Jellyfist

Jhonen Vasquez is best known for his comic series “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac” about a delusional ex-artist who tortures and murders anyone who even slightly inconveniences him at the command of either the voices in his head or a pair of extra-dimensional demonic intelligences; and for the Nickelodeon-produced cartoon Invader Zim, a children’s show about an incompetent alien attempting to wipe out humanity, which is more or less completely unsuitable for children, and which was prematurely and tragically cancelled as soon as the network realized this (though that hasn’t stopped them from mercilessly milking the property for all it’s worth with endless merchandising). For the last few years, though, Vasquez has been working hard on some ultra-secret project (read: playing video games), so what we get is some completely incomprehensible and “bad on purpose” comic every couple of years just to let us know that he’s still alive. With Jellyfist, the conceit is that Vasquez scribbled some nonsensical scripts which he passed off to his friend, artist Jenny Goldberg, to illustrate in order to keep her busy so she’d quit bugging him all the time. The result is a book full of giant talking penises, squids, piggies, bees, hobos and the REAL story of where babies come from (hint: it involves the female’s skull cracking open to “eject her sex-blob, which then finds its way into the male’s now screaming mouth”). The humour comes from the fact that the unfortunate and malformed characters in these comics behave in ways that make not a bit of sense to anyone reading the comic, but which seem perfectly reasonable to the characters themselves, following the internal logic of their horrible world, which rescues the book from being arbitrary in a mindless way, and strays closer into David Lynch territory, though even more cryptic and surreal, and with, uh, more penises. The comic also features a sort of “director’s commentary” running parallel to each strip, where Vasquez and Goldberg discuss the page and usually end up threatening each other’s lives and arguing about which of them hates the comic more. It’s not too deep, but it’s lots of fun. (Richard Rosenbaum)

comics zine, Jhonen Vasquez & Jenny Goldberg, $9.99, Slave Labor Graphics, P.O. Box 26427, San Jose, CA, 95159, USA, www.slgcomic.com

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