Randy Spandy Jack-A-Dandy

Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Oz books are loaded with young princes, usually questing to save their kingdoms. These include Pompadore of Pumperdink, Tatters of Ragbad, Evered of Rash, Philador of the Ozure Isles, Tandy of Ozamaland, and our current subject, Randy of Regalia.

Randy is actually the only one of these princes to serve as a protagonist in two different books, The Purple Prince of Oz and The Silver Princess in Oz. Near the end of the former, he is referred to by the full name of “Randywell Handywell Brandenburg Bompadoo,” which is expanded in the latter to “Randywell, King Handywell of Brandenburg and Bompadoo.” So what are Brandenburg and Bompadoo? There is, of course, a Brandenburg in Germany, but it’s unlikely that Randy is the king of a place in the Great Outside World. In my own personal Oz imaginings, Brandenburg is the old name for Blankenburg, the city of invisible people from Lost King. After all, it presumably wasn’t called Blankenburg until Queen Vanetta discovered the water of invisibility. Randy’s mother came from there, so he maintains a family connection with the place. Maybe it’s more likely that Brandenburg and Bompadoo are both parts of the Kingdom of Regalia itself, however. We’re never told, so it’s up for interpretation.

Anyway, when Randy shows up in Purple Prince, he wanders into Pumperdink and annoys King Pompus, but Kabumpo takes a liking to him and hires him as his personal attendant.

We’re not told anything about his background until much later in the book, but given the title and a chapter about halfway through about the Prince of Regalia having to pass seven tests, not to mention that pretty much EVERY Thompson character without an established background turns out to be royalty, the reveal really isn’t a surprise. Purple Prince is the tale of how Randy, with help from Kabumpo and the Red Jinn, passes the necessary tests to become King of Regalia, and incidentally assists in saving Pumperdink from the wicked witch Faleero. He starts out the story in a rather sullen mood, but soon gets caught up in the adventure, showing his heroic qualities. He also has to constantly mediate between the strong personalities of his two companions. When we see him again in Silver Princess, he’s bored with his royal duties, and longing for more adventures, even going so far as to want someone to punch him in the nose.

So how did someone so young end up becoming king? Well, his father decided to abdicate and become a hermit. It’s never explained what happened to his mother, and while it’s tempting to assume that her death is what led to the old king’s drastic lifestyle change, we have to remember that death is nearly impossible in Oz. Regardless, his only relative with whom he’s still in contact is his uncle, the Grand Duke Hoochafoo, known as Hoochafoo the Foolish to the people of Regalia.

The purple-bearded old man is rather stuffy, and a strong voice for tradition and ceremony, but he obviously cares for his nephew. When Hoochafoo suggests that Randy get married, the king’s initial response is that he’s too young, but he’s married by the end of the book. Age can be a tricky matter in Oz, and Thompson fudges the numbers somewhat in determining how old the boy really is. When Kabumpo says Randy was “only about ten” when the two of them met, the young king states that he had been ten for “about four years” before that. Aging is a choice in Oz, at least in Thompson’s concept of the land, and it seems that a lot of children decide to remain ten indefinitely. I suppose no one really wants to go through adolescence unless they really have to, but Randy might have aged a few years in order to deal with his new responsibilities and level the playing field with his uncle. Actually, come to think of it, if Hoochafoo was never in line for the throne, then he was presumably Randy’s father’s YOUNGER brother, raising the question of how old the former king was when Randy was born. Also, we’re told that Hoochafoo “had once been married,” but not what happened to his wife. Anyway, during the course of his travels in Silver Princess, Randy falls in love with an alien. No, really. Planetty, Princess of Anuther Planet, accidentally finds herself on Earth after a trip on a thunderbolt and meets up with Randy and Kabumpo. Thompson, who seems to have held more traditional views on gender roles than Baum, emphasizes how readily Planetty takes to domestic tasks, but she’s also a capable adventurer, defending herself with a staff that can petrify enemies. They only know each other for a few days before marrying, which would probably spell disaster in real life (especially since, while Randy immediately develops a crush on Planetty, she seems to conflate her feelings for him with those of the colorful new world in general), but this IS a fairy tale. According to the end of the book, the King and Queen of Regalia divide their time between their home castle and adventuring journeys, and I get the impression that Planetty is a good companion for Randy in both parts of their lives.

Randy doesn’t show up much in fan-written stories, or at least not the ones I’ve read. One exception is Jeff Freedman’s Magic Dishpan, in which Randy and Planetty inexplicably seem to be rulers of the Gillikin Country. I suppose this could be because the rulers Thompson left in that position, Joe King and Queen Hyacinth, were (and are) still under copyright. Indeed, the book shows several signs of having been altered just to keep on the safe side of the copyright holders. Silver Princess is actually in the public domain, but Purple Prince isn’t, so while Planetty appears for a significant role, Randy and Kabumpo are only alluded to. Planetty is, however, assisted by two suspiciously familiar new characters: the knight Sir Dynar and Kabumpo’s sister Kabina. I don’t have the book on hand right now, but I seem to recall one part in which Sir Dynar becomes jealous when an enchanted frog tries to get Planetty to kiss him. This would make more sense if he were her husband than merely her protector, unless she and Dynar have a Guinevere/Lancelot thing going on, but that would be somewhat out of place in an Oz book (and Magic Dishpan really seems geared toward an even younger audience than the Famous Forty). I get the impression that Sir Dynar initially WAS Randy, but was changed to avoid possible copyright trouble, and the editing job was a bit sloppy. Or maybe Dynar IS Randy, journeying incognito so no one knows he’s a king (which, when his kingdom is under siege by an evil magician, might not be a bad plan).

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22 Responses to Randy Spandy Jack-A-Dandy

  1. Marie says:

    If Dynar and Randy are not the same person, Freedman wasted a really ‘clever’ use of all the exact same letters there. Just sayin’.

    I do love how age is subjective, controllable, and all-around convenient in much of Oz.

    • Ozaline says:

      You’re saying it’s like Herlock Sholmes in Maurice LeBlanc’s Lupin novels?

    • Nathan says:

      Also, Randy’s personal valet, who was named Dawkins in Silver Princess, was “Snikwad” in Magic Dishpan. The derivation is obvious, but “Snikwad” sounds really gross. I’m surprised the elephant’s name wasn’t Opmubak, which does have kind of a cool African-sounding ring to it.

  2. vilajunkie says:

    I dunno why, but this post made me think of Xandir from Drawn Together: “I’m on a never-ending quest to save my girlfriend!” Which I guess is appropriate considering Thompson’s use of marrying up all her male characters, but has the unfortunate implication of calling all the princes secretly and closeted gay. :P

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