- Posted by Johanna on October 2, 2010 at 7:50 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Fred Van Lente and Dean Koontz; art by Queenie Chan
- PUBLISHER: Del Rey; $10.99 US
This story, written by Fred Van Lente (Comic Book Comics, Action Philosophers), is based on an outline by Dean Koontz, who created the character in a series of novels. Odd Thomas is a young fry cook who’s a genius at making pancakes and can also talk to the dead. These graphic novels are set before the novels, thus not contradicting what readers of the series already know while still providing new stories, not just adaptations.
As with the previous book, this volume is illustrated by Queenie Chan (The Dreaming), providing design consistency. The characters are exaggerated in a slightly goofy way, which I find helpful in mitigating the horror aspects. Since they sometimes have silly expressions I want to laugh at, the mood stays light, even when we’re looking at walking corpses or spooky shadow monsters.
Unfortunately, this one wasn’t as much fun for me to read as the previous book. I feel like I’ve met Odd now, so I don’t need as much exposition as we get. We’re told a lot of how everyone feels and what’s going on, which makes for a very wordy comic. The text doesn’t integrate as well with the art as I hope for in the best graphic novels. Odd is always telling us what he’s thinking, which suggests that this story wasn’t thought of first as a comic. I also sometimes had trouble with the balloon flow. I read left to right when the panel expected top to bottom first.
On the other hand, all this makes for an easy read for someone who’s not totally comfortable with the idea of needing to interpret art as well as follow the text. (The flip side of *that* is that they may find the story slight in comparison to the novels.) The mystery revolves around the reason that Odd’s town doesn’t do door-to-door trick-or-treating. 25 years ago, someone poisoned the candy, and a kid died. Now, a young ghost appears to Odd to ask for his help. So he wanders around until enough things happen that we find out the secret.
The holiday allows for nifty graphics, such as a gang all wearing devil masks or the kid ghost disguised as a ghost, with the old-fashioned sheet with eyeholes. That’s in addition to the general decorations and the goofiness of Odd seeing Dead Elvis. Otherwise, some of the characters in this particular mystery are a bit too in-jokey for me, mostly the ones related to the book business. For example, Ozzie Boone is an eccentric bestselling author who lives in town and wants Odd to write as well; his New York editor is visiting for the holiday. I’m always suspicious when authors write books in which authors are heroes. In this case, Ozzie knows a little bit about everything and manages to save the day.
Overall, though, this is timely light entertainment for this month, assuming that you’re not bothered by a Halloween story that says monsters and demons really exist and want to hurt humans or one that perpetuates the myth of adulterated trick-or-treat candy.
The book also contains a sample novel chapter as well as some design sketches with Queenie’s notes on revisions and Koontz’s comments on some of Fred’s drafts. Based on that, much of what I found odd about the introduction of Ozzie may have been because he’s a preexisting character, and they had to work with what readers already knew. (The publisher provided a review copy.)