,600.

As counter-programming to the auction, Margaret Koontz opened the Wizard's Workshop where people could work on various art efforts, including helping Karyl Carlson put together a copy of Dick Martin's Cut-and-Assemble Emerald City.

Dinner at Crocker Dining Hall had a number of excellently dressed up Winkies showing off their good looks and good taste, as it is Winkie tradition to dress up a little (or a lot, depending on how you feel) for Saturday dinner.

After dinner the evening program started with Peter Hanff's announcement of awards and prizes:
  • The winner of the Masquerade was Susan Hall as Ruggedo.
  • Nathan Hollister won the treasure hunt with 63 points.  He will be in charge of the hunt next year.  Kevin Thomas came in second with 51.5 points. The half point came from finding one of the pieces of last year's treasure hunt!
  • The Quiz winners Hal Koontz and Eric Gjovaag were honored, and Eric stated that he will be next year's Quizzard.
  • The Winkie Award was presented to this year's chairman, Robert Baum.

Up next were Frank and Maud Baum, who magically appeared in front of us while Robert and Clare Baum vanished.  Frank told the enthralled crowd about his creation of the Oz books, along with all the various efforts at making a living he tried before writing, and even going back to meeting his wife and being worried about her mother.  Near the end of the presentation, Maud told the crowd that Frank had planned to link the Oz books with a movie studio and toy line, beating Disney to the punch . . . if he had lived.

Peter Hanff presented a review of this year's theme book, The Emerald City of Oz, going through the artwork page by page and retelling the story.  A great many details of the artwork were revealed, including some very strange bits.  Peter ended the tale with the note from the book telling readers that Oz was cut off from the rest of the world, leading to a compelling moment of complete silence.

After a break to allow everyone to recover from the shock, Bob Baum took the microphone again to give a presentation by David Maxine on The Flying Girl.  A virtual history of flying was given as we learned how Baum did his research and created the Flying Girl books. Bob's in-flight announcements got everyone grinning.

Sunday morning was cool and cloudy. After breakfast the crowd was introduced to Scott Cummings, the Editor-in-Chief of The Baum Bugle, who gave a short presentation on the Bugle and his plans for the future.  He then opened the floor to questions and criticism, and a good discussion was held on the history and future of the Club's magazine.

Next, Bob Baum presented a collection of rare photos and postcards from Macatawa, the summer resort on Lake Michigan where L. Frank Baum and his family summered for a few years.

This year's Winkies was a great success and everyone had a marvelous time! The Winkie Program Book (on left) is astoundingly beautiful and will certainly be an Oz collector's item going for beaucoup bucks in 2050. The theme is The Emerald City of Oz and the book contains several articles on the subject.  Supplemental material for some of the presentations was printed in the book: a gallery of Frank Kramer artwork researched by Atticus Gannaway is one of the jewels, reproducing many Kramer works that Oz fans are unlikely to have seen before.  

Next year's Winkie Con will be held July 8-10th, 2011, at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California. Hope to see you there.

- Laura Gjovaag