Thursday, September 2, 2010

Color Plates and Smoke Alarms

Many Oz folk have an assortment of Ozzy Collector's plates. I drew the line after the 1970s' Knowles set. Factory-produced, limited edition tchotchke just isn't usually my thing.

But I do have three Ozzy plates that are unique and kind of special to me. They were hand painted by Rob Roy MacVeigh. He was a long time Oz Club member and a Seattle-based film maker and animator.

All three of these were painted at the 1983 Winkie Con. Rob was often struggling for money. And to defray his convention costs he was trying to make a few dollars by doing little Oz paintings.

Rob usually did more elaborate drawings on illustration board. But he was tired and wanted to do something fast and easy. He had recently stumbled on the idea of painting on these very thick and sturdy disposable paper plates. They took watercolors beautifully, they were rigid and east to paint on, and were also very easy to transport.

He had made about ten for the convention and they'd quickly sold. He'd only asked five or ten bucks apiece. I hadn't bought any and they were gone. But during the Saturday night party at the con Rob pulled out his watercolors and a stack of fresh plates and started to do a few more. I asked for a Scarecrow and a Cowardly Lion. We sat side by side on the hotel room floor and I watched him paint the two plates I was buying.

This 1983 Winkie Con was the last one held at the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite, California. In Oz club circles this con has become kind of legendary - especially the 1983 Saturday night Winkie Con party! Sometime after midnight, after Rob had painted quite a few additional plates for folks, he said he couldn't do any more. But Rob just enjoyed drawing and after awhile he started another plate for his own amusement. Rob had been drinking and smoking for a couple hours, and he was very mellowed out. He began to paint a plate in honor of the 1964 Rankin-Bass television movie Return to Oz.

Rob painted Rusty, Socrates, and Dandy. And around the rim of the plate he added a few lines from Dorothy's song in the film: "Oz just can't continue without me - I gotta go back, I gotta go back, I gotta go  back!" I thought the plate was kind of darling; and Rob gave it to me.

Oh, but that party! Thirty or so Oz fans were crammed into an old Victorian hotel room. People had been drinking and smoking and everyone was very Ozzy! Party guests included Royal Historians Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Lauren Lynn McGraw. And one Oz club member had taken it upon himself to sing Stephen Sondheim's "I Never Do Anything Twice," despite the fact that he'd sung the song many times before!

But around 1:00 AM a security guard came knocking and said the talking was too loud and to please keep it down. Some old judge had the room above and apparently he was not amused. So we all hushed up and talked much more quietly.

All was well until the smoke from the cigarettes and a pipe set off the room's smoke alarm! A well-meaning Oz fan climbed up on a chair and was half way through pulling the battery from the screeching smoke alarm when we all realized the security guard had returned and was standing in the open doorway. The party was over. Except for the half dozen of us who relocated to Eric Shanower's room and things got so crazy that at one point a slice of cold pizza flew across the room. Incidentally, this was the Oz con where Eric and I met. It really was a great party - and I still have my plates!


S.P. Maldonado said...

I love Rob Roy MacVeigh's style. Those plates are great. I wish I could have met him.

Colin Ayres British Fan Of Oz said...

So jealous you got to meet Eloise Mcgraw!
If memory serves from reading the forums and Hungry Tiger website over the years this was not the last time either.

I have Everything crossed still for my attendance at Winkie con 2012.

David Maxine said...

There will be many more blogs about Eloise in the coming months - including some on the creation of her third Oz book THE RUNDELSTONE OF OZ which I edited and published.

She was very important to me.

Colin Ayres British Fan Of Oz said...

I shall look forward to the further blogs I really enjoyed all three of her Oz books.
I am contemplating getting some of her non Oz books as a result.

Tim Tucker said...

I'll always remember my first convention (Ozmopolitan 1992), where I got to meet Rob Roy, Eloise, Bill Eubank and Warren Hollister. Rob got the LFB Award that year.

Rob and Bill were both dead within a year, Warren a few years after that, and Eloise in 2000.

I wasn't able to afford another convention until 2000. If I hadn't had attended that one convention, I would have missed them all.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

If I only had had a little money ... I would gladly have plied Rob Roy with twenties. I miss him, and wish I'd really gotten to know him. I loved his art from the first!

Hm. That party ...

David Maxine said...


And YOU were there at the party!

Ozmahime said...

You have so many amazing stories to tell...

Sounds like your first meeting with Eric was memorable. Oz brought you two together, how absolutely darling.

It's been a long time since I've gone to any kind of convention... I'll have to make a point of changing that.

Jay said...

Heheh... The Winkies party was a total surprise to me. I didn't hear about them until the Saturday I was at Winkies. Peter Hanff walked up to me and noted I hadn't been at the party last night.

"There was a party last night?"

I made a point to be there Saturday night!

So, reading this lets me know it's a time honored tradition.

I wish I could have met Rob Roy MacVeight. I overheard someone at Winkies say that he regarded the Winkies to be his family.

David Maxine said...

It is very much a time-honored tradition!

Karylc said...

I guess I got some of the rest of them. I have all of the Fab Four. Plus i'm sure I had the Wicked Witch at one time but can't find her. I found round frames and put them behind non reflective glass to preserve them.
Karyl Carlson