Friday, Jul. 29, 2016

The Weird World of Webcomics: Tara Normal

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September 13, 2011


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She’s like Nancy Drew with the brains of Velma Dinkley and the body of Daphne Blake.

The wild and wacky webcomic adventures of Tara Normal are anything but normal. Comic creator Howie Noel has crafted what he refers to as “an online super-sci-fi-action-mystery love story.” Yeah, I think that about covers it.

The eponymous Tara Normal is a spunky girl detective in the model of Nancy Drew with the brains of Velma Dinkley and the body of Daphne Blake. Only, the ghosts Tara hunts down are real.

So far Tara has “closed the file” on three “cases” and is currently in the middle of her fourth. Her investigations have led her into trouble with alien grave robbers (think Ed Wood meets the X-Files), a skeptic werewolf (who looks suspiciously like Ryan Reynolds), and a baby Cthulhu.

Tara Normal will especially appeal to readers who were around in the ‘80s. Much of Noel’s writing and humor reference such cultural icons as the Macho Man, Rainbow Bright, Horde Prime, Michael Jackson and Teen Wolf (or at least Teen Wolf’s dad). As an ‘80s kid I can appreciate a good Gizmo joke, but such humor may be lost on some of Noel’s younger readers.

Overall though, Noel handles the writing chores in a rhythmic and efficient manner, with colorful, stylized art that is reminiscent of something a carnival caricaturist might dream up. Every character has a unique look and personality that helps a reader connect to their personal drama – even if the drama is a 40-foot rampaging Teddy Roosevelt.

Noel’s other work includes the graphic novel Mr. Scootles and mini-comic Vincent. He’s also the staff cartoonist for TAPS Paramagazine. His Tara Normal webcomic updates weekly. For more information on Noel and to keep up on Tara’s adventures, check out

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About Author

Will Penny

Will Penny hails from the cornfields of Iowa, but calls the sunny beaches of Southern California his home these days. When he’s not out surfing you can probably catch him at a local coffee shop doodling away at another creepy picture for his webcomic Sex and Monsters.

  • Howie Noel

    Thank you for the column, Will! It’s an awesome start to my day. You rock!

  • Will Penny

    No probs! Keep up the good work!

  • DadaHyena

    Howie is probably the most kick-ass webcomics artist out there. Go Tara!

  • Joe Hasson

    Why am I only learning of this now?! I love this! Amazing comic, love the art, love the characters, love everything about it.!

    • Joe Hasson

      Also really liked that Commander USA reference in the first case!

      • Howie Noel

        Joe- I’m glad somebody gets the Commander USA reference! The character Captain Unknown Soldier is a huge part of the second story so I think you’ll dig that. Thanks!