‘Zat You, Santy Claus?, by Elayne Riggs

Elayne Riggs

Elayne Riggs

Elayne Riggs is the creator of the popular blog Pen-Elayne on the Web. She was a founding member of Friends of Lulu, an organization dedicated to increasing the involvement of girls and women in comics, as readers and creators. She is married to inker Robin Riggs, with whom she shares two cats, and has odd love/hate relationship with Hillary Clinton.

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16 Responses

  1. Martha Thomases says:

    Try reading E. Nesbitt, the Fabian Socialist author of THE RAILWAY CHILDREN, THE WOULDBEGOODS and lots, lots more. Wonderful, imaginative stuff, much better written than Baum, imo.

  2. Elayne Riggs says:

    Oh dear, now I have to add Nesbitt to my will-buy-someday list (right behind Philip Pullman)! Mercy! Let me get through all those Oz books first! :)

    • Martha Thomases says:

      Edith Nesbitt was friends with H. G. Wells, and, according to my mother, was the first to write children in a "realistic' fashion. Perhaps that would put her further up in the list?

    • mike weber says:

      Might i likewise recommend Edward Eager's children's fantasies (beginning with "Half Magic"), in which he asserts from time to time that (a) E.Nesbit's books are great and (b) that all too much "children's fantasy" is horrid prosy moralising guff written by adults who have forgotten (if they ever knew) what children actually want and need. AMong other things, Eager gives us the idea that magic has rukles, that those rulkes can be determined, and that Good Things come from observing the rules and Bad Things come from tryting to thwart the rules. ("Half Magic" features a magic charm that grants half of each wish. If you're careful to remember to make each wish by twos, fine. But if you just say "I wish we were on a desert island," you may wid up in Araba. "Desert, yes – island, no," as one of the charcters observes.{Avoid, however, "Magic or Not" and "The Well-Wishers", two books by Eager that are precisely the sort of thing he preached against in hs other books…}

    • Marilee J. Layman says:

      No picture! I agree with Martha and mike that Nesbitt and Eager should be placed before Pullman. They're really good children's authors while Pullman is just responding to to Lewis.

      • Elayne Riggs says:

        I gave up on the web elves fixing the photo, and linked instead to the one on my blog; you should see it fine now. Okay, so how many Nesbitts and Eagers are we talking, here?

        • Marilee J. Layman says:

          Hmmm, I didn't get a notice about this reply. For Nesbit, more than 30 books plus some short stories. For Eager, nine books, but only the last seven are the ones people read.

    • Eric Gjovaag says:

      I second the nominations for E. Nesbit and Edward Eager. They are terrific, imaginative writers, on the same par as L. Frank Baum, in my opinion (and Elayne, since I know you know what kind of Oz fan I am, you know that's a two-thumbs-up recommendation). You can even find their Ozziest books in my website's bookshop (thewizardofoz.info/aisle13.html).But your list of other books outside of the Oz series is missing a big one — Queen Ann in Oz by Karyl Carlson and (not to toot my own horn but…HONK!) Eric Gjovaag. You can even order it from us now at thewizardofoz.info/queenanninoz.html.Having done that, I'll also put in a selfless plug for the International Wizard of Oz Club, which just turned fifty this year. Check them out at <a href="http://www.ozclub.org.And” target=”_blank”>www.ozclub.org.And finally, getting back to The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, Baum also wrote a follow-up short story, "A Kidnapped Santa Claus." Like Life and Adventures, it's available online from a number of sources.

      • Elayne Riggs says:

        Just purchased Queen Ann, Eric; someday you'll have to go over with me the other ones I'm missing which you'd recommend. Thanks for stopping by and plugging your Ozsite!

  3. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    Road to Oz didn't just have one crossover, it had many – almost every character Baum created in an attempt to create a second franchise series appears at the party, including Queen Zixi of Ix, John Dough (From Dot and Tot in Merryland) and Cap'n Bill (from Sky Island). In all official maps of Oz, the other lands created by Baum are included in the geography of Oz and its surrounding nations. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Oz-and-surrounding-countrie.jpg)For someone who didn't have very modern ideas, he sure had a whopper in Oz. In Emerald City (I believe) he reveals that Oz is basically a Communist nation. All the farmers deliver their harvests to a central repository, where it's distributed to the populace, so too for any other crafters of manufacturers. Hence my semi-regular comment that the only place Communism has ever worked flawlessly is the Land of Oz, a utopian fairyland.Two TV adaptations of Life and Times have been done in animation, the better of the two by Rankin-Bass in 1985, featuring a screenplay by the god of R-B, Romeo Muller. The character designes of the immortals are a treat. Even the voice "talent" of J.D. Roth couldn't hurt it. Alas, since it so contradicts the Santaverse that the other R-B cartoons (and the Coca-Cola corporation) set up, it's all but forgotten.Though apparently the picture didn't come out, I can vouch for Elayne's Oz-ania – among her ephemera is the rebate check for the video release of the MGM film. A brilliant marketing gimmick, the check was an ornate piece of work, ostensibly written against the "Royal Bank of Oz', and covered with lush color art. Like (I imagine) most Oz fans, she never cashed it, choosing to keep it as a collectible, thus allowing the company to keep who knows how many thousands of dollars in unclaimed rebate money.

  4. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    If you're looking for not necessarily happy tales, seek Michael deLarribetti's The Borribles and Across the Dark Metropolis. A great example of a mythos created out of whole cloth but giving you the feeling that it's been around for years. I've only just learned there's a third book in the series I wasn't even aware of, The Borribles go for broke.I also adored James Blaylock's "Balumnia" Trilogy, very much in the Tolkein style, but successful all to their own.

    • mike weber says:

      It took me a while when reading "The Borribles" to realise that it was at least partly a pisstake on "The Wombles" (which i knew a fair amount about but had never actually seen…)

  5. Kai says:

    Just SO happens that Santa brought me 6 of the 14 Oz books in hardcover this year :) Perhaps the other 8 will appear on ebay to match the 6 I just received. :)Thanks Elayne for the great article!

  6. Jared Davis says:

    L. Frank Baum was a genius. His stories reference folklore and many mythologies. I particularly love "The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus," as it shows Baum creating his own mythology, which would later tie into Oz. I re-read that book every year.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Julian Gardner wrote the Rankin Bass LASC, not Romeo Muller.