Animals of Oz series #4: Quox vs the Rak
My daughter finally did her next installment in her #animalsofoz series of paintings. I wish I could do this now let alone at nine years old, but I think she nailed it. Using the descriptions that L. Frank Baum gave in his Oz books, she brought these two dragons to life. On the back of the canvas she included the quote: “It is the law that evil, unopposed, may accomplish terrible deeds. The power of good can never be overthrown when opposed to evil.” This is one of Baum’s many true to life quotes, and I love that she enjoys his works as much as I do.
Her thoughts were that even though these two have a common ancestor, they differ in many ways. Nothing is born out of evil, only influenced by those we surround ourselves with.
Her goal was to portray that despite all our differences, we can all get along. I think she’s on to something with that line of thinking.
She is a big fan of the original L. Frank Baum Oz novels, so she wanted to start there with an animals of Oz series. First up is the Cowardly Lion on the yellow brick road by the forest’s edge. On the back of the canvas she wanted a quote from the novel THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ… “True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.”
I asked why she wanted this quote in particular, and she claimed that it takes courage to put skills and talents out there knowing that people will criticize it. I couldn’t agree more, but I think this little lady has a fine future in front of her.
Lana sits in as cohost for this episode all about L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz. From the 40 original novels, we discuss some noteworthy adaptations in film, games, and more. What are your favorite Oz works?
Chime in with your thoughts, and be sure to subscribe to my channel for episodes of #thinksipwrite and more.
The folks over at 5 Reads Blog gave me a guest post on my 5 most inspirational reads as an author. Click on over to check out what my mentions are and how they’ve shaped me into the writer I am. http://5readsblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/rick-pipito/
Sam Raimi and Disney’s latest outing has come in with mixed reviews. So how was it really? First off let me say this. I am a TRUE Oz fan. I have read all fifteen original L. Frank Baum books, as well as a handful of short spinoffs that were considered continuity. I own Skottie Young’s graphic novel interpretations, as well as the original special edition of MGM’s Wizard of Oz, and the sequel Return to Oz by Disney. I consider myself an expert on the world as far as a fan can be.
Though I wish that the original 1939 movie had stuck closer to the book (ala the silver shoes being ruby slippers, and origins of tinman etc) I don’t think that that movie should EVER be redone. Judy Garland IS Dorothy, and while I’d welcome sequels and prequels I just don’t think anything should be done with that movie. It is TOO classic. So all of that aside, where does Oz the Great and Powerful come in. I will say this… I’m giving it a 9 out of 10 flying monkeys. That’s right, As an Oz fan, this really pleased me well, (as well as my wife and 2 year old boy, and 4 year old girl who sat through the whole thing without issue). There’s my rating. Now I will get into some of the MINOR SPOILERS. I won’t reveal too many, but if you don’t want to know, then come back after you’ve watched.
The story begins with credits and music by Danny Elfman. The man knows how to make a theme song, and while this one won’t stick as well as his Batman 1989 theme, it still gives you this fantastical feel that immediately brings you into the movie. I saw this film in standard format, but I wish I’d have seen it in 3D. I may still go back to do that, because I felt immersed in the world of Oz nevertheless. I could tell that the 3D was done properly, and from what I’ve heard it was amazing.
Then, in tribute to the original 1939 film, Oz the Great and Powerful opens in a square format black and white setting of 1905 Kansas. This story is a prequel to that classic movie and Baum’s first book. It really does well explaining the back story of how the Wizard got there, as well as the origin of a few other characters. James Franco, while I find is either hit or miss in his acting, did a great job as Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs (or to make it short, he just goes by Oscar Diggs). I was glad to hear why he was called Oz. The novels do mention his full name, and Franco recited the nine names as if they were his own. Oz is a circus magician who is egotistical, pompous and a womanizer. He is a selfish man who will eventually have to make choices and find the good within him.
Zack Braff as his assistant and Finley the Monkey was one of the highlights of the movie as well. The circus shows Oz’s act, and him escaping from the wrath of a strongman. You’ll see why, I just don’t want to give away everything. There are a few hidden Easter Eggs lying around. You’ll notice that the name of the circus is Baum Brother’s circus. A tribute to the author and creator of this fantastic world. Zach Braff’s character was referred to by Oz as a baggage carrying monkey (which he portrays in Oz). Glinda has a counterpart in Kansas, and a crippled girl is recreated in Oz as the China doll princess. This all of course is in tribute to the 1939 film, where real characters end up in Oz being something else or having similar dopplegangers.
Once Oz makes it to the Land of Oz, the black and white as well as the square format, expand into a beautiful world of color and widescreen. You really feel as if you are in the Land of Oz during the whole story. Immediately we are introduced to Theodora the good. From anyone who is familiar with Oz lore, Theodora eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. The cool thing is that you find out why, and actually see her transformation from the stunning Mila Kunis into the hideous witch in this movie. Is she the main villain? no, but she is definitely a perfect and welcome addition. Her tranformation from sweet Theodora into the Wicked Witch is truly frightening and amazing. They even address the whole water being harmful thing.
