Oziana 2017 has arrived in my mail. What a pleasure! Reading the new Oz stories written and illustrated by Oz Club members has been an annual tradition for me since I first joined the Club in 1971. That was also the first year we published Oziana. A high school student, Gary Ralph, edited that first issue. As a young reader, I loved it. With Marcus Mébés in the editor’s seat, I still love it — although these days, I’m only a “young reader” at heart.
First to love is the creative work. Each publication offers new stories and art by a mix of both professional and aspiring amateur writers and artists. In the 46-year tradition of Oziana editors, Marcus features stories that intend to be consistent with L. Frank Baum’s original vision of Oz. The characters may be new or beloved favorites. The plots often tackle an inconsistency in the Oz books for which the writer poses a solution, or something that tosses a magical interruption into the tranquil fairyland of Oz. There is nearly always a fresh adventure. This year there’s even a touch of romance.
Second? I love that this publication simply is. Before the Internet, self-publishing, websites, and blogs like this one, Oziana was the best way, if not the only way, for someone with an original Oz idea to have a voice within the Oz community. Illustrators could see their talents bring a tale to life. Here was a way to share our original Oz stories with other fans, and find out if people liked our work.
“Our” means I joined the party. Oziana stepped deeper into my life in 1985 when a short story I wrote was published. And in 1992 I scored a real fangirl jackpot. Eric Shanower illustrated my “Christmas Tree for Dorothy.” Eric Shanower!!! He was already well known in Oz circles for his professional work. I could scarcely contain my delight.
It’s been more than 40 years, but I won’t forget the first time I sent a story to Oz Club secretary Fred Meyer for inclusion in an Oz Club contest. Or the first time I was published. Or that incredible pleasure at having something of mine beautifully illustrated arrive in my mail.
For all our digital age, that much hasn’t changed. There’s still a rush of joy when an editor accepts your work with a congratulatory note. It’s still exciting to see your own story illustrated, printed, and to know that other fans are enjoying it. Marcus and his contributing editors, Joe Bongiorno and Eric Gjovaag, still give today’s Oz-theme writers and artists that opportunity. While they secure work for all to enjoy, they are also opening a door. And those with budding talents are still invited to step through and discover an appreciative audience of Oz fans.
If your membership level does not include Oziana, it can be purchased on Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/l-frank-baum/oziana-2017/paperback/product-23400178.html