So, one of the things that also slowed down my progress on the blog was a new project I’ve started. I began the plotting back in the fall and started it in earnest in January and I’ve been calling it “The Oz Project.”
Some background first. As many of you probably know (and if you don’t, highthee to YouTube and search “Garrett of Oz.”) I have been reading my way through the Oz series, one book at a time and about one book a month. As I’ve been reading them, I have caught myself wondering why the books seem to have fallen from favor. Of course, some of it is the shadow of a little film from 1939, but I think a lot of it falls on the original publisher, Reilly and Lee.
You see, Reilly and Lee started as Reilly and Britton and it was Britton who loved the Oz books. After Britton passed and Lee took over, they kept it on because it made them money, but they had no real passion for it. Subsequently, despite efforts from the Baum family, Ruth Plumly Thompson and even Walt Disney, they didn’t do much with it.
Had Oz belonged to another publisher, I think we might have had something similar to the Nancy Drew/Bobbsey Twin books in the 60s. In the 60s, Grosset and Dunlap went through and re-vamped their book series. They got new covers, new illustrations, and where needed revised or totally rewritten texts. This was more apparent in the Bobbsey books, where they modernized two African-American characters to go from very “Mammy”-esque language to regular English, and completely changed a few of the characters.
So, I began to wonder what would happen if someone did revise the books. What would need to change? What should stay? And then I thought, why not me?
Well, not long after I began musing on all of this, Walter Kreuger posted about wanting to do something similar, so I proposed the idea. Then, I brought in Sam Milazzo to illustrate.
I’ve completed The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and done a second draft of it. I haven’t changed a great deal, mostly just streamlining the continuity, updating the language and re-writing the story as needed. In fact, I’d wager that it’s mostly 85% Baum still. It helps that Wizard is a fairly solidly written book that didn’t require much tweaking, only some minor re-arranging.
I’ll save discussion of the actual art for later, but what I’ve seen of Sam’s sketches is nothing short of phenomenal and I can’t wait to see what’s coming there.
For now, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from my revision from “Chapter Seventeen: The Wicked Witch of the West.”
I hope you enjoy!
Now, the Wicked Witch really wanted to have the Silver Shoes that Dorothy always wore. You see, while she still had several impressive tricks and potions up her sleeve, but with the Golden Cap being used up, she desperately needed the shoes, as they would give her more power than anything in all of Oz. If she had the Silver Shoes then she could rule everything. She watched Dorothy carefully, to see if she ever took off the shoes, so that she could steal them, but Dorothy was very proud of the shoes and very aware that whatever power they had, they must not leave her feet. The only time she took them off was when she would take a bath or at night when she went to sleep.
The Witch, like most people who are evil or mean, was a bigger coward than the Lion, and was terrified of the dark, so she never would go to Dorothy’s room at night; and her fear of water was even greater. This may seem silly, but because of how old and dried up she was, even the slightest drop of water could be the end of her.
And, like many wicked creatures, the Witch was just as cunning as she was a coward and thought of a trick that would give her exactly what she wanted. She placed a bar of iron in the middle of the kitchen floor and enchanted it so that it became invisible, that way when Dorothy walked across the floor, she stumbled over the bar and fell at full length on the floor. She was not hurt, more winded, but when she fell, one of the shoes slipped off her feet, and before she could grab it, the Wicked Witch snatched it up and put it on her own gnarled up foot.
The Witch was greatly pleased, and danced around cackling with glee.
“Give me back my shoe!” Dorothy shouted at her.
“Oh, I don’t think so, dearie, it is my shoe now,” the Witch retorted.
“You have no right,” Dorothy cried
“I shall keep it all the same, and soon I shall get the other one from you, too”
“I think not!” Dorothy shouted becoming quite angry and advancing towards the Witch.
“Oh no?” the Witch asked with a smile, “Well, we shall just see about that.”
She turned her gaze towards Toto and, with a wave of her hand, he was lifted through the air and into her grasp.
“The shoe for your dog, Dorothy.” she said with a menacing tone.
“You give me back, Toto, you beast!”
“As soon as you give me that shoe, he’s yours.” she told girl.
“No, you give him to me first and then you can have the shoe,” Dorothy told the Witch.
“Oh really? You want to try that again?” she said. The Witch pulled on Toto’s tail causing him to yelp.
“Why are you so mean and wicked? I feel sorry for you!” Dorothy shouted.
“Oh my, how sweet of you,” the Witch said sarcastically, “I’ll be sure to change my ways at once!”
She then pulled on Toto’s ears causing him to yelp and whine and struggle harder.
This angered Dorothy, and without thinking she grabbed the nearest thing to throw at the Witch screaming: “You let him GO!”
The Witch gave a shriek, for in Dorothy’s hands was a very full bucket of water and before the Witch could drop Toto, Dorothy had flung the bucket of water all over her. She was soaked through.
“Nooooooooooooooo!” she wailed, “Do you know what you have done?”
Dorothy gasped in shock and watched in amazement as the Witch suddenly began to sizzle and smoke and melt like butter in a frying pan. She dropped Toto who scampered and hid behind Dorothy.
“Oh my goodness, I…I didn’t know!” Dorothy stammered.
“Well in a few moments, I shall be melted and you will have the castle all to yourself!” she moaned, as she began to ooze apart, “I have been very wicked, but I never thought a brat like you would be the end of me.”
“I’m…I’m so sorry,” Dorothy said.
With that, the Witch gave one last long wail and melted into a brown, shapeless mass and began to spread across the kitchen floor. Toto ran up to the mess and began to bark. Seeing that the Witch was well and truly melted, Dorothy took another bucket and threw it over the mess and swept it out the kitchen door. Dorothy then picked up the Silver Shoe, cleaned it off, and put it back on her foot.
After that, she ran to the courtyard to tell the Lion the the Wicked Witch of the West was dead and that they were no longer prisoners, and once he was free, she called all the Winkies together to tell them the good news.