The Enchanted Garden of Sedj

The 1994 Oziana has two stories that were written for the Oz Story Circle, run by Fred Meyer. I was a member back then, but it would take twenty more years for something I wrote around that time to appear in the journal. The cover artist, Allison McBain, was also part of the Circle. I have her book Cory in Oz, but I remember her contributing the beginning of a tale about Pigasus and an apprentice cook in the palace, and I don’t know if that ended up going anywhere. A lot of intended books that circulated in that group apparently didn’t.

“Billy Bumble of Oz,” by Jane Albright – Bill Eubank, who did a lot of illustration work for Oziana and other International Wizard of Oz Club publications, died in 1993. He was also a puppeteer and a clown called Billy Bumble. This story is dedicated to him, and is sort of a fictionalized version of his childhood. In this tale, a boy named Billy Harris is friends with an old woman named Mary Jane, who has a garden modeled on Oz. When Billy needs to perform in a talent show at his school, Mary Jane suggests a puppet show using Oz characters. She remembers an untold story about a silent garden with a dragon, and it’s later revealed that this was an adventure she actually experienced in her childhood. There isn’t that much detail on the garden story, but we know that the birds didn’t sing and the flowers gave no scent, and Mary Jane accompanied the Scarecrow, the Patchwork Girl, the Tin Woodman, Jack Pumpkinhead, and a clown named Bumble in an encounter with the dragon Cyrus the Silent. When Billy performs his show, the puppets come to life through the power of an enchanted Ozmite pin that Mary Jane had. The woman and her garden are brought to Oz, and the puppet Bumble stays to teach Billy clowning. Eric Shanower did the illustrations for this one, including an amusing take on the dragon puppet.

When Billy and Mary Jane are trying to choose an Oz story involving a clown, they briefly consider Cowardly Lion, not a favorite of too many Oz fans. I guess if Bumble lived in Oz, he would presumably have known Notta Bit More. Phil Lewin’s Witch Queen also has Clakku, a clown the Wizard of Oz knew from his time in the circus, coming to live in Oz. I wonder if any of them ever visited the Valley of Clowns in Merryland. Marcus Mebes would later reference this story and the character of Bumble in his tribute to another departed Oz fan, Chris Dulabone.

“Nine Tiny Piglets,” by Kimberly Doyle – This short tale ties together the two different origin stories for the Piglets mentioned in the original books. Dorothy and the Wizard has the Wizard say they’re from the Island of Teenty-Weent, while in Tin Woodman their parents are living in Oz and say they entrusted the Piglets’ education to the Wizard. Here, it’s explained that the Piglets and their parents used to live on Teenty-Weent, but a sailor brought the children to the United States and gave them to the Wizard. After they came to live in Oz, Ozma used the Magic Belt to bring the elder Swynes there as well. The Piglets’ names are here given as Porkella, Sausagina, Bologna, Sal Amy, Weinerina, Hamilton, Lincoln, Francis, and Roger. It seems doubtful that the Swynes would name their kids after products made from dead pigs, unless they had a really dark sense of humor. Lincoln is the one who becomes Ozma’s pet, to allow for a joke about Lincoln being assassinated. An interesting reference has the sailor who brings the Piglets to California being friends with Cap’n Bill.

“Ghosts in Oz,” by Marie Richardson – I remember reading this when Marie contributed it to the Story Circle. I was Facebook friends with her for a while, but she seems to have disappeared from the Internet. Anyway, Ozma and her friends meet with a ghost named Simon T. Inphinium, who gained that form because he was dying at the time of Lurline‘s enchantment. He’s a pleasant enough fellow who spends a lot of his time reading, but he has a problem. Several non-local ghosts have shown up near his home, and they’ve been annoying him. Ozma agrees to house these ghosts in her palace, letting them live in dusty rooms that hadn’t been used in a long time. This part of the story reminds me of Dennis Anfuso’s Winged Monkeys and Mark Haas’s Leprechauns (both published after this) in that it has a bunch of rowdy beings trying to live (as much as ghosts can be said to live) in the palace. The Wizard finds out that the ghosts are coming from the United States, where they’d been busted. The movie referenced herein had the ghosts stored inside the containment unit, but it isn’t necessarily a crossover in this respect. The Cowardly Lion does use the line “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” When the Wizard makes a machine to send the ghosts back to America, they end up in Narnia instead. Wait, didn’t C.S. Lewis say it was destroyed (the physical version, at least; the spiritual one from The Last Battle is a different thing) in 1949? Well, who knows how these things work when it comes to ghosts and fairylands? There are several puns of the children’s jokebook variety, with the visiting spirits eating scream of asparaghost soup and playing Hyde and Shriek. I notice that this story gives the palace a female cook, while many others have man in that position, although I guess she isn’t necessarily the head chef. Benjamin Fang illustrated this one.

Following this is a quiz by editor Robin Olderman where the answers spell out a phrase from an Oz book, although the answer is printed right under the questions, and I have to wonder whether that was intentional. Then we get to the two winners of the contest to finish Eric’s “The Silver Jug.” The first is by Margaret Berg, and has Amanda carelessly place the jug where the wax seal melts, releasing some musical plants. Her fellow handmaidens have to coax these plants into the garden. Margaret writes with a bit of John R. Neill’s cartoonishness, with Amanda hovering in the air when she frantically flaps a feather duster, and girls able to remove the feathers because they had been buttering muffins. The story identifies Glinda’s personal maid as Jellia Jamb‘s sister Cherri Jelli, and identifies some “old Oz melodies” the plants play as “Blue Bells of Munchkin,” “Red Sails in Quadling,” and “Fanfare for the Common Ozian.” It ends with Amanda being transferred to the Tin Woodman’s castle to serve as his housekeeper. Margaret wrote many contributions to the Story Circle, including a few telling subsequent adventures of Amanda and her romance with a young tinsmith. One of them states that Amanda is originally from a valley of grape growers and winemakers in the Gillikin Country.

The second ending is by Fred Otto, and in his version, the jug is full of alphabet letters that appear in the Great Book of Records when it’s opened. Amanda and her friend Maxine have to figure out a way to arrange the letters to get them all back inside. Amanda is successful in this one.

I figured I should also read Eric’s own ending, as found in The Salt Sorcerer of Oz and Other Stories. The jug turns out to contain some tiny dragons that fly across the desert.

Following them in Glinda’s stork-drawn chariot, Amanda meets Louise, a larger dragon made of gold, and a nasty witch named Winda who wants to force the silversmith Ymar into marrying her.

Ymar is the one who made the jug, and he and Louise decide to live with Amanda in her old home. A reformed evil magician who used to enslave dragons is also involved. I have to suspect that, if this had been contributed to the contest, it might well have been deemed too long and to deviate too much from the theme of Amanda learning responsibility. It’s rather complicated, and it kind of makes Glinda seem irresponsible herself, as she herself isn’t sure what’s in the jug when she gives it to Amanda.

Next time, the Piglets are back, Trot faces a minor character from Purple Prince, and dolls cause disenchantments.

This entry was posted in Art, Authors, C.S. Lewis, Characters, Chris Dulabone, Chronicles of Narnia, Dennis Anfuso, Eric Shanower, Fred Otto, Humor, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Magic Items, Marcus Mebes, Monsters, Music, Oz, Oz Authors, Phil Lewin, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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