I haven’t written much about what I’ve been reading as of late, but I just couldn’t think of much to say about most of what I’ve finished recently. I might or might not say a little bit about these things when I finish something that resonates more with me. But one thing I did want to write about is the 2018 issue of Oziana. This one seems pretty short, and I’d already read two of them online, although I’m not sure how much they’ve been edited since then. After a one-page visual poem by Momina Arif, there’s Jared Davis and Jonathan Miranda’s “The Strong Man of Oz,” about a co-worker of the Wizard of Oz in the circus who is captured and taken to the Kingdom of Dreams. Myletta, the Witch of Dreams, wants to find a way to destabilize Oz, not so she can take over, but just because Ozites’ dreams are too happy. As the Wizard and the Strong Man, who were originally friends, had later come to dislike each other, the latter has been appearing in the dreams of the former, and Myletta wants to know the Wizard’s weaknesses. There have been a few stories that discuss the Kingdom of Dreams, a place shown on the map of the countries surrounding Oz found in the Tik-Tok of Oz endpapers but never visited in any of L. Frank Baum’s books. They all give quite different descriptions, but isn’t that what you’d expect of a dream realm? Here, we see the Witch attended by dream goblins and gremlins. Illustrations by Sam Milazzo include two full-pagers and one that incorporates a copy of a John R. Neill picture of the Wizard.
Joe Bongiorno follows up on Eric Shanower’s short story “The Final Fate of the Frogman” with his own “The Fabulous Frogman and the Faith of Freakish Friends,” resolving the sad situation in which the poor frog finds himself in that earlier tale (which I guess means it wasn’t his final fate after all). I’d considered something like this before, where the Frogman is talked out of his rigid view on the truth, but I guess now I don’t need to write it. The Truth Pond has been used in a fair number of Oz stories, with Shanower showing its disturbing potential, while other writers have had pretty much everyone bathing in it with no known ill effects.
Finally, David Tallman’s brief “Himself” tries to make some sense of the rather convoluted plot in Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Handy Mandy. Himself the Elf explains in that book that he has to answer to Wunchie’s silver hammer, yet he also details some occasions when he acted on his own and apparently against her wishes. Tallman has Himself further explain that he’s able to work some magic on his own in order to undo a case of a law of magic being broken. While Baum’s books often utilize a lot of coincidences, Thompson’s are often so dependent on them that readers sometimes speculate there must be someone or something acting behind the scenes to get everything together. Aside from Handy Mandy, Hungry Tiger and Yellow Knight are notorious in that respect. I’ve always enjoyed Handy Mandy despite its plot holes, so it’s cool to see a sequel of sorts. I have an idea of my own for a story further dealing with Himself, and I don’t think it would contradict anything in this tale.