When I was in high school there was this small pack of cool, older kids who shopped at thrift stores and listened to The Lemonheads and the Smithereens and hosted viewing parties of Twin Peaks (which they showed on Laserdisc, obviously). Ah, the 90s. It was also through those kids that I learned about underground comics; it was through those comics that I got into zines; it was through those zines that I got into writing, art, DIY culture; it was through all of this that I became who I am today.
I became particularly fond of an artist named Ivan Brunetti. Brunetti was then notorious for publishing mind-bendingly crass, stomach-churning comics. I loved his work so much that I based many of the videos I made for my high school drama class off of the story-lines portrayed in his Misery Loves Comedy series. And I loved his work so much that I sent him a letter and some of my zines when I was 15-years-old.
These days Brunetti is held in much higher acclaim than he was when I was a kid. He illustrated the album cover for Patton Oswalt’s standup album My Weakness Is Strong, and if you read the New Yorker, it is very likely that you have seen his work one one of the magazine’s cover over the past handful of years. Late last year Ben Schwartz tweeted, “Every time Ivan Brunetti gets an New Yorker cover I think, ‘Maybe my side can win.’” I very much agree.
So anyway, I had forgotten about sending the letter before I found myself on the receiving end of the most delightful envelope from Brunetti himself packed with a post-card and a drawing!
One of my heroes, someone I very much looked up to for his style and sense of humor, had gotten back in touch with me AND HE HