I Feel Sick
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I Feel Sick is a "doubleshot", full-color comic book written and drawn by the comic artist Jhonen Vasquez, with colors by Rosearik Rikki Simons (who also voiced GIR in Invader Zim). It revolves around Devi D. from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (JTHM), and her dealings with the same supernatural and/or psychological forces that drove Johnny to lunacy. Originally intended as a single paperback, it was later split into two issues so as to avoid compromising the length of the story. It was published by Slave Labor Graphics. Vasquez stated that the creation process of I Feel Sick was cathartic. The problems Devi had while working for NERVE and neglecting her own work was reminiscent to the pressure Vasquez had while working on Invader Zim.
The series opens with Devi yelling, while destroying her own painting in an attempt to remind herself that she isn't insane. After finishing and looking back at her painting, it was as if she never destroyed it. After overhearing her friend yelling, Tenna comes upstairs to check on Devi. However, when Tenna asks her to explain why she was yelling, Devi simply responds by saying "I don't think I can just yet." The flashback reveals a few unspecified years ago, when Devi was sixteen. While on a date with a boy named Eddie, it becomes apparent that Devi isn't connecting with him. Still, Eddie continues their date under the impression he might have sex with her around midnight. When Devi realizes this and asks to go home, Eddie, instead, decides to make a forceful move on her while driving. They hit a nearby tree, causing a car accident and Devi is trapped in her seat belt, before Eddie loses an eyeball and has glass shards inside of his brain, the only thing keeping him alive is the thought he may still have a chance of sleeping with Devi. They are trapped in his car overnight, until a deployed airbag kills Eddie.
The flashback ends with Devi trying to explain to Tenna, in a complex way, what she is experiencing without avail. Tenna suggests all she needs is Chinese food and, after much convincing, Devi decides to go out to eat. While at a local restaurant, Tenna finally manages to convince Devi to tell her what she is going through. Devi explains that the same painting she was destroying earlier, is a painting she never finished which has started talking to her. She also explains the only way to silence the painting is by working, and the voice seems to just be Devi's own that is personified in the unfinished painting she nicknamed "Sickness". Tenna suggests that she is merely working too hard despite Devi's objections. While driving home from the restaurant, the two women argue about Tenna's style of advice and Devi's antisocial tendencies. Soon, Devi tells Tenna she is under the assumption supernatural forces are trying to interfere with her painting. But, either way, her past experiences with humans have more than motivated her to stay in all together. As an example to prove her point, Devi tells a story about one man she was dating who defecated himself at the diner table (as seen in Issue 2 of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac). We then cut to another flashback once again an unspecified time ago, Devi is at a nightclub listening to the music being played, when a man (dressed as a vampire) named Eric strikes up conversation. While talking, Devi clearly attempts to get to know Eric despite his strange obsession with vampires and use of smokebombs in order to have dramatic entrances\exits. However, Devi's talk with him too goes horribly, as when Eric uses a smokebomb to leave the conversation, he sets himself ablaze, possibly killing himself.
As this flashback ends and the girls return to Devi's apartment, Tenna is still not convinced there are evil powers interfering with her friend's social life. However, Devi is still under this impression. She states that the idea of having another social life other than her own would simply be a joke. Tenna says that her idea is stupid, however, as Devi is clearly overreacting. Devi then uses another flashback to help prove her point. Once again, she is out on a date with another boy during an unspecified time ago, but clearly much more recent. Three hours into her date, as the two of them are talking over dinner, Devi gets increasingly paranoid because of her past experiences with boys. So, she attempts to calm herself down making a joke about how the boy she's with is possibly a zombie. However, this turns out to be not too far from the truth, when the boy bites a waiter's brain out of his skull, prompting Devi to leave.
