Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Return to Oz on the Silver Screen

This last Sunday, November 28, 2010, Eric Shanower and I had a marvelously Ozzy day!

First we made a visit to L. Frank Baum's grave in Forest Lawn. This was the first time we had been there. It was really nice and I'll talk a bit about that in a blog later this week.

The reason for our day out was to attend an Ozzy double feature. Both the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz and the 1985 Disney Return to Oz were being shown at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. And if that wasn't draw enough, Return to Oz Director Walter Murch was scheduled to be on hand for a Q&A session after the screenings. However, Sunday morning it was announced that the star of the film, Fairuza Balk, would also be appearing!

It was very interesting to see the two films back-to-back. And I liked Return to Oz better than I ever have before, too. Maybe I'm just so aware of its few shortcomings that I'm just not as bugged by them anymore. It was a great day, a great evening, and several other Ozzy friends joined us for the fun.

Of course Eric and I dug a few things out to be signed by Fairuza and Mr. Murch.

Walter Murch and Fairuza Balk on set during Return to Oz

I was happy to find the photo (above) among my Return to Oz images. It shows Murch directing Fairuza on set during the shooting of the film - so it seemed perfect! As you can see they both signed it! Hah!

David Maxine & Fairuza Balk
In the Q&A Murch showed a surprisingly thorough knowledge of Baum's life and career. He also told of reading The Tin Woodman of Oz when he was a kid and how strongly he was affected by the scene where the Tin Woodman has a conversation with his old "meat" head.

Fairuza told of her audition process for the film, and of reading the Oz books as a kid, too, and most interestingly told of a dream she had just before shooting on the film began, where Judy Garland was scolding her and demanding the return of her shoes! Fairuza also told of a day she'd been tired and frustrated and ran away from the set. She went and hid on the back lot at Elstree Studios. She was very generous with her fans afterward, too.

It was a great evening.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Programs! Get Your Programs!

In 2009 I served as Chairman of the Winkie Convention, the largest and longest-running of the International Wizard of Oz Club's annual Oz conventions.

One thing I did in 2009 was to produce and publish an elaborate Program Book for the convention. It contained not only the basic necessities: schedule, maps, information on mealtimes, etc. But I also included a lot of bonus material, interviews with the speakers, bibliographies, essays on the conference's theme by respected Ozian writers, illustrators, and scholars. The 2009 Program contained contributions by: Ray Bradbury,  Gregory Maguire, Eric Shanower, John Fricke, J. L. Bell, Edward Einhorn, and Michael O. Riley. Also a pin-up gallery containing new Ozzy art by Skottie Young, Tommy Kovac, Joe Phillips, Eric Shanower, and Steven Weissman. There was a good deal of other stuff, too, filling out the book's 128 pages. The cover was reproduced from the original painting Michael Herring did for the 1978 Del Rey edition of The Road to Oz.

I was so pleased with the response the book got that we decided to make it a tradition and I prepared a Program book for the 2010 convention as well. This year's volume contained essays by Robert Baum, Edward Einhorn, Judy Bieber, Booklist columnist Michael Cart, and Atticus Gannaway. Bonus features included an art gallery by illustrator Frank Kramer, excerpts from Baum's Flying Girl novel, and a large portion of the 1932 comics adaptation of The Emerald City of Oz, as well as a couple extremely rare items from the Baum Family.

The tradition will continue in 2011 when I am again serving as Chairman for the Winkie Convention and we will again have a deluxe Program Book. But we have a new twist! For several reasons we need people to register as early as possible this year. As an incentive, all people who register on or before December 1, 2010, will receive a hardcover copy of the 2011 Program Book! This may seem like short notice, but the information has been included in all our mailings and on the Winkie Convention tab in the header of this blog. This is just a final bit of encouragement! The cover for 2011 will be a new full-color wraparound image created for the Program Book by Eric Shanower. Just to be clear - All Con attendees will receive the paperback version of the program! The hardcover edition is a thank you gift for the early registrants.

