Oz Update from Lockdown in Shanghai

Dear Insane Children, 

While Alex has provided you with some excellent updates on the progress he and the team are making on the Alice: Asylum Design Bible, I wanted to give you an update on Oz and Life in Lockdown. 

(Alice views the Little Black Book of Radcliffe – WIP from Omri) 


Shanghai these days is strange. For the sake of pandemic control, the city of 26 million people has been split in two – East (Pudong) and West (Puxi). And each area is being locked down independently for 5 days. We live on the Pudong side and we’re almost finished with our lockdown. Tomorrow (Friday) at 5 AM, we’re set free and the other half of the city goes into lockdown. 

Life in lockdown is pretty boring. We still get food deliveries so we’re not going to starve. But we’re not supposed to leave our homes. And certainly not able to leave our ?? (xiaoqu). Depending on where you live, you may be able to actually go outside and walk around inside your ??. We’re fortunate to have an actual yard – and to live in a place with relatively low population density so that walking around inside the ?? is allowed. 

The notion of a ?? is something core to why China has been able (so far) to control the pandemic so well. And I think more people outside of China should be made aware of this idea so here goes: 

A ?? ?xiaoqu) – pronounced “shaow chu“) translates to “community” in English. But that hardly captures the reality of the word in Chinese. It would be better to say “housing community” or “micro-district” or even better, “gated community.”

Almost everyone in the major cities of China lives inside a gated community. Basically, a bunch of villas or apartment buildings contained within a single development and surrounded by an exterior wall (that wall often being an integrated line of shops, cafes, and other businesses that service the interior community).  

Every ?? has guarded gates that provide the only way in/out of the community. 

And that’s where the “magic” of China’s pandemic control comes from. Those gates (and guards) that you normally view as keeping non-residents OUT… are quickly and easily made to keep residents IN. So during these waves of pandemic control, we are all effectively locked into our micro-communities. 

Now, I bet a lot of you westerners (especially Americans?) are freaking out at that idea! 

And fair enough. This sort of thing certainly does not jive with the “give me liberty or give me death” individualist mentality so cherished by the world’s most freedom-y people.

I am not here to tell you “this is the way” or to convince you that this is even better. It’s just how things are done here – and people living here *like* this and are happy with it. So you let them have their ?? life and you keep on breathing your Freedom Air(TM) and loving it.

Thought you all might like to know more details related to how China is handling pandemic control. 

Meanwhile, 99% of the cases being reported here are “asymptomatic” so it’s not even clear what it is that they are controlling. A virus they can detect only when they test for it? In a population that’s 99% vaccinated? Personally, I am unsure why they continue to fight it… but here we are. 

Meanwhile in Oz

End of the day, lockdown (in whatever form) doesn’t really bother me or my family. We work from home anyway. And we have a yard for Lucky to play in. And, as I said, food and supplies are still delivered. So we just keep our heads down and work. 

And I’m working on Oz! Trying to tease out the heart of the narrative. That’s slow work but I am making progress. Watching all these characters come to life. This is a much more complicated writing process than what’s done with “Alice” – a story where most of the characters are in fact only one of the characters (Alice and her psychological representations). With Oz, every time I sit down to write, I end up with MORE characters and MORE characters and… whew. 

Gareth continues to crank out amazing art – like the image (above) of the Conquistadors riding into a Munchkin village. 

And there’s work being done on 3D models… Like the Spanish Captain: 

And do you want to see something in interactive 3D? How about this monkey… 

Well, download the Marmoset viewer! It will allow you to rotate and zoom in on the model. Link to download marmoset viewer is here:


Link to marmoset monkey file at the bottom of this post.

Check it out! He’s really beautiful to look at in 3D. 

This is Necahual. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with her… Here are some notes:

She enters Oz with the Spanish as a powerless slave. Kidnapped from the Aztec empire. With her child (a 5-year-old boy) in tow. The Spanish leverage this connection to control her. But she will escape her captors. She’ll use her skills to survive the wilds of Oz. She will befriend a race of beings (monkeys? winkies? munchkins?). She will receive training in magic. She will be given a unique weapon or vehicle (wand, hat, broom)? She will directly confront her captors – Spanish Conquistadors – and defeat them. She will then go on to battle the Dark Wizard. And at the end of her story, she will have ascended to being the most powerful witch in Oz.

But She’s lost everything – family, home. She saw it all destroyed. What does she want? Initially, her only concern is to protect her child. But she sees the child murdered before her eyes by (? probably the Dark Wizard). Now she’s lost everything. And now she wants total revenge. But how can she have that when she’s powerless against magic and technology?

As an Aztec, she decides it’s in her fate to destroy the world and bring about the 6th turning. 

Once she gains power in Oz, she resolves to use it to bring forth the end of the 5th sun. This pits her against the Dark Wizard and Spanish Captain and many of the inhabitants of Oz.

She is a “Dorothy” without a home and because she refuses to transform (to accept Oz as her new home), she is ultimately overcome by evil. What do you do when you have nowhere left to call home? 


There’s a theme emerging from the characters as I sketch them out… related to “progress” or the spread of “civilization” and which side these characters stand on. Tradition vs. Progress. 

I’m not sure yet if Necahual should be allowed to go on to destroy the world. 

In some of the notes I’m working on… the Spanish Captain ultimately redeems himself by transforming himself into someone capable of the empathy and sacrifice necessary to stop Necahual and save Oz (and Earth). 

But by tomorrow evening… maybe he’ll be back to a standard bag guy? Maybe Necahual won’t destroy the world? 

Anyway, I don’t expect you to find any easily identified heroes in this story! Ha. 

In Other News

Excellent progress is being made on all the TV/game developments we’re doing with Radar: Alice (TV series); Akaneiro (TV series); and Oz (game/TV series). 

David continues to refine his TV pitch for presentation to the streamers (Netflix, etc)

A writer has been brought on to develop Akaneiro for TV – he’s great; really clear vision for that project. I assume Radar will make some sort of announcement about him soon. 

And Radar just introduced a really strong animation partner for Oz – a team with an amazing track record and existing ties to Netflix.

I kinda feel like 2022 is going to bring a lot of excellent news on all of these projects. 


And, as always, we could not have done any of this without YOU. 

As we announce more progress on these projects… I will do everything I can to involve our Insane Children. Can’t promise so much on the Alice TV stuff (I have a lot less control/leverage there). But for Oz and Akaneiro – I’ll be sure to bring you all into the inner circle as much as possible. 

Whew! That’s a lot going on. 

Let us know in the comments below what you think. 

From Shanghai in Lockdown, 


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