Johnny the Homicidal Maniac

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"Dear Die-Ary. Today I stuffed some dolls full of dead rats I put in the blender. I'm beginning to wonder if, maybe, there really is something wrong with me."

A series of comic books by Jhonen Vasquez, the guy who did Invader Zim. The titular Johnny (Nny for short) is a serial killer with various psychological disorders who does bizarre and often nasty things to bizarre and often nasty people. He often has long, serious, intellectual monologues about the state of society, only to end them with non-sequiturs like "Tuesday is UFO day". When not doing that, Nny likes to draw a comic strip about a deranged, foul-mouthed stick figure named "Happy Noodle Boy". His only friends (if you can call them that) are Todd "Squee" Casil, the meek kid next door whom he unintentionally scares shitless, and Nailbunny, a dead rabbit nailed to the wall who is actually Nny's voice of reason.

It started as a series of comics in the magazine Carpe Noctem, and later spawned a seven-book series, later compiled and reprinted as JtHM: The Director's Cut. Related spin-offs included Squee, a four-book series which later was also collected and reprinted with filler from all eleven books in a separate section; I Feel Sick, which starred Johnny's ex-girlfriend and almost-victim Devi; and Fillerbunny, a deliberately half-assed trio of books spun off from some Squee filler.


Tropes used in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac include:
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Inverted. The devil assumes the form of a cheerleader because it's one of the things Johnny least likes.
  • Abusive Parents: While Squee's mother doesn't care about him one bit, his father actively despises him and blames him for ruining his life.
    • Apparently, they also tell him to get kidnapped.
  • All Just a Dream: After Johnny's suicide and trip to Hell, Johnny contemplates whether or not it was all just a dream...The comic is pretty clear it was real considering Johnny's haircut, newfound (relative) sanity, The Moose seeming to disappear and how reality just kind of melts away as Johnny dies...
    • Yes, but ALL of that could have been in his head, too. Remember, boys and girls, he's CRAZY!!!
  • Animated Actors: Suggested, not by the characters, but by the author's notes that pop up every now and then. Often something like explaining how the "actor" was able (or not) to survive being attacked by Johnny.

"To achieve THIS shot, we first made a plaster mold of the actor's head. We then filled it with cow parts. Then, for realism, we surprised the actor by blowing a hole through his head."

  • Art Evolution: Nny gets thinner and less mangy over the seven books, as does everything else, really.
    • Very very clear in the early drawings, beginning with Johnny The Little Homcidal Maniac, where his length around the middle is essentially cut in half every strip.
  • Asexuality: Johnny finds sexual desire, like any biological imperative, to be revolting, but Reverend Meat seemed to imply that Johnny has had sex with some girl (possibly before he went crazy, since Johnny doesn't remember it). Whether Johnny became averse to sex after his psychosis set in, is not asexual but wishes to be, or Reverend Meat was just screwing with him, is arguable.
    • On the matter of Nny's sexuality, Jhonen had this to say: "He's a coward and I think it manifests itself in many ways. One of them being the fact that's he's disgusted with sexuality. I don't think he has a sex drive and if he does it finds its way out through other means, mainly a knife through the flesh." [1]
      • Judging by that quote and what Johnny says in the comic, it sounds like that confirms he's a repulsed asexual (and probable)nonlibidoist or was that possibly just a way of saying it's solely a case of Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality with piquerism?
  • Asshole Victim: Quite a few of Nny's victims are this, especially those that wind up in the Torture Cellar. Edgar Vargas is an exception singled out due to being something of a One-Scene Wonder who was specifically identified as being a decent person Nny took no satisfaction in killing, but far from the only one -- basically, Nny'll kill you for being an asshole, but he'll also kill you for being friends with an asshole, being somewhere in the same general vicinity as an asshole, for triggering his Hair-Trigger Temper, for catching him in a bad mood, for wearing bell bottoms...

Tess: The fact that I'm here is a sign he's fucked up enough to have blurry aim!

  • Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: He attempts to commit suicide over not getting a slushie, then is distracted by soda. This sort of thing happens a lot.
  • Ax Crazy: Uh, yeah.
  • Badass Bookworm: Devi, who successfully beats the shit out of Johnny before he could kill her.
  • Badass Longcoat: Johnny gets one when he goes to hell. To his consternation, he doesn't get to keep it.
    • In fact, he's so upset about it that he completely misses his chance to learn why his life sucks so much.
  • Berserk Button: Don't EVER call Johnny "wacky."
    • Or, according to one of his victims who went to hell, "faggot."
  • Bond One-Liner: an odd one in that it was directed at Squee (who wasn't the victim) and didn't really comment on the death, but was still a super badass way for Johnny to reveal himself.