If you want to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to print the Registration Forms from the PDF below and send them to the Registrar listed on the forms. Please try to make sure your letter is postmarked by December 1st! Or contact the Registrar at phanff@library.berkeley.edu and tell him it's on the way. The Registrar can also answer any questions about this.

It's gonna be a great Convention and a great Program Book! Don't miss out!

You can download our PDF Registration Forms at the link below:

Sis Sez Sunday - 22

Sis sure doesn't relish her job at the hot dog stand! And How!

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 24, in March 1938. If you love Marge's Little Lulu you're sure to get a kick out of Sis!

Please note that if you click on the image it will expand to a full-size version which will make it much easier to read! All of the other blog images will similarly enlarge.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When I Think of Home

I found this great video of Stephanie Mills performing "Home" from The Wiz. Mills, of course, created the part of Dorothy in The Wiz back in 1975 on Broadway, and she went on to play Dorothy in both the 1984 and 1992 revivals as well. I saw Stephanie Mills three times in the 1992 revival. She was extraordinary!

Despite being thirty-five years old in the 1992 revival, she was absolutely convincing as a little girl. She wasn't even playing Dorothy as a teenager. Dorothy in the stage version of The Wiz is probably at the most twelve. One thing that helped incredibly, besides Mills's singing and acting, was the fact that she is very short. Probably less than five feet. So the rest of the cast towered over her.

The video below is not from the stage version. It is a music video of Mills performing the song as she did on her 1989 album called Home. She dedicates the song to her friends from Oz - meaning not the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, but Wiz composer Charlie Smalls and Wiz producer Ken Harper, both of whom had died shortly before the album was recorded. In the video you can see a photo on Mills's make-up table of her as Dorothy. She opens a trunk and looks through some of her Wiz memorabilia, including her Silver Shoes, and at the very end she fondly touches a photo of composer Charlie Smalls. Give it a listen!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tastes Like Chicken!

To all of our readers in the United States, Happy Thanksgiving!

In celebration of Turkey Day here's a sneak-peak at Skottie Young's cover for Marvel Comics' Ozma of Oz No.4.

As you can see, the Hungry Tiger is delighted to meet Dorothy and Billina. We'll just have to hope his conscience holds firm and Billina makes it to issue No. 5! It's not too late to start reading Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's adaptation of this L. Frank Baum classic!  Issue one is in comic stores now!

And if you need to start at the very beginning, the collected editions of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz are available in our on-line store.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Kramer!

Today is the birthday of Oz illustrator Frank Kramer who was born November 23, 1905. He would have been 105 today.

Kramer illustrated both of Jack Snow's Oz books, The Magical Mimics in Oz (1946) and The Shaggy Man of Oz (1949), as well as many sci-fi and fantasy stories for magazines such as Unknown Worlds.

I tried to contact Frank Kramer back in the late 1980s in hopes of getting an interview with him. There was a lot of mystery surrounding how he came to illustrate his Oz books - but I must admit I also hoped I might be able to get Kramer to sign a couple books for me. But it didn't work out. Kramer was too ill to communicate with fans by that point. But I did speak briefly with his wife. Kramer died in 1993.

In the last couple years Oz researcher, and former Baum Bugle editor, Atticus Gannaway has filled in many of the holes in Kramer's life and history, for which I am very grateful.

While I never did have the chance to get Frank Kramer to autograph a book for me, I was lucky enough to find a copy of Magical Mimics that he'd autographed for a little girl back in 1946 when the book was new. You can see the inscription below.  Happy Birthday, Mister Kramer!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Eating in Oz

When Eric Shanower and I were in Bristol, England, on the recent Age of Bronze tour, we were taken out to eat at a restaurant with a most unusual name!

The Oz Restaurant served Turkish cuisine. Both the food and the drink were delicious. The Oz restaurant served a dish called Oz, too. It was lamb.

We spent a splendid evening with a dozen or more participants in the Imagines II Conference, which took place at Bristol University. The conviviality and conversation among a diverse crowd of folks from a couple continents made for a fine and memorable time.

