I totally get what creator Stan Silas is going for with Norman – The First Slash #1, and while I think in the original French he probably nails the Charles Addams meets Charles Schultz while in South Park vibe of the issue, I can’t help but feel there’s just something missing here.
To be clear, there’s a great deal happening here that is solid. The subversive approach of having eight year olds murdering other eight year olds while subverting and satirizing slasher movie tropes is certainly innovative. Norman and his friend Thing-A-Mie (a great reverse Jiminy Cricket) make quick work of classmates while struggling to navigate the complex social structure of elementary school, forced to deal with popular kids, inept teachers and zombie uncles.
All of this is fun, for sure. Stan Silas has a great, Tim Burton-esque sensibility that comes across, and his combination of a Peanuts or South Park cartoonist style juxtaposes nicely with his ability to depict truly gruesome scenes of horror. He also skewers social structures well, particular the cliquey hierarchy of school life.
But I couldn’t help thinking the jokes weren’t landing well. I found myself saying, “Well, that’s clever,” more than I actually laughed or chuckled. Now, some of this could be down to individual taste, of course. I try to be objective and approach every comic I review with as little baggage as possible, but no one can remove themselves entirely from their appreciation of art, least of all a jumped-up nerd like me. I could intellectually appreciate what Silas was doing, but I never really felt it affecting me. And this is why I wonder if there’s a translation issue here. Ivanka Hahnenberger handles those duties here, and while I appreciated her ability to render colloquialisms and idioms here to prevent the dialogue from feeling stiff and formal, I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe this was funnier in French. Cat Connery does the lettering, whose work I’ve liked before, but there are some word bubbles that are kind of off to the side away from characters for no apparent reason, which makes reading the issue kind of clunky. There’s a bubble in the first panel, for instance, that makes it appear as if a road marker is speaking, which is weird.
In the end, while I appreciated the subversive and weird qualities of Norman – The First Slash #1, I felt like the issue as a whole came off as clever but remote, rather than delightfully bizarre, which it was clearly aiming for. 6/10.