Special Guests at OzCon International 2023!

Gita Morena

Gita Morena is a transpersonal psychotherapist, teacher and author. She blends Jungian psychology and eastern spirituality in her work and has a unique way of exploring internal stress, and trauma to resolve emotional pain.

Dr. Morena has been a licensed marriage, family and child therapist for over 45 years. She is also a certified sandplay therapist and teaching member of the International Society for Sandplay Therapy (ISST) and Sandplay Therapists of America (STA.)

As the great-granddaughter of L. Frank Baum, Dr. Morena brings the legacy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into many aspects of her work. In her book, The Wisdom of Oz: Reflections of a Jungian Sandplay Psychotherapist, she explores the symbolism and insights in the Oz fairy tale.

She recently opened an office in Santa Monica, California, and is available for personal psychotherapy, clinical case consultation and professional training in Jungian Sandplay Therapy. For further information, you can contact her directly at gitam@mac.com.

John L. Bell

John L. Bell is a writer and avid reader of fantasy literature for children, with a particular love for authors such as L. Frank Baum, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. He is an Assistant Regional Advisor in the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators and was the editor of Oziana, the creative magazine of the International Wizard of Oz Club, from 2004 to 2010.

John is also a noted historian and scholar, specializing in the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He has published numerous scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults, and has contributed to a variety of historical projects, including an episode of History Detectives and a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

Back in Oz, in addition to writing several short Oz stories, he provided the introduction for the Hungry Tiger Press reprint of L. Frank Baum's John Dough and the Cherub and has been a longtime contributor to OzCon programming, sharing his insights and enthusiasm with Oz fans from around the world.

Angelica Shirley Carpenter

Curator Emerita of the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children's Literature at California State University, Fresno, Angelica is the author of four biographies for children, Frances Hodgson Burnett, L. Frank Baum, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Lewis Carroll, and a biography for older teens and adults, Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist (South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2018) and the picture book The Voice of Liberty, Past president and a current board member of the International Wizard of Oz Club, she is an advisory board member for the Lewis Carroll Society of North America and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Authors’ Guild, the League of Women Voters, and the American Library Association. Her website is www.angelicacarpenter.com. 

Dina Schiff Massachi

Dina Schiff Massachi received her B.A. in English Education from Ithaca College and her M.A. in English, with a concentration in children’s literature, at UNC Charlotte. She has written and presented numerous academic essays on Baum’s Oz and its various adaptations. Currently, Dina lectures UNC Charlotte's English and American Studies departments; one of her favorite classes is a course on The Wizard of Oz.

Nick Boxwell

Eric Shanower

Cartoonist Eric Shanower is currently at work on Age of Bronze, his comics adaptation of the Trojan War legends. He also produced a series of five graphic novels telling new tales based on the Oz series, in addition to writing graphic novel adaptations of the first six of L. Frank Baum's Oz books for Marvel Comics. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his partner, David Maxine, and their cat, Pyrzqxgl. This year, Eric published All Wound Up, the history of L. Frank Baum's The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, a musical OzCon hosted a one-night revival of in 2014, which Eric produced.

Mattzilla Duron

The Tin Woods

The new stop-motion animated short The Tin Woods will be making its public premiere at OzCon! The short features the beloved Tin Woodman as we explore his identity. Director Nick Boxwell and Art Director Mattzilla Duron will also be hosting a Q&A. To find out more about the film, visit their website.

Ryan Bunch

A resident of Philadelphia, Ryan has been active in the Oz community for many years, serving as co-chair of the 2016 Oz Club National Convention and contributing his expertise to numerous publications and presentations.

Ryan's book, Oz and the Musical: Performing the American Fairy Tale, explores the rich history of Oz-inspired musical theater and its enduring appeal to generations of fans. Drawing on his extensive research and insights, Ryan will be presenting at OzCon on the fascinating topic of animated and puppet Oz musicals, including such beloved productions as Journey Back to Oz and The Muppets Wizard of Oz, which he did not cover in his book.

In addition to his work on Oz and musical theater, Ryan is completing a PhD in childhood studies at Rutgers University, where he is writing a dissertation on children's music. He is also the author of the chapter on Oz films in The Oxford Handbook of Children's Film, published in 2022.

Brad Birch

Brad Birch is the owner/founder of Killer b Content, a company dedicated to developing, acquiring and creating unique/original IP for today’s global media outlets. Brad is a Canadian comedy writer/showrunner and content creator who lives in Los Angeles. Brad launched Canada's “Comedy Network”, where he served as its first EVP of Creative Development & Production. In 2001, Brad moved to Los Angeles with his family, where he currently creates, writes, develops, and oversees animated content ranging from Pre-K to Adult. Brad has worked with Disney, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Netflix, Warner Bros. Animation, Dreamworks and Moonbug Entertainment. Brad was Executive Story Editor and key creative member on PJ Masks, Dorothy & the Wizard of Oz, and Atomic Puppet. Brad is currently an Executive Producer/Showrunner/Writer on the new animated series, Talking Tom Heroes: Suddenly Super (52x11”) for Epic Story Media/Outfit 7. Brad holds U.S., Canadian, and UK/EU citizenships and is a member of the WGA, WGC, The Animation Guild and SACD.

Peter Hanff

Peter Hanff became passionate about Oz when he was three and was becoming a serious collector by the time he was in junior high school in Los Angeles. By his second year at university, he won first prize in the first annual book collection contest at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and that same year, with his parents, hosted the first Winkie Convention of Oz enthusiasts at their home in the San Fernando Valley, aided and abetted by Professor C. Warren Hollister, Judy Pike, and Blake Maxam. He has spent many years studying the Oz books, their history, and their authors and illustrators. In 1976, with Douglas G. Greene, he was coauthor of Bibliographia Oziana, and in 2011 he published Cyclone on the Prairies, a history of the creation of the magnificent first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He has served a total of eighteen years as President of The International Wizard of Oz Club, and continues to serve as Bibliography Editor of the Club's journal, The Baum Bugle.

Sarah Crotzer

Sarah K. Crotzer is the editor-in-chief of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club. Her article in the Spring 2021 issue, "Road of Yellow Brixx," was the first detailed examination of Filmation's proposed Oz TV series.