Welcome to Fignation, everyone. This is going to be a fun, colorful romp through the world of all things fictional, and I’m excited to get on the bug and take the ride the rest of the way. Oddly awakes in her aunt’s house, while her aunt is trying to divine thaumaturgical signs from the soil where Oddly’s house used to be. She gets her bug pass and takes a walk through her neighborhood before she gets dropped off at her new middle school where everything promises to be different--but the more things change, the more things stay the same.
This is the first we’ve really seen of how deep Otis Frampton’s toolbox really goes. Where the last few issues have made good use of full-page splashes and bright coloring, this issue goes full-tilt boogie and has two separate double-page splashes that reveal different, but equally impressive pieces of artwork. In the first, we see Oddly’s aunt, spread out and doing her magic and trying to discover new things while Oddly is faced with some of the minor weirdness that is her life now. In the second, we get a widescreen view of all the fictional glory of Fignation. There’s something Ent-ish, there are rocket ships and bikes, there’s a few thinly veiled references to Miyazaki movies (My Neighbor Totoro, particularly).
One of the rough parts about doing a story in a land where everything fictional exists means that there are a lot of stories that would be fun to reference, but you have to do it in a way that gets around copyrights. For example, you can’t just throw the Catbus and Totoro into a comic unless it’s officially licensed; you can create an animal bus and an animal waiting for said bus with an umbrella and make them recognizable and interesting designs on their own merit. This is where Frampton shines in this issue.
The other place that he really sticks the landing in this issue is his pacing between panels. I’m the guy who hates watching two people in a panel talk to each other for more than a page (because I’m a huge hypocrite), but there’s a gag in this issue where the insertion of some cleverly placed gutters over a 1/3 of a page panel leads to a great visual gag. It’s the kind of broad comedy you don’t see much in comic books, all-ages or not, and I’m psyched that Frampton is not only bringing it on, but bringing it well.
If you’re not hooked on this book by now, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a fun story, the art is super pretty, and it’s been easy to pick up with any single issue so far. You’ve missed some things, but there’s nothing stopping you from getting all the benefit out of reading the issue. This isn’t one of Image’s big titles like East of West or Sex Criminals or Southern Bastards, but it’s a freshman series by a new creator and he is killing it. Give it a try. Don’t wait for the trade, pick it up now. Read it to your kids. Read it on the train. There’s no bad way to experience Oddly Normal, folks.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Otis Frampton Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/26/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital