April 15th, 2005

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Oz, Oz, Everywhere

So what is it about the Oz story that so entrances comic book writers? Looking through the current Previews, I've come across three different adaptations of Oz so far, and I'm only up to the "C"'s. There's:
  • The truly dreadful-looking "OzF5" -- featuring "Master of Wing Chun Kung Fu Scarecrow, a kilt-wearing Celtic-Warrior King of the Beasts Lion and an axe wielding Tin Man War Machine" (I kid you not: this is all from the ad copy), plus Dorothy in spandex with a BFG, from Alias;

  • "Oz: The Manga", which looks fairly faithful to the original, from Antarctic; and

  • "Dorothy Gale: Journey to Oz", which I'm not sure about -- I suspect it's reasonably true to the story, but with a fairly dark tone overlaid -- from Classics Illustrated Jr.
And it's not as if Oz adaptations are anything new -- from the utterly beautiful Eric Shanower adaptations and novels to "The Oz/Wonderland War" of yore to my old favorite "Oz Squad" (a fairly well-written deconstruction, postulating that the real world and Oz came into full contact at the worst possible time, just before WWII), there have been zillions of them, more than any other story I know.

Is it simply familiarity? Certainly my generation grew up on Oz as a cultural staple, and it may well be a deeper part of our era's mythology than I had previously considered. Perhaps the tone of the story gives more room for exploration than many -- its blend of innocence with the occasional dark undertone leaves lots of opportunities. In many cases, the contrast of Kansas vs. Oz is clearly key to the appeal: the story is fundamentally escapist in a way that appeals to much of the comic-reader mindset.

Opinions? I don't really have an agenda here, I was just struck by how frequently this story gets adapted to comics, in a thousand different ways...
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Leaving no oxymoron unturned...

The latest issue of Newsweek has a short article on the struggles of The Word of Mouth Marketing Association -- the PR industry group that exists to promulgate "buzz" -- to codify a code of ethics. And the only thing I can think of is how appalled and yet unsurprised I am at the existence of "The Word of Mouth Marketing Association"...