Odd Thomas – Graphic Novels
Publisher: Del Rey (Randomhouse), 2008, 2010, 2012
Odd Thomas is originally a series of novels by best-selling writer Dean Koontz. Hitting the New York Times best-seller list on many occasions, Odd Thomas is about the adventures of a psychic fry-cook, and to date, Dean’s most-popular series. After the third book Brother Odd was released, it was decided that the world of Odd Thomas should be brought to life as a graphic novel series – with me as the illustrator. I wrote about my experiences working on this series on this blog entry, and below is a list of all three books I worked on.
- In Odd We Trust (Order it from Amazon) – The first book, published in June 2008, and becoming such a best-seller it had 3 re-prints almost immediately. The story revolves around the spirit of a murdered young boy, with Odd attempting to catch his killer before he claims another victim.
- Odd Is On Our Side (Order it from Amazon) – Published in October 2010, this Halloween-themed book was an instant New York Times #1 Bestseller on the week it was released. Odd feels an overwhelming feeling of dread on Halloween, which worsens as the day wears on. He spots a bodach – an omen of bloodshed and tragedy – and realises he must stop whatever evil is brewing in the town of Pico Mundo.
- House of Odd (Order it from Amazon) – Due in April 2011, this is the last Odd Thomas graphic I’m working on, and is set in a haunted house. When Ozzie sends Odd and Stormy to a haunted house his producer friend Nedra bought, he was expecting to calm a few angry spirits. However, as a night wore on, and the house turned more and more menacing, it turns out to be something far more sinister than Odd expected…
The Odd Thomas graphic novels have many characters, some of which are from the books, and some of which appear only in the graphic novels and nowhere else. I have listed which characters are from the books and which are not.
The titular character, Odd Thomas, is obviously in all of the novels and graphic novels. He’s a psychic fry cook with the power to see the dead (if not quite communicate with them), and he takes a pro-active approach to his otherwise difficult life in the peaceful town of Pico Mundo, by helping the ghosts he sees find peace. Sometimes this may involve finding their killers. Odd also have other powers, which you will have to read the series to know more about.
Odd’s character design is one of my favourites in the series – he’s really one of the best I’ve done. Odd is originally an average-looking but very nice guy, who above all, must be easy on the eyes and likeable to the reader. It’s hard to balance, but I think I pulled it off.
Stormy’s real name is “Bronwyn”, a name she hates so much she calls herself “Stormy” (like the weather). As Odd’s kick-ass girlfriend and bodyguard, Stormy’s a gun enthusiast who works at an ice-cream store when not accompanying Odd on his adventures. Stormy is one of the few people in the series who knows everything about Odd’s powers, and she takes it in stride. I should perhaps also mention that Stormy is not in all the Odd Thomas novels, though shes in all the graphic novels.
Stormy’s character design is a counterpoint to Odd’s, since they have to spend the majority of time standing next together in the graphic novel. I utilise the trusty “pair light-haired person with dark-haired sidekick” (or the other way around) rule. Stormy is described in the books as a Mediterranean beauty, so I’m assuming she’s either Spanish, Greek or Italian. I vote for Greek. She has hair like Storm clouds.
Chief Wyatt Porter is the Police Chief of Pico Mundo (the Sheriff, if you will), and something like a father figure to Odd. He featured prominently in the novels, and in the first 2 graphic novels. He is also one of the few people in Odd’s world who knows about Odd’s powers. He also has full trust and faith in Odd’s “hunches”, as he knows, and has seen proof, that they are supernatural in origin. Chief Porter is a sensible and likeable man, who does his job very well.
The character design for Chief Porter went through several cycles, not least because he was described in the books as having “sagging jowls”. It turns out it’s not saggy-like-a-bulldog, but saggy-like-an-aging-but-rugged-football-star. A thinner Kurt Russell was eventually the model for Chief Porter, except that Porter has very kindly eyes.
Terri owns the diner where Odd works as a fry cook, and she is like a mother figure to him. She’s in the Odd Thomas novels, and the first two graphic novels. Apart from being a kindly lady who lends Odd her car whenever he needs it, she is also Pico Mundo’s biggest Elvis Presley fan, if not the world. She simply knows everything there is to know about Elvis. She also knows that Odd can see Elvis around.
Terri’s design was pretty straight-forward. She’s a kindly-looking lady in her mid-fifties or late forties. She has rather kind, sweet eyes, though she doesn’t show up long enough in the graphic novels for that to be apparent.
A huge man who loves to read (and eat), Ozzie is a best-selling author of mystery novels who encourages Odd to write down his strange life experiences. Ozzie is a very kind and verbose man, who is in many ways like a mentor to Odd. Odd often seeks out Ozzie’s advice when in trouble, and he’s rarely disappointed. Ozzie is in many of the prose novels, and in the second and third graphic novels.
Would you believe that I thought Ozzie was a black man in the books? There’s nothing to indicate that he was black, but there’s nothing to indicate that he was white either. And yet, he was white, and he was huge. At first, I was asked to do a design based on Orson Welles, but it turns out that he wasn’t quite the right model. It should have been Lou Costello, which makes him a lot less scary-intense, and more smiley-friendly.
