You Can See ‘Em Work


For the 2004 Oziana, John Bell took over as editor, as well as the author of one of the stories. The cover picture, which wraps around, was drawn by Don Marquez, and includes his takes on many different established characters.

“A Bungled Kidnapping in Oz,” by David Hulan – This story addresses an inconsistency between books, specifically how the Glass Cat has her pink brains back in The Magic of Oz when the Wizard of Oz turned them transparent in Patchwork Girl. It also touches on Ozma deciding to learn magic, and gives an origin story for a minor character from Royal Book.

David had already written a book about Bungle, and she’s the main character here as well. A boy with a mean streak named Jommy Zelv, who had heard about Ugu kidnapping Ozma and noted some of the mistakes he had made, makes his own attempt at using magic to capture the ruler. Bungle manages to thwart this attempt, and is rewarded by getting her pink brains back.

The would-be kidnapper is made to drink the Water of Oblivion and renamed Zif, which is said to mean “industrious” in old Ozish. This narrative was later incorporated into David’s Magic Carpet, but there Jommy is instead renamed Tando Mankrit, presumably to avoid copyright issues, even though I believe Royal Book was in the public domain at the time. John Mundt, who also illustrated one of my stories, drew the pictures for this one. I like his enraged Wogglebug.

There’s also one by Alexi Francis of Jommy enchanting Ozma.

“New Moon Over Oz,” by M.A. Berg – A prose story in a poetic style, it gives an account of what different denizens of the Emerald City think the new moon reminds them of. Her original character Mozel Tozv, Guardian of the Back Gate, makes an appearance. Alexi Francis drew two illustrations for this one.

“Evrob & the Nomes,” by J.L. Bell – This is another tale that fills in the gaps between books, in this case how the Nome King regained some but not all of his memory between Emerald City and Tik-Tok. It also gives some personality to King Evardo of Ev and his nine siblings, most of whom don’t get much beside a name in Ozma. On a trip to the beach with their Wheeler nanny, Prince Evrob just wants to dig a hole, but his relatives keep getting in his way. When he finds himself back in the Nome Kingdom, he’s content to help the inhabitants dig for a while. When Dorothy reads about this in Glinda’s Great Book of Records, however, she assumes the Prince has been kidnapped, and inadvertently tells the Nome King some things he’d forgotten about. His new name, Ruggedo, is explained as being a misinterpretation of Kaliko‘s mouthing of his old name, Roquat, which seems plausible enough. Repurposed John R. Neill illustrations accompany this one.

I already wrote about the 2005 Oziana, which includes my first published story. I think I’ve actually said something about every issue since then as well. Here are my thoughts on the 2006 and 2007 issues, which are on my LiveJournal. I’m still going to reread them, but I don’t want to repeat myself too much, so I don’t know how much I’ll write.


I am starting to look back at apocryphal Oz books I never reviewed, and this time, it’s A Wonderful Journey in Oz, by Ryan Gannaway, who now goes by Atticus. He wrote this when he was eleven, and it shows. But then, his actually finishing a book and having it published is way more than I did at that age. I mostly just have a bunch of beginnings that don’t go anywhere. In terms of plot, it has Button-Bright traveling with Trot and Cap’n Bill on his Magic Umbrella, which he has back with no explanation other than that it was “recently recovered.” He finds out that he can use it to travel through time as well as space, and they rescue Ozma’s grandmother Ozara when she’s about to be enchanted by Mombi. This is sort of continuing a trend in fan-written Oz books, as Henry Blossom brings back Ozma’s grandfather in Blue Emperor, and Ray Powell her mother in Mister Flint. You’d think Ozma gaining such a large extended family would change the dynamic somewhat, but I guess they mostly do their own things. In order to resolve some contradictions, Joe Bongiorno reinterpreted Ozette as Ozma’s grandmother and Ozroar and Ozara as her great-grandparents. Ruggedo’s role in this book follows up on his fate in Greg Hunter’s Enchanted Gnome, and the story about evil tree spirits likely derives from Onyx Madden’s Mysterious Chronicles. There’s also an opportunity for the elephant on the Umbrella handle to come to life again. We learn that the Umbrella was created by a magician named Nbrgk who was killed during a visit to Arabia, and that the Wizard grows wishing pills on trees by planting sunflower seeds treated with magic elixir. I have a bit of a nod to the Evil Forest inhabited by exiles from Scare City in a story of my own.

This entry was posted in Art, Atticus Gannaway, Book Reviews, Characters, Families, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Language, Magic, Magic Items, Names, Onyx Madden/Jim Nitch, Oz, Oz Authors, Places, Ray Powell, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to You Can See ‘Em Work

  1. Jnolbell says:

    Marcus Mebes was art director on this issue, recruiting and guiding the artists. I believe he found that terrific color drawing by Don Marquez for the cover. Since Don had already created it without “Oziana” specs in mind, we tried different ways to make it look good. I’m proud of the idea to run the magazine title vertically so the art fell just so. I forget who thought of including a key to the characters inside the magazine, but that worked very nicely as well. I came up with the format for the contents page based on how the “New Yorker” magazine handled its contents and contributor-bio pages. Later I assigned themes to “Oziana” issues; in this one the unlabeled, unplanned theme is that all the stories take place in the dark. The short-run printing we used did a good job producing rich patches of black.

  2. Ethan Davis says:

    Not sure if I agree with that backstory for Zif, but, it is still interesting. Nice to see more posts mentioning Ozma’s Genealogy too because in my series she’s supposed to be descended from the Olympians via Poseidon (Bo, the Master Mariner is the grandson of Poseidon and the father of Lurline and since Ozma is Lurline’s daughter with Pastoria, she is Poseidon’s great-great granddaughter and the 4th cousin of Polychrome (Iris’ daughter and Iris, in my series is the half-sister of Zeus, Hera, Demeter, Hestia, Poseidon and Hades)

    • Nathan says:

      Zif is such a minor character that his backstory could have been pretty much anything. I appreciate that someone gave him one at all, but I guess that’s one thing fanfiction is for. As for Ozma’s family, her grandfather is mentioned in Dorothy and the Wizard, so it’s not too surprising he’d eventually show up.

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