2018 Oz Club Calendars have mailed

2018 Oz, A Toy Collector's Dream

2018 Oz, A Toy Collector’s Dream

It’s always a great day for me to mail the Oz Club calendar.  I’m anxious for people to like it, but it’s also a heavy workload. Happy to do it; glad when it’s done.

What’s in a year?  A day?  The birthday of Andre de Shields, the Wiz in “The Wiz” should be celebrated. Ditto those of Emma Ridley and Eloise Jarvis McGraw. The Munchkins arrival in Los Angeles to make the MGM film, Oz On Ice skating into the arena, and the Matilda Joslyn Gage Home opening to the public. These are milestones in my world, with its all-embracing love of Oz. And I wasn’t finding them on any calendar.

In 2013 I offered to develop the 2014 calendar with an MGM anniversary theme. I approached collectors who I knew had items tied to the film’s released and asked them to show-and-tell their treasures.

Then I drove myself to distraction filling as many dates as possible with what was happening in the world of the MGM film. Yes, I kept publication of Oz books and a few other important dates. But for the most part, it was packed with MGM trivia.

For the 2015 calendar each month covered a different stage or screen production; I cleared most of the MGM details to make room for information about other stage and screen projects. Calendar 2016 became a “Road Trip to Oz;” each month I had a fan talk about a personal visit to an important Ozzy destination, while the dates covered grand openings, exhibits, and destination-based events. The Club’s 60th anniversary was a natural fit for 2017. Different members shared memories that covered important aspects of the Club. I had an endless stream of information to place on dates marking the milestones so many members had with Oz.

When 2018 needed a vision, I was deep in the throes of developing an Oz toy exhibit in Kansas City. Why not make that a calendar theme? Of course, I hadn’t considered that the toys I’d need to photograph would be in a museum behind glass until August of 2017!  Or that finding specific dates tied to Oz toys would be a frustrating and futile search. Just that it would be a fun finished piece.

And, if I do say so myself, it is. Overthinking (as usual) my initial plan featured only the oldest and rarest Oz toys. My friend Lynn Beltz suggested I focus on toys today’s Oz fans would remember from their own childhoods, too. Way better!  After a few months’ nod to historic toys, I was rounding up Halloween costumes, magic slates, and 50th anniversary toys to fill its pages.

With the postage now affixed and the envelopes mailed to the Club’s Sustaining, Patron and Wizard’s Circle members, I can catch my breath before starting on 2019. It will celebrate the Club’s long-awaited publication Bibliographia Baumiana. Each month will feature a Baum non-Oz book. With publication dates galore, and Bill Thompson’s wonderful new book for reference, I may get started early this time.

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All Things Oz exhibit — compliments of the IWOC

My very first blog was about an exhibit I provided on behalf IMG_3868of the Oz Club to the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas.  Imagine how pleased I am to report that my good friend and fellow Oz Club member Blair Frodelius has now set up an exhibit on behalf of the Oz Club at All Things Oz in Chittenango, New York.

“Christmas in Oz” used material from Blair’s collection and a few things from me to showcase L. Frank Baum’s novel, Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, WW Denslow’s Night Before Christmas and other Wizard of Oz and Christmas connections.

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Thank you, Blair, for sharing your collection and promoting our Club!

Life and Adventures of Santa Claus figurines

Life and Adventures of Santa Claus figurines

Oziana 2017 now available

Oziana2017

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