After the flashback, Tenna is still unconvinced. She asks why the "spooky painting" wants to make her go insane. Devi says she has no idea, but is figuring out how the painting is doing it, just not why. She tells Tenna how she was always used to horrible things happening to her, but, ever since she took on her new freelance job, things have been getting ridiculous and now she feels miserable. Devi tells Tenna that since she began working her tedious painting job, she never had time to paint what she wants as her hobby and calm herself down. What's worse is there are always distractions keeping her from completing her artwork such as phone calls or people stopping by. However, when she does have the time, Devi can't think of anything else to paint which is driving her mad. Devi then tells Tenna that she, herself, is clearly a part of this, because she has spent the past weeks with her before. However, Tenna has never distracted Devi like she is now when she's trying to finish her painting. Afterwards, she politely asks Tenna to leave. Devi then walks over to her painting and asks it what it wants, and why it's distracting her from her work. The painting reminds Devi that it's simply a voice in her head personified in her painting called "Sickness". However, the painting is amazed that Devi realized she was talking to a painting, as most people don't realize they are talking to themselves until it's too late. The painting goes on to tell Devi not to bother fighting them, as it and its colleagues are professionals who have done this before. Devi then tells the painting she vows to fight it until the end, by working as hard as she can until the painting dries up and she cannot hear Sickness's voice any longer. However, Devi accidentally injures her hands, meaning she can no longer paint to fight Sickness.
Devi discusses her relationship with Sickness, where Devi still promises she will find a way to fight Sickness even without using her hands, and Sickness telling her even though she caught on early to them taking over her mind, it is useless to resist. Sickness informs Devi that she is not the first person who caught onto them this early in the process, yet it always ends the same with them taking over nonetheless, allegedly one of the fighters was someone who introduced the forces to Devi. Devi comes to the conclusion that Sickness is only distracting her in an attempt to make her never use her mind to think about anything. Devi remembers that she is very late for a meeting with someone who hired her as a freelancer painter for a children's book, and speeds away in an attempt to make it there on time. Devi shows up late to the meeting with her new eccentric boss, Mr. Nerves. However, he doesn't seem to mind the mild lateness. While at the meeting, Mr. Nerves tells Devi of several outlandish changes she needs to make to her painting if it will be used in the book, causing her to become mildly annoyed. However during a lecture from her boss, Devi thinks back to the comment Sickness made about someone introducing the spirits to Devi, and has a flashback to her date with Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. While overlooking the town, Johnny asks her her opinion about what makes a person and what happens to someone if their most defining trait is taken from them, in this case Johnny's ability to paint (similar to Devi's current case).
After remembering and connecting Johnny's story with her own, she promptly quits her job and rushes home determined to beat Sickness. While rushing up her apartment building stairs, there are several distractions in the hallway attempting to hinder her process from getting back to her room. Devi unfortunately cannot make it to her room however, because of her morbidly obese neighbor is engulfing half of the hallway. Devi decides to try and squeeze past her, but gets stuck in the excessive amounts of fat. While in it, Debi hears a voice that claims to be the fat talking to her. It tells her that the fat is psychic and will attempt to help her. It also shows her a scene from her childhood in the first grade. In it, a young boy by the name of Spidgey Simons attempts to give her a Valentine's Day card. However, Devi, being too young to understand, coughs chalk into his face and crumples up the card. The fat then tells her that Spidgey later died of a chalk-induced asthma attack, and he was the only boy that could ever understand her. She is informed that with him died any chance of social goals. As Devi escapes the fat and makes it to her room, she finds Sickness no longer in her painting, but now in the form of a doll. Sickness then reveals that its entire plan revolves around using Devi's mind as a way to grow stronger, and insists that if Devi tries to ever resist again, it will kill her.
