ONI Press Presents: Tales of Ordinary Madness

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Back in 1992, a letter writer named Jamie S. Rich wrote a letter to a comic book called TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS, at that time coming out in serialized form. In that letter, he noted that this was his first exposure to the work of Mike Allred, and that he liked what he saw. Now, nearly a decade later, after having edited a good portion of Allred’s creator-owned work, it comes full circle. Rich will be editing a collection of TALES OF ORDINDARY MADNESS for Oni Press, bringing the four-issue miniseries, written by Malcolm Bourne and drawn by Allred, under one cover for the first time.

“This is a thrill for me,” Rich said. “I had corresponded with Malcolm Bourne back then. He was one of the top echelon of letterhacks in comics, and this was his big break into writing the stuff that preceded the letters pages. That alone had me excited. Little did I know what I was in for. Malcolm’s story was a deep, dark look inside the workings of the human mind, and his collaborator was a perfect choice to render the dense layers of insanity. I would soon discover that said collaborator was starting to show a bit of madness on his own in a little comic called MADMAN.”

“So, for me, this really brings me back to a place where I was simply a fan, a true enjoyment of comics,” Rich continued. “Usually, you hear an editor talk up a book, and it’s marketing. Of course he likes it, he’s the editor! But here is TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS, a book I was a big fan of, and one that inspired me to want to do comics-and here I get to bring it to a new audience.”

For those unfamiliar with the series, TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS is the story of a British psychiatrist. Bourne follows the doctor over several days of going through his job, introducing us to a few of his more interesting patients. Normally, a person in this position would keep a distance from his patients’ psychoses, but for this doctor, the wall is starting to crumble, and he is going a little too far into the heads of the people he is trying to help, exposing himself to the horrors of a disturbed mind.

“As a reader and commentator I had been promoting the virtues of not tying our medium into pre-set genre,” Bourne said. “I wanted to tell a story about what it was like to be mentally ill, or to look after someone who was mentally ill, without burying that in the subtext of a superhero story – I had my own subtext already, anyway, challenging the notions of what mental illness is and who decides who the patient is. And I certainly lucked out in hooking up with Mike Allred!”

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“There was a time when trade paperback collections were new and rare, and not every series was collected” concluded Oni publisher Joe Nozemack. “There are a lot of gems that have been left behind, waiting to be discovered. We’re proud to be bringing another one back into view.”

Presented in black-and-white and printed at standard comic book size, TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS will be approximately 112 pages. The color cover is being designed by Keith Wood, and the introduction is being written by Terry Moore, creator of STRANGERS IN PARADISE. It features mature situations. TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS will be released to stores on February 18, 2004.

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