We first arrived for dinner at the restaurant after dark one evening--too dark for a good photo. But when Eric and I saw the name of the restaurant, we knew we had to return to snap a quick record of our meal in Oz.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sis Sez Sunday - 21

Gosh! Yesterday you read all about Ruth Plumly Thompson's typewriter! I sure am glad she didn't use that typewriter in the bath tub! But I wonder if some of her Oz book ideas happened upon her while she was soaking?

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 24, in March 1938. If you love Marge's Little Lulu you're sure to get a kick out of Sis!

Please note that if you click on the image it will expand to a full-size version which will make it much easier to read! All of the other blog images will similarly enlarge.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Today's blog is the tale of a typewriter - Ruth Plumly Thompson's typewriter to be exact.

In 1985, Thompson's niece, Dorothy Maryott, decided it was time to part with a few of her aunt's things and she donated RPT's typewriter to the Ozmapolitan Convention to be auctioned off. This preposterous collectible had to be mine! MINE!

I had read in The Baum Bugle how pioneering Oz collector C. Warren Hollister owned the pencil that L. Frank Baum had used to write The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I thought to myself ... Hah! This will be my Baumian pencil stub! But I knew there would be some bidding competition - perhaps even from Warren Hollister himself! I began my pre-auction negotiations.

Most of the folks that I viewed as "competition" saw my youthful eagerness and said they'd give me a clear shot. But, DRAT! Warren Hollister had the notion that it would indeed be a good companion piece for his pencil stub.

Warren and I talked, I tried my best pitiful look, and we eventually struck a playful bargain. He agreed not to bid on the typewriter; and I agreed that if at any other auction I was bidding against him he could say the word "typewriter" and I'd stop bidding. Done deal! By now you may have already surmised that I went on to win the typewriter.

I must add that this is not RPT's typewriter from when she was writing her early Oz books. It was her typewriter from the early 1950s until her death in 1976. But it was the typewriter she used to write Yankee in Oz and The Enchanted Island of Oz.

The typewriter came in its case (see above) and even included RPT's typewriter cleaning kit!

After the auction, I heard that Dorothy Maryott wanted to talk to the young man that had bought her aunt's typewriter. She found me a bit later that afternoon and congratulated me on my win. Then she said that she had something she thought I might like to have to go with the typewriter.

She pulled a small bit of folded blue fabric from her handbag. She had withheld it from the auction - unsure if she really felt like parting with it. But after she saw my youthful excitement at winning, she decided that maybe I should have it after all.

It was a dustcover Maryott had made for the typewriter while her aunt was writing The Enchanted Island of Oz.

It was decorated with an applique showing Humpty Bumpty, the camel from what would be Thompson's final Oz book. I happily accepted the dustcover as a gift.

And that is how I came to own RPT's typewriter and sign off today's blog post with it, too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Princess Langwidere - Cover Girl!

I thought everyone might like a sneak-peak at the amazing cover for issue No. 3 of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's Ozma of Oz coming from Marvel Comics in January.

It shows the lovely Princess Langwidere trying to get ahead by posing as this issue's cover girl. Skottie's covers and art work for Ozma of Oz have been looking really great! Spread the word and tell your friends to try the series! Heck, buy an extra copy and give it to a young friend. Come on ...

And remember that the hardback collections of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Marvelous Land of Oz are available from our on-line store. They make great gifts for the holidays! Just click on the titles to check them out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Return to Oz - Putting the Pieces Together

So many of our readers have a fondness for Walt Disney Studios 1985 film, Return to Oz, that I thought I'd share another cool RTO item today. This is one of the British jigsaw puzzles produced by the Falcon Company. They are really cool! Mainly because they feature original artwork - not movie stills or the Drew Struzan poster art. If you click on the image below it will enlarge and you can see tons more detail!

