The Chicago Weekly profiles cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, who talks candidly about his teaching, low comics output of late, depression, and hometown. Perhaps best known for his Fantagraphics collection Misery Loves Comedy, Brunetti is a much respected foundational indie cartoonist. His two comics anthologies from Yale Press—An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, & True Stories Volumes I and II—are also just about the best introductions to literary and art comics of recent years.
Most of his time of late has been taken up with teaching cartooning at Columbia College, but in the interview he drops the news that he’ll have a graphic memoir out from Yale Press in May: Aesthetics: A Memoir. Here’s the blurb:
Born to working-class parents in a small town in Italy, and reared in Chicago, Ivan Brunetti (b. 1967) was drawn to cartoons and comic strips from an early age. Finding inspiration in Spider-Man and Peanuts, he began crafting his own stories and gradually developed a unique style that he applied to imaginative, sometimes shocking subjects. The dark humor of his graphic novels earned him a cult following, yet his illustrations have had broad appeal. Now recognized as an award-winning cartoonist and illustrator, Brunetti has published his work in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and McSweeney’s, among others.
This eye-popping illustrated autobiography by Brunetti traces his artistic trajectory and output, from youthful doodles to his latest cover illustrations and comic strips. Aesthetics: A Memoir unearths a trove of previously unpublished materials, including working drawings, sketches for cartoons, book covers, personal photographs, and items from the artist’s collection of toys and handmade objects. In an introductory essay and captions, Brunetti explains—in a voice that is as quirky, smart, and clear as his drawings—his creative process and aesthetic sensibility. This overarching retrospective conveys Brunetti’s philosophy of life and cartooning through his keen words and unforgettable images.
Brunetti’s biting, bleak yet humane comics have been far too infrequent in recent years, so this will be a welcome addition.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.