It tells her that it has been stealing her creativity to grow a real body and become stronger by the second, however with Devi quitting her job, it forced Sickness to accelerate its plans. Sickness then tries to make a deal with her offering powers similar to Johnny's such as the ability to almost never get hurt, and given the ability to do anything within reason without getting caught including murder. Devi at first appears to accept the deal, but when Sickness puts its guard down, Devi pins it to an art canvas with a paintbrush and removes its eyeballs. Devi informs Sickness that she won and has full control over her mind again, and with her in possession of Sickness's eyes it will see what ever she wants it to see as a tortured audience to her life. The series ends with Devi and Tenna overlooking the town and enjoying a plane crash that hit their apartment building.
The protagonist, Devi, is an introverted woman who is currently under attack by the same forces which bought havoc onto Johnny, the protagonist of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and her love interest (the interest ended when he tried to kill her in an attempt to "immortalize the moment"). Despite prior claims, he was never her boyfriend, and the only date they went on ended violently, leaving Johnny with severe head trauma and making her into a recluse for the next few weeks. She was raised by her father, at least from her mid-teens, and has remained somewhat antisocial since then, stemming from her disastrous first date. Her later attempts at dating fared no better, and have in fact become worse (her last two attempts being a sufferer of irritable bowel syndrome and the homicidal maniac himself).
Her hairstyle is the same from JtHM issue 7, but her hair is now colored purple (similar to Gaz from Invader Zim). She has quit her job at the local bookstore in order to work as a graphic designer and cover artist for Nerve Publishing.
Tenna is a good (and apparently the only) friend of Devi's, and lives one floor down from her. She possesses a squeaky toy she calls Spooky, and believes that the source of all of Devi's problems is her lack of social contact (which, actually, is true). Her advice to Devi is always "You need to get out more", which is generally met with skepticism by Devi. She is thought of as insane, due to the fact that she constantly talks to her squeaky toy, Spooky. She first appears in the fourth issue of JtHM, trying to calm Devi's fear, and was then called Tonja. A doll version of Spooky can be seen in Layla Miller's room in Marvel Comics' House of M event.
Psychic Fat Lady
This monstrously overweight woman has psychic fat and has no qualms regarding making public her visions that Devi will die in a plane crash. However, that prediction is false, as her fat didn't have the "heart" to tell her that it was she who would die. This becomes apparent when a plane crashes into her building. She lives directly one floor down from Devi. She hasn't left her apartment for at least a decade and, at one point in the story, blocks the hallway to Devi's apartment with her fat.
A male from Devi's past, and a contributor to her introversion. Quickly after a typical movie-and-a-dinner date together, Eddie's car swerved off the road and struck a tree, trapping both Eddie and Devi inside the vehicle. Eddie didn't even notice when several severe injuries befell his head, choosing instead to pester Devi to have sex with him. The mongoose that caused the car to go off road also took Eddie's brain.
Eric is a character that first appeared in a Meanwhile section in JTHM (and also briefly in Zim, in another form). He's a teenager with smoke bombs who likes to dress up and pretend he is a vampire. In I Feel Sick he is one of two posers Devi meets in a flashback sequence in which she goes to a night club. The other is a rather large girl who claims to be a mummy. Eric catches on fire in said flashback.
A higher-up in the Graphic Arts department of Nerve Publishing. This lunatic has undergone a lobotomy in order to have the creative centers of his brain removed. He enjoys waiting until the last minute and telling the artists to change this and that to the finished product. This causes them to go absolutely nowhere in the creative process.
Another male from Devi's past. Specifically, first grade. He was in love with Devi back then, but a then Devi refuted any attempt he made to express his emotions, including crumpling up his Valentine's Day card for her, and spewing self-chewed chalk powder into his face. He later died of a chalk-induced asthma attack. The Psychic lady's fat also reveals to her that he was the last person that she met who would ever truly understand her, and now that he is dead she has no hope of ever having a good relationship.
The main character from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Johnny C. makes a cameo appearance in I Feel Sick. In a flashback, Devi remembers the conversation that leads up to their disastrous date in issue #2 of JtHM. She also makes a connection between herself and Johnny when she gets the same sickness that Johnny had.