PROSPERITY — “Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila…er, phila…er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.”
That line is said by the Wizard of Oz himself as the Tinman receives his heart in The Wizard of Oz.
Local author Ron Baxley Jr. practices being a good deed doer by donating proceeds from the sales of his books to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Baxley was invited a number of years to the Oz events, the Oz-Stravaganza festival and the L. Frank Baum Foundation.
Baxley began his interest in the Wizard of Oz in 1985 when he started playing Windham Classics Wizard of Oz adventure game for the old Apple IIie.
“I was in the fifth grade at the time. I quickly discovered that just having a background in the M.G.M. Oz film would not help me,” Baxley said.
The computer game was based on two of the Baum books, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz. Baxley said he began to read those books to help with the game.
“I was hooked. Through the years, I read all of the Baum books,” Baxley said.
Being enamored with the M.G.M. Oz film and the Baum books, Baxley said, could have had something to do with being caught in a tornado in the rural area of Barnwell when he was around that age too.
“I still remember tin from my grandmother’s barn flying past me like winged monkeys and hanging on to my parents’ doorknob for dear life,” Baxley said.
He has been invited three times as an Oz author to attend the Oz-Stravaganza in Chittenango, N.Y., birthplace of the original Oz author L. Frank Baum. After being invited to this event, he donated proceeds from his book for the start-up of a new Oz museum. He even did some in-kind donations for the house where L. Frank Baum met his future wife in Syracuse.
Locally, Baxley has placed his books at Books on Main located on Main Street in Newberry and The Blend in downtown Prosperity.
Baxley is currently working on new Oz books. He is finishing up The Oz Omnibus of the Talking City: A collection of Books in the Talking City of Oz series. He is also entering into contract negotiations with a small, independent press for this collection. It will contain two previously unpublished books and one previously published book.
Baxley said the books follow his Oz fan favorite, The Talking City of Oz. The evil spirit of Mombi entices Powder of Life creatures to her evil emerald village in one book within the collection. In yet another, goblins and banshees have taken over Oz for a mysterious reason. In yet another, a salesman brother of Boq, the Munchkin mayor, has started trying to sell reproductions of Dorothy houses while witches that are like the Fates have taken over Oz.
Also, though not entirely an Oz book, Baxley has been working during the past year on a fantasy graphic novel that includes some adventures in Oz. It is titled Ziggy Zig-zags the Light and Dark Fantastic. Shawn Hudson, owner of and illustrator for an independent comics company in Florence, is working on the novel based upon the story or story concepts.
“Within it, Ziggy, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi based on the one I adopted from the Newberry animal shelter, serves as a steed for the elves or fair folk just as the Corgis did according to Welsh mythology. He goes on many adventures and misadventures as he rescues fantastic creatures and humans in fantasy worlds throughout the universe and encounters many foes as well,” Baxley said.
Although he said he has had many ups and downs in the publishing world and other areas of life, as well as great losses in his family, it is his faith in God and Christ and the help of close, compassionate family members and friends which he says have pulled him through.
Baxley has been a teacher and instructor for over a decade. He has been a published Oz author for 16 years since an early edition of his The Talking City of Oz was published by March Laumer’s The Vanitas Press. He has also been an author for 23 years since he published a skit in a glossy youth magazine.
He has published stories, poems, articles and essays in “Filmfax,” “Parsec,” “The Baum Bugle,” “The Rambler,” and many other national and international publications after graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in English from USC- Aiken and working on his alternative teaching certification.
His credit of Oz books are a modern version of The Talking City of Oz and a new sequel to The Talking City of Oz, The Evil Emerald Village of Oz. He has also co-authored the of Cabbages/ Oz/Wonderland series with James C. Wallace II. The of Cabbages books are Of Cabbages, Kings, and Even (Odd) Queens of Wonderland and Oz; Whether to Do and Deeply Sympathizing. They are also available on Lulu.com and Amazon.com along with his science fiction.
Baxley has approached a decade assisting students as a college preparatory and transitional English and reading instructor at Piedmont Technical College in Newberry.