Since I just recently received my copies of the Autumn 2011 Baum Bugle and Oziana 38, I might as well say a bit about them. First, the Bugle.
Be that as it may, this issue includes an article by Ruth Berman about mermaids, focusing on the ones in L. Frank Baum’s fantasies, but also mentioning some literary antecedents. The idea of a being part human and part fish goes back to ancient mythology, with the Greek Triton having that form, and some suspecting the Phoenician Dagon did as well. As Ruth indicates, however, mermaid literature didn’t really become prominent until the nineteenth century, and Baum plays on the idea of mermaids as beautiful but vicious creatures who cause hapless people to drown by having his benevolent sea fairies correct Cap’n Bill on this point. The article also mentions that Davy Jones and his staff from Hugh Pendexter’s Wooglet in Oz were actually a callback to W.W. Denslow’s The Pearl and the Pumpkin. I was not aware. There are also some reviews of The Sea Fairies from when it first came out, most of them being quite positive. As it turned out, though, this and its successor Sky Island didn’t sell anywhere near as well as the Oz books, so Baum had to return to his cash cow a few years later. Another interesting article is Richard Tuerk’s “Head Versus Heart in The Tin Woodman of Oz,” which demonstrates that, for all his talking about his heart, the Tin Woodman actually focuses more on his head (at one point literally) during his own book. I think it might be interesting to examine Nick Chopper’s other appearances with this in mind, and see how much he really is led by his heart. Tuerk makes the point that Nick is motivated by duty in Tin Woodman, and it seems to me this is a major character trait of the Tin Man’s in other books as well, perhaps sometimes more significant than his kind heart.
Regarding Oziana, I have been in communication with most of the authors involved at some point or other. The Oz community has always been rather small, and now with the Internet, it’s not too unlikely that anyone involved in Oz fandom knows a lot of the other participants as well. It makes it difficult to get unbiased reviews of Oz material, but I tend to be pretty biased when it comes to Oz anyway. There’s also more of a link between the different stories than is common for Oziana, probably due to intentional effort on editor Marcus Mebes’ part. David Tai’s “Executive Decisions” deals with what really happened when Ozma supposedly had Mombi executed at the end of the Lost King, making the valid point that she promised to care for the former Wicked Witch of the North in her old age. Mind you, this contradicts the also excellent Bucketheads in Oz, which I just finished scanning for characters and hence is on my mind, but it’s hard to achieve total consistency with everything even if you want to. Jared Davis’ “Bud and the Red Jinn, or
Don’tAlways Look a Gift HorseGoat in the Mouth” has Prince Bobo of Boboland pay a visit to Queen Zixi of Ix, and his stubbornness almost causes an international incident. When I tried to write a story featuring the disenchanted Bobo, I made him kindly and not all that interesting, building on the statement in Chapter 22 of Rinkitink that “Prince Bobo humbly begged Rinkitink’s forgiveness for having been so disagreeable to him, at times, saying that the nature of a goat had influenced him and the surly disposition he had shown was a part of his enchantment.” Jared makes Bobo retain some of his stubborn personality, and I must say I prefer his characterization. Then again, I WAS in high school when I wrote my story. “Polychrome Visits the Sea Fairies” is a tale by Gina Wickwar, author of The Hidden Prince of Oz and Toto of Oz, which is basically a sequel to The Sea Fairies. It returns to the island of seals that played a small part in that book, and says a bit about what happened to the devilfish after the death of Zog. Technically speaking, it’s really not so much an Oz story as a Borderlands one. Even Polychrome, who was introduced in Road, also appeared in Sky Island, so she’s not strictly an Oz character. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference anyway, since Baum eventually tied most of his fantasy lands together, but it’s interesting. “Thy Fearful Symmetry,” by Jeff Rester, features the Hungry Tiger, his past dealings with Mombi, and how his main character trait developed. Finally, “The Bashful Baker’s Honeymoon” is a follow-up to Marcus Mebes’ earlier Bashful Baker and Shipwrecked, bringing Maria and Derek to Captain Salt’s ship in the Nonestic Ocean. All are worth reading, and the illustrations are also excellent. I still need to get the double issue, 39/40, which contrary to all reason was actually published before this one.