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Oddly Normal Vol 1 + 2: Comics in the Classroom Gets Tough!

Article by Scott Tingley, July 20, 2007

I want to be considered a reviewer that is fair, but critical. I don't want people thinking I can't be bring the hammer down when I need to. I want my opinions to be respected.

Fine! The Oddly Normal covers are really bland!

There. I did it. Whew, that is a load off.

Everything else is great though – really, really good stuff. But those covers! I read first volume approximately a year ago and I thought it was an instant winner. It is written and drawn by Otis Frampton and features the ironically named “Oddly Normal”, daughter of a normal man and a witch. Her classmates don't know that she is a witch, but they do know that she is different, and that is enough for them to not like her.

The first lines of volume one were enough to sell me on it. Oddly narrates to us: “Even if you are NORMAL , kids can be pretty cruel. Add a few oddities to the recipe, and you're in for special treatment.” With green hair and a strange name, school life has been pretty hard on her. A few pages in we find out that it is Oddly's birthday and her parents are excitedly preparing for all of her friends to arrive for the party. Problem is, there are no friends. They do this every year and it kills her a little bit more every time. This draws on kid's feelings that the adults in their lives aren't really paying attention to what is really going on.

Through a series of disasters, Oddly ends up living in the magic homeland of her mother. She attends a school full of monsters and witches, and since she is only half-witch things get no better for her.

I have not read volume two, Family Reunion, but the preview was terrific. The art duties are being covered by Sergio Quijada this time, but the writing is still Frampton. I recommend both for any young reader that has trouble fitting in….which can be every young reader.

Mr. Frampton was nice enough to answer a few questions for me on short notice:

Scott Tingley - Citc : Oddly is about a half-human, half-witch girl that doesn't seem to fit anywhere.  Where did the idea for this character come from?

Otis Frampton : It all started with a sketch I did in 1999, a quick drawing of a sad little girl holding a teddy bear. I wrote "oddly normal" next to it, and it sat there in my sketchbook for a few years. In late '02/early '03, I started thinking about doing a web strip and that sketch became the impetus. I thought the idea of a girl too odd for the real world and too normal for the world of fiction was a good springboard and could lead to a lot of good stories and fun visuals.  The main influence on the story is obviously L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz", but Oddly herself has a lot in common with me when I was a child.  Of course, I didn't realize this until after the book had been published!

Citc : Volume 1 had the theme of fitting in, What is volume 2 about?

O.F : "Oddly Normal: Family Reunion" is about the idea of "family" and the various forms that a family can take on in our lives.  It's also story about Oddly's shot at popularity and the choices she will have to make when the chance to be popular presents itself.  But it's also a good old-fashioned revenge story with a lot of action!

Citc : Why were you drawn to creating comics for younger readers?

O.F : I really don't think about it as being drawn to a specific age group, at least not in the sense that I'm targeting a certain demographic when I sit down to work or when I'm developing a new project.  I simply write and draw what I write and draw.  My
sensibilities lean toward all ages material as a creator and as a fan of comics.  It's where I feel most at home.  And I take the work as seriously as I would were I creating work for an older audience.  I always hated all ages material that talked down to kids, so I try to write stories that would entertain me as an adult, the way I am now, as well as when I was ten years old.  It seems to work, because kids and adults alike have responded to the book in a positive way.

Citc : Why the art change for this and future volumes?  Sergio Quijada does a
great job, but so did you.

O.F: I wanted to continue the "Oddly Normal" series, but I also had other original graphic novel projects that I wanted to work on, and I needed to step back from one of the duties on "Oddly" to allow myself to do that. So I decided that I would continue to do everything except draw the series from now on and bring on a new artist for each book whose style would compliment the
story being told in that particular book.  That would also give the series a bit of visual variety and keep things interesting and fresh.  I really had no problem whatsoever from allowing new artists to come onto the series because I've always seen myself as more of a writer who draws, as opposed to an artist who writes.

Citc : What is next for you?  More Oddly, or something different?

O.F : I have a lot of pots on the stove, at the moment.  The third Oddly Normal book is in production, with artist Jessica Hickman handling the illustration duties.  I'm writing the fourth book which will be illustrated by Katie Cook.  I'm also at work on three original
graphic novels, which will be written by me and illustrated by other artists.  They are not all-ages books, but would definitely be appropriate for early teen readers and up.  And lastly, I'm working on a new original graphic novel that I am writing AND drawing
myself, which is a sci-fi comedy that is inspired by the films of Chaplin and Keaton (Buster, not Michael).  It's a mostly all silent book and I can't wait until I finish it!

Citc : Thank's Otis.

Vol 1+2 are both in stores now.

Recommended for mid-grade 3 and up, or readers 9 or 10 and up. Also good for use by Guidance Councilors and classroom teachers dealing with the low self esteem of their students.

Remember reader….Don't judge these books by their cover.

Both books are published by Viper Comics

Vol 1 - 112 PAGES / Full Color / $11.95 Diamond Code: MAR06 3471 / ISBN: 0-9777883-0-X

Vol 2 - 112 PAGES / Full Color / $11.95 / ISBN-13: 978-0-9777883-9-2


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