There’s something to be said for Ozzie’s cat, or more properly, the cat who permits Ozzie to live with him. Terrible Chester is a huge tomcat of indefinite age, who apart from being a badass, also likes to pee on Odd’s shoes. Odd’s afraid of Chester (though Stormy isn’t). Ofcourse, Terrible Chester is originally from the prose novels, and he appears whenever Ozzie’s home appears as a setting.
Terrible Chester is a grumpy-looking huge shaggy cat with what looks like markings from the band “Kiss” on his face. So, a star and a heart over his eyes then.
Yes, Elvis Presley appears in Odd Thomas, specifically the first 3 novels. He’s in all three of the graphic novels too. Elvis is a staple of Odd’s life – in the books, he often appears to just hang out with Odd, or to warn Odd about something. He’s pretty amusing in the novels.
Elvis looks different every time he appears – sometimes he looks young, while other times he looks old and bloated (which he was at the end of his career). Because Elvis rarely appears in his young and hot form, the only way you can recognise him is from his clothing. It was sad to see the progression in his photographs – fat old Elvis looked nothing like slim young Elvis.
Sherry only appears in the first Odd Thomas graphic novels – she’s not from the novel series. She’s the nanny of the boy ghost that starts Odd’s adventure, and is also Stormy’s childhood friend from the orphanage. Thus, she knows a fair deal of Stormy’s secrets, though she knows nothing about Odd’s abilities. Sherry works as a nanny and loves children, and obviously was devastated by what happened to her young charge.
Sherry’s looks are kinda plain. She can easily look better if she put some effort into it, but a nanny shouldn’t look too attractive. But like a lot of people who works with children and loves their work, she simply doesn’t care about looks.
Valerie is Ozzie’s very New-York editor, who comes to stay with Ozzie in the second Odd Thomas graphic novel. Ozzie calls her “Ms. Malavolent”, which she loves, though their relationship is more like Ozzie pulling all the strings and Valerie being way charmed. Valerie’s quite the city slicker and is very amused (and sometimes ignorant) of small-town customs.
Valerie is supposed to look like a young Meryl Streep, but in the end, I think she ended up looking more like Woody Allen. It’s the New York thing, I guess. It’s interesting to compare her character design to Stormy, because while Stormy is supposed to be a hot babe, Valerie is supposed to be a moderately-attractive, mid-thirties, well-dressed New Yorker with a literary bent. Once again, here’s someone who can’t look too attractive.
Nedra only appears in the third graphic novel, as a Hollywood producer and long-time friend of Ozzie Boone. Being a tough woman producer who worked in a tough town until her retirement, she’s quite brusque and not particularly friendly. But perhaps I’m being too harsh on Nedra. As a friend of Ozzie, certainly she has her good points – I’m guessing it’s that she’s brutally honest, and doesn’t mince words.
Nedra is of retirement age, so she’s an older lady. Like many Hollywood executive types, she wears a suit and probably works out like a Type-A personality at the gym. Explains why she can be of an old age, and yet still be very trim. I was originally asked to base her design on an older Meryl Streep, but that’s already been done, so I went for Helen Mirren. Who not inconveniently, has a young, hot body to boot.
Vern is a scientist… supposedly. A scientist who is also a ghost-hunter, much like those guys from Ghostbusters, minus the sense of humour. Vern is one of the stars of a ghost-busting TV show, and every episode, he and his team stake out haunted places and flush them free of their ghosts. He’s a rather over-bearing man who feels he’s an authority on all things ghostly, and naturally that grates on Stormy (if not quite Odd’s) nerves. Vern only appears in the third graphic novel.
Vern is meant to have a mad-scientist look about him, based on actor Brian Dennehy. Looking at photos of Brian, I assumed it meant a square-jawed, action-hero kind of man with a gruff, middle-aged disposition. Plus Einstein-like hair and a lab coat.
Cassandra is a true believer in the supernatural, and her cat Houdini as a narcoleptic. Not really, haha, but the cat sure like to sleep a lot (but then all cats do). Cassandra is a bit batty when it comes to her object of passion, but she and her cat make an amusing team. She is a member of Vern’s ghost-hunting team. Cassandra and Houdini only appears in the third graphic novel.
Cassandra is meant to look like Cameron Diaz, which I assume means she has a ditsy vibe about her. Very few psychic women-types are blonde, but then again, Cassandra is a made-for-TV-psychic and not a carnivale-psychic, so someone like her will probably be blonde. Houdini originally looked too much like Chester in his first design, so he was changed to a dark shorthaired cat.
Kirk only appears in the third graphic novel, and he is the last person in Vern’s ghost-hunting team. For reasons that you can probably already guess, his position on the team can best be described as “the moving man”. He’s quite young, but nice and slightly bashful. He works the hardest on the team.
Kirk is meant to look like a young Chris Lloyd, who plays the mad scientist in the Back to the Future movies. Ironic, that the “mad scientist” role ends up going to Vern. Since Chris Lloyd is the reference model, I presume that means Kirk is goofy-looking with big ears, with ginger-hair and freckles.