During the lockdown in which comic books stores were not getting new comics, I've been going over stuff I liked as a kid, which was marvel superheros...but now that stores are actually opening again it's time to narrow the focus to my own self interests and my final lockdown recommendation will be an indy book.
SQUEE, by Jhonen Vasquez.
I'm sure you've seen the cartoon Invader Zim
Jhonen, the man behind that got his start doing several indy comics for Slave Labor Graphics.
Slave Labor Graphics was a independent company publishing off the wall Indy stuff, and was( I think) my first solid example of what could be done with comics outside the action/sci fi world. They published many good titles. Lenore and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac were among their most popular and with good reason.
Way back when I started Arsenic Lullaby, all I knew of comics was Marvel and DC. I view myself as comedian first and illustrator second...which made the notion of competing artistically with the guys who were drawing Marvel super hero books to be a bridge to far. But then I saw Jhonen Vasquez's work on his first series Johnny The Homicidal Maniac...
And I though, oh hell...I can manage to draw this well.
Just kidding, pal. My cheap shot there is not to say it had no merit artistically. It is visceral, impactful, even charming. It is what it needs to be for the jokes to hit and the characters and world they live in to capture your imagination. In the most important ways, it is perfect. and in the most important ways it is better than much of the uninspired work that was happening on the assembly line of Marvel books.
Like all of us, he got better as he went along and his second series SQUEE is my favorite. Each issue was a collection of short stories, funny, violent, weird...you can see why a guy like me would love. I don't have many samples to show you because I have no single issue to scan. Every time I loan one out, it never comes back to me. Which tells you something about it, because I don't much loan out comic books to other comic book readers, they can find it themselves. I loan out comics to people who are not comic book readers, not familiar with them enough to bother to track anything down. So not only is it good enough for me to recommend, not only is it good enough to entice people who don't read comics, it's good enough for those people to risk pissing me off by not returning it.
Squee is a little kid and random horrible things happen to him. This excerpt here is from a story that is one of my favorites. The set up to this is he learns about bed bugs in class and becomes very concerned. So he shakes his pillowcase out the window, to jettison and such insects...and out pops a GIANT BELLIGERENT BED BUG
I won't spoil the end for you...
Your local comic book shop almost certainly has a full collection of Squee, and if not they can get you one.
AND DON'T FORGET TO ASK THEM FOR A COPY OF MY BOOK- ARSENIC LULLABY!
more info on it is at this link!
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