Jay Stephen’s first published effort was the cartoon strip “Oddville” which appeared in the alternative newspapers, Motive, Guelph, Voice Montréal, Nu-City, Albuquerque, Mad Planet, New York, and The Stranger, Seattle. The strips were collected into Oddville: The Complete Strips, published July 1996 by Art Ick Productions, of Guelph. It was later reprinted by Oni Press and Adhouse Books.
“Oddville” as the name suggests is the portrait of a community of characters rather than any individual character. As one would expect from a strip the stories are episodic . The large variety of characters are introduced through “Flying Baby” a human looking baby but with yellow skin, pointed ears and a tab on its head. It can also fly and is indestructible.
In the opening episodes, prepubescent “Tod Johnson” kisses prepubescent “Melanie McKay”. Suddenly the “Flying Baby” appears. The kids assume they have created the baby and it will ruin their lives. The baby however, flies away. “Melanie” changes into “JetCat” and pursues it, but immediately disappears. She will reappear later to save “Flying Baby”. From this point we are introduced to a succession of characters through their reactions to “Flying Baby”: These include the three members of the grunge-rock band “The Creeps” who try to kill it, the local constable, and the “Radio-Controlled Robot”. who kills the “Creeps” whose members later reappear as zombies hanging out in Slumberville Cemetery. The “Baby” encounters the street cat “Kyle” and “Tod Johnson’s” pet cat Nelson who try unsuccessfully to eat it, “Melissa”, “Tod’s sister”, and her friend “Trixie”, “Gargantua Monkey” and an assorted collection of other towns people. Jay then settles down to portraying a series of episodes among these characters at times without the presence of the “Flying Baby”. . The series ends with “Tod’s” mother adopting “Flying Baby” into their family, and as Melissa says “We’re living happily ever after.” Although, the visual aspects of the story belie this.
For the next couple of years, “Oddville” disappeared from Jay’s creative world as he pursed other characters and stories in SIN Comics and The Land of Nod. Then in 1997, Dark Horse Comics took over the “Land of Nod” title but replaced the “Land of Nod” contents with a new “Oddville” story. The community nature of “Oddville” disappeared. “JetCat” became the central character and the story largely devolves into a child superhero tale around a conflict where “JetCat” verses “Radio-Controlled Robot” and “Gargantua Monkey”.
Even the “Oddville” episodes are essentially a Canadian looking at and mocking American attitudes and sentiments and so it is not a big jump for The Land of Nod featuring JetCat, to become simply another American style superhero story. Only one issue of this periodical appeared. Jay Stephens went on to other creative endeavours.
BOOK GRAPHIC COLLECTION:
Content strip cartoon & Cover book wraparound:
Oddville: The Complete Strips. Car., & Illus., Jay Stephens. Art Ick Productions, July 1996. Cover colour & contents black & white..
Content serial & Cover front & back:
The Land of Nod featuring JetCat, 1, July 1997: Car., & Illus., Jay Stephens. Ed., Phil Amara & Julie Gassaway. Dark Horse Cover colour & contents black & white..
Oddville: The Complete Strips. July 1996. Cover. Illus., Jay Stephens
The Land of Nod featuring JetCat, 1, July 1997: Cover. Illus., Jay Stephens.