Sunday Comics - Oddville!

Okay, so out of the four options I put up in the sidebar, three of them got one vote, so I made an executive decision. And that's why I should be your next president. (Sorry, watching four hours of presidential debates last night will make you start talking like that.) I decided on throwing Jay Stephens' Oddville! collection, published by the good folks at Oni Press, at your eyeballs tonight.

My first brush with Jay Stephens' work was his alternative superhero comic Atomic City Tales (Oni also published two trades of that material.), a quirky superhero book not unlike Mike Allred's Madman. Oddville! is a collection of strips that ran in a bunch of alternative weeklies. It starts off like any good story should: with a couple of adolescents having a baby:

Okay, so not really, but it's this sort of ridiculousness that drives this collection. The baby in question is a flying baby, probably from outer space. Its appearance causes alternating waves of disgust, unbelievable attraction and violence, though it can't be hurt (at one point a cat throws a brick at it, beaning it in the head and announcing "Dinner is soived."). It's attacked by monsters and robots, saved by an adolescent superhero (Jetcat, who would pop up in a later volume of Stephens' work as well as a short-lived animated series), adopted by zombie grunge rockers and hunted for sport by the citizens of the town:

Don't worry, in the end everything works out and the baby gets a good home with all the love it needs. Just not "that kind" of love:

You get the feeling that Stephens just sat down each week (or whenever), banged out four to six panels of ridiculousness that made him giggle and sent it out. Which is not a bad gig, if you can find it. The whole thing follows some weird dream logic that's hard to replicate (trust me, I've tried). The go-wherever-your-brush-takes-you freewheeling is similar in feel to his earlier Land Of Nod strips, though those were a lot more disturbing. In here, the worst thing that happens is the earlier brick gag and nobody really gets hurt. Oh, and also some grunge rock band dies, but they come back as grunge rock zombies, so, yeah.

Stephens is a really underrated cartoonist with a mind that churns out awesome like it's going out of style (and just take a look at what mainstream comic book publishers are offering and you'll get the distinct feeling that it, in fact, is going out of style). I'd recommend this as a starting point, and then heading on to Jetcat or Atomic City if you like this. Jetcat is especially good for elementary school-aged girls. It has a real Powerpuff Girls/Carton Network vibe. (Which is really not surprising, as Stephens is more involved in more lucrative field of animation now than the doldrums of comics.)

Anyway, that's Oddvile. It's a fun read. I laugh every time I pick it up and flip through it. What more do you people want!? Amazon has some used ones for under a buck. Even with shipping, that's a steal. And as long as I'm linking, here's Stephens' blog which features a lot of fun stuff. Dude likes him some monsters. And that's a good thing.

1 comment:

chrishaley said...

I'm a big fan of Jay Stephens, but I've never read Oddville!, so thanks for bringing it to my attention.
I'm way too tired to have anything witty to add. I apologize.