And for all the Return to Oz fans in southern California there will be a screening of a 35mm print of Return to Oz at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on November 28, 2010 at 7:30 PM. Of special interest is a Q&A after the screening with the film's Director, Walter Murch. And for the MGMers among you, the 1939 Wizard of Oz film will have a screening the same day at 4:00 PM. Here's a link.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Come to Oz This Summer!

Today's blog is a gentle reminder that we'd love to have you join us for the fabulous Oz convention this summer! It's being held in beautiful Pacific Grove, California. It's going to be a great weekend! But I wanted to remind everyone that as a thank you gift for registering before December 1, 2010, you will receive an exclusive hardcover copy of The 2011 Winkie Convention Program Book.
Winkie Con 2011
July 8th to 10th, 2011
Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove, California

Join us for the 47th annual Winkie Convention! A conference celebrating all things related to L. Frank Baum and his Wonderful Land of Oz. 

This year’s programming chairman, David Maxine, invites you to come and celebrate the 100th anniversary of Baum’s underwater fairytale The Sea Fairies and the 80th anniversary of Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Pirates in Oz. What could be better than pirates and mermaids in Oz?

Our guests of honor will be Tommy Kovac, writer of the acclaimed new comic book series The Royal Historian of Oz, and Kirk Kushin, writer of the new comic book series Ozopolis. Oz writer and artist Eric Shanower will take you on a visual tour of the deep as we explore our theme of Oz Under the Sea. 

Other convention highlights include a terrific new documentary on Fred Stone, who played the Scarecrow in the 1903 Broadway Wizard of Oz musical, featuring rare film footage of Stone in action. You’ll see a presentation on W. W. Denslow's many rare and elegant book cover designs. You’ll discover the brand new phenomenon of making your own replica Ruby Slippers! This is becoming a very high-end art and the quality, detail, and research that go into these amazing shoes is not to be believed! 

On Saturday night you’ll be treated to a full evening of Ozzy song starring Joe Cascone and David Haines from the Toronto Civic Light Opera Company. This program will feature A Hundred Years of Oz Music from stage, film, and pop music, and a few surprises, too! It will be a night to remember!

And don’t miss our traditional Winkie Costume Contest, Treasure Hunt, and Winkie Quiz—not to mention the fabulous Winkie Auction of rare Baum and Oz material!

A Few Words About Our Convention Site

We meet each year at the Asilomar Conference Center in beautiful Pacific Grove, California. It is located a few minutes from Monterey, about five hours north of Los Angeles, and two-and-a-half hours south of San Francisco. The Asilomar grounds are heavily wooded, very beautiful and atmospheric, situated directly on the Pacific coast. Please note, too, that our base convention rates are per person in a shared room with two beds. We do have a very few single rooms available. The rates cover all programming costs, your lodging at Asilomar, and dinner Friday, three meals on Saturday, breakfast and lunch on Sunday, and all taxes and gratuities. It really is a bargain! The food is good, the rooms are great, and many have fireplaces. Check-in begins at 3:00 PM on Friday and checkout is noon Sunday just before we gather for lunch.

You can download our PDF Registration Forms at the link below:

We also issue a monthly WINKIE CON e-mail newsletter, featuring news, updates,
and cool stuff about the convention. You may subscribe by using the URL below:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sis Sez Sunday - 20

Well, poor Sis gets a caller just when she doesn't need one! I think Marge does a great job with this episode; and I just love Mrs.Pussencuss!

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 25, in April 1938. If you love Marge's Little Lulu you're sure to get a kick out of Sis!

Please note that if you click on the image it will expand to a full-size version which will make it much easier to read! All of the other blog images will similarly enlarge.

Robin Hood and the Land of Oz

Well, for all you Sis Sez fans out there, rest assured that Sis will be along for her usual Sis Sez Sunday blog post later this afternoon!

In the meantime, I wanted to point out that two new FREE! Tiger Tales have been posted on our main website. Both are stories about Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest by Royal Historian of Oz Ruth Plumly Thompson. One is called "For Freedom of Sherwood Forest" and the next is "Robin Shoots with Will o' th' Green."  

