David Pepose writes for Bleeding Cool: You all know the story — a young girl named Dorothy is swept up by a Kansas tornado, crash-landing in the magical land of Oz. She meets a group of extraordinary friends, and together they overthrow the Wicked Witch of the West.
But then Dorothy went home… the Wizard left for greener pastures… and Oz was lost to a horrific power vacuum leading to decades of civil war. On second thought, perhaps we don't know the full story. Because while we all know the Wizard of Oz… this is the story of what happened next. Welcome to the Occupied Zone — or as the locals call it, THE O.Z.
I'm David Pepose, and you might know me from my tales of comic strip homicide in Spencer & Locke or the misadventures of Elvis-themed bank robbers in Going to the Chapel. And I'm excited to introduce you to THE O.Z., my brand-new comics project on Kickstarter.
Teaming up with rising star artist Ruben Rojas, colorist of the Eisner-winning Giant Days Whitney Cogar, and veteran letterer DC Hopkins, THE O.Z. is an epic fantasy war story that reimagines the mythology of the Wizard of Oz. It remixes it through the battle-scarred lens of Mad Max: Fury Road, The Old Guard, and Fables. It's a comic about scars and redemption, about grappling with the morality of war even on the other side of the rainbow.
Our story follows Dorothy Gale's granddaughter, a disillusioned Iraq war veteran who shares her name. Wracked by trauma and guilt from her time overseas, this world-weary soldier struggles to find purpose as she cares for her ailing grandmother — but when Dorothy is caught up by a runaway tornado, she finds herself lost in the war-torn land of Oz.
Yet the Occupied Zone is no ordinary battlefield, instead filled with magical beings deadlocked for decades in bloody conflict. And as she battles Flying Monkeys, evil Strawmen, and the Petrified Wasteland, Dorothy will have to navigate factions led by her grandmother's former friends — the Tin Soldier, the Courageous Lion, and the Scarecrow — if she ever hopes to bring peace to The O.Z.
But those of you who know my previous work might ask, why Oz? Why continue to explore such heavy themes using the light-hearted materials of our childhood? It's not for shock value — I'd say it's because nostalgia is a type of innocence, a time of clarity before the world became so complex. By reinterpreting the icons of our youth, I believe we're able to more fully explore our own trauma and morality, using these universal, larger-than-life characters as our guides.
At the end of the day, many of us are at war with ourselves — torn between our limitations and our aspirations, our ethics, and our circumstances, our hard-fought values against the chaotic and oftentimes senseless world around us. We each have our own legacies to navigate and defend, and with THE O.Z., Dorothy's journey is one that might just mirror our own.
Equal parts action/adventure, epic fantasy, and a thought-provoking war story, our story is the sequel to the Wizard of Oz you never knew you needed. With tons of exclusive rewards — including special artwork, Skype portfolio reviews, and a guest appearance from a certain blue panther — THE O.Z. is a comics Kickstarter project you won't want to miss.