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Comics artist Ivan Brunetti talks about his favorite books

Readersvoice.com aims to give readers a few good reading tips. You might want to check out some previous editions, too, for more book titles. First up, the November edition of readersvoice.com continues its series on comics artists. Ivan Brunetti's comics, like Schizo (Fantagraphics), are known for their dark humor and technical skill. Many of his comics attack the brutality and crassness of the modern world. Like some of Ivan Brunetti's comics, this interview is not suitable for children.

READERSVOICE.COM: Could you list your five favorite books of all time, whether fiction or non-fiction?

IVAN BRUNETTI: I’ll name just three; these are not the greatest books of all time or anything, but they are the books that directly inspired me to create Schizo #1, which was the first time I was able to get my thoughts on paper, without an internal censor hampering me.

Maldoror by Comte de Lautreamont – a schizophrenic experience set to paper.

Against Nature by J.K. Huysmans – the laughable futility of creating one’s own cloister.

On the Heights of Despair by E.M. Cioran – lyrical yet insane insomnia-induced rantings.

RV: Generally what sort of books do you like to read?

IB: Biographies and autobiographies of artists and philosophers; also pornography.

RV: When your comic Schizo #1 came out, you received letters from just about every major comics artist in the world, from Robert Crumb to Kaz.
Were you surprised by this or by what they said about your comic?

IB: I’m surprised and of course highly flattered that they wrote back at all (I had sent them all a copy of the issue).

RV: Why did your family move from Italy to the U.S. and how old were you?

IB: I was 8 years old, and it was never really explained to me at the time, but I later figured out that it was because we were broke (there was a recession in Italy in the 70s) and an uncle (who lived in Chicago) convinced my father that he could find work in the US.

RV: Have you always lived in Chicago and what was it like growing up there? Did you know any other artists or did you pretty much go it alone?

IB: I’ve lived in and around Chicago since the age of 8 (I’ll be 36 in October 2003); that’s what, like 5000 years? Well, it sure seems like it. While growing up, I only knew of one other person that liked to draw (a schoolmate of mine).
I lived in a remote, pollution-drenched, working-class neighborhood with no artists to be found for miles around.

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-copyright Simon Sandall