Squee: Todd.
Pedophile: Why'd you tell me your name? I didn't want to know your name!
Pedophile gets his head banged in with a pipe.
Nny: (wielding pipe) Todd? I liked 'Squee' better.

"Sometimes...you can cry until there's nothing wet in you. You can scream and curse to where your throat rebels and ruptures. You can pray, all you want, to whatever god you think will listen. And, still it makes no difference. It goes on, with no sign as to when it might release you. And you know that if it ever did relent...it would not be because it cared.--(Written on the wall in blood before everything went black)"

  • Contractual Immortality: Deconstructed Trope: Johnny can't die, and is noticeably unhappy about it.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The embryo in the jar that averts Johnny's first on-panel suicide attempt by informing him the commercial where the whole family gets diarrhea is on never appears again, despite being one of the voices.
  • Crapsack World: Par for the course with Vasquez.
  • Creator Breakdown: In universe example: Happy Noodle Boy, drawn by the increasingly insane Johnny.
  • Dada Comics: Happy Noodle Boy.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: They're nutritious!
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Johnny hates to even touch guns and thinks people should only use them on themselves. The only time he used one on another person was an attempted murder-suicide (Well, the murder part was successful).
    • Not entirely true. In the Carpe Noctum strips, he has no qualms with killing using a pistol.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Not quite as much as Invader Zim but still noticeable.
  • Driven to Suicide: Johnny decides not to follow through with his intention to commit suicide it in the end and loudly proclaims his taking back control over his life. Then he ends up accidentally killing himself anyway.
  • Drop the Hammer: Nny does this occasionally.
  • Dutch Angle: Vasquez makes use of many extreme angles, but especially notable are the many Dutch angles used to portray the state of Johnny's mind, as well as the sense of unbalance and bizarre nature of his environment.
  • Dying Alone: Johnny attempts a murder-suicide to avert this trope. It doesn't work.
    • Well, the suicide doesn't. The murder part works just fine.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Moose, which is definitely not a moose.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: For all the evil he performs, Johnny hates rapists and paedophiles, though this is more due to issues with physical contact.
    • Actually, he seems pretty upset that anyone would want to hurt the child in question. His attempt to reassure said child unfortunately goes about as well as you would expect.
  • Everythings Better With Bunnies: Nailbunny was Johnny's only voice that tried to keep him sane.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Expressive Shirt: Just about every panel.
  • Extreme Melee Revenge: Johnny invokes this way too many times to count.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: When it's not like Earth with everyone overreacting. No, wait, it's pretty much like earth anyway.
  • Freudian Excuse: Completely averted, even for the Villain Protagonist himself (Johnny makes vague mentions of people making fun of him when he was younger, but it's never used to justify what he does).
    • Nailbunny's rant about Nny formally being a great artist also qualifies as an aversion, though it's similarly vague. Vasquez intentionally left Nny's origins unwritten to avoid this.
      • We don't get the full details, but the sequel spinoff I Feel Sick implies that he was corrupted by the same force that created the Doughboys.
  • Godly Sidestep: Johnny meets God. God is a sleeping fat man who, upon being woken up, refuses to answer any questions and insists he's earned a break after creating the entire universe.
  • Good Is Boring: Heaven is ridiculously boring to an outsider like Johnny or to the employees, who are actually the damned. This is because heaven consists of everybody sitting down in chairs doing nothing--they experience such bliss that they do not wish to do anything.
  • Happily-Failed Suicide: Johnny tries to kill himself with a gun-toting robot that will shoot him if he tries to turn it off or answers the phone. After an indignant conversation with some of the voices in his head, he changes his mind and decides he wants to live after all, switching the robot off. As it turns out, the robot didn't work, and Johnny exclaims that he was extremely lucky. The moment after, the phone rings and Johnny, happy to be alive, turns to answer it. The robot then shoots him. He forgot to turn it on in the first place and only did so when he thought he was switching it off.
  • Hair Antennae: Apparently hair loss is a side effect of being rejected from hell.
  • Hates Being Touched: Johnny.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Averted with Johnny. "Even with headphones, the highly sensitive asshole detecting gland functions."
  • The Heartless: The Moose.
  • Heroic Sociopath: Johnny on a good day.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Squee.
  • Hot as Hell: The Devil taking the form of a horned demon doesn't scare Johnny at all. So he turns into a cute, perky cheerleader, which squicks him right out.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Anne Gwish. Oh so much.
    • Johnny scoffs at the self-absorbed, over-dramatic residents of hell losing their shit over trivial annoyances, then proceeds to throw an epic tantrum over it.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Nny has killed and/or maimed people with an automatic screwdriver, a live snake, a loose circular saw blade... And that's just the beginning of it.
    • According to his Twitter, he killed a man with a Cheeto.
    • Also, salad tongs.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Jimmy develops an infatuation with Johnny when he witnesses Johnny's killing spree at a Taco Hell Outlet. It doesn't end well.
  • The Insomniac: Nny dislikes sleeping as it further distorts his perception of reality. This means he stays awake until he loses consciousness, at which point his body usually continues doing unspeakable things of its own accord. According to his Twitter, he once woke up on the beach trying to paddle a hollowed-out corpse like a canoe.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Of a different sort. In one strip Nny discusses his current attempt to commit suicide to the Doughboys. Before he goes through with it, Nailbunny tells him that a TV show he likes is on. Cut to him laughing uproariously at the TV. In Jhonen's notes in the Director's cut, he says he found the idea of someone failing to commit suicide then losing interest in it to be funny, with a strip showing a proto-Johnny trying to shoot himself with an empty gun, and then going to watch TV.
  • I Will Show You X: NNY's response to being called "Wacky" by a woman in a Taco Bell Smell:

