Schizo by Ivan Brunetti
“Hatred is a passion. It inspires me.” Indeed, the self-loathing and seething disgust of Schizo creator Ivan Brunetti is so unrelenting that it begs a simple question: “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” Page after miserable page of desperate worry, philosophical hand-wringing, suicidal contemplation, religious despair, genital-size panic and constipation add up to a comic book so caustic it’s impossible to ignore.
The new issue (second in a nine-part series) of Schizo opens with Ivan paralyzed as he faces another day of total, chronic disappointment in the human condition. But while anyone can kvetch, Brunetti’s complaining is amazingly ambitious, both in its misanthropy and its literacy. Not content with a common “I wish I were dead,” the 28-year-old Brunetti concludes, “I’d like to slide down a razor blade for a mile and land into an ever-widening puddle of iodine.”
Brunetti credits most of his demons to a childhood of torment, and his best work focuses on the revenge he fantasizes about wreaking on his enemies. “My family emigrated to Chicago from a small town in Eastern Italy when I was 8, so I was the awkward, nerdy foreigner in the tough South Side school.” Prickling from the memory, Brunetti imagines what he’d do if he had the jump on these bullies today: “I’d set up an elaborate torture chamber. But I’d probably chicken out and let them humiliate me once again.”
Despite its bleakness and misanthropy, Schizo remains an enjoyable read. Whether poking fun at newspaper pabulum like Family Circus with classic-style comic strips like Mommy Hates You and Ain’t She a Cunt or succumbing to graphomania in an tiny-lettered full-page debate with Jesus, Brunetti crafts his book with a care that belies the notion that he doesn’t give a shit. “I care about art and I care about literature,” he says, when asked about producing such a trenchant comic book. “It’s not as if I’m sodomizing the medium. I’m slapping it around a little bit.”