The Outhouse: The Greatest Comic Book Website - For All Your Comics and Entertainment News, Reviews, and Other Insanity

Nerd Boner Alert: Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, or How I Terrified 30 People Simultaneously

Katie Hutchison talks dark comics in the latest addition of Nerd Boner Alert!


When I met my future husband back in May of 2006 I knew that come October I would need to find something cool for his birthday that month. Now for those of you who do not know me, I am an obsessive, start-shopping-for-Christmas-in-August sort of person who needs to find the "perfect" gift. Anyway, I needed something that said "I like you" and "I pay attention to your interests." And one of things I remembered him saying was that he had loved Invader Zim.

SqueeAs a librarian, you get used to researching everything. A quick "Invader Zim" google and I find Jhonen Vasquez's black comedy Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (JTHM). Good reviews on both the original and Squee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors and research is done- items purchased from amazon.com.

Well, he seemed amused when he received them, I went on to give him even more awesome gifts (we make our own beer now) and I forgot about Johnny until I took a class on graphic novels as both literature and communication and was given an extremely simple assignment: find a comic we didn't read in class, write a review, and present to the class. At the time I was a college senior and most of my money at that point had gone to tuition and meager amounts of food so rather than spend what little I had at a bookstore for something new (but still wanting to review something I hadn't yet read) I asked to borrow Johnny. And wow, he's kind of scary. But also...funny?

johnny_with_bearFor those of you who have yet to pick up this now decade plus old comic, the basic storyline follows serial killer Johnny C. as he looks internally at the psychological reasons he feels the need to mercilessly slaughter anyone who annoys him. Although he is portrayed as quick horrific (scenes of him nailing victims to walls and painting with their blood make this a comic not meant for children) he is still quite amusing. When not killing, Johnny enjoys writing comics himself (called "Happy Noodle Boy"), looking at the stars, commenting on how emotionless insects can be, and hating on Satan's attitude (also called Señor Diablo, Johnny finds him to be a hypocrite because he has a Christian wife). Johnny interacts with his neighbor Todd, who he calls Squee (it's the noise Todd makes when he is frightened, which is often if Johnny is around). Despite Johnny's homicidal nature, he often acts as a friend and even saves Squee's life from Satan's son, making for a most comical read. JTHM originally began as a comic strip but later became a comic under Slave Labor Graphics. Since then, it has picked up a cult following and was released as a trade paperback (the "Director's Cut") in 1997.

johnnyI wish I could tell you that my comic book class was full of people like me; people who wanted to dissect Iron Man and look at the cultural significance of graphic novels like Maus and Watchmen.   But this was registered as a seminar class, a required class for anyone in my university's Honors Program to complete. When I looked around the room I often saw Hollister polos or cell phones decorated with pink rhinestones. And when I stood up and presented my thoughts via PowerPoint on Jhonen Vasquez's black comedy, that room of 30 students and two Ph.D.ed professors stood still for a moment. A moment of horror and awe as I tried to explain that the slow decline into insanity of a character was both amusing and poignant. I'm not sure if anyone picked up the book to read it, but I think you all should! Perhaps my fatal flaw was that I included photos on every slide?*

*As a side note, another assignment for that class was to write our own comic issue. Mine was called "An Inappropriate Children's Tale of Pope Alexander VI and his Children". There were panels where siblings engaged in incest, panels where the pope had people murdered. Generally if you're watching Showtime's The Borgias you know what my comic was about. Anyway, the class was pretty horrified of that too.

PinocchioI still have a soft spot for dark comics, or ones that explore dark subjects. I've already reviewed Gerard Way's The Umbrella Academy and Yana Toboso's Black Butler in a previous column and I just picked up (finally) Dusty Higgins' Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer which seems like another horrifyingly funny graphic novel.   I've read the first issue (free! if you have the iPad/iPhone app ComiXology) and so far I am pleased. Anything that takes a Disney movie and makes it scary is ok in my book (especially since most Disney movies started scary and were turned good- I mean have you read the Grimm Brothers version of Cinderella?). I'll be reading more when I get the time; I'll let you know what I think, but I'm expecting fun chaos...

hipster_hitlerI was also recently turned onto Hipster Hitler, an online comic created by the mysterious JC and APK that, according to the website, "satirizes both hipster culture and the exploits of the Third Reich using a combination of puns, parody, dark humor, anachronisms, and visual gags." Not so much "scary" as in horror, but "scary" in that the main character is Adolf Hitler. For the most part the comic follows Hitler as he lazes about Germany, putting together his plans, but with a "hipster" twist. The perfect comic for anyone who enjoys history or likes making fun of Nazis (shouldn't that be everyone?). The site has gotten some flack because of people jumping to conclusions about their content, but once you begin reading it isn't offensive. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the comic are Hitler's T-shirts, some of which are available for purchase. My favorites so far have been "Wehrmacht Bitches At?", "I Ate the Batter of the Bulge at Hans' Haus of Luftwaffles", and "Back to the Fürher" (like Back to the Future, funny right?). I won't give away any more of his T-shirts or other shenanigans he gets into, so if you're intrigued, head over to hipsterhitler.com and enjoy!

So now that you know a little bit more of what I like, any suggestions? And what do you think of horror as a medium for comics? Leave interesting and creative comments below!

Written or Contributed by: Katie Hutchison, Outhouse Contributor
The Outhouse is sponsored this week by Late Nite Draw. Recently featured on ComicsAlliances' Best Art Ever, he is a Chicago-based commissioned artist with a self-published Digital+Print one-shot coming out in October about the abominable snowman called ABOBAMANIMABBLE, and is also available for commissions. Check out some amazing art by clicking here or by clicking the banner at the top, and support the people who support The Outhouse.


Enjoy this article? Consider supporting The Outhouse, a fan-run site, on Patreon. Click here for more info.


Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:



Comment without an Outhouse Account using Facebook

We get it. You don't feel like signing up for an Outhouse account, even though it's FREE and EASY! That's okay. You can comment with your Facebook account below and we'll take care of adding it to the stream above. But you really should consider getting a full Outhouse account, which will allow you to quote posts, choose an avatar and sig, and comment on our forums too. If that sounds good to you, sign up for an Outhouse account by clicking here.

Note: while you are welcome to speak your mind freely on any topic, we do ask that you keep discussion civil between each other. Nasty personal attacks against other commenters is strongly discouraged. Thanks!
Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:

About the Author - Christian Hoffer


Christian Hoffer is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Hoffer is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.

 


More articles from Christian Hoffer