I know many of you are great fans of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's award-winning adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz

We have copies of both collected hardback editions from Marvel Comics in stock at our on-line store. And Eric Shanower has kindly agreed to autograph each copy bought from us and to even draw a small Oz sketch! Think what a great gift this would make - even if you already have copies for yourselves!

So, Oz about it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Project Ozma, meet Project Dorothy

Hungry Tiger Talk blog reader, Miriam Goldman, sent me this Ozzy news flash. Thanks, Miriam!

I had not been aware of it, but this month is the fiftieth anniversary of Project Ozma, also known as the SETI project. SETI stand for Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.

Begun in November of 1960, Project Ozma was the first serious attempt at looking for other intelligent life in the galaxy. The project was indeed named after Ozma, the beloved ruler of the Land of Oz.

But of particular interest is a new project with the same mission. The new one is called Project Dorothy!

Here is a link to the original article on the SETI project.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Me Go Mego

Last week's Mego blog was very popular, so today you get a bit of an encore!

A few days ago I ran across my copy of the Sears Toy Catalog from 1977 (which I've been safely saving since I snagged it way back when). The page of special interest features the main five Oz dolls, and the Wicked Witch and her Castle playset - which was a Sears exclusive. Sears had previously sold "The Wizard" as a special order, too, though when I ordered an extra Wizard he came in generic packaging - not the rare Mego Wizard display packaging.

I loved the Witch's Castle playset. I don't actually have one anymore as mine was lost in a fire when I was a teenager. But if anyone wants to send me a Witch's Castle ... as a present ... well...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fanny Y. Cory

Today's blog features a short article about Baum-illustrator and pioneering woman cartoonist Fanny Y. Cory. This is taken from a newspaper clipping from the mid-1930s in a scrapbook I own of Cory material. Cory, of course, was the illustrator of Baum's The Master Key (1901) and The Enchanted Island of Yew (1903).  She illustrated much else besides - including a number of comic strips such as Little Miss Muffet and Sonny Sayings. Here is the article as it appears in the clipping.

On a Ranch 27 miles from Helena, Montana, and "three miles from anything," lives Mrs. Fred Cooney. To readers of The Evening Star she is Fanny Y. Cory, illustrator and writer of "Sonny Sayings."

Just now she is in Washington, a guest, with her son Ted, at the home of Mrs. C. R. Thompson, 1334 Farragut Street.

She is on her way to New York, but the reason for her stop-over visit is Joan Thompson, the sixteen-year-old daughter of that household.

Five years ago, when Joan was still in the seventh grade at Macfarland Junior High School, she had the same visitor at her house.

"Sonny Sayings," even then a two-year-old feature syndicated in half a hundred papers over the country, came regularly into Joan's home. In February 1928, she wrote to Mrs. Cooney, in care of The Star, and the letter was forwarded to the Montana ranch. Mrs. Cooney was caught by the enthusiasm of her then eleven-year-old correspondent, and promised that she would visit Joan on her next trip East. Six months later that promise was fulfilled.

The feature is now almost ten years old, and appears in so many newspapers that Mrs. Cooney has lost track of the number.

Mrs. Cooney was well known as a magazine and book illustrator - for St. Nicholas, Youth's Companion, Scribner's, Harper's and others. Back in Montana, after several moves here and there from her original home in Illinois, she became Mrs. Fred Cooney and, in time, the mother of three children.

A brother, J. Campbell Cory, political cartoonist, first suggested the feature idea to her, a cartoon in which a different infant was featured every day.

"It did not take at all," said Mrs. Cooney. "I decided that people had rather see the same child from day to day - one they could identify with their own. So - 'Sonny Sayings' was born."

Mrs. Cooney is at a loss to explain altogether the success of her feature.

"The little fellow I draw is not grotesque in any way," she says. "Perhaps that's part of the reason for his success. I suppose my own children were the inspiration for the feature. Neighbors' children helped some, but I have never gone out of my way to visit homes of people with children or tried to take notes on what they were saying. I guess it's mostly just my own good Scotch imagination that counts after all."

