Comic Book Geeks Beleaguer Jhonen Vasquez: A Q&A

In guise of an introduction I would like to apologize for taunting googlers with the terms “Jhonen Vasquez” and “interview” for so long in the Coming Soon section. I just felt sick with impotent rage because I could provide no actual photos, and I took plenty. Maybe next year, when I, once again, gain free entry by masquerading as someone who deserves one, I will take photos and NOT format my hard drive without backing anything up. UPDATE: d42 who rocks DID back up said photos, so enjoy!

d42 and superheroesA collection of middle-aged, pudgy men with no pants on never before aroused admiration in so many. Surely, the comic-book-loving, video-game-playing LARPers of NYC came for the scantily dressed girls as well? And yet, the playboy model present, and expecting attention from sex-starved nerds, was almost as lonely at her booth as Gary Coleman was at his, and she wasn’t charging $20 for an autograph.

The Comic Con lasted three days and took up three floors of the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan in February, 2007. On the main floor representatives from comic book companies gave away shwag. T-shirt and oddity salesmen made some serious money from amusing logos and hats with ears. A few beautiful posters of favorite comics characters were admired by fans, such as Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, which featured all of the Endless and was a real bitch to take a picture of since everyone wanted a photo with it like it was the Mona Lisa. Including us.

endless poster

The second floor held several crowded rows of comic book peddlers hawking their art. It took some determination to force comic book freaks to part and allow one to make it into the spacious auditorium where RPGs were played along rows of tables. Celebrities of all echelons were also there signing autographs. A few booths held men who could only offer to sell you their past glories and so Gary Coleman sat waiting for someone to not be put off by the price of his attentions next door to Peter Mayhew, who once played Chewbacca.

Enjoy this assortment of Comic Con pics. I promise Jhonen Vasquez is next:

The basement is where we are headed; to the large conference rooms where Q&A’s were taking place. After pushing past crowds of fans, starving artists, volunteer staff and a helpful booklet we will finally be in one of these rooms to behold Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of such beloved characters as Invader Zim, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (JTHM), and Squee.

The great man was shorter than I expected, but this is because I always assumed he would be a gaunt six-footer wearing rags and snarling at passersby. I guess I thought he would be a lot like a cross of Johnny and Noodle Boy. He was actually an attractive, smooth-faced and bespectacled metrosexual; skinny, but pleasant, in a suit and with some metal glinting off his general facial region.

“So, should we start lining people up? And shooting them?” Vasquez expected the Q&A to be just that and promised that he prepared no speeches. A number of weirdos and small children did line up, behind a microphone, which was placed a safe distance away from the stage. Most of these people just wanted comedy and abuse, so the first person asked after Vasquez’ health to which he received a long-winded answer.

A more pensive fan asked how Vasquez is addressing “the spic issue” in his comics. After a bit of a stare, Vasquez explained that being a Hispanic means everything he does has a Hispanic origin, next question.

Ridiculous queries followed and I understand now that Vasquez probably meant it when he suggested he might want to shoot his fans. The Poodle Twins, as these girls will be known, wanted to know what color poodle Vasquez would like. Turns out Vasquez doesn’t care too much for poodles and would probably pick a dead one if the choice had to be made.

An interesting question was brought up concerning copyright infringement and the audience audibly inhaled. Be still your heart, because Vasquez is fine with you watching Invader Zim on Youtube. “You’re fine,” good man.

To prevent this article from making your eyes bleed, I will summarize the rest, generally excluding questions the likes of which Poodle Twins would be proud of since that was only funny the first time. A lot of his fans appear to consist of small children and slurring potheads.

Vasquez loves Mike Patten and the Stolen Babies. In fact Stolen Babies may want to do an animated music video with him. Which would be out this of this world, because they are a solid band.

So what is this with piggies? “I don’t think piggies are inherently funny, I just like the word” Although “piggies” and “doom” are now the favored parts of many a fan’s lexicon, Vasquez explained that he no longer finds them amusing. “They’re sausages with little legs” he exclaimed and concluded the subject — hopefully — with “I do like piggies, but not as much as you think.”

When a fan asked for a hug, she got a firm “No” and an anti-hug rant which very fairly and adequately explained that Zim would pulverize a hugger and as an alternative, Johnny would stab one. And everyone knows that these creatures came from Vasquez’ diseased mind, so why would anyone expect him to act entirely unlike these characters? He added squishy sound effects to get across how unlikely forthcoming of hugs was.

The children, oh, the children! They wanted to know if these comics were for them even though their moms deny them the right of their tween drama and urge for cartoon gore. Vasquez explained that his work is intended for an audience with a certain mentality, which is divorced from a specific age. He also took the opportunity to explain that yes, he’s done, way done, with Zim, with JTHM, and with Squee. And no, there will NOT be a full-length feature film based on any of it and screw your desire for closure, creepy fans.

When asked about how well he works with others, he explained that he works alone. He described it as “me, doing whatever I want and then Dan [Vado, Slave Labor Graphics publisher], cries, and publishes it.”

What of this rise of spooky comics? “Oh take them away!” Vasquez weeps, so pigeonholed, and realizing that his work is doomed to this “Goth comics ghetto” no matter what he does. However, he is working on something super secret right now (it was supersecret THEN, but the project is called Jellyfist and is actually available for preorder on Amazon. Vasquez discloses more in his blog–happy stalking), and it’s not in that genre. To pass the time, and distract himself from Jellyfist he’s also been sending 1-page scripts to illustrators who compile short nonsensical comics that anger them and amuse Vasquez.

By the next Comic Con (April 18-20, 2008) Vasquez plans to have something more narrative ready and is actually writing a script for a feature film, with money from crazed fans (very low budget because crazed fans are often not that well off). He plans to work alone on this one too.

Lets conclude with some miscellaneous facts:

  • Vasquez loves waffles like Hellboy loves pancakes
  • He is a fan of things, not people
  • Squee is the gateway drug to Zim
  • Vasquez is filled with parasites
  • Zim was killed by a network that wanted to protect itself (aka Nickelodeon)
  • Vasquez made a child cry and mocked him during the Q&A. The crying did seem to be a farce, so the child deserved it.

I will leave you with this picture of Vasquez playing a video game

Article and Image Copyright © 2007 to ETL

    • seester of doOM!!!
    • July 15th, 2007

    i was amused, but can spend no more time on this. we will discuss this at freater length Monday 9:01 pm.

    • Aa
    • July 15th, 2007

    Nice overview of the Q+A. There’s pics of JV at NYCC at flickr.

    • Fri
    • July 15th, 2007

    I will love you for ever if you would please, PLEASE elaborate on the crying child.

    • eatthelemons
    • July 15th, 2007

    Thanks, and I appreciate you linking this article, so double thanks. And as to the crying child, I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about it since I’m at least 6 months late with this article. Some kid tried to be cutesy at JV, and got promptly cut off. He then boohooed until he was shooed away by the next person dying to say something inane.

    • Nicky
    • March 10th, 2009

    hahaha…Jhonen’s funny in real life…sweet.

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