Dark and Shuttered


This week, we’re taking a look at the 1991 Oziana. Well, what else did you expect after the 1990 issue? The cover by Chris Sterling shows the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman putting on a puppet show, with each one controlling a puppet of the other, a pretty clever touch. Editor Robin Olderman ends her introduction with a bit of poetry in the style of Ruth Plumly Thompson.

“Mission Impozible: Revenge of the Emerald Grasshopper,” by Christopher Wayne Buckley – I really like the title, even if it doesn’t have that much to do with the story itself. The emerald grasshopper is, of course, the ornament into which the Nome King transformed Ozma in Ozma of Oz. The tale has Ruggedo panicking because he fears his kingdom is being invaded, and while it turns out Ozma and several of her friends are there, it’s just to throw the Nome King a surprise birthday party in hopes that it will improve relations between their countries. There’s a lot of build-up to this rather benign ending, making it all the more amusing. This presumably takes place after Ruggedo’s memory has been at least mostly restored after drinking from the Water of Oblivion in Emerald City, but before he’s removed from his throne in Tik-Tok. If so, presumably the friendly relations didn’t really last. Charles Martensen illustrates this, and while his Ruggedo is more like a lawn gnome than more traditional depictions of him, the pictures are quite intricate, with a lot of shading.

Buckley also contributed three haikus, one about the magic word from Magic, a second about watching clouds in Ev, and the last about the Great Book of Records. The final haiku is on the back cover, accompanied by an illustration by John R. Neill from Kabumpo of Glinda and the Soldier with Green Whiskers reading said book. The writer was also responsible for another story with an entertaining title, Beach Blanket BabylOz.

“Fairness,” by Earl C. Abbe – This is an excerpt from a longer book, Timmy and the Shutter Faces in Oz, which I remember Abbe discussing a bit at a Munchkin Convention in the early nineties. I haven’t read the whole thing, but the manuscript does still exist. What’s here focuses on Herchell Blind, a greedy, self-centered Oz fan who is only interested in his book collection, perhaps a riff on some actual people. It does appear that the International Wizard of Oz Club started mostly as a book collecting group. By the time I joined, there was more focus on research, analysis, and trivia, although the collection aspect hasn’t gone away. I do collect books, but mostly for their contents rather than a desire for the rare and valuable. Anyway, Herchell dies in a car crash, and suffers an ironic punishment of sorts, going to Oz only to be stuck in Shutter Town from Giant Horse, where everyone wears shutters on their faces to block out most of what’s going on. That is, until he helps a little girl who wanders there by accident to escape, after which they meet Johnny Dooit. He tells them that he’d met L. Frank Baum after he died, and “he didn’t say Oz was heaven or hell, just a nice place to visit before going somewhere better.” I’m pretty sure Baum believed in reincarnation, at least at some point in his life. But yeah, there’s a fair amount here on the notion of Oz as a potential afterlife. It’s meta-referential as well, as it starts with Herchell being determined to buy a copy of a book with the same title as Abbe’s, which was written by Jack Snow but went out of print quickly. This is all the weirder because Thompson created Shutter Town, and Snow never used any of her characters or concepts in his work (not counting Who’s Who, in which he accidentally placed Shutter Town in the Winkie Country instead of the Munchkin). The carnival from Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes also shows up here.

“A Cozy Castle in Oz,” by Frederick E. Otto – This story, with its very Thompsonian title, introduces the small Duchy of Grapelandia, located on Big Enough Mountain, where the giant Loxo made his home in Speedy. When Woot the Wanderer visits there, he befriends the young Princess Prunella and her dog Comfort. Woot investigates a forbidden room, and finds that Prunella’s jealous grandmother, the Duchess, turned her mother into a hawk. When Prunella’s father, the Duke, finds out what happened, he allows his mother to save face. It’s weird that he wouldn’t want to call her out for enchanting his wife, but people can be like that with their relatives. Otto wrote a follow-up to this, “The Forbidden Cave of Grapelandia,” exploring a mysterious place briefly mentioned in this tale. It wasn’t published until after he had died, however. We’ll get to it eventually.

Next time, there’s another Christmas tale, plus stories about a pink goat and the Woozy.

This entry was posted in Animals, Art, Characters, Families, Fred Otto, Humor, Jack Snow, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Magic Items, Oz, Oz Authors, Places, Poetry, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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