Current Reviews


Oz/Wonderland Chronicles #1

Posted: Tuesday, August 22, 2006
By: Michael Deeley

Writers: Ben Avery/ Casey Heying
Artist: Casey Heying

Publisher: Buy Me
Price: $3.50

Dorothy Gale has gown up and moved into a Chicago apartment with four other girls. One of them is Alice, from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Alice still dreams about her childhood fantasy land; it inspires her songs. Dorothy has forgotten OZ. So it’s a surprise when creatures from OZ and the Wizard come looking for her. A new Wicked Witch has taken over OZ. She’s gathering powerful artifacts from that realm and Wonderland to summon a dangerous new ally: The Jabberwocky.

Full disclosure time: I tried to be an editor on this series. Casey Heying was selling the preview book at S.P.A.C.E. in 2005. I liked the book, told Casey I knew some people in the industry, and would ask if anyone wanted to publish it. I’d gotten some e-mails from publishers and creators when I applied for editing/production jobs in the comics industry that year. My amateur salesmanship resulted in exactly one company showing interest, and unfortunately, this publisher and Casey Heying could not work out an agreement. So Heying published the book himself. Congratulations, Casey! Nice to see it finally published!

So the first and last question I ask myself of any comic is, “Is this worth the price?” Is this comic worth $3.50? I’d definitely say “Yes.” The art alone is top notch. Imagine an entire comic with art on the same level as Greg Horne’s covers. The people look great. Heying captures the essence of the fantasy creatures, from the gangly Jack Pumpkinhead to the disturbing man-children Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. In some panels the characters look like they are “posing for the picture,” but these panels are quickly followed by scenes of action and feeling. My biggest criticism with the art is how the backgrounds tend to look bland. The city looks generic, with empty streets and blank walls. (Also, Dorothy turns into a very ugly little girl!)

The story is a combination literary fan fiction and an episode of Gilmore Girls. Dorothy’s friends are worried that she’s not handling the death of her Uncle Henry very well. The friendship between Dorothy and Alice continues through their visitations by the Oz and Wonderland creatures, and their journey into those other lands. The few people who’ve read the original Oz novels will enjoy seeing all those odd characters come back in a new story. (The rest of us can make do with the classic movies and Disney’s Return to Oz.) The meeting between Oz and Wonderland feels more natural the more you think about it. Both stories are about girls escaping their boring reality into fantasy worlds rich with metaphorical significance and often grotesque imagery. Ben Avery and Casey treat the original works respectfully and use the characters as the original authors intended.

This could be the first comic book that made me want to read “real” books. My curiosity over the original Oz novels has been piqued, and my affection for the Wonderland books has been renewed. A collection of the series would be a fine addition to a public library. And non-comics readers who have read the novels will enjoy this fun piece of fancy. (They may even get passing references to The Chronicles of Narnia and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.) And yes, I’m still trying to sell the book! It’s a fun comic from two very talented men.

As an experiment, read this along with Alan Moore’s Lost Girls. Tell me if your head explodes.

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