Monday, May 01, 2006

Oz Comics

Oz the Manga by Antarctic Press is one of my favorite Oz comic series. I love the manga art and I'm so happy to see the characters represented in this art form. Right now I have issues 1 - 3 and the epilogue. So far these comics follow 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' well taking few liberties such as the introduction of the Wicked Witch of the West in the first issue where in the original novel the witch didn't appear until much later. Suitable for all ages this would serve very well as an introduction to Baum's original tales. My only minor complaint is that the illustrations are in black and white, but they are nonetheless, still very charming. There are 8 issues all together and one epilogue. A pocket sized graphic novel is due for release this summer.

Alias comics brings us OzF5: Gale Force graphic novel #1. I do hope there are more issues. Objectionable material is very slight if at all. The Wicked Witch of the East looks like a bikini clad Amazon Queen and the Cowardly Lion tears off the face of a Kalidah. No harsh language. I would guess this would be appropriate for the younger teens and up.

One of the striking features of this comic is the cover. It is printed on heavy stock and the Oz characters have a glossy finish while the rest of the cover is a matte finish. Very nice effect. The artwork overall is striking with vivid colors that pop from the pages.

I really enjoyed the clever nuances in this comic. The comic starts out in a sepia toned Oz as the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion fight the Winkie armies commanded by the Wicked Witch of the East. After the Gale farmhouse has vanquished the witch Dorothy arrives in technicolor brandishing a water gun ready to do battle. The Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion have been given nationalities which oddly enough really seem to suit the characters while they still retain the original qualities Baum gave them. There's a little twist at the end that I'll leave for you to discover.

The pacing was a bit too fast, but that is supposed to be corrected in future issues. I also would have liked the Wicked Witch of the West to have been a more formidable foe. All in all, this graphic novel is a delight and the story has been given a new sense of fun and whimsy.

The wizards at Illusive Arts Entertainment bring us a sleek sci-fi trek through Oz simply entitled 'Dorothy'. Without the benefit of a yellow brick road to guide her, Dorothy's journey is anything but simple. The sweet farmgirl we are all familiar with has been turned into an angst ridden teenager suddenly plucked from her seemingly dismal life to face some outer planetary realm fraught with peril at every turn. This comic series is not for the younger sci-fi or Oz enthusiasts as it does contain course language and drug references.
Painstaking work is put into every issue, from the costuming and make-up to the digital photography and graphic art. It takes approximately two months to produce a single issue. Tentative plans call for twenty issues for the entire series. A graphic novel comprised of issues 1 - 4 was released recently and Chapter 5 arrived at comic shops not long after.
As of this writing, I've only read Chapter 3 where Dorothy is attacked by a large serpent in a cave. This incident is reminiscent of a chapter from L. Frank Baum's 'Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz' where Dorothy and her companions encounter a family of hungry dragons inside the bowels of a mountain. Though I've read only one issue, I find the plot intriguing. It has the same basic premise as 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' of course, but it also takes wild liberties that make this story a compelling re-imagining of a classic fable.

Unfortunately, only 7 issues and one trade paperback were completed.  Please see these links for more information: