Oddly Normal: Family Reunion
by Otis Frampton, Sergio Quijada (Viper, 2007)

Oddly Normal is the story of a green-haired, 10-year-old girl whose name aptly describes her. She is half-witch (from her mother's side of the family) and half-human (her father). In the previous volume, her parents mysteriously disappear on her most recent birthday, leaving her to live with her aunt in a magical land known as Fignation. She's made friends and enemies alike, yet the most odd thing to happen to Oddly is this cute little artificial life form dubbed "Oopie" that has become quite attached to her. While it may sound like an awful lot occurred in the previous volume, it really doesn't hinder reading this volume. (This reviewer hasn't read the first volume ... yet.)

Oddly Normal: Family Reunion is a delight. Otis Frampton writes dialogue with a natural sound that works well with the smooth flow of the story. Sergio Quijada's artwork is pleasantly cartoonish with a commendable amount of consistency and great linework. And the coloring is worthy of a special mention. Too many comic book artists rely on crazy computer coloring techniques to save bad art or offer pizzazz in an otherwise lackluster story. But in Frampton's case (yeah, he writes and colors), he picks a simple yet fantastic color palette that accentuates key story elements (i.e. the "romantic" sunset scenes with Wet Boy or the icy blues vs. sepia browns of the story's climax).

OK, now it's time to talk about the white elephant. This book and pretty much all of its underlying concepts are hardly original. The word "derivative" pops to mind on many occasions. Oddly Normal: Family Reunion has the feel of young Harry Potter (before all the angst) blended with the Universal Studios monsters and a bit of Fantastic Four and its Disney progeny, The Incredibles, thrown in for good measure. And yes, all of those references are derivations of other stories and themes that build upon other stories, themes, etc. and so on and on.

And y'know what? It doesn't matter. There may be a kernel of truth to the cynical literary saying that there are only three stories to be told. But in the case of Oddly Normal: Family Reunion, the story is told in such a fun and entertaining manner that originality will be the last thing on your mind. (Oddly & Oopie are what should be at the front of your mind anyway.) So, don't get hung up on the obvious influences, homages and references -- just enjoy yourself.

review by
C. Nathan Coyle

15 December 2007

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