Monday, September 8, 2014

Johnny The Homicidal Maniac as a Gothic Horror (spoilers)

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez parodies iconic elements of gothic horror and utilizes elements of Goth fashion and culture.  JTHM is a graphic novel that is heavily inspired by Chester Brown and H.R. Giger. Giger’s influence in particular shines through, with its heavy handed use of ink and high contrast, and the images are positively horrific.  With everything in the dark, just a step away,  Vasquez brought this brilliant story of his to life in the darkest sense possible. The story is centered around Johnny, an immortal insomniac who either suffers from delusions or is a prisoner of the paranormal. Johnny’s state of emotional upheaval leads him to recurrent suicides, which never seem successful due to his circling, pained fate. He takes out his agitation on unsuspecting victims, dragging them down to the depths of his dungeon to be tortured until he can no longer feel, and they can no longer bleed. Although Johnny hates and envies humanity for their capacity to sleep, die, and love, he takes to his neighbor, a young boy named Squee. Squee’s family is abusive and unkind to him, so he finds Johnny’s strangeness frightening, yet charming, being the sole person who is kind to him. In time they form a strange friendship, and in Johnny’s inept way he asks Squee, “Would you like me to kill your parents?”  Although Johnny’s suggestion was sociopathic, it showed that he did, in fact, care for Squee in his own monstrous way. Just as things start to go right for Johnny, he is sent into a catatonic stupor of visions from Hell. There he is told by the Devil that he is a vessel of pain, anger, and suffering for all of humanity designed by the Devil and God, and without Johnny’s existence the world would be in chaos. He is a “flusher” as Johnny puts it. Upon learning this, he visits Squee one last time saying he won’t return for a while, not wanting his own fate to hurt the young boy.  He leaps out Squee’s window one last time to return to isolation.