Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Friends of Dorothy

I may have mentioned before that I'm a fan of the movie Return to Oz. One of the things that I always liked about it (besides its straight-up creepiness) is the way it builds upon the world of the MGM movie by bringing in characters from the original books, like Billina the chicken and Jack Pumpkinhead.

I read all of the L Frank Baum books as a kid, but haven't thought about them too much over the years. When my wife got us tickets to see the Wicked musical on Broadway, I started re-reading "The Road to Oz," one of my favorites. There are a lot of great characters in there that Disney should consider using if they ever get around to making Return to Oz 2: Return to Return to Oz.

The Shaggy Man

The Shaggy Man is a, well, shaggy man. He's a hobo who dresses from head-to-toe in rags. The Shaggy Man possesses the Love Magnet, which makes everyone love him. The Shaggy Man is a friend to Dorothy, but I always found him kind of creepy.

Button-Bright is a (possibly brain-damaged) four-year-old when Dorothy first meets him in "The Road to Oz." He answers most questions with "Don't know." He wears a sailor suit for some reason (just like Donald Duck!). Apparently he grows up and marries Glinda in some book I never read.

John Dough the Gingerbread Man
I'd never heard of this book before, but John Dough shows up in "The Road to Oz" along with Santa Claus and Queen Zixi of Ix.

Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter
Polychrome came to Oz accidentally when she slid off her father's rainbow and got left behind. She doesn't do very much in "Road to Oz" except be annoying, but I believe she plays a bigger role in later installments.

These characters all have cameo appearances at the parade scene at the end of Return to Oz, but it would be cool to see them have major speaking parts. With the inevitable "Wicked" movie in production, the nation is about to catch Oz-Fever...now's the time, Disney! Don't make us wait 42 years for another sequel!

Here's a great website about Return to Oz, including a blog.

Read "The Road to Oz" here.


  1. The book in which the grown-up Button-Bright marries Glinda is March Laumer's The Frogman of Oz.

  2. Thanks, Nathan! I was a big Oz fan as a kid but I haven't thought about the books in years. Maybe this summer I will start the series from the beginning.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. I've been a big fan of the Oz books for most of my life now. So I'd definitely recommend a re-read, but then I'm biased.

  4. I've been a big fan of them for most of my life now. So I'd definitely recommend a re-read, but my opinion is biased.

  5. hi, i'm currently reading all the "oz" books ( at least the "Baum" ones) and I wonder : Are the other books (I mean :by various authors) still as good as the "real" ones ?

  6. I don't know, Captain. I don't think I've ever read any of the non-Baum ones.

  7. I've read all of the official non-Baum books, and many unofficial ones besides. They vary in quality, but I would definitely say they're worth checking out. Ruth Plumly Thompson's books in particular do a good job of continuing with Baum's world while still bringing her own style to the project. I know some fans don't like her work, though.