Friday, 26 June 2009

Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti - Ivan Brunetti (Fantagraphics 2009)

Satirical ‘former cartoonist’ Ivan Brunetti has been flying the flag for independent and underground comics for a while now, veering between the high brow cerebral stories and ironic filth. This collection of new one-panel cartoons and quips and visual one-liners, is a brutally funny and disturbing attempt to push some buttons, either uncomfortably or comfortably mired in taboo. The aesthetic of freaks, geeks, nerds and ugly men and women, all with dark pasts, dirty fetishes, sociopathic tendencies, and murderous habits all play out over 120 odd pages of frenetic cartoon violence, sometimes sexual, sometimes suicidal, sometimes offensive, but always funny. It’s hard to write a review of this book without putting up some of the images, but I think to take them out of the context of the book reduces the ‘hilarious’ impact of page after page of dick mutilation, rape and droopy breasts. You get the feeling that Brunetti is not to be taken literally, that these cartoons have been deliberately constructed to break taboos and to irk the sensible. Culled mostly from out-of-print work (Hee! and Haw!) and other anthologies, the contents are discreetly presented in an uninviting, funereal package of unglamorous black and white. The gallows humour of sexual fetish gone awry keeps us guessing as to how far Brunetti will take it, but also to who’d have bowed out by now, too shocked to continue to the end. It’s a funny book that plays with the idea of obscenity and censorship in a way that shows Brunetti to be the master of gag cartoons… especially ones about skull-fucking and severed dick lollies.

Check out more Fantagraphics books, some of the best in the funnybook business.

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