Before reading any further, read this: NOT UNDERRATED. NOT UNDERAPPRECIATED. FULL-STOP MISUNDERSTOOD OR MISINTERPRETED.
Ahem, now that that’s out of the way: let’s talk about Jhonen Vasquez’s “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.”
An indie comic from when that meant a lot of stark, black and white contrasts (see also: SCUD the Disposable Assassin, Sam and Max), JTHM follows the escapades of the titular homicidal maniac in his largely unconnected (until later in the series) escapades of over-the-top gore and self-aware humor. The collection that you can find it as also contains Noodle Boy comics, drawn by the in-universe character and even weirder than the main stories as well as some oddball pages that Vasquez seems to have just thrown in.
NOW! Since this is a thread about misunderstood works, you MIGHT be able to see where this is going! Vasquez himself gained a reputation for hating his own fans, especially at conventions and while that MIGHT sound pretentious, when you realize that the kinds of fans he was talking about were the types who “SAW THEMSELVES AS JOHNNY, MAN!” and that he was “SPEAKING THE TRUTH OF MY DARK INNER-SOUL!” it becomes much more understandable. Because JTHM…is a COMEDY book.
The book came out when I was in jr. high (long ago in the distant, edgy 90s), so its seeming edgelord style was PERFECT for me, and so many others, to take WAY too seriously, but re-reading it as an adult: it’s so clearly a comedy. Not even a DARK comedy, the violence is far, far, FAR too over the top to be considered actually dark. Everyone thought they WERE Johnny, but they were one of the assholes Johnny had tied up in his basement. There’s even an issue where he kills a Johnny fanboy, but apparently that wasn’t overt enough.
This turned into more of a blog post than a forum one, but since we don’t have blogs, EXPERIENCE MY LENGTHY POST AND DESPAIR!..and also I’m really interested to learn other people’s takes on stuff like this.