You can read and see more on F. Y. Cory in our previous blog posts:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Last Weekend in Vegas

This last weekend Eric Shanower (at right) and Hungry Tiger Press attended the third annual Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival in Las Vegas.

Eric was on a panel where he was asked what the strangest thing he'd ever had to draw in a comic book was. His reply was: "Drawing Harlan Ellison as a ninja!" This was, of course, from the comic book Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor for which Eric has drawn Harlan doing all sorts of things!

Eric also did a book signing in the autograph tent - but he was signing books at the booth all day, too.

I managed to snag a few copies of the Marvel Ozma of Oz poster and I picked up a copy of Tommy Kovac's Royal Historian of Oz #2 as well. A review will follow in a few days.

It was a fun day of sitting about, chatting, selling some books, and afterwards having a tasty Thai dinner with friends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

All Wound Up for OZMA OF OZ #2

Well, Oz friends, today's Tiger Talk Blog offers you a special sneak-peek at the fabulous second issue of Marvel's Ozma of Oz by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young! And if you missed issue one you can still find it, I'm sure, in the comic store nearest you. It came out last Wednesday!

Our preview shows the art only, without dialog. For that, you'll have to wait till December 1st when the issue goes on sale. Before we jump into full preview mode I wanted to let you know that we now have copies of the collected Marvelous Land of Oz for sale in the Hungry Tiger Press on-line store. Click Here! If you order from us, Eric Shanower will be happy to personally autograph your copy and draw a small sketch in it! Just tell us how you'd like your book signed in the "Special Instructions" box when you're placing your order. Come on!

Ozma of Oz has always been one of my favorite Oz books. Seeing these scenes come to life on the comic pages is really amazing. Wonderful Wizard and Marvelous Land had both been adapted into comics before. But now that the series is into Ozma of Oz suddenly it just seems like, "Wow, they really are adapting the Oz books!" Okay, enough from me. Let's get on to the fabulous preview of Marvel's comics adaptation of Ozma of Oz!

Above you can see Skottie's terrifyingly psychedelic Wheelers. If only Marvel would release a black-light poster version! At the end of #1 the nasty old Wheelers had chased Dorothy and Billina to the top of a hill in the magical Land of Ev. Issue #2 picks up with our girl and our chicken and their first meeting with everyone's favorite robot, Tik-Tok. Enjoy the preview!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sis Sez Sunday - 19

Well, Sis takes it on the chin this week as her best friend steals her beau! Maybe she shoulda told Toto there to "sic 'em!"

This installment of Marge and Ruth Plumly Thompson's SIS SEZ page first appeared in King Comics, No. 20, in November 1937. If you love Marge's Little Lulu you're sure to get a kick out of Sis!

Please note that if you click on the image it will expand to a full-size version which will make it much easier to read! All of the other blog images will similarly enlarge.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dr. Zaius in Oz; or Me and My Megos

An earlier version of this blog post appeared on MySpace. It has been expanded and revised a bit for Hungry Tiger Talk.

I've been thinking a lot about play - or more specifically, how I played as a kid. I am trying to remember how it worked, how I did it, what it felt like.

All of my favorite toys were puppets, stuffed animals, and the like. I also loved movies and had a strong passion for Planet of the Apes. I devoured the movies, watched the prime-time TV series, and the animated Saturday morning cartoon. I even tracked down the Pierre Boulle novel - which I also loved. I found it especially sexy somehow that Boulle's astronaut was completely naked as Zira took him for walks around the city.

As readers of this blog know I also loved L. Frank Baum's Oz books. As I've mentioned previously, my Second Grade teacher, Mrs. Strong, at Monte Vista Elementary School, in Albuquerque, read them to us a chapter to two a day after lunch. I also discovered the MGM movie, which I came to love as well. So one can hardly overestimate my childhood joy at discovering that MEGO (a toy company) was producing  8-inch action-figures of
Planet of the Apes characters, followed a bit later by Wizard of Oz characters, among many others, including another childhood obsession, Star Trek.

