As far as I can recall, I haven’t written a post about Johnny Dooit, a character who makes a short but noteworthy appearance in The Road to Oz. He’s also linked to the Love Magnet, so I might as well write about that too. It first shows up in the possession of the Shaggy Man, who claims he got it from an Eskimo in the Sandwich Islands. Not too likely considering that the Sandwich Islands was an old name for Hawaii, but interesting in light of the fact that Alaska and Hawaii would later become states at around the same time. After bathing in the Truth Pond and being forced to tell the truth, he reveals that this was a lie and he actually stole it from a girl in Butterfield. He rationalized this by saying that the amount of suitors she had made her unhappy. The Magnet makes everyone love anyone who possesses it, but exactly what kind of love this entails seems to vary from one person to another. The girl in Butterfield apparently attracted romantic love, while the love most of the characters feel for Shaggy is more of an intense friendship. (Hey, it IS a kids’ book, and children falling in love with a grown man wouldn’t exactly be appropriate. Neither would animals doing the same, for that matter.) The Scoodlers, on the other hand, only love Shaggy as potential food. Shaggy eventually gives the Magnet to Ozma, who hangs it above the gates of the Emerald City. He has it again in Tik-Tok of Oz, but it works differently here, only having an effect when someone sees it. The Nomes successfully stopped him from using it by tying his arms to his body. We also learn that it doesn’t work on anyone without a heart, like the sentient roses in the Rose Kingdom.
In Shaggy Man, Jack Snow states that this change in the Magnet’s operation was intentional on Ozma’s part to make it somewhat less potent. This book also reveals that it was made by a wizard named Conjo, who says that he gave it to a sailor who was then eaten by a whale. Snow never says whether this story is actually true, but Shaggy responds by retelling the story of the Eskimo, which would presumably be impossible unless the effects of the Truth Pond had worn off. Forbidden Fountain also provides a possible out, as the Truth Teller who had fallen into the pond is able to lie, but his ears glow green if he does. Maybe Shaggy’s hair prevented anyone from seeing his glowing green ears. Or for that matter, maybe there was a certain amount of truth to the Eskimo story after all. Perhaps the girl in Butterfield had Inuit ancestry? If so, maybe she knows fifty different words for Jack’s last name.
Karyl Carlson and Eric Gjovaag’s non-canonical Queen Ann provides some additional information on the Magnet that seems valid enough to me. Here, King Jol Jemkiph Soforth of Oogaboo comes across it on his walk through Oz when it sticks to his boot, and it later falls into the hands of the witch Amnesia, who takes it to Butterfield where Shaggy steals it from her. March Laumer gives an explanation for the Magnet in his Careless Kangaroo, that it was energized with the blood of the girl from Butterfield’s later father, but it totally contradicts Snow’s. I believe that Laumer hadn’t read Snow’s books at the time, or had but was ignoring them in his own work. A short story by Erin Ptah proposes that the Magnet was made by a dragon, but this is just a rumor, and there’s no reason Conjo couldn’t have had a dragon helping him.
Getting back to Road, when Shaggy, Dorothy, and their companions come across the desert surrounding Oz, it initially appears impossible to cross. That is until Shaggy summons a little man named Johnny Dooit, claiming that the man loves him because he possesses the Love Magnet.
Of course, love doesn’t usually enable someone to teleport places, so there appears to be more to it than that. Johnny appears when Shaggy holds the Magnet in his palm and recites a verse. He’s described as a little man with a long gray beard that he ties up under his leather apron, and worn hands that show he’s done a lot of hard work. Indeed, he loves labor, and even sings a song about it. He builds a boat from scratch in a matter of a few minutes, then disappears to perform some work somewhere else.
He later makes an appearance at Ozma’s birthday party, where he builds a flying machine and flies away in it. While ignored in most of the rest of the series, Chris Dulabone made him a protagonist in Do It for Oz, in which he helps to rescue a little orphan girl named Duit from the Grand Duchess of Malaria.
Here we learn that he calls his flying machine Myu-Myu, and that some people have learned to summon him from reading Road even without possessing the Love Magnet. Dulabone never explains how, but jokes that it’s easy.
In my own story, “Gone with the Hurry-Cane,” I try to fill in some gaps in the story of the Magnet. I take Conjo’s story as basically true, and have the wrecked ship and the talisman discovered by a sorcerer who uses the Magnet to help a nasty king conquer much of Ev. Johnny also appears, and while I don’t deal with his origins, I do explain that he’s bound to the Magnet because of an accident at the Red Jinn‘s palace. Since we know that the renegade Christmas tree from Jack Pumpkinhead stole one of Jinnicky’s magic dinner bells, I decided that he stole the Magnet as well and brought it to Oz, where King Jol found it.