Comics Review: ODDLY NORMAL vol. 1 by Otis Frampton

Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

"Meet Oddly Normal, a ten-year-old girl with pointed ears and green hair—a half-witch who will be the first to tell you that having a mother from a magical land called Fignation and a father from Earth doesn't make it easy to make friends at school! On her tenth birthday, she blows out her cake's candles and makes a disastrous wish. Now, Oddly must travel to Fignation to uncover the mystery of her parents' disappearance. Join Oddly as she navigates a strange new school, monstrous bullies, and Evil itself on an unforgettable fantasy adventure through the vibrant world of Fignation in ODDLY NORMAL."

Our heroine Oddly is half-witch, half-Earthian. The Earth she lives in isn't really magic-infused or anything at all, though: Oddly doesn't attend a Hogwarts-like school, and her mother is totally incognito. But her green hair and pointy ears scores her a lot of unwanted attention. Frampton doesn't hold back at all with the bullying theme in this series, and he created a main character who feels out of place everywhere: even at home. This Earth, in direct similarity to Dorothy Gale's world in The Wizard of Oz, is characterized by dull and drab color schemes (browns and greys and blues) and some gloomy weather. Everything about it is dreary.

On her birthday, she's frustrated, and says a few things she didn't mean, and suddenly her parents are gone. In the course of this book, she's transported to Fignation, which is the magical world her mother came from, and dives into a whole new set of experiences, including attending a new school, now with odd children who bully her for the opposite reason as before - she's simply not odd enough.

Once Oddly is in Fignation, things change for the reader, too. We start seeing some truly stunning background artwork filling the panels, with dreamy color schemes and funny little cameos - just as we experienced the change to vibrant color when Dorothy landed in Oz. I spotted nods to various classic horror stories, and even a twisted sort of homage to Totoro. If you know your fairy tales, you may spot a few references here and there, too, including a sign marking/labeling Yellow Brick Road and a delightful little tribute to Peter Pan. Fignation is all about what's in your imagination, and the stories we know about here on Earth.

The pacing is rather quick, and some of the characters are over the top, but I think it only adds to the experience. After all, our main character is a 10-year old whose life changes in the course of an afternoon. That isn't to say the story is rushed: we still get to meet key characters, including a few misfits who befriend Oddly at her new school in Fignation. There's a hopeful tone by the end of this book - an indication that despite being thrust into this new, unknown world that has always been kept from her, Oddly's probably going to be alright. And she'll get to explore her heritage, which is an angle I enjoy.

This book collects the first five issues of Oddly Normal, and is a full-color, 128-page paperback. It's going to be released March 11th for MSRP US$9.99. I read this digitally and in advance thanks to Diamond/Image on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. If you do pick up this book and end up loving it, you can read Oddly's continuing adventures issue-by-issue, starting with #6 slated for release April 15th.