Dear Dairy


Scan by Jared Davis
Here we are, safe and sound, back in good old Oziana 1985. The cover has a drawing of the Nome King by Eric Shanower, which is kind of confusing, as I know Ruggedo appears in a few stories from the 1980s, but none of them are in this issue. Oh, well. Robin Olderman has taken over from Jay Delkin as editor, and I met Robin a few times before she died in 2015. I think Jay might have been at my earliest Munchkin Convention, but I don’t remember actually talking to him. Once again, we have three stories.

“Mombi’s Pink Polkadot Vest,” by Frederick E. Otto – I think he might have been at some of the early Munchkin Conventions I attended, too. Anyway, as with other stuff he wrote, this one combines elements from several different Oz books. Ozma and Jack Pumpkinhead go to visit Mombi‘s four-horned cow on the farm where she resides, but eating forget-me-nots has made the cow recall that she was originally a Horner magician, the Gee Wizard Phogg (relation to the Grand Gheewizard of the Silver Island unknown), who had four horns instead of the usual one. Jack’s original clothes belonged to him. The tale flashes back to a time when Mombi had found out about a compound that could bring things to life, and it turns out to be the same as the one Dr. Pipt wants to make in The Patchwork Girl of Oz to counteract the Liquid of Petrifaction. She visits the Wicked Witch of the West, who lends her a donkey named Thrug. This character had previously appeared in “The Fate of the Yoops,” although his part here is chronologically earlier. He presumably left the Witch for Reera the Red at some point. Mombi and Thrug journey to the Horner Country to find a gill of water from a dark well, and meet Phogg there.

He tries to become friendly with the Wicked Witches in order to become more famous as a wizard, but they double cross him and turn him into a cow. Mombi’s characterization here looks to be largely based on Lost King, which I suppose is her biggest role in the series; she’s very resourceful and makes a lot of idle threats. She uses red pepper to get past Mr. Yoop, just like how she uses purple pepper on a weenix in the book. Jinnicky also uses red pepper against Badmannah in Yankee. Mombi doesn’t seem surprised by the giant, which fortuitously makes sense if you take into account that she and Mrs. Yoop are cousins in Paul Dana’s books. A Tottenhot also shows up, which is a little surprising considering the time period when it was published. Speaking of the cow, Onyx Madden’s Mysterious Chronicles mentions that Mombi’s neighbor, Jellia Jamb‘s father Jimb, also has a four-horned cow. If both stories are accurate, then Mombi was apparently cheating in this rivalry anyway. Eric illustrated this one, and I like his thoughtful Witch of the West.

“Magic in the Kitchen,” by Jane McNeive – When a Quadling boy named Lon finds a lost wand along the road to the Emerald City, a forgetful palace maid named Fran uses it to make the utensils and foodstuffs come to life and organize making dinner themselves. This suggests that some self-aware living beings are eaten, which is part of why Joe Bongiorno wrote “The Hearts and Flowers of Oz” as a response to this. It’s interesting to note that the kitchen cleaver considers himself a cousin to King Kleaver of Utensia. The wand turns out to belong to one of Polychrome‘s sisters.

“The Ice Cream Man of Oz,” by Jim Vander Noot – This story introduces a fun new character, a live man made of ice cream who is able to regenerate himself when his fingers are eaten. He’s never appeared again as far as I know, but still. And illustrator Robert Luehrs gives him some kind of creepy-looking eyes.

There’s an explanation of how freezing food works in Oz, how it’s mostly done with rare crystals, so each community has a person who keeps them. A Quadling Town Freezer called Leonard Trytton makes a man out of ice cream, and gets a compound from the local pharmacist, Erba Liss, to keep the sculpture cold. She makes a mistake and accidentally gives him Spice of Life instead of Spice of Ice, which is how the man, Malter B. Bell, comes to life.

How she happens to have a life-giving substance on hand isn’t explained, but she says its usual purpose is to restore children’s excitement. I referenced some of the medicines Erba uses in my own “The Butter Lamb of Oz.” Incidentally, Bucketheads, on which Jim also did some writing, has a character named Leotryaton, awfully close to Leonard Trytton.

By the way, I wrote about five years ago how there were two existing excised chapters from Jack Snow’s Shaggy Man, but only one of them had ever been published. Well, in the latest Baum Bugle, which I just received yesterday, it’s been printed, along with a reprint of the other, and pictures by Mark Manley.Not much happens in “Into the Cave,” but the little we see of Father Goose makes him intriguing, a gentlemanly gander who carries around an umbrella under his wing. There’s also a mention of a character Dorothy had met called the Inventor, and Michael Gessel suggests that he could be the equivalent of Sir Pryse Bocks from John Dough and the Cherub. There’s also a mention that Snow’s father, John Alonzo Snow, was nicknamed Lon, the same as the character in “Magic in the Kitchen.” I don’t think there’s any way to know what else Snow wanted to do with this early draft of Shaggy Man, but a voyage along the Gillikin River does sound like it has potential.

Next time, we have computers, role-playing, an addendum to the end of Magic, and an extended visit from St. Nicholas.

This entry was posted in Animals, Art, Characters, Eric Shanower, Food, Fred Otto, Jack Snow, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Magic Items, Names, Onyx Madden/Jim Nitch, Oz, Oz Authors, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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