OzCon International is proud to welcome back Aljean Harmetz, a southern California native who suggested our new site. A Hollywood journalist and film historian, she is best known for her books on the creation of several classic films: Round Up The Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca, On The Road to Tara: The Making of Gone With The Wind, and of course, The Making of The Wizard of Oz.
Aljean interviewed no less than fifty cast and crew members of the film as she put together her book, originally published in 1977. Her research led her to a friendship with Wicked Witch Margaret Hamilton. In 1979, she adapted her book for a television special, The Wizardry of Oz. The book has been revised and updated several times throughout the years, most recently in 2013.
Aljean is also the author of the novel Off The Face of the Earth and has written obituaries of high-profile celebrities such as Shirley Temple and Lena Horne for the New York Times, even after her retirement as their Hollywood correspondent in 1990.
Living in Portland, Oregon, best-selling author Andy Mangels has written books for many media properties from superheroes, Star Trek and Star Wars to The X-Files. He produced bonus features for many DVDs, especially releases of Filmation properties, including the 2006 DVD release of Journey Back to Oz. He wrote about the film extensively in the autobiography he wrote with Filmation founder Lou Scheimer, titled Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation.
Andy is also a comics writer, and served as editor for the groundbreaking, award-winning series Gay Comics from 1991 to 1998. Most recently, his work has included the fan favorite series, Wonder Woman ‘77 Meets The Bionic Woman.
Andy is also a vocal gay advocate, and was a founding member of Prism Comics, promoting LGBT representation in comics. He created San Diego Comic Con’s “Gays in Comics” panel over 30 years ago, and sings with Portland’s “Broadway Bears” singing group (where his "Over The Rainbow" has been heard in concert more than a few times).
Special Guests at OzCon 2018 - More to be announced!
OzCon is proud to welcome Robert Payes! The son of Hidden Valley of Oz and Wicked Witch of Oz author Rachel Cosgrove and hobbyist photographer Norman Payes, Robert doesn’t find many yellow brick roads or emerald cities in Bayonne, New Jersey.
As a child of the 1960’s Space Race (real and fictional) and classic horror films, growing up in a house surrounded by books and writer’s supplies, it wasn’t long before he began channeling an overactive imagination onto the printed page, publishing his first stories for Vertex Magazine while still in high school. (A third short story would appear in the Microcosmic Tales anthology in the early 80’s.)
In college, he wrote articles about music, interviews and record reviews for Trouser Press Magazine, as well as taking a stab at making his own music as bassist in the Connecticut-based punk band The Reactors. Decades later, after inheriting his father’s camera gear, he created Stiff Shots Photography, snapping pictures of everything from pro wrestlers to musicians, to historical reenactors, to models running the gamut from G-rated to “Not Safe for Work” (nudge nudge, wink wink).
Currently employed in corporate training design/coordination for the pharmaceutical and medical-devices industries, he describes himself as an “incorrigible punster, lover of (and occasional dabbler in) music-making, second-generation cat person, fan of transgressive entertainment, and admirer of dancers of all styles and stripes.”
Growing up in Richardson, Texas, the first book James Ortiz’s mother read to him was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The story of the Tin Woodman struck a chord with the young James, and much later in life, he created and developed a theatrical piece based upon that story called The Woodsman in 2013. it had limited runs at Standard toykraft, Ars Nova, at 59E59 Theaters in New York City, where it was brought back the following season by popular demand.
The play features James as Nick Chopper as he romances Nimmee Amee, the slave of the Wicked Witch of the East. The Wicked Witch and Tin Woodman and other incredible creatures of Oz are depicted by puppets James designed, inspired by his childhood passions.
The Woodsman became an off-Broadway hit, running to 2015 and moving to New World Stages in 2016. The play led to James surprising Rose O’Donnell with the information that there were fourteen Oz books and meeting Firefly’s Morena Baccarin.
The play earned James the 2016 Obie Award for puppet design. His other credits include The Tempest for the Shakespeare Theatre of DC, King Lear for the Public Theater, and On the Head of a Pin, one of several productions Strangemen & Co.—a theater company he co-founded—has produced.