Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, June 30, 1965. Intended for Apa L, Thirty-Seventh Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1455, July 1, 1965. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321.
|It's here! It's here!||Fridays are black.||Salamander Press #107.|
The Second Annual West Coast Oz Convention last Saturday was as big a hit as last year's, and a third has been arranged for next year, to coincide with Ozma's birthday once again (August 21; the con will be on Saturday, Aug. 20) -- in La Canada, I believe it is. Uncle Ghod and Blake Maxam are the ConCom's secretaries in charge of getting announcements out; see them for details.
This year's Convention began last Saturday morning -- with the first good weather we've had in several weeks -- out in Claremont, at the home of L. Frank Baum's son's widow. This is located in a rather old residential area around the college, more like the small-town residential areas of the East -- large, wooden houses on shady tree-lined streets -- than the typical Southern California neighborhood. Mrs. Baum's home itself was a perfect setting for a series of books associated with a period before the First World War, being a large old house with parlours and pantries, rich wooden panelling, lush drapes and carpets, large old plush sofas and chairs, a fair amount of Victorian bric-a-brac, and so on. I'm afraid I automatically fall in love with any house with a large chandelier, and if it has a grandfather clock as well... (And I thought that colored servants had gone out with Scarlett O'Hara.)
The attendees consisted to a large extent of two different groups of people. On one side were the Baum-Oz fans, most of whom were also at last year's convention, and there was a lot of the usual "glad-to-see-you-again" small talk. On the other was a large turnout of Baum's descendants (Baum spent his later life in the Los Angeles area, and many of his descendants still live around Southern California). These were for the most part not at last year's convention, and seemed to be present today more for a family gathering and to see their illustrious ancestor honored than out of any devotion to Baum's literary endeavours; there were several remarks along the lines of, "Well, I suppose I shouldn't admit it, being his grand-nephew and all, but I've never had any real interest in the books myself." Many seem to have never read more than one or two of the books, and those only out of a sense of family loyalty. Mrs. Baum herself, a very lively little old lady (a gentlewoman, in the real sense of the word), was one of this latter group; even though she seems to have inherited most of the family's literary estate (various family papers, the collection of first & foreign editions, etc.), she made no secret of the fact that she had never really studied the Oz mythos as one of its fans. However, she was pleased as punch at the opportunity of playing hostess to a large social gathering, and I doubt that anyone enjoyed himself as much as she did.
There wasn't as large a display of Baumiana this year as there was last year, and of what they did have, there was a fair amount of duplication of the first year's showing -- the first editions of the non-Oz books, the pencil stub that Baum wrote the manuscript of The Emerald City of Oz with, etc. However, nearly all of the new exhibits were unusually interesting. Dick Martin, the current official illustrator of the Oz books (who flew in fro Chicago for the convention again this year), brought a complete colorful process-breakdown of one of his new Oz dust-jackets, from the original sketches through the printing color breakdowns, etc., to the finished product. One lady who also works with ceramics brought some of her chinaware bearing precise reproductions of John R. Neill color plates from the early books of the series -- beautifully done -- and she offered to take orders for tableware bearing any illustration from any Oz book that you would want. The display that really attracted my attention, though, was a series of all the Oz flags from all the books, precisely reproduced from the descriptions in the books, with appropriate passages reprinted next to each flag. Baum was a sloppy worker when it came to the minor details of the world he created, and his descriptions of Ozian flags sometimes differed widely from each other from book to book; not to mention that some of his successors (both authors and illustrators) created new designs of their own without checking to see if they conflicted with anything already established. The convention attendees were asked to vote on which of the variant designs they liked best for Ozma's personal banner, the banner of the City of Oz, and the Royal Flag of the Land of Oz; the winners would then be proclaimed the "official" designs of these flags, and Dick Martin promised to play up these official designs in all his future illustrations for the series. A highly welcome unexpected exhibit was a large painting of a scene from The Wizard of Oz (in which the Wizard is unmasked) by the Walt Disney Studios. This was an entirely unofficial painting, its owner explained, privately created years ago by a Disney staff artist who was a friend of the family, as a gift for L. Frank Baum's widow. But even though unofficial, it's a 100% Disney article, and if Disney ever does get around to doing anything with all those Oz books he holds the film rights to, the characters will probably come out looking very much like this. The characters in the painting are drawn in a stock Disney cartoon style (with the more rounded features Disney was using in the late '40's and early '50's), not at all like either Denslow's or Neill's artwork, but the result is not at all displeasing -- especially when compared with the poor original artwork in most of today's reprint editions. (Even if the Scarecrow does look suspiciously like Sterling Holloway.)
