Otis Frampton’s “Oddly Normal” #1 is the type of all ages read specifically poignant for older kids and preteens. Teenagers and adults may find equally enjoyable and relatable as Frampton delivers a story about a half-witch that everyone can relate to.
“Be Careful What You Wish For” bears an ominous message for Oddly and the readers. Frampton doesn’t telegraph the story, nor does he pander to any demographic in his potential audience. Instead he tells a straightforward tale of Oddly Normal dreading her trip home on her birthday. The reasons are many, including the appearance of her home (it looks like a stereotypical haunted house), the weather (it’s storming rain), and her lack of popularity (she’s not surrounded by friends). That trip is filled with more than enough reason for regret once she gets there, as Frampton introduces readers to Mr. And Mrs. Normal through the eyes of Oddly. Like many ten-year-olds, Oddly has a slightly slanted point of view of her parents that is less than complimentary.
Frampton’s artwork is detailed and painterly, with heavy tendencies towards cartoonish characters and settings. With color flatting assistance from Thomas Boatwright, Frampton handles the entire story, from plot to letters. In many instances, the total control over the pacing and structure of the story opens up what Frampton is able to do with “Oddly Normal” #1 visually. He uses a nine-panel grid quite effectively, with the compass points (the middle panels in each column and row) holding the camera angle to show a progression of emotion and story. Frampton’s art makes Oddly’s house an interesting place to visit and when this issue reaches its unsuspected climax, the art also goes to unexpected places, in a very good way.
While I would suspect none of “Oddly Normal” #1’s readers have naturally green hair or pointed ears, Frampton constructs the character and her problematic world in such a wonderfully relatable manner that readers will find themselves aching for more by the time they finish this inaugural twenty-two page journey into the world of “Ordinary, U.S.A.” The comic is as familiar and comfortable as “The Wizard of Oz,” but juxtaposes the real and the fantastic, life “The Munsters” or “The Addams Family” once did. The truth is, “Oddly Normal” #1 quickly and smartly distances itself from any comparisons, showing readers it can stand on its own just fine. As a father of three young ladies, I relish the ability to share new comics and worlds with any of them, but with “Oddly Normal” #1, I’ve found a whole new world that I can share with all three.