Oddly Normal is a great graphic novel, appropriate for upper elementary and middle grade readers. Oddly Normal is a half witch, but who lives and goes to school like a normal middle schooler. One day, she gets fed up and wishes her parents away and finds that her spell has come true. This whole situation leads to her aunt taking her to Fignation, a strange oddball place with magic and lots of different creatures to encounter. She must find a way to get her parents back with her aunt’s help.
What amazed me the most about this book, were the beautiful illustrations. I’ve looked over the book a couple times and cannot believe the artwork that lies inside. I love the world that Otis has drawn us into as readers and the illustrations make everything come to life. Definitely check this amazing graphic novel series out!
I asked a couple questions of Otis about his experience with Oddly Normal and graphic novels!
What made you want to make graphic novels?
Storytelling has been my first love since I was a small child. It all started when I saw that Star Destroyer fly over my head in 1977. After that, I knew that I wanted to tell stories. And I have been writing since I was a small child.
I’ve been reading comics since the early 80s and once I was hooked on those, it was a natural step to try to make my own because I could draw, too. My interest in storytelling moved from comics to film for a number of years, but I came back around to comics in the early 90s. Since then, I’ve made comics and graphic novels my primary storytelling medium.
The thing I love most about comics is that it is a visual medium that can be done by one person, from start to finish. Unlike film, which is a collaborative medium, one person can be the world builder in a comic book and control everything about the way that the story is told. It’s a great feeling knowing that every moment that the audience experiences was filtered through your personal vision.
Film is still my favorite medium (what can I say… I love music & sound and comics just can’t include those elements), but there’s nothing like comics for the control freak!
What was your process like for Oddly Normal?
I work about 95% digitally when it comes to comics. Some of the line art for “Oddly Normal” was drawn on paper, as rewards for some of my Kickstarter backers. And I draw the covers for the single issues on paper. But I work mostly by drawing pages digitally on my Wacom Cintiq. Everything is drawn and colored in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
But even before I started working digitally, I never really liked drawing on paper. I think that dislike of drawing on paper held me back as an artist. The permanence of the marks made me afraid to make mistakes and it made drawing less fun for me. But that feeling is gone when it comes to drawing digitally because I can always start over on a new layer in Photoshop.
But the final pages are all drawn by hand, so it all ends up looking the same on paper. Even I forget which parts were drawn digitally and which parts were drawn on paper when I look at the finished book.
When you were a kid were you a reader of comics and graphic novels? Why or why not?
Oh yeah, I loved comics. I still do!
The first comics I ever read were “Star Wars” and “G.I. Joe” from Marvel in the early 80s, comics that tied into things I already loved. I actually had no interest in super hero comics when I was a kid, because my only frame of reference was the old “Batman” TV show and I thought that’s what all super heroes were like (which is funny, because Batman is now my favorite comic character and I love the old TV show!).
But one day in 1983 I picked up issue #174 of “Uncanny X-Men” and everything changed. It was an issue called “Romances” and it focused on the personal lives of the characters. There was no super hero action. It really surprised me and I was hooked. I guess I was a weird kid, because even then I was more interested in character and story than action and super powers. But that issue started my love affair with the comic book medium. It showed me what could be done with words and pictures. It’s still one of my favorite single issues of any comic book series.
When I was a kid, there really weren’t any “graphic novels.” Marvel had a line of what they called graphic novels, but they were really just extra long, large format comics. I don’t remember reading anything that could be considered a graphic novel until I read “Maus.” But I love that long format comics are now a very common thing to see in book stores. It’s the way I want to tell stories and it’s thrilling to know that the reading public has finally caught up to what an amazing medium it is. I think that has a lot to do with parents who grew up reading comics seeing the medium as just as relevant as prose. They don’t see them as trash, the way our parents did. They see them as something to read, which can be a valuable asset to a parent. Comics can be a great gateway to reading, a natural bridge from picture books to prose. But I think that as graphic novels become more widely read, people will stop seeing them as a bridge and start seeing them as a destination. Maybe that’s already happened. I hope so.
What advice would you give aspiring graphic novelists?
Read novels. Watch movies. Draw every day. Learn about storytelling from everything, not just comics or graphic novels. Great stories make great comics, and interesting characters make great stories. Never stop learning. Never stop trying new things with your art and writing. And above all… never quit.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on Book 3 of “Oddly Normal,” of course. “Oddly” will be my primary project for a long time to come, if all goes well. I have between 75 and 100 chapters of story to get through to complete her story. So there’s a way to go yet.
Other than that, I’m one of the artists on the popular web series “How It Should Have Ended.” That keeps me busy every few weeks, when they need some art from me. I’m also the creator of “ABCDEFGeek” (a geek alphabet). Other than that, I’m working on getting “Oddly Normal” into other media as well as developing some other graphic novel projects that I’m writing for other artists.
I may give myself a day off sometime in 2027.
Otis Frampton is a comic book writer/artist and animator. He is the creator of Oddly Normal, published by Image Comics. He is one of the two artists on the popular animated web series How It Should Have Ended. He is also the creator of ABCDEFGeek, a geek-alphabet cartoon series that can bee seen at otisframpton.com, the How It Should Have Ended YouTube channel and on TeeFury.