But back to play. I would ask my sister something like, "Do you wanna play Oz? or Apes?"  And she pretty much always did. We would then go to my room and "prepare the universe". We had a couple dark furniture throws and these would be tossed over carefully arranged pillows, cushions, piles of clothes to create mountain ranges and valleys as wide as the bedroom - a terrain for the play to occur within. We would then set up the Emerald City or Ape City in our room-scape and the play would begin.

But I don't remember how we did it! We devised such elaborate plots and story lines! They often continued from day to day, too. But there was no discussion that I recall about how to do it, no set rules for who "operated" which characters. It was a seamless flow of interaction between the two of us: handing off characters, improvising dialogue, manipulating plot, creating back-story with no effort whatsoever. But I don't remember how we did it! We were just so in synch - everything worked. And we both fell into a hypnotic state where the room would fall away. Our hands, hopping the characters across the bedspread, would vanish. We did little more than channel Zira, Cornelius, and Dorothy Gale! Yes we mixed up the worlds in crossovers quite often.

It worked REALLY well, too! Sometime apes would go to Oz; and sometimes Oz characters would go to the Planet of the Apes. If you think Dr. Zaius (the ornery orangutan) freaked out when he saw a talking human you should have seen how apoplectic he got over talking lions, Tin Men, and little girls with dogs!

Sometimes Doctor Zaius went to Oz! At least once the Wicked Witch captured him and thought he was her runaway flying monkey. She could NOT understand what happened to his wings. "Curses! It's that Dorothy Gale's doing!" But then again sometimes Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock would beam in at just the right moment and then all hell would break loose! The Wicked Witch would over hear Kirk talk about dancing Orion slave girls (who are green!) and the Witch would decide she could trap Kirk and Spock by stripping and dancing for them! You may recall that the Wicked Witch is green, too.

I do not know if other MEGO-loving kids did this cross-pollination thing. Sometimes I would buy duplicate action-figures to make them into additional characters. I "aged" a Cornelius with white paint and miniature glasses to make someone I called Dr. Barlow. We turned an extra Glinda the Good into Laverne DeFazio to play with my sister's Fonzie figure. A few characters I just made from scratch: a Patchwork Girl and a Sawhorse come to mind. Some ideas we never quite pulled off probably due to lack of money. I always wanted to buy a set of the Grandma and Grampa Walton dolls to become Aunt Em and Uncle Henry but I guess I just didn't feel like spending $15 to get two sort of boring characters. A couple of the Walton's daughters would have made a great Betsy and Trot; and I had my eyes on one of the Walton's boys to be Zeb Hugson.

But is was so magical, so addicting! This hypnotic-state of play occurred whenever my sister and I played with our anthropomorphic toys: puppets, stuffed animals, etc. Once on a car trip I told her that there was a miniature universe in my pants-pocket. I pulled out bits of lint and stuff from my pocket and introduced them as animals, live stock, etc. I made a tiny little woman out of a scrap of Kleenex, too. But I swear we could see "pocket-world!"

And that's what I miss! I miss my imagination being that powerful. I think I still have a strong ability for fantasy and imagination and daydreaming - but I can't quite make the real world disappear anymore - at least not with pocket lint!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ozma Hits the Streets

The first issue of Eric Shanower & Skottie Young's comics adaptation of L. Frank Baum's Ozma of Oz hit comic book stores today. If you're luck enough to find one, there's an alternate cover for issue one designed by Eric Shanower.

Also, we finally have copies of the collected hardcover edition of the Shanower & Young Marvelous Land of Oz available on the Hungry Tiger Press website. Click here for details. If you'd like to get your copy autographed by Eric Shanower - simply request such in the comments field when you place your order.

The hardcover Marvelous Land has been on The New York Times "Graphic Books" bestseller list for three weeks so far! Let's keep it there for a while.