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DF Interview: Otis Frampton takes an Oddly Normal look at life
By Byron Brewer
Discovering how courage, inner strength and a little bit of magic help a ten-year-old girl figure out who she is, what she wants and where her parents have gone is at the heart of Otis Frampton's all-ages series, Oddly Normal.
Frampton began his work on the series a decade ago as a web comic which was later published by Viper Comics and has now found its way to Image. To discover more, Dynamic Forces spoke with the writer/artist on the streets of downtown Fignation.
Dynamic Forces: Otis, tell us how you got involved in cartooning.
Otis Frampton: I’ve been cartooning all of my life. I got my first pro gig in 2005 drawing sketch cards for Topps on sets like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Around the same time my comic, Oddly Normal, was published by Viper Comics. I’ve been working steadily in the biz ever since.
DF: Tell us about how you got into illustrating comics.
Otis Frampton: My first published comic was the original version of Oddly Normal, which was originally a web comic. Viper saw the web comic and asked if they could publish it. It’s not a very sexy breaking-in story, but there it is. Since then I’ve done comic work for Capstone Books and Veterans Expeditionary Media. And the reboot of Oddly Normal comes out from Image Comics this month (September 17th, mark your calendars!).
DF: Your drawing experience has gone beyond comic books to animation, having done work for Stan Lee’s World of Heroes. What are some of your other animated works?
Otis Frampton: The Stan Lee short was actually a collaboration with “How It Should Have Ended” (HISHE), which I did the backgrounds for. I’m one of the two artists on HISHE, the other being Daniel Baxter, the creator of the series. I’ve been working for HISHE since mid-2011, doing character and background artwork for various shorts. Daniel was getting overwhelmed by the amount of artwork he had to create after HISHE started doing game shorts for Machinima, so he and Tina Alexander (his writing partner and producer) hired me to be an artist on the series. They’ve since stopped doing game shorts, but I’ve continued to work for them. I think I’ve done over 40 at this point. I also recently created my own original series for the HISHE YouTube Channel called ABCDEFGeek. I’m two episodes into Geek and the next episode should be out this month or next.
DF: Haven’t you also done work on StarWars.com?
Otis Frampton: Yeah, a long time a go. Just a few spot illustrations. I think I did a Halloween mask and a couple of other things. My main work in the Star Wars world is in sketch cards. I think I’ve done 4 or 5 Star Wars sets for Topps.
DF: So tell us about Oddly Normal.
Otis Frampton: Oddly Normal is a ten-year-old girl with green hair and pointed ears. Her father is a human and her mother is a witch from a magical land called Fignations. On her 10th birthday she makes a disastrous wish over her birthday cake and her parents disappear. After that, she has to go to Fignation to live and that’s where her real troubles begin. The original comic was not what I’d hoped it would be. I had a limited amount of pages to work with and I was not the artist that I am now, so I’ve lived with disappointment about the final product for years. This new version is a reboot of the old series, with new artwork and a vastly expanded storyline. I’ve worked hard to finally make Oddly Normal look and read better than it was before, so I’m excited for old and new readers to see the series as it was always intended to be like.
DF: This will be an all-ages ongoing, so was it difficult to come up with a visual representation of Evil itself that is not TOO scary? How did you approach that?
Otis Frampton: Fignation is the literal embodiment of the collective imagination of mankind (say that three times fast), and Evil has been banished there because humanity has ceased to believe in it. The character of “Evil” in Oddly Normal is my favorite character other than Oddly herself and writing him/her/it has been a pleasure. I think he/she/it came into my mind pretty much fully formed and hasn’t changed much since. As for being too scary for an all-ages audience... that’s never been a worry. Fairly tales are often meant to disturb. You’ll have to read the series to find out if I succeeded or not.
DF: You say it is “a twenty-year dream-come-true to have a creator-owned book” at Image.
Otis Frampton: Yep. I was a comic book fan when I was a kid, but I kinda took a break in high school, when my focus was on music, theater and film. I got back into comics after high school when I walked into a comic shop for the first time in years and saw Spawn #1 on the shelves. Having a book at Image has been a dream ever since.
DF: You didn’t have confidence in your pitch for Oddly Normal?
Otis Frampton: I don’t know that anyone can claim that they’re confident about any pitch, especially a blind pitch to a company like Image. I was more hopeful/confident about the other companies I was pitching to because Oddly Normal is an all-ages book and Image has not been known for that kind of comic. So I was hopeful, sure. But I knew that pitching to Image was a long shot. Luckily, my fears were unfounded and the book was picked up!
DF: Can you whet our appetites by telling us a little about your other book, Red Riding Hood: Superheroine, coming from Capstone Books in 2015?
Otis Frampton: I think the title has been changed to Red Riding Hood: Superhero now. But anyway, it’s a 28-page book I’m writing and illustrating for Capstone Books. They initially just asked me to write it, but they said I could illustrate it if I wanted to. And I did! It’s part of a new series of re-imagined fairly tales that Capstone will be putting out next year. My take was basically “Red Riding Hood meets The Powerpuff Girls”. It’s been fun drawing a little girl superhero taking on a giant wolf robot, so I hope readers enjoy it.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Otis Frampton for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Oddly Normal #1 goes on sale September 17th! (“Mark your calendars!”)
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