Time to gather stones together.
Or gratitude is the best attitude.
Once upon a time, the grass was tall, I was young, and lived in Russia.
Cartoons, comics, and books have always been my big love. But one book made a nest in my heart - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
You probably didn't know that Russia has its re-narration version of Frank Baum's book. Soviet writer Alexander Volkov rewrote the story about Dorothy Gale’s adventures and called it The Wizard of the Emerald City.
He changed character names and plot elements, but the first book relied heavily on Baum's storyline anyway.
After The Wizard of the Emerald City won the hearts of Soviet kids, Volkov wrote five more sequels, creating his Magic Land and breaking away from Baum's universe.
Fun fact, Volkov's books have been translated into many languages, including English, and in some countries are even more famous than Baum's books.
I was born in the USSR, and standing in the library line for The Wizard of the Emerald City I didn't even suspect that L. Frank Baum and Oz existed.
I was in love with everything related to the Magic Land. Probably it was similar to kids loving Harry Potter these days. And when I found out that The Wizard of Emerald City had an American original, all I could dream about was reading it.
Years passed, the USSR collapsed, and modern Russia formed.
I finished high school and spent entire summer days in the Internet cafe, sipping coffee and reading everything I could get my hands on. Yeah, it was the nineties and the very first days of the future Digital Age.
Do you remember how it was without the Internet? :)
I devoured books in incredible quantities straight from the computer screen. And the first of them was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum.
I think now I know how Amish youth folks feel during their Rumspringa.
It was 2010 when someone said to me, "Hey! The Oz comic book is out. I stumbled across it somewhere on the Internet!"
I was like, No way! My favorite book story has drawn as a comic book? That’s more than anything you could wish!
I found this book the same day, and it was so cool drawn that I immediately wanted to know who did all of this awesomeness.
It was Skottie Young. And since then I become a big fan of his, along with Magic Land and Oz.
Now I have all the books about Magic Land by Volkov, several editions of Oz by Baum, and almost all of Young's books (most of them I collected in digital form, but I have a paper collection also).
Isn’t it very interesting how life clings to one event after another, leading us to something new?
From Volkov to Baum. From Baum to Young and his unbelievable Imaginarium.
It was a basic, unremarkable morning. I opened my eyes and...
"Nooooo waaayyy! Skottie Young bought my annual Substack subscription!"
I yelled so crazily that our neighbors crossed themselves in their morning beds, and our cats jumped over their breakfast bowls.
"Why are you yelling like that?" My wife isn't a cheerful morning person.
"Look! Just look at it! Loooook!" I poked my phone in her face.
"Congratulations," she tried to smile through her morning apocalyptic pessimism. "Ugh, stop poking your phone at my face already! I appreciate the grandeur of the event!"
When I was setting up my Substack newsletters, I recommended Young’s page because I always do it when I have a chance. I believe that if there is anyone left alive who hasn’t read his comics, they should do it asap :)
I don’t have favorite actors or singers for whom you advocate on every corner. But I have Skottie Young. So, you know…
That’s why I recommended him, but I could not even think that he would return the favor.
And I don’t think that he thought he’d run into his crazy fan either :)
My delight peaked when Young not only bought my subscription but also followed me on Instagram and recommended Silly Butts on his page.
"You should thank him! You know, that THANK YOU VERY MUCH thing. It's rare when that famous people like him do something like he did for you," my wife told me in response to all of my enthusiastic squeaks.
"How do you envision it? It's like Stephen King followed your biochemistry Facebook page because there is nothing scarier than all those molecular models of yours. Ha, I bet that you would win the casting for the role of the frozen piece of meat just in one minute! And don't you think that it sounds stupid when you are like, Hey, mister King! Thank you so much! I'm your big fan! No?"
Yeah, I still don't know how to be properly polite in the USA.
"Hm, you can write some kind of a story," my wife shrugged.
So, I did it and that’s why we are all here today.
THANK YOU VERY BIG HUGE MUCH, Skottie Young, for your support!
(I hope you or someone from your crew read this :)
You are not only a fantastic artist with a great sense of humor, a sexy beard, and fluff this world stories. You are a bombastic human bean!
And if you’re the rare person who hasn’t read Young’s comics, then go ahead and do it.
P.S. Don’t tell me you haven’t read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz! But if you really haven’t read it yet, add this to your list after Skottie Young :)
And don’t be like I’m too old to read kid’s books and comics. Just do it.
I’m here to hear what you think of me after this :)
Cheers! I hope your weekends will be full of books :)