Reading Pile: Welcome To Oddville! HC
In anticipation of the upcoming second issue of Jay Stephen's new Dwellings series, I thought I would back track a little and hit some of his older work. This hardcover collects the Oddville strips that ran in the Toronto Star’s Brand New Planet youth magazine which was geared towards kids from 9-14. These adventures never hit some of the more disturbing moments that previous installments with these characters have in the past, but there's still the odd bit of creepiness and quirkiness popping up that make them really enjoyable.
The stories tend to revolve mostly around Jetcat, a young girl who is also the costumed defender of the town of Oddville. Jetcat herself has an interesting past, as she first appeared in Stephen's weekly strip 'Oddville!' back around '94. In '97 she appeared in the Dark Horse series 'The Land Of Nod', and in '99-'00 she had some short animated appearances in the Nickelodeon series 'KaBlam!'. She would return to comics in 2001, and then we landed on the Brand New Planet run that ended in 2007. This collection is the complete collection of those works, and Adhouse Books did a fantastic job with this edition.
The strips jump around a bit, some being quick done in one jokes hopping around different citizens of the town. Others becomes longer story arcs, such as the charming Them Apples arc featuring a gang of sentient apples. And while some are purely innocent and cute, others blend some more....well, oddity to the jokes. Still innocent, but worded in almost creepy ways.
And then other times the creepiness is just hanging out there in the add-on material, but in reaaaallllyy tiny text so you might skip over the mention of say, 'marriage by capture'.
And I absolutely love the fake ads. That's something Stephens still inserts into his works and they are on prominent display in the new Dwellings series. From used garments for aid in the avoidance of vampires, crummy old roller skates, and random messages from The Society For The Prevention of Demonology, there's just a ton of fun extra bits and pieces.
The world of Jetcat also has a lot of fun side characters. Sometimes you get the floating Head of Boris Karloff, and sometimes you get mini-arcs focusing on Bandage, a used bandage that just wants to feel wanted. There's a kinda depressing strip of him dreaming of all the animal friends he wishes he was helping, despite him being smelly and quite used.
As I've mentioned previously, I just love Stephens work. Especially as he has a pretty interesting range and can adapt his work depending on shifting audience demographics. Like I said, innocent and appropriate, but just enough subtle things here and there to be slightly unsettling at times. I love it.
The hardcover is a nice 8.5" x 11" package clocking in at 88 pages for $14.95 original retail. I think it is getting a little trickier to find for cover price now as it was released in 2011, but you shouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg for it.