Comics Should Be Good! reminded me of this interview with scripter Tommy Kovac about his comics series with Andy J. Hirsch, The Royal Historian of Oz, which just came out from Slave Labor Graphics.
Among other things about L. Frank Baum’s series, Kovac says:
I started reading the original books when I was in about 3rd grade. . . . Before that, like every other human being in the civilized world, I had seen the movie, and of course loved it.Kovac’s story includes (again, among other things) an Official Oz Society, enforcing particular portrayals of Oz, as shown in the preview pages accompanying that interview. Its power depends on an “eternal copyright,” which of course doesn’t exist. (It would be unconstitutional in the US, though Jack Valenti and the Great Ormond Street Hospital are willing to overlook that.)
But once I became attached to the blond & sassy version of Dorothy in the original books (due largely to illustrator John R. Neill, who illustrated 13 of the 14 Baum books), I completely rejected Judy Garland’s whiny, weepy, chicken-shit portrayal.
In fact, Baum’s Oz books and many of their sequels are in the public domain, meaning anyone can do anything they want with those texts, their characters, and their ideas. The challenge isn’t getting permission or (these days) getting printed; it’s getting anyone else to notice or care.
The Official Oz Society is really, Kovac admits, a parody of every avid Oz fan’s wish not to see that fantastic place and its citizens depicted in ways he or she dislikes.
I'm sort of making fun of myself with my version of the Official Oz Society, because my knickers get majorly twisted when I see someone take Baum’s creative property and do something I think is lame or just plain wrong. . . . It’s because those characters are so real in my head, seeing them fucked with is like slander, or defamation.Of course, one fan’s slander is another’s brilliant new idea.