The theme of the 2011 Oziana is possible explanations for mysteries in the Oz series. We begin with David Tai’s “Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought, Alone,” which gives the Glass Cat’s inner monologue upon having her pink brains replaced with clear ones and then her original brains restored. Justice C.S. Fischer’s “Blinkie of Oz” presents the possibility that Blinkie from The Scarecrow of Oz is a reconstituted Wicked Witch of the West, a theory I’d come across before. Blinkie is an odd character, first appearing in the film His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. Here, her name was Mombi, but her appearance was that of the WWW. When L. Frank Baum made the story into a novel, he renamed the character Blinkie. In my own story “Reddy and Willing,” Blinkie was active during the Wicked Witch’s lifetime, so I guess I don’t go by the theory that they’re the same. I do think the two of them might have ended up one-eyed in a similar manner, though. Odin‘s giving up one eye for wisdom comes to mind here, especially as Odin is mentioned explicitly in another story in this issue. Kass Stone’s “Jenny Everywhere in Oz” introduces a character who can travel between different fictional universes, an idea I’ve always liked. Xornom, a character who briefly appears in one of my Oz manuscrips, is of the same basic sort, although quite different in personality. “Jenny Everywhere” also deals with the popular subject of alternate versions of Oz, including ones where the Wicked Witch of the East was actually good. It features the Legion of Glindas, made up of Glindas from throughout the Ozziverse. I’ve looked at Mycroft Mason’s “The Solitary Sorceress of Oz” before, and think it’s an interesting origin story for Glinda, although it doesn’t fit with everything we’ve read about the sorceress’ past in other tales. Admittedly, these are apocryphal stories; there’s nothing in it that contradicts the canon, as far as I can tell. Finally, Jeffrey Rester’s “Cryptic Conversations in a Cornfield” presents a take on the Scarecrow’s origins that fills in some of the gaps in Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Royal Book account. According to Rester’s narrative, the Wicked Witch of the East used the Powder of Life on the Scarecrow before the spirit of the Emperor entered his body, but he showed no signs of life because he hadn’t had his face painted on yet. I’d say this makes more sense than assuming that the spirit entered a totally lifeless body. In order to reconcile different accounts of the straw man’s origin, Rester’s story has the Scarecrow assembled in stages, which gets a little awkward. I suppose that’s what he had to work with, though, and I appreciate the desire for consistency. The tale gives us a look into the character of the Wicked Witch of the East, who hasn’t appeared in that many Oz stories due to her having died right when Dorothy first arrived in the magical land. This is also the one in which Odin’s ravens Hugin and Munin make an appearance.
Before I close out this post, I’d like to say a bit about the Winter 2011 issue of The Baum Bugle, which holds special significance to me as it contains my first full-length Ozian research piece. Other featured articles are one by Marilynn Strasser Olson on how the Deadly Desert might have been inspired by some articles on Death Valley, and another by Walter Squire regarding the use of the number three in Wizard. There’s also a retrospective on Oz Conventions, and there are some photographs from ones that I attended. I really should go to another convention someday, but they’re no longer as conveniently located as they have been in the past.