While it’s not as overtly murder-oriented as the adventures of Jhonen Vasquez’s iconic anti-hero Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee’s Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors isn’t exactly Good Night Moon. There’s some light cursing, cartoon gore, and a guy poops blood (a lot of blood) until he dies in a public bathroom stall. We can really only recommend it for a kid who’s creeping up on his or her teenage years, appreciates gallows humor, and/or greatly enjoys Invader Zim, probably Vasquez’s best-known creation.
But the trials and tribulations of young Todd, or “Squee” as he’s usually called, could be worth revisiting for adults. As memories get blurry and mercurial over time, many parents make the mistake of idealizing their childhood years.
It was nice to not need a job or know what sex is, wasn’t it? Back when you were a kid, all you ever worried about was where your next bowl of chocolate cookie dough ice cream was coming from, right?
WRONG. Being a little kid was nightmarish. Half of your teachers clearly hated their careers, and by extension, their students. The other kids at school acted like sadistic little monsters. Dad had to work a humiliating, relentlessly stressful job to pay the mortgage and might as well have blamed you for his own bungled life choices. Mom didn’t speak very often, unless she was into her third bottle of wine for the day, at which point she got kind of mean….
Anyway, plenty of readers might find Vasquez’s depiction of childhood via Squee more true-to-life than he intended. Throughout his day-to-day routines, Squee copes with absentee parents, alien abductions, the aforementioned blood pooping guy, a cyborg grandpa who tries to eat him, and a Gregor Samsa-sized dust mite. He gets moral support from his pals Shmee, Pepito, and Johnny, which would be great except Shmee is a fear-absorbing teddy bear, Pepito is the Antichrist, and Johnny’s the same guy who murdered dozens of people in the last Vasquez comic. Unfortunately for Squee, even his friends make him want to pee himself in terror.
Perhaps most importantly, Squee’s Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors is a damn fine collection. In addition to all four issues of the original Squee mini-series, there’s a whole bunch of shorter goodies that didn’t end up in JTHM: the Director’s Cut. Does the lack of Wobbly Headed Bob and Happy Noodle Boy in your TPB collection make your want to reenact 9/11 with sock puppets and set your hands on fire? WELL PUT AWAY THE GASOLINE CAN, SPUNKY, because SBGBOUH simply swells with Noodle Boy, Bob, and a small army of zany, blood-thirsty critters from the disgusting imagination of Jhonen Vasquez.