Lost Characters Return to Oz in the "Black Rainbow" Story Arc

Though a variety of familiar faces consistently populate the realm of Oz in whatever incarnation you subject yourself to, some are relegated to the margins of obscurity no matter how deep you dive. As this new saga of Oz books are coming to fruition, one of the common bonds of these stories is that they owe a debt of inspiration to those lost over the changing times. Sometimes, those with fewer story arcs are ripe for utilization as new books continuously move into the public domain.

For the next book in this new saga, "The Black Rainbow of Oz," two such characters stood out as apropos for the narrative -- Gugu the Leopard King and Sir Hokus of Pokes. The Leopard, a monarch of a forest in the North, was last seen in Baum's own "The Magic of Oz" well over one hundred years ago, while Hokus, the fearless knight of the kingdom, made a handful of appearances in Ruth Plumly Thompson's books before he was retired. The weight of the new threat to Ozians has spurred these minor characters, along with some others, to rise to attention once again and become involved in the conflicts that threaten modern Oz society.

Jackson Smith, who illustrated "A Nightmare in Oz" and the upcoming sequel, created these particular illustrations to emphasize the harder edge of the story and how it has affected otherwise docile personalities. While Hokus remains a symbol of prestige and heroic selflessness, the Leopard King has fallen onto harder times, having languished in the shadows ever since his displacement from the kingdom of Gugu. Will he help in thwarting Mombi's plans for Ozian domination as her scheme to release the Black Rainbow comes to light, or will he be at odds with Ozma's desire to quell the threat, even though he blames her for his own loss of a crown?

Stay tuned for more character reveals as we inch closer to the release of "The Black Rainbow of Oz," due this Spring.