The Wizard of Oz is a classic story with a beloved cast of characters, and now that iconic world and cast are being reimagined in a huge way thanks to a new comic series titled The O.Z. The O.Z. is a new series written by David Pepose (Spencer & Locke) and artist Ruben Rojas, and while it doesn't replace what came before, the world of Oz has never looked quite like this. The O.Z. is like if you took The Wizard of Oz, sprinkled in a bit of The Hurt Locker, and threw it all in a Mad Max world, and if that sounds cool you can now support the first 44-page first chapter on Kickstarter right here. Pepose took some time to talk to ComicBook.com all about the new series, starting with what inspired it and why they decided to go through Kickstarter.
"After my work on Spencer & Locke, I wanted to try my hand at fantasy, but anybody who's read any of my previous work knows that I never write anything straightforward," Pepose said. "I wrote down a list of fantasy stories from my childhood, Lord of the Rings, Lloyd Alexander, Piers Anthony, and the Wizard of Oz. That last one started an itch in my brain. The word 'Oz' felt so short and so iconic, but what if it was an acronym for something? I thought of 'The Occupied Zone,' and it was like lightning struck. I realized this wasn't just a fantasy story, but a war story."
"Because at the end of the day, when you look at what the story we've told for The O.Z., it makes sense within L. Frank Baum's original Oz mythology. Dorothy Gale kills two Wicked Witches, convinced the Wizard of Oz to move on, and then... goes home," Pepose said. "While pop culture might paint this as a happy ending, I grew up during the Invasion of Iraq. I know that when you take down a dictator without warning or a plan, it's a recipe for a power vacuum and sectarian violence. And in the case of The O.Z., it becomes all too fitting that Dorothy Gale's granddaughter and namesake is an Iraq war veteran. Magical or not, this new Dorothy has seen this kind of battlefield before and will have to confront her own traumas if she wants to survive the Occupied Zone."
"As far as why Kickstarter, I've had a lot of friends who have encouraged me to try out the platform for a long time, because it's direct outreach to a whole subsection of readers who might not be hitting their local comics shop or ComiXology," Pepose said. "But moreover, I think Kickstarter is a place that can really empower creators, to let them unleash their creativity without having to wait for permission. I've had a blast with my first campaign, and I can definitely say that thanks to the passion and enthusiasm of The O.Z.'s readership, this will not be the last time you see me on Kickstarter."
The good news is that while the series will be released in installments, Pepose has already written the entire series, and there are already plans in place for the future issues.
"We're hard at work on our second installment, also clocking in at 44 pages," Pepose said. "I've written the entire series, so we're just off to the races with art production. Our goal is to do a second Kickstarter probably around February, and then a third one for early summer 2021. The advantage of Kickstarter is that we're no beholden to the month-to-month release schedule, so artist Ruben Rojas, colorist Whitney Cogar and letterer DC Hopkins have the time to get this thing right without risk of burnout. (And it gives me a chance to rest once our campaign is over!)"
One of the most interesting parts of the series is the split of the beloved trio of the Tin Man, Courageous lion, and Scarecrow, as all three have gone different ways since Dorothy left and have now gone on support or lead different factions vying for control, and it will be up to Dorothy to figure out the best way to address each one and bring some peace to this deadly place.
"To be honest, there was no silver bullet that spelled doom for the original Dorothy's fellowship," Pepose said. "The O.Z. was born out of something like a snowball effect, with characters like the Tin Soldier or the Lion having to catch up as the hostilities were already reaching a critical mass. Without having a leader like Dorothy in the mix, it's easy for these larger-than-life personalities to find themselves on opposite ends of the battlefield, and our new Dorothy is going to have to navigate them all if she hopes to end the war."
"Tackling these characters has been such a blast, even beyond reimagining Dorothy as a haunted soldier looking to make things right," Pepose said. "The Tin Soldier, for example, has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times that he's turned into this towering war machine freedom fighter — but he's the guy who wanted a heart. What happens to that guy when he's watched his friends die in front of him over and over again? Or the Scarecrow. This is someone who wanted a brain. What does that mean for someone who's hinged their entire persona on being smart when he can't solve this equation? And the Lion is one of my favorites. His story has a lot of parallels with Dorothy, about legacy, but also about the moral calculus of bravery and war. It's easy to fight for just yourself, but what happens when you're the ruler of the Animal Kingdom? Or in Dorothy's case, the granddaughter of a legend?"0comments
"There's a lot of fun angles we've taken in this story that feel fresh and different, but still ring true to L. Frank Baum's original characters," Pepose said. "You might think you know the Wizard of Oz, but this is the story of what comes next. Become a Yellow Brick Road Warrior today, and join us in the trenches of The O.Z."
You can find The O.Z. on Kickstarter now, and let us know what you think in the comments or by hitting me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!