By Jhonen Vasquez
Vasquez has produced such familiar works as Invader Zim and Stanley; outside of animation he also has several comic series. The longest series and probably his most known work is Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.
The title is not a misnomer. It is about a homicidal maniac named Johnny – Nny for short – who murders his neighbors and various townspeople in increasingly gruesome ways. Aside from this, the plot is unique enough to hold up on its own – the murders are not as random as they appear and there are forces at work beyond even Nny’s knowledge. Each issue offers a deeper gaze into the abyss and the series promises a full on tumble into that dark chasm at the climax.
All that being said, this is an incredible violent, gruesome work. Every act of violence is shown in great detail with the intent of displaying such – each murder is unique in weapon, method, place, and motive, though the usual motive is annoyance. Sometimes, it is not Nny’s.
There are a few core character relationships – naturally few in number, due to the constant death of most of the characters introduced – but the ones that do exist are interesting and provide a surprising amount of depth to the story. Devi and Squee are two of the most important characters, and they both have their own side series spinning off from this work: I Feel Sick and Squee’s Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors.
There are seven issues in the series and the work is complete, as are the side stories. Speaking of side stories, there are several short strips in each issue that do not directly relate to JtHM, but function as little asides and digressions as Vasquez saw fit, advertisement style. Overall, this is a highly cathartic series if you have any aggression you need fullfilled or are a horror fan looking for a new and unique take on graphic horror.