All I Know Is What I Read in the Papers

The Ozmapolitan was an interesting promotional tool, first coming out in 1904 to advertise The Marvelous Land of Oz and the upcoming Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz comic series. It was presented as an actual newspaper from Oz, albeit with some advertisements that probably wouldn’t have made a whole lot of sense in Oz itself. Still, in addition to articles giving overviews of upcoming books, it also included some unrelated ones about Oz, as well as classified ads and sports and society columns. Whether L. Frank Baum actually wrote all of it is still a point of some contention. Another very brief one came out the following year to promote The Woggle-Bug Book, and then the idea seems to have been forgotten until 1926, when Ruth Plumly Thompson and the publisher revived it to advertise the new Ozmite Clubs as well as the latest books. While presented in the newspaper format, it was specifically said to be for fans in the Outside World rather than actual residents of Oz. Thompson produced three of these newspapers, and the concept came up every once in a while after that as well. Dick Martin wrote a few in 1963 through 1970, and Hungry Tiger Press did a few to promote Oz-Story Magazine. I also remember the International Wizard of Oz Club distributing one when The Wicked Witch of Oz was new, and the program for the first Munchkin Convention I attended back in 1992 did the same. I might still have these around somewhere, but that would require some searching. Most of the issues are available to read here, and Joe Bongiorno’s issue about Adolf Hitler in Oz is up here.

These papers include both interesting information that adds to the canon, and some that seemingly contradicts it. For instance, the first issue refers to a plan to expand the Emerald City, which seems a little difficult to do when the city is surrounded by a wall. Joe has guessed that it might actually be about the expansion of the palace that must have taken place in order to make the Wizard’s room less isolated. The 1927 one mentions Tik-Tok swimming in the Truth Pond. Another refers to a wager made in pequots, possibly a unit of currency, although in our world they’re a tribe that lived in Connecticut. The issue promoting Giant Horse reports that the Cowardly Lion has taken up smoking and that there’s a special room in the palace to which frowning people are banished, both of which are pretty unsettling. And the Gnome King issue sees Ozma raising the number of mortals allowed to live in Oz from fifty to one hundred. It says there are currently twelve living there. Okay, there’s Dorothy, Uncle Henry, Aunt Em, the Wizard, the Shaggy Man and his brother, Betsy Bobbin, Trot, Cap’n Bill, Button-Bright, Notta Bit More, and Bob Up. That’s twelve as of that time, so somebody was paying attention. I wonder if they’ve reached the upper limit yet, and if so whether they raised it.

Although the first issue (or at least the first issue published in the Outside World) refers to the Ozmapolitan as the only newspaper in Oz, other sources mention the Gillikin Times, Quadling Quarterly, Emerald City Mirror, Pumperdink Press, Regalia Report, and Oogaboo News. Interestingly, the reference to the Mirror in Queen Ann was changed to the Ozmapolitan for the Royal Publisher edition. Barberville also has copies of Cozmopolitan magazine and Captain Gillikin comics, the latter of which I’d like to learn more about. Gina Wickwar’s Toto of Oz has King Petrol of Grease (an island in the Gillikin Country) reading the Oil Street Journal; and Gnome King mentions the Nome Kingdom’s Nome Man’s Daily (okay, Gnome Man’s Daily in Thompson’s spelling), which is printed on a thin sheet of silver. I’d certainly be up for reading an Ozian newspaper. Just don’t nobody bring me no bad news.

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4 Responses to All I Know Is What I Read in the Papers

  1. Nice write up on the Ozmapolitans, Nathan! I’ve always been fascinated by them as well. They’re such cool and creative promotional pieces. I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to produce one for Adolf Hitler in Oz, and if I get time again in the future, I’ll see if I can create a few more. As for Captain Gillkin, well, you’ll have to ask Eric Gjovaag about that!

  2. marbpl2 says:

    “Emerald City Mirror” was the name of a publication associated with Books of Wonder’s (now defunct) Royal Club of Oz. The change in name in the later edition of Queen Ann of Oz (originally published by BoW’s Emerald City Press) may have something to do with the change of publisher.

    • Actually, I changed it purely for continuity reasons because in the year the story takes place there would have been no Emerald City Mirror. Granted, there could have been another, a predecessor to the one published by Books of Wonder, but I felt it was a bit too confusing and I knew that the Ozmapolitan was definitely around at that time, so it made more sense to go with that one.

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