Otis Frampton’s “Oddly Normal” #3 continues the story of a young girl, of that same name, with half-witch, half-mortal heritage who is dealing with the recent disappearance of her parents; a happening that she herself inadvertently caused. This much is made clear in the first third of the issue or so, where Oddly’s eccentric aunt is investigating her parents’ absence in her own offbeat way, in a strange, ethereal world called Fignation, her mother’s native land.
Frampton takes his time establishing the strange ways of Oddly’s jabbering aunt, and it’s a fun and amusing sequence that’s representative of the series’ lighthearted side. His art is perfectly demonstrative of this; Oddly is a fitting caricature of a typical wide-eyed, freckle-faced preteen girl, other than the pointed ears that she inherited from her mother. Her bug-eyed aunt carries a kind of aging hippie archetype, also fitting for her character. Not so evident is Oddly’s green hair, which is easily missed in the exclusively green-hued sequence as rendered by colorists Thomas Boatwright and Daniel Mead.
Also not evident in this opening sequence is the more serious element of the series, namely Oddly’s coping with being an outcast amongst her peers due to her appearance and heritage. This oversight creates no problem until the story moves into Oddly’s first day at her new school in Fignation, something she is clearly eager to experience as effectively and silently communicated by Frampton. With no mention in this issue of her loner status beforehand, though, her mood swing from one of casual indifference to her aunt’s crazy spells and incantations to giddy eagerness is puzzling; if this issue is a reader’s first, they have no indication that Oddly has good reason to look forward to attending a new school, and not understanding this crucial element of the series greatly lessens a lot of the impact of what happens next.
Despite this key misgiving, though, Frampton’s art presents an imagination-inspiring and whimsical world that’s just plain fun to watch and examine, independent of the story’s context. Fignation is a fascinating world populated with elements inspired by many a favorite story and fairy tale, from The Wizard of Oz to Mother Goose, and this the part of Frampton’s comic that will captivate kids and adults alike. He introduces this world wordlessly at first, letting both Oddly and readers take in the wonder of it, before revealing Oddly’s thoughts. Cartoon robots, aliens, and animals all share a seemingly peaceful and idyllic world, complete with its stretching, winding roads and infinite assortment of crazy vehicles that travel them.
The book’s final act poetically brings Oddly back to where the series began for her: in school, and here Oddly’s newest conflict is introduced. Anyone who saw the treatment she got as a half-human, half-witch in issue #1 won’t be all that surprised as to what happens here, but ironically those who missed prior issues might find what happens next to be unexpected.
“Oddly Normal” #3 is largely carried by Frampton’s fanciful art, which makes the flaws in his story mostly forgivable. By taking his time to show readers around, story progress is slow, albeit quick enough to convince readers to come back if they like what they’ve seen.