Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez

Johnny C from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, or "Nny" for short, is a disturbed individual who kills innocent and not-so-innocent people. Johnny is never caught, never pursued, never implicated for his crimes, even when he commits them in broad daylight. Nny's closest "friends" are two pieces of styrofoam; later in the series, he befriends a talking Bob's Burger Boy, who is really a projection of his un- or subconscious mind. He hates the word "wacky."

Wait––why is this book being reviewed on a personal style website? Nny is not a looker, and his personal style mirrors his personal philosophy: dangerously imbalanced and psychotic.

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was created during an interesting period in goth fashion. In 1995, when this comic was first published, goth was still a growing subculture, with interesting characteristics and sub-subcultures. That's not so true anymore.

Most of the main characters, Nny included, have a gothic or goth-inspired fashion sense. Rather than the "mall goth" we think of today, this comic shows many styles that have all but vanished. Ankh necklaces, early Chelsea haircuts, knee-high boots with giant buckles, Egyptian eye makeup, "Nine Inch Heels" band t-shirts, fishnet shirts, striped tights and other details can provide style inspiration, or at least nostalgia.

JtHM was the first graphic novel published by Jhonen Vasquez, creative director behind "Invader Zim" and a few videos by Mindless Self Indulgence. Mr. Vasquez was barely twenty when he started Johnny the Homicidal Maniac; for better or for worse, it shows. This comic, like most of his work, is not for the faint of heart. (Why the faint of heart would pick up a comic called "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac" is beyond me.) Those already familiar with Mr. Vasquez's work, however, will find it interesting to see how he developed his signature style and voice.

Anne Gwish, a self-conscious parody of scenester politics

Anne Gwish, pictured above, is a self-conscious parody of goth scene politics. She and Johnny never cross paths, but they live in the same world and have acquaintances in common. Ms. Gwish is intensely critical of other goths, making such cutting comments as "I would look so much better in those pants." She also dresses up just like everyone else, yet insists on her own individuality. When a jock says "Hey, Morticia, Halloween's over! You can take off the costume!", Gwish acts as if she's endured a blow to her fundamental human rights.

Mr. Vasquez is a talented writer and illustrator. However, I would not recommend this comic to anyone over the mental age of, say, twenty-two. The writing is often overwrought and the melodrama can be wearying. There is, for example, one issue almost entirely devoted to Nny dithering over whether or not to kill himself.

It is, however, satisfying to see various annoying people dispatched with horrifying alacrity. Child predators, rapists, arrogant scenesters, crazy fans, all meet grim, unspeakable fates in Nny's basement. If this isn't your cup of tea, go elsewhere.

If, however, this sounds like fun, you might also enjoy the chance to see late 1990s goth fashion.

Buy Johnny The Homicidal Maniac: Director's Cut at Amazon.com.

Related Reading:

Wednesday Addams

Paradise Kiss

Gothic Lolita Bible

Style and Sex

Gothic Makeup Ideas

Style and Evolution


Pictures from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac are copyright Jhonen Vasquez and Slave Labor Graphics, and are used for the purpose of illustrating the subject.

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