NNY: I'll show you wacky! I'll show you all wackeeeeee!

    • Then he disembowels everyone in the restaurant with a spork.
      • Even going so far as to kill all the roaches in the kitchen.
  • Knife Nut: See that image up top?
  • Loners Are Freaks: Johnny, Devi, and Squee.
  • Loony Fan: Jimmy.
  • Lunatic Loophole: Throughout the series, Johnny manages to avoid being arrested for or even suspected of any of his crimes, up to and including draining the blood of a flower vendor, on a crowded street in broad daylight, with numerous horrified witnesses present.
  • Mad Artist: Johnny...if his creative murders and Happy Noodle Boy comics actually count as art.
  • Mad Eye: Johnny is depicted with one eye huge and staring, the other slitted as a marker for insanity. Well, greater than normal levels of insanity.
  • The Messiah: Inverted: Johnny is a conduit for the universe's negativity.
  • Mind Screw: Plenty.
  • Morality Pet: Despite the repeated traumas he inadvertently inflicts on Squee, Johnny's kind (although somewhat misguided) treatment of Squee is about as close to petting the dog as he gets.
  • Motive Decay: Purposely invoked in the story and discussed by Johnny, who finds it harder and harder to remember why he even kills people anymore as the thing behind the wall and the Dough-boys gain more control over him.
  • Mundane Afterlife Heaven... is sitting in chairs. And Hell is living with all the people who go to Hell. There are actually good reasons behind this. It's explained that in heaven, the people there are truly happy. Because they're happy, they don't have the desires of living people, most of whom spend their lives looking for something to give them happiness. Hell's pretty self-explanatory. Even Nny says that are least there are some nice people mixed in with all the sad sacks on Earth.
  • Murderers Are Rapists: Averted with Johnny, but played straight with Jimmy. Johnny's reaction to Jimmy provide the trope's page quote.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Johnny.
    • To another extent, Wobbly-Headed Bob, though he probably does not merit the wannabe part.
  • No Ending: The main series and Squee!
  • Non Sequitur: After horribly killing a pedophile for threatening Squee he informs Squee randomly at the end of his rant that it was Tuesday, therefor being 'U.F.O. Day', and hauls ass.
  • Noodle Implements: "I've done horrifying things with salad tongs."
  • Noodle People
  • Only Sane Man: Squee is probably the closest thing to "sane" that this universe is ever going to have.
  • Papa Wolf: Nny attacking the pedophile that threatened Squee was probably the closest thing to a Crowning Moment of Awesome he ever had.
  • Police Are Useless.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: Mr. Eff.
  • Pollyanna: Squee, on his better days.
  • Poisonous Captive: Much of Nny's degeneration could be attributed to the thing behind the wall, who wound up creating the Doughboys with the intent that they could push Johnny into suicide. In order to keep it trapped, Nny also had to make sure the wall was continually coated in wet blood, meaning he wound up killing at least one person he otherwise wouldn't have.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Oh yes.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Nny tortures people for the fun of it, and because he feels he has to. Finds the suffering of the ones he is killing something pleasuring and incredible... yet, he is highly disgusted with the idea of raping his victims before killing them. How come enjoying the suffering of someone is better than enjoying forced sexual intercourse with them? No one really knows.
    • It's not really "better" in a moral sense, and even he himself admits it earns him no absolution. Sexual desire (and sexual climax) is physical, which makes it a "thing of the flesh," which Nny wants to eschew because he believes succumbing to that kind of temptation makes one a slave to their own body. That "Mmy" does this willingly, while supposedly emulating him, is personally offensive but not just for being rape -- this is a guy who'd opt for murder over consensual nookie.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Johnny has a major Hair-Trigger Temper; anything, up to and including using the word 'wacky' in his presence, can set him off.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The horrible thing trapped behind Johnny's wall.
  • Self-Insert Fic: Completely, completely averted. Jhonen has debunked claims of this many times, including several Take That strips targeted at people who believe this.
    • The comic is still about a guy named "Johnny C." (Jhonen's middle name is given as "C.") who draws a noodle boy, and includes bonus sketches of Jhonen's early drawings of Johnny as a "noodle boy". Just saying.
      • The Johnny C. thing was so that the Noodle Boy comics could be sold individually and the signature can interpreted either way.
  • Shout-Out: A lot of the borders contain hidden subliminal messages, and this one can be easy to miss. At the top of the page with the massacre in the taco place, it says "LV 426."

