“Well, maybe you can tell me what’s been going on – with me, I mean. When did things start to go so bad? I've been talking to dead rabbits and feeding bloody walls. I've done horrifying things with salad tongs. It's really eaten into my social life."
– Johnny speaking to God.
JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was a short lived comic that ran seven issues through Slave Labor Graphics from 1995 – 1997. Oh. My. Eris. I first read this series, gathered now in the Director’s Cut, when I was a 14-year-old, shithead rock n roller who thought she was Hells Angels-tough because of fire-engine-red hair and basement punk shows.
I was not tough. I’m still not tough. I’m nice. But even nice people have daydreams about ripping out the intestines of those around them when they’re at the mall or stuck in traffic, am I right? I’m right. Don’t want to light yer partner’s face on fire for not unloading the dishwasher AGAIN, but need some sort of violent action? Read Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.
Johnny is a murderous bastard. Waif hot, wearing black, freak hair, and you could tell he read books.
He’s like a berserker, more detestable Dexter. His days are spent talking to a bunny nailed to his wall, painting another wall with blood so an unspeakable evil can’t leap through it, and butchering random a-holes. Hell. Yes.
I came across JTHM because of my brother. My brother is a badass. He’s a former everything. Dude has Lived. Former hockey amateur, rave-thrower, Army combat engineer, goth kid. All of it and more. It’s that last one that’s pertinent. My big brother – like a John Watersian Filth Elder – was the one who introduced me to horror.
Horror was not allowed in my house. My dad’s a Southern Baptist and horror movies – horror anything, it didn’t hold truck with him. Oddly, I could listen to the Sex Pistols, so long as my grades stayed up, but I sure as hell wasn’t allowed to go see Scream (with his knowledge). My brother and I were obedient kiddos…until he turned 16 (to my 14) and then WAPPOW. Holy- f, he became a rebel and I became his faithful sidekick. I flirted with all his friends and learned about Ministry, Thrill Kill Kult, JTHM, Halloween, and f-tons more. The world became a more sinister, hilarious, tolerable place. For a long stint, until the series was completed and then a little after, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was King Thing to me. Got the comics. Shared the comics. Got the graphic novel. Shared the graphic novel. Got the shirt. Bought the side projects.
JTHM is an obscene, caustic, absurd, insurgent, and completely over the top comic.
The black and white, jagged style spit in the craw of most other comics, at the time. Nothing looked like it. Some pages could be considered messy. Later issues looked hastily done…and this may or may not be a good thing, but it did give me my first impression of art as something that can be done quickly. Storytelling doesn’t have to take an eternity. Sometimes you need to throw yourself on the page and see what happens. It is better to have chaos there than nothing at all. I love that there is no wasted space. Filler strip characters became as important as Johnny…re: I frikkin love you, Happy Noodle Boy. Even the page borders had side conversations hidden in them. It was the equivalent of reading footnotes and it was the first time I ever remember learning what “breaking the fourth wall” meant. Reading JTHM imprinted on me that structure is what you make of it. Break all the rules. The only rule is what works on the page.
All of this, and Jhonen Vasquez is fearless. Dude has Tom Waitsian legend-building and snark skill. He’ll say shit like:
“Every time they would ask me "What's it like working at Nickelodeon?" [on Invader Zim] You just can't help but say ‘It's horrible. I'm in hell. HELL.’ Because it was hell. That doesn't make for good press, I guess.
It got to the point where some of the suits from the network flew in from New York in their invisible jet and had to implant an Intestinator in me to keep me quiet. But I didn't stay quiet, so my stomach blew up.” (via)
WTF? Who does that? Awesome. Love the comic and I have a bravery crush on the creator.
Hell, I don’t know if Johnny the Homicidal Maniac holds up. Maybe it’s like Catcher in the Rye…if you don’t read it in high school you’ll think it’s a steaming pile. I haven’t read it in over 10 years. More than likely, if I looked at it now, the series would be a mix of giddy rush-giving and pretentious, overblown characters that I wanted to punch. But it was the first horrific thing I read that made me not only want to read more horror, but write it myself.
THERE IS NO LOVELY END
Apparitions! Outlaws! Mediums!
1884. Nathan Garlan hears and sees the dead. Using his uncanny aptitudes to assist society and its specters, he has become the most acclaimed medium in Boston. But not all esteem him. Nathan Garlan’s own mother craves her boy butchered—and she’s not the only one…
Misery! Lust! Murder!
New Haven. Sarah Winchester is the heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune and a haunted woman. She has searched for release from familial phantoms for two decades, yet found no respite. However, she has heard of a medium in Boston who regularly administers miracles…
Wit! Wonders! Outrage!
Who is the Reverend Doctor Enton Blake? Why does the lawless Hennet C. Daniels search for him? What form of profane curio is a trick box—and what, precisely, does one inter within it? Will Sarah Winchester find serenity through Nathan Garlan’s services? Or will Hester Garlan find her son first?
Author Bio: PATTY TEMPLETON is roughly 25 apples tall and 11,000 cups of coffee into her life. She wears red sequins and stomping boots while writing, then hits up back-alley dance bars and honky tonks. Her stories are full of ghosts, freaks, fools, underdogs, blue collar heroes, and never giving up, even when life is giving you shit. She won the first-ever Naked Girls Reading Literary Honors Award and has been a runner-up for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. Her first novel, There Is No Lovely End, was recently released.