Hickman and Frampton - Checking up on Oddly Normal v3

Hickman and Fampton on Oddly Normal

Oddly Normal, a half witch with green hair, pointed ears, and an aversion to rain, is miserable. She is an outcast at school, and her parents are clueless about how abnormal the Normal family is. When an accidental wish on her tenth birthday goes awry, causing her parents to disappear, Oddly goes to live with her great-aunt in Fignation. In this fanciful world of witchcraft and imagination, Oddly is still not quite normal, but she makes some friends as well as some enemies and, in the process, learns to believe in herself. Frampton's art is refreshingly quirky, with strong lines and bold use of color. The world he creates is full of fun and whimsy, and kids will easily relate to Oddly's struggle to become comfortable in her own skin. This will quickly become a favorite among comics fans.

Face it – no one's normal. But in this world we live in, some things still tend to stick out – like green hair and pointed ears. Call me biased, but I'd stare. That's what the ten year-old half-witch Oddly had to deal with… that is, until she accidentally wished her parents away and was taken in by her aunt in her true home world of Fignation. She didn't fit in much on Earth, but in Fignation she sticks out like a sore thumb because of her upbringing on earth. Her story is one of finding a place and to become comfortable with who she is in a world that's both fun and frightening, whimsical and weird.

That's the story of Otis Frampton's kid-friendly series Oddly Normal. With two volumes under his belt, this September sees the release of a third entitled Oddly Normal: Fignation Times with artist Jessica Hickman, In this third volume we see Oddly growing into her new life in Fignation, and growing up as she reaches her teenage years. Those years are awkward for anyone – but what if you were a half-witch living in a world called Fignation?

Let's talk to Frampton and Hickman for answers.

You can cycle through the first four pages of volume three in the window in the upper right of this article.

Newsarama: For those that haven't read the series, can you tell us about Oddly and Fignation?

Otis Frampton: Oddly Normal is a coming of age story about a 10-year old girl with the most unfortunate name and the luck to go with it.

Jess Hickman: In the real world, Oddly is an outcast.

OF: Her green hair and pointed ears haven't made life easy for her in the real world.

JH: Her father is human, her mother a witch, so she is a half-human, half-witch 10 year old who's parents have suddenly disappeared. She finds herself in the care of her Auntie, who happens to live in Fignation. A very creative world where Oddly, because of her half-human side, is still somewhat of an outcast.

OF: Unfortunately for Oddly, her experiences there will not be any better than they were on Earth. If your readers would like free previews of each book, they can go here and read the first to chapters of each volume online: http://vipercomics.com/features/oddly_normal.asp

NRAMA: Volume two showed Oddly's getting used to living in Fignation. With this third volume subtitled "Fignation Times", what can we expect?

OF: More trouble. That's my job . . . to throw trouble at Oddly and watch her squirm her way out of it in an interesting manner. Was that too vague? Oh, okay. Um . . . "big trouble". Better?

This book will also answer some (just some) of the mysteries that were introduced in the first book. In some ways, this volume is more of a sequel to book 1 than the last one was. It's probably my favorite story, because the solution to some of the questions from book 1 were surprises even to me, so it was fun to write and piece together.

NRAMA: Jess, what do you say?

JH: Hmm....I'm trying to think of a way to answer you without giving away the plot! HA! I think this is the most emotional Oddly Normal book to date. You get a real sense for the characters in the first two, and Otis really pushes where they go in this one, emotionally speaking. And physically too, I guess you could say! I'm very honored that Otis has let me go on this journey with him. I love drawing characters that really go through a range of emotions, and I'm enjoying myself very much with this book.

NRAMA: A real favorite character of mine from earlier volumes is Mr. Crabula, giving some cryptic advice to Oddly. Is he showing up in volume 3?

OF: Crabula is back. He insisted.

NRAMA: Oddly's constant companion is Oopie. He's been a bit of a sidekick, up until the end of volume 2. What's he up to in volume 3?

OF: If I tell you, it would spoil the surprise. You don't want that, do you? But Oopie does not play as big a role in this book as he did in the last one. Stay tuned for book 4, where he makes a huge impression once again (in a different way).

NRAMA: Where did the idea for Oddly Normal originally come from?

OF: In 1999, I drew a quick sketch of a sad, little girl and wrote the words "oddly normal" next to it. The idea percolated for the next few years and eventually became the series we're talking about today. It was actually pretty simple to work out the story once I had the premise. It was originally a webcomic, as you know, and I had the plot worked out to a certain point, which was basically the end of book 2.

NRAMA: Otis, you illustrated the first volume of Oddly Normal, and then for subsequent volumes have brought in other. Why is that?

OF: A number of reasons. One, I'm lazy. Two, I see myself as more of a writer/artist, as opposed to an artist/writer. For me, the most enjoyable steps in the creation of a graphic novel are the writing and the coloring, so I'm exactly where I want to be. Three, I have many more stories I want to tell outside of the Oddlyverse and if I kept doing Oddly all myself, I'd never get around to them. Four, working with new artists keeps the material fresh for me.

NRAMA: And what about you Jess, you're following up the artistic talents of Sergio Quijada and Otis Frampton before that. Coming into this third volume, what kind of studying did you do to get in the zone for Oddly Normal?

JH: A lot of referring back and forth from books one and two. Otis really stressed that he wanted book 3 to have my look to it, so I was lucky in that I didn't have to follow his style or Sergio's too much, but I still have to keep the basic look of all the characters. I'm also used to drawing older characters, so I spent some time sketching children, and also getting used to making my sketch work look more 'finished'. I'm not inking this book, but I don't want Otis to have too much trouble inking my drawings, so I have to remember to make them tighter, yet still get some of that expressive drawing across. I've had people tell me they can really see the emotions come through on what they've seen online so far, so I'm glad to know it's working!

NRAMA: Before we go, Otis, do you have a fourth volume of Oddly Normal planned?

OF: A fourth, a fifth, a sixth and more. I'll be collaborating with new artists on each one. Katie Cook is on deck for the fourth book, Oddly Normal: A Little Adventure. But I will return as the artist on the last book. And yes, I know the end of the story and I'm not sayin' nuthin'.

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