I remember sitting in a film class one evening, watching the scene in Scorcese's Mean Streets:
Johnny-boy is despondently trudging through the streets of New York when he runs into someone who is also not watching where he is going. Johnny turns on the man and beats him viciously, then stalks off. I leaned over to my friend and whispered, "You know, there's something strangely funny about a man randomly beating up people on the street." Upon further consideration, I realized there's something funny about violence in general; after all, doesn't a good percentage of what makes us laugh involve someone being injured in some way?
The next day, appropriately enough, I received in the mail a copy of Catalan Communication's English translation of Massimo Mattioli's Squeak the Mouse
. The cover was enough to surprise me; a chainsaw-wielding cartoon mouse pops out of a sugar container and lops the top of a cartoon cat's head off with a smile. A quick flip to the back cover revealed the cat, missing the top of his head, pulping the mouse's cranium. Now this
, I thought, would be interesting.
Squeak the Mouse
can best be described as Tom and Jerry
meets Friday the 13th
; funny-animal splatterpunk. The format is reminiscent of any Tom and Jerry
-type short; the first panel shows Squeak in a Jerry pose in the middle of a soft glow of the kind Mickey Mouse used to occupy. The next panel reads, "Ice Cream Productions Presents Squeak the Mouse in: The big game", with a "Copyright MCMLXXXII" at the bottom. Squeak is merrily trotting down the street when an unnamed cat grabs him, intent on turning Squeak into his next meal. Squeak avoids the cat in various fashions familiar to those who've ever watched funny-animal cartoons. (The fact that the panels are all exactly the same size and are spaced exactly the same distance apart serve to heighten the feel of an animated short.) Suddenly, the cat grabs Squeak, rips his head off, smashes the corpse into a wall, and eats the remains. He then walks off into the night, burping contentendly. Closing credits.
The remaining 35 pages of the book brings the splatterpunk aspect into play; the cat goes to a party with a date, and the party turns into an orgy. Squeak's zombie gruesomely does in every attendee except for the cat, who manages to set Squeak on fire. Throughout the course of the book, Squeak keeps coming back to haunt the cat, pausing long enough for the cat to enjoy more gratuitous funny-animal sex (in three pages heralded by a frame reading "X-Rated Sequence: Bonus Beats") than you can find in any five given issues of Omaha
Squeak the Mouse
is an interesting book to try to judge. Animation aficionados will undoubtedly find the cartoon format interesting, as well as the cameo appearances of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Tex Avery's "Wolfie". People who are particularly fond of graphic sex in comics will probably get a kick out of pages 36 to 38, and Squeak
will undoubtedly find a home next to their copies of Black Kiss
. But most people will probably do what I did; read the book with puzzled looks firmly affixed to their faces all the way through, and then put it on their bookshelves, unsure of why they enjoyed it.