Gail Williams finds a lot to like in Titan Comics brand-new horror/comedy graphic novel series, Norman.
“I am eight years old and I kill people.”
Yep, as hook lines go, that a pretty strong one. And it works. When I glance at the cover I wasn’t impressed, then I picked it up and read that tagline. Big smilie face. Gotta read this!
So I went for it, and I couldn’t put it down.
Norman appears to be a normal kid, well as normal as any of the kids in his class, which gives wide range of ‘normal’. There’s Grace - the Princess of the mean girl, Jeremy - the new kid, Olga - the redhead mean girl, Owen - the boy band looky-likey, Sylvia the stinky one who steals food, though in all fairness her victim was a long way from needing it. There are a number of others, but I won’t spoil it for you.
Of course no school class can be a complete without a teacher. If I were going to be a teacher, I’d want to be Miss Jameson. To be honest, I think I had a teacher like Miss Jameson. She wasn’t that good looking but she could throw the board rubber with the same deadly accuracy. Jameson is a world class psycho-freak. She had a totalitarian hold on control, her favourite punishment plays on the nightmares of generations of kids. She is heavy chested (big surprise there right?), short skirted, a desperately lonely drinker with relationship problems. In other words, your average teacher. (Oh I have relations who will slap me for that one - wanna guess their profession?)
There are a number of things in life that I love. Cute little devils and the colour purple, are just two. So a cute little purple coloured devil will push all the right buttons for me, and Norman has one. He’s so cute! Even when he puffs up. No one else can see or hear him and his whispers in Norman’s ear are as dry as a thousand year old mummy, pointed, pert and too old for his years, well Norman’s year, who know how old the devil is. Talking of Mummy’s, keep an eye out for Norman’s. In fact his entire family is an thing of fascination. Can’t wait to see more of them.
I’m also a cat lover, so Pompom is just wonderful as far as I’m concerned - and he has one of the best lines in the comic, that got an actual laugh out loud from me and I’ve been accused of having had a humour-ectomy. Pompom is like a cross between Garfield and Greebo, if you don’t recognise that one go read some Pratchett.
While there is no rationale given for Norman’s serial killer behaviour, perhaps he was born on Friday the 13th, he has the mask, he had the knife, he makes the bodies. Worst killer ever in the confessional, but hey, you can’t have everything.
Oddly Norman isn’t the worst of the villains in this comic, and it’s well worth reading just to find out who is up to what and how Norman reacts to them.
What I really like about this comic is that there are so many little hints and nods, half mentioned or glean-able snippets that indicate there is a wealth of stories to be told here, and that’s just scratching the surface, we’ve hardly dug the knife in yet.
Of course comics are about more than just the story and the artwork is extremely important, here the artists do particularly well with something that often doesn’t work for me, but in this case the sepia cast used for flash backs marks them clearly and separates them as the past. Overall the art work reminds me of Schulz, though the content is more Calvin and Hobbes gone to the dark side. Way, way to the dark side. And not for cup cakes.
My verdict - Read it. Read it now. Not sure you should give it to the kids though.
Norman Vol. 1 hits comic book stores on March 25th and then book stores the week after on March 31st. Some preview art is included below.
To find your local comic store visit: http://www.comicshoplocator.com/
Gail lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and
the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits
and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with
her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find
out more about Gail, check out www.gailbwilliams.co.uk - Dare you!