Tess: The Fly?
Nny: What?
Tess: You're quoting The Fly?
Nny: Sure, why not.

  • Show Within a Show: Happy Noodle Boy is supposedly drawn by Johnny himself. As the series goes on, Noodleboy gradually starts making less and less sense, reflecting the protagonist's own mental degeneration.
    • However, Happy Noodle Boy never made much sense in the first place.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Devi to Nny in the final book.
  • Someone Has to Do It: The whole business with waste-locks and flushers.
  • Spin-Off: The main series spun-off into Squee, which focused on Johnny's grade school neighbor, then later into I Feel Sick, which centered around a young female artist Johnny once tried to kill. I Feel Sick itself was then spun-off into Fillerbunny... sorta.
  • Squee: Todd makes this sound when he's scared, leading Johnny to actually think that his name was 'Squee'. Johnny also has a Squee moment when after he's informed in Heaven that, while there, he can blow up a person's head by thinking about it.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Johnny's crush on Devi.
    • Although Johnny's not stalking her,.. Maybe... Devi just thinks he is. His attempt to apologize once he regains his sanity (sort of) does nothing to change this.
    • Actually, if you look closely, in one panel of I Feel Sick you can see Nny's silhouette. He's standing outside Devi's apartment building, looking up at her through the window. This implies he's stalking her.
    • Jimmy could be interpreted as this to Johnny. He did follow him around and was pretty obsessed with him in an "infatuation" kind of way.
      • Really? I thought it was pretty clear he just idolized Johnny and wanted to be his apprentice.
      • Twisted form of Celeb Crush, maybe?
  • Stylistic Suck: Happy Noodle Boy again.
  • Take That, Audience!: Jimmy, or Mmy, from chapter seven was an attack on people who liked the comic before Johnny started contemplating what he was doing, and also towards people who found Johnny someone they could relate to as a person. Also Anne-Gwish was an attack against people that considered JTHM a goth comic because of its art style and its anti-conformist views.
  • Tension-Cutting Laughter: The scene where Devi and Nny are on a date. Devi jokes about killing Nny and leaving his dead body. Both fall silent, but after a moment they both laugh.
  • Thought Caption: Used in several points as an Inner Monologue for isolated gags.
  • Torture Cellar: Johnny's house has a several stories deep Torture Cellar; even he doesn't know how it came to be there.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Johnny and Squee. Neither are much liked in-universe, but fans adore them.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Fook!", though Jhonen usually just uses the regular f-bomb.
  • Verbal Tic Nickname: Squee, who's real name is Todd. He never said his name was Squee, it's just a sound he makes when he's scared. So when Johnny asked what his name was, that was all he could manage.
  • Villain Protagonist: Johnny, and he's aware of it.
  • Vomiting Cop: An angel, not a cop, but valid anyways.
  • Walking the Earth: The series ends with Nny doing this. Of course, when you think about it, he probably had to. An Admirer, of Sorts implies that now that his duty as a Waste-Lock is completed, he is no longer immune to getting caught, so staying in one place for too long isn't the wisest thing for him.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Pretty much the only line Johnny won't cross
  • Your Head Asplode: Johnny briefly gains this power when he finds out that those who are in Heaven have powers that vary from person to person, though his guide tells him to refrain from the thought of doing so otherwise he'd explode someone's head. He almost immediately turns this power onto a guy and blows up his head a grand total of three times--Three because his head regenerated every time. After the third time the man got fed up and does the same back to Johnny. This results in a head-explody war among all of the residents.

Guide: No! No!! Stop! STOP!! You'll ruin everything!!
Johnny: My God!! Are you kidding!? I've always dreamed of having super powers!!! This is just too much to resist! I have head-explody!

  1. The interview containing this quote, on a website that is NSFW, can be found here: http://suicidegirls.com/word/Jhonen+Vasquez+invades+ [dead link]Suicide Girls/