Flittering Away

Scan by Jared Davis
The 1990 Oziana is a professional issue, in that all the authors and illustrators actually do that for a living. Most of them had appeared in Oziana before this, and one of these stories was published elsewhere before, and another two afterwards. The cover, by Eric Shanower, shows a bunch of Oz characters, some introduced by all of the official authors, although the front rows are all L. Frank Baum’s  creations. It’s presented as a contest, with the answers in the next issue. Most of them are immediately recognizable to me, although a few are a bit difficult as they’re partially obscured by others or by the title box. The Nine Tiny Piglets are all hiding throughout the picture. Eric’s take on Percy here is less expressive than he would be in his illustrations for The Wicked Witch of Oz.

“Chapter Three,” by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – This was part of an unfinished manuscript that seems to have been a fairly direct sequel to Merry Go Round. When Fess is requested by the King of Troth to teach his son jousting, the Flittermouse heads off by himself to the Emerald City to celebrate the third anniversary of Robin Brown’s arrival in Oz. While named after the German word for a bat, Flitter isn’t exactly a bat or a mouse. He’s captured by a giant bird called a Russet Meagle and ends up in the confusing Wilderness of Nnydd, where he’s captured by a man who collects specimens of small animals.

It ends with his being rescued by the Hungry Tiger.

The pictures are by Bill Eubank. The tale presents a version of Oz where animals at least try to eat each other, as the Meagle wants to feed Flitter to his children, and the collector’s cat also wants to eat him. It’s amusing that the collector mentions a reference book by the Wogglebug when he captures insects, something the Professor would probably frown upon. As for what happens in the rest of the manuscript (however much there was of it), there’s a mention of a city of bees called Bzzzantium, and I’ve heard that Ruggedo was also going to be in it.

“The Guardian Dove,” by Phyllis Ann Karr – This one explores the culture of Kalidahs, how they mostly eat fish and mushrooms that taste like steak while in their own country in the forest, but when they reach a certain age are allowed out into the world to hunt. A cub named Kericot is initially excited about this, but soon learns that she takes issue with devouring other living beings, and hence is called the Considerate Kalidah by a turtle. The titular dove is sort of a moral guide for her. This tale would later become part of Bucketheads, which also gives it a resolution of sorts. Kericot and the turtle, unnamed here but later called Terrence Oldshell, also show up in Karr’s Maybe the Miffin and Melody Grandy and Chris Dulabone’s Thorns and Private Files. Melody did the illustrations for this story, and the introduction notes that their first collaboration was “A Computer Wizard in Oz.”

“In a Season of Calm Weather,” by Ruth Berman – This is a brief crossover of sorts, with Dorothy joined by Alice of Wonderland fame and Wendy from Peter Pan. They walk on the beach and discuss their respective experiences. Wendy and Alice fall off a rock and find themselves grown up and having tea with Virginia Woolf. Dorothy, meanwhile, makes her way back to Oz. It’s a short, enigmatic kind of story, although it did make a little more sense when I found out Hargreaves was Alice Liddell’s married name. I actually just learned that the title comes from a Ray Bradbury story where a man meets Picasso on a beach, which has the same style and dreamlike quality. This piece was first published in Amazing Stories in 1986, but I believe the illustration by Rob Roy MacVeigh is new with this version.

“The Final Fate of the Frogman,” by Eric Shanower – A well-written and rather sad tale about what happened to the Frogman after his first few appearances. As he tells Woot the Wanderer, bathing in the Truth Pond not only made him drive others away with unwelcome truths, but also brought back the froggish traits that he had been trying to suppress, which leads to his trying to eat the Wogglebug in a moment of weakness. After a series of misfortunes, he decides to guard the pond to make sure no one else makes the mistake of bathing in it. This one was published again in the collection The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories, and I noticed that it’s Jenny Jump‘s disembodied personality traits that cause the Frogman to call out the Wizard of Oz in the Oziana version, but Bungle‘s brains in the later one, presumably because Wonder City is still under copyright. The original seems to fit better with the timeline, though. Regardless, the Wizard did have an unfortunate tendency toward unlicensed brain surgery. The way the story is written, it does look like some of the Frogman’s issues are in his own head rather than results of the water. Joe Bongiorno addressed this in his own sequel, “The Fabulous Frogman and the Faith of Freakish Friends.” Eric’s illustrations are all silhouettes, which fits the general mood of the story.

It is kind of funny that this story is in an issue where a smiling Frogman is near the middle of the cover, and drawn by the same artist as well.

Next time, we’ll celebrate the Nome King’s birthday, explore the idea of Oz as Purgatory, and meet a royal family on Big Enough Mountain.

This entry was posted in Animals, Art, Authors, Characters, Chris Dulabone, Dreams, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Eric Shanower, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Magic, Melody Grandy, Oz, Oz Authors, Phyllis Ann Karr, Places and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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