Oddly Normal is a comic written and Illustrated by Otis Frampton, and published by Image Comics. It is a re-aimagining of a collection released in 2006. While classified as a children’s comic, it’s not childish at all, or written too young to be enjoyed by adults. I picked it up the TPB after seeing some of Otis’s other art online and taking a liking to his style and personality. I’m currently reading Volume 2 of the TPB series but I knew I’d be doing a review after finishing Volume 1, it’s just that good.
The story follows Oddly Normal (yup, that’s her name), a half-witch whose parents have disappeared after an angry wish on Oddly’s birthday. Showing up late to the party, her aunt decides to take Oddly home to Fignation until they can figure out how to fix things. Up to this point Oddly has been raised in the human world with very little knowledge of her mother’s origins. Oddly must enroll in school of course, and learn everything about her witch half that had been kept from her until that point. She didn’t fit in at her human school, and learns that the social structures of young people in Fignation aren’t much different. It’s a story many of us can relate to, since no matter where Oddly goes, she’s the outcast, the strange one, the weird kid that only the other weird kids like. As noted, it is intended for a younger audience but the writing is not childish and the story is relatable at any age.
Right away Otis hooks you with a sympathetic character that I identified with. It didn’t matter that she was a girl with green hair, pointed ears, and different background than me. Oddly is different, which I think almost everyone has felt at some point in their life. Weird, geek, nerd, outsider, freak, and whatever else we’ve been called by others we’ve all been there. I think this is especially good for parents with young children. The story reminds us what it was like, and can help us communicate that to our children. I don’t want to give away too much of the story but so far it’s a good one. There’s a sprinkling of puns and literary references as the children of Fignation go through relatively normal lives…with a monstrous twist. I would even love to see this on the screen. An animated mini-series based on this comic, if they could nail the art style, would be fantastic.
Otis’s art is perfect for this book, and great to look at. It’s just the right amount of whimsy without being too silly. It’s a style that works well as a children’s book, but it isn’t unappealing to adults either. He captures the characters well, and the detail in the backgrounds and sets is great. I loved looking through the art as much as I did reading the story. To cap it off the color palette is perfect. Otis gives us darkness, without making it too dark, when the mood is needed. Colors are vibrant and cheerful when the story calls for it. When creepy is needed he nails it, without making it a horror comic inappropriate for kids. It was some of Otis’s art online that first caught my attention and got me to order the first volume, and I wasn’t disappointed. Otis has a consistent and unique style that I want to see more of, and I hope we do in future books.
Oddly Normal is still available, just ask your local shop. You can get it online too, if a LCS isn’t close, but support your comic guy/gal if you have one and order this book from him or her. It’s well worth it.