Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Equanimity, Stuck, and Obstruction

Those who know Oz only from the MGM movie can be forgiven in thinking this might be Glinda -- in fact, this is Ozma, the true sovereign of Oz... and, as outlined in the second book in the series, The Marvelous Land of Oz, she has a remarkable history. To this day, she may be the only subject of a sex-change in any children's book... for you see, when the Wizard was installed in the Emerald City, Ozma was kidnapped by the witch Mombi; who erased her memory and turned her into a boy to use as a slave. As Tip, the runaway, he created Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse and brought them both to life with the magical powder he stole from Mombi. Only later was his true identity discovered; Glinda turned him back into a girl and with her memories restored Ozma was re-installed to the throne of Oz. She is the best and kindest of all rulers, but prone to sometimes excessive caution... especially when L. Frank Baum got tired of writing about the Land of Oz!

The way is shut! What adventurers within or without the land of Oz do not run into a barred gate from time to time!

The Scarecrow's very flexibility makes him more vulnerable to calamitous situations than most. Fire is not his only enemy! Water is equally as bad for him, and physical barriers can cause him an alarming amount of trouble. Have you never felt like this? I have...

I hope you like these three new card designs.

-- Freder.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bedevilment and Judgement

Here are two more card designs for The Marvelous Oracle of Oz. The first is from an illustration by John R. Neill for the second book in the series, The Land of Oz. After the flying gump crash-lands in a mountainside nest, they are set upon by a flock of jackdaws, from whom they are saved by the Tin man. This exact scene -- minus the jackdaws and the Tin Man -- was put on the big screen in Walter Murch's wonderful movie Return to Oz. If you haven't seen it, it is a must... a real love letter to Oz and the books. Its release  was deliberately torpedoed by incoming Disney CEO Michael Eisner, because it had been greenlighted by his predecessor... and Eisner did not want his predecessor's pictures to perform well at the box office!

... and here is an Ozian version of JUDGEMENT. Illustrator W.W. Denslow issued his own series of non-canonical Oz picturebooks when the publishers chose John R. Neill to replace him. This is from one of those books, in which The Scarecrow and the Tin Man go on a joy-ride in a jaunty jalopy and wreak havoc upon everyone who gets in their way.

More card designs coming soon!

-- Freder.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

An Oz-tastic new Divination Deck... Coming Soon from Duck Soup Productions!

As a lifelong fan of the Oz books written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W.W. Denslow and John R. Neill, I'm happy to announce one of my next projects, an all-new Oracle Deck set in the Marvelous Land of Oz. The first few designs are done, and I think that I'm satisfied with the overall look and feel... although that may change! Over the next few months, you can watch the deck grow as I work out the details and post new designs here. Join me on this magical journey down a new length of the Yellow Brick Road!

The first card I completed is OPPOSITION, featuring Denslow's version of the Wicked Witch of the West, facing off with Dorothy and Toto. I love Denslow's version of the witch for being unabashedly Halloweenish in her choice of costume. 

The second card is from a chapter heading by John R. Neill. You may be wondering about the symbols and numbers and coloring in the top corners of each card. In the original books by Baum, the land of Oz is divided into four quadrants (the lands of the Munchkins, Quadlings, Winkies and Gillikins) with the Emerald City at their center. This was just too good a correspondence to pass up for an Oracle deck, and so I decided to equate the various counties of Oz with the four elements of nature. Working around the map from the bottom in a clockwise motion, we have:

The Quadlings (Red) as Earth. the Winkies (Yellow) as Air, the Gillikins (Purple is their accepted color, although the map erroneously shows them in Green) as Fire, and the Munchkins (in Blue) as Water. Thus each card is associated with a county and an element, which are identified in the top left corner. The number that I'm putting on each card at the top right has to do with numerological correspondences... all about which I am really just learning. This element may change as I get further into the designs. 

The third card is again based on John R. Neill's art, and combines two of his drawings: the figures are from a series of short stories that Baum wrote to be issued as promo books for the Jello company! This one (obviously) is from The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman of Oz... the only one of these short stories that I have in its original edition. 

I'm a strong believer that Oracle decks should have negative cards as well as positive ones, and so next we get "Grief," from the same book. The Scarecrow has just lost his friend the Tin Woodman in a rushing river, and his attempts to fish the Tin Man out with a hook and thread have failed. Even the crow is sad.

So -- those are the first four card designs. I hope that you will enjoy seeing them as much as I am enjoying making them. In the end, when I feel that I've completed the deck, it will be available through the Game Crafter for purchase... but for now, that's some time away. 

In the meantime, please visit my main page, Duck Soup Productions, or either of my two previous oracle deck projects, The Golliwogg Oracle or Tarot of the Zirkus M├Ągi. And thanks for visiting here.

-- Freder.