A few things I noticed that I didn’t like. 1) there are parts of the CG world that seem a little too cartoony, but I’m sure they look better in 3D. regardless, they are stunning visuals. Most of the visuals blend well though. 2) Mila Kunis as the witch of the west was not as wicked seeming as Margaret Hamilton’s 1939 version, but keep in mind that this story is probably a good 30 to 40 years before that movie. The reason I say this is the age of the characters. Oz, Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda are much younger looking in this movie, and it shows sort of how much time is between the two. Mila’s voice in parts was spot on, but not as convincing in others.
Evanora on the other hand (Played by Rachel Weisz) was truly evil. She is the Wicked Witch of the East (you know, the one who gets splattered by Dorothy’s house in Wizard of Oz.) She is manipulative and cunning in her ways. A brief cameo by the Cowardly Lion made me tingle with excitement, as well as a pre-origin to the scarecrow.
As I mentioned earlier Finley the monkey was a great character, but the China doll princess was touching to say the least. Her animation was flawless, and you really cared for the character. She was a welcome addition, and so was China country, which was a major focus in a few of the Oz novels. How Oz comes to find the good within himself, as well as Glinda’s use of her bubble transporting, and the final battle to defeat the witches was really great. I was on the edge of my seat.
Michelle Williams as Glinda the good was very believable. She seemed like a true force for good, and to see her actually face off in a magic battle with Evanora was a perfect ending. Other mentions are the munchkins with their musical number, as well as the people of Oz. They were perfect recreations from the books, and needed in this story.
As emotional as the ending to the Wizard of Oz made me when I originally saw it, the emotions are cued in here as well. Oz giving the main characters “gifts” and how it is done, is touching.
It was announced the other day that Disney had greenlit a sequel based on how projections would be. I will own this movie on DVD, and highly recommend to any fan of books or the films, to go see it in the theater as well. So what could they do in a sequel? I think it would still be another prequel to Wizard of Oz. Here are my reasonings. Much seems to still happen between the end of this movie and the beginning of the original. There are decades in between. So what could happen in the sequel/prequel? Here are my predictions/suggestions:
1) Evanora is in her true witch form now, but she hadn’t had the Ruby (silver) slippers. How did she get them, and what did she do with them to be a threat to Oz. Where in the East did she settle? 2) Theodora is now in charge of the Winkies, and in control of the Flying Monkeys. How did she get them out of the Poppy field? Did she build her wicked castle in the West? What did she do in those years between? 3) China Country in the books was a major setting. How did it get rebuilt? 4) Showing the origin of the Tin Man, and how he rusted. I actually believe that if a sequel was made, he’d be the central character as a human. In the books, a witch (assumingly the witch of the East Evanora) was jealous of his love for a Munchkin. She enchanted his axe which ended up cutting off all of his human parts, which ended up being replaced in tin by the tinkerers (who were introduced in this movie). Oz doesn’t need to even be in a sequel, as the story of Tinman could be the focus.
If Disney needs ideas, they should contact me. haha. Or Skottie Young, whose interpretations of the books in graphic novel form are flawless. Not to mention that he is doing these comics for Marvel, which Disney owns, so he’s already in the family. Bottom line is: Ignore those who are critical because they have no idea what they are talking about.
One other point to mention. There is an animated sequel to the Wizard of Oz coming out later this year called “Dorothy of Oz”. I can’t wait to see what they bring in, but I can’t imagine it will capture the classic feel that this one has.
Start your kids off early with reading. With all of the media today, it is difficult to get your kids to read when they can so easily get buried in technology. My daughter is three years old, and my son is almost two. As a writer, I’ve always told them stories and read them books. Then, my daughter’s imagination began to grow, and I had to compensate. I found something that is absolutely great for young children. Graphic Novels.
A man named Eric Shanower, as well as artist Scottie Young, have brought to life one of my favorite series of novels. L Frank Baum’s Oz stories are being published by Marvel Comics. I managed to snag a copy of “The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz,” “The Marvelous Land Of Oz,” and “Ozma of Oz.” Currently in the works is “Dorothy and The Wizard In Oz.” These are the first four novels in Baum’s original series and the stories have been converted faithfully. The character designs are unique, but fitting, and the stories flow well.
As I read the three graphic novels to my daughter (using unique voices for each character) I soon found she wanted more. That is when I searched for Eric Shanower’s other works. Apparently, before he scored a deal with Marvel, he had worked with IDW publishing to do some of the other Oz stories that weren’t full novels. “Little Adventures In Oz Book 1 and Book 2” were two others that became a great read.
While waiting for the next full release in the Oz series of comics, I decided to search for other classic tales, and found that Dynamite Entertainment did “The Complete Alice In Wonderland.” This graphic novel is also true to the original Lewis Carroll books. It includes “Alice In Wonderland” and “Through The Looking Glass,” plus has some bonus poems in the back. Although the language is a little more poetic than the Oz works, it still is entertaining for my two children.
I highly recommend getting your kids in to reading in this manner. It expands their imaginations, and you’d be surprised in what they remember. The stories work well for girls and boys, as well as myself as an adult. Although sCrypt Comics is currently portraying horror, there are many other things in the works, including my first children’s book from a few years back called “A Little Girl In The Land Of The Hiccups.”
Have you found other graphic novels or comics that would be great for kids or that have translated well from the original fairy tales? If so, please comment. I’m always in search for a good recommendation.