OZ is one of the most beloved properties in fiction. Its public domain status has also made it a much revered property for reimagining. Now Zenescope is following the yellow brick road infusing their own style of female empowerment for friends of Dorothy everywhere (wait…uhhh…well you know what I mean).
I recently sat down with OZ writer Joe Brusha and artist Anthony Spay to find out why this version of OZ will be worth picking up this July.
Optimous Douche (OD): With all the fantasy worlds at your disposal, what made Zenescope choose OZ as its next playground for modernization?
Joe Brusha (JB) – When we created the Grimm Universe we established early on that there were four realms of power surrounding earth; Neverland, Wonderland, Myst and Oz. We planned to eventually introduce and reinterpret each of these realms to fit into that overall universe. So we’ve been planning to introduce Oz and modernize it for at least three years.
Anthony Spay (AS): There have been references to Oz in Grimm Fairy Tales and other titles as far back as 2009. Zenescope has made a name for itself with the reimagining of some popular fairy tales; but what the casual reader might not realize is that we have been molding these stories and characters into a cohesive, interactive universe- the Grimm Universe. OZ was a natural progression.
Optimous Douche: Will Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man all be present?
JB: All of the familiar characters from the original Oz story everyone knows will be present. Of course they are getting our typical dark and edgy reinvention so they aren’t going to look like, or act like they did in the original stories. I really love the way both the look and personality of the characters turned out for our Oz story and I hope that our readers do too.
AS: Yes, all of the characters we know and love will be appearing, as well as some incredible new ones. As for those four main characters, we have definitely put our own spin on the characters. Oz was originally a children’s book, so we had to make them fit in our universe- which can be pretty dark! At the same time, they will be instantly identifiable, so I think we have struck a good balance.
Optimous Douche: Can you give us one stylistic change for each of the four main characters and mention one of the new characters?
JB: Dorothy doesn’t look much differently than she does in other versions of Oz. She definitely has more sex appeal but her main changes are in her personality and she’s tougher and scrappier in this version. The lion is much more humanoid and his look was established by a race of characters we’ve already seen in other Grimm stories called the Kavari. They are a tribe of warriors and Oz is their home realm. Anthony designed both the Tin Man and Scarecrow as well as most of the new characters so I’ll let him tell you about them.
Optimous Douche: Zenescope is known for gender switch-ups from the original work, will we see any flip-flops here?
JB: Not in this series. There are basically two reasons we’ve done the gender switches with characters in the past: The first is that is gives us the ability to feature sexy, badass female characters in our artwork and that seems to appeal to the core demographic of comic book readers. The other reason is that we have a large base of female readers who really seem to identify with the strong female characters we create. So by focusing a lot of our stories on female characters we’re able to satisfy our two main customer bases. We have been introducing more leading male characters into the universe but I think the success of films and books like the Hunger Games and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo shows that you can build successful franchises around strong female protagonists.
AS: No, not in this series. In the case of Robyn Hood and Jungle Book, the stories dictated that we made those changes, as they were written for female leads, and there weren’t all that many female characters to play with in the original works. Between Dorothy and the various witches, there were plenty of strong women in the previously established lore of OZ. Somehow, I don’t think the ‘tin woman’ would have fit, haha.
Optimous Douche: The pantheon of OZ history is vast at this point, will this be an origin story where the foursome meet for the first time or some other point before or after?
JB: This is an origin story. In keeping with the idea of reinventing Oz to fit into the Grimm Universe we wanted to start at the beginning and not only introduce these characters to our readers but to each other. This story is a prequel of sorts and takes place in the past mainly so we could do an origin story.
AS: Yes, this series is actually a prequel to a larger story arc, and details Dorothy’s initial journey through the realm of OZ, and her introduction to all of the other characters.
Optimous Douche: So does Zenescope’s OZ start in Kansas, OZ, or somewhere else entirely?
JB: It starts in Kansas. That was one of the things I wanted to keep the same as in the original story. Dorothy is an average farm girl from the Midwest when the story starts and we see her at home before the events of the story transform her into something much more.