About noon, a large buffet luncheon was served, following which Dick Martin showed as much of Baum's original film, "The Patchwork Girl of Oz", as has been rediscovered so far -- the first reel and most of the second, out of what was probably a total of 4. the partial second reel was only rediscovered last year, and Dick expressed an optimistic wish that maybe the third reel will turn up for next year's convention. The copy of the second reel that had been found was the original master print, filmed on highly inflammable nitrate stock; after having it reprinted onto safety film, Dick destroyed the original by cutting it up into strips of three frames each, and assembling the strips to form sets containing the entire plot of the reel in condensed form. He had 100 of the sets, at $4.00 each; naturally, I bought one.
Next, Baum's niece gave a short talk on Baum's early life as a storekeeper in the gold-rush town of Aberdeen, South Dakota, while cartoons were shown in the garage for the younger children; I joined the younger children. This was followed by an Oz quiz, in which, to my surprise, I lasted long enough to win one of the minor prizes. (Considering there's only about 3 or 4 out of the 40-odd that I really know, I wasn't expecting to get past the first question; as it was, I was finally tripped up by a question on one of those 3 or 4 "safe" books.) At this point, the Trimbles arrived, and Katwen promptly stole the whole show. (She was particularly fascinated with the crystal chandelier, to Mrs. Baum's delight.) Then, following a short business meeting in which the rough plans for next year's convention were agreed upon, Dick showed Baum's other extant film, the (complete) 1914 "His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz", which I preferred to "The Patchwork Girl". A swap-&-sell session was supposed to close up the con, but everybody had come prepared to buy and nobody had anything to swap or sell. By then, it was after 5:00 p.m., so the convention came to an end and people began to drift out. The convention had been well worth the trip to Claremont, and was a good follow-up to last year's convention; if they keep up like this, they may grow in size over the years to be almost another WesterCon./p>
-- BEING COMMENTS ON LAST WEEK'S DISTRIBUTION
Back up to 80+ page Dist'ns again, I see. I wonder if this heralds another upswing in activity & quality in Apa L. Well, the next few weeks will tell.
Len Bailes -- About when will you be arriving out here for school? ## this isn't the first spurt of wild apa creation that there's been; there was one about twelve years ago. I think that the Cult is about the only survivor of that flood -- or did OMPA get its start then? TAPS sounds pretty much like a latter day CRAP, lacking only the ingroup scatological puns that arose from the name of the apa. Jack didn't as much form LA'APA (or LApa, etc.; we never did agree on the formal spelling) as he had it thrust upon him; it was basically a joke -- as SAPS started out to be -- that nobody had the energy to follow through upon. There was a lackluster attempt to differentiate it from Apa L by decreeing that LApa would be for t he long, semi-serious articles, etc., that tend to get rushed past in Apa L, leaving the short, brisk subjects for the latter group -- but nobody really cared.
Fred Hollander -- Kagawa Street? Do you have sidewalks, or do you just swing through the trees? ## A pretty good job for your first mimeo attempt, but you don't have to use such wide margins in the future. Congratulations on dropping the double-spacing. ## I think Tom would make a good Secretary, and he is willing to work at the job and not desert it for Apa L. Maybe next time.
And I suppose I might as well record the results of last week's elections for posterity. Director: Dian Pelz. Senior Committeeman: Bruce Pelz. Junior Committeeman: Earl Thompson. Secretary: Jack Harness. Treasurer: Bill Ellern.
Jack Harness -- Okay, the Lab Smocks is fine by me. Smock, smock! ## I don't think I'd care to be hypnotized by anybody; certainly not by anybody as unprofessional as Lady J. ## Please explain your comment that the reason Owen's not active in Apa L is because he's "afraid that if he voiced a strong opinion, he might overdo it beyond the intensity he meant." I never noticed that Owen was particularly sensitive about making himself precisely understood.
Greg Wolford -- Boy, your reproduction sure improved fast. Unfortunately, this one isn't quite as enjoyable as last week's. ## Personally, I couldn't care less for TW3 reprints. Maybe we should make a deal: I won't reprint any more of my flag law citations if you won't reprint any more TW3 themes. Okay? ## GAMMA #5 just hit the newsstands here yesterday; apparently the East Coast gets its copies distributed earlier. I know Los Angeles seems to be at the tail end of the national distribution chain; LASFSians who live in Pasadena, Burbank, or the San Fernando Valley invariably get all the new paperbacks, prozines, comics, etc. the week before we do. ## Incidentally, the three issues of BOROGROVE you've sent me so far have all arrived on either Monday or Tuesday. This means that you should be able to take an extra day or two in preparing your zine if you ever need it, and still get it here tome by Thursday for the Dist'n.
Jayn Ellern -- Why does everything LASFSians contact by Ouija Board turn out to be named Fred?
Redd Boggs -- Congrats on putting over a great hoax. What with your comments on Ditch Day and standing up for poor, picked on Tom Gilbert, it looks as though you've convinced people you're really the great humanitarian. Of course we know that anybody who accepts money & stencils from a neofan to publish the neo's zine, cashes the check, but then never delivers with the zine after a year, and never answers any of the neo's letters including requests to return the stencils to let somebody else publish 'em, must be an ordinary callous fan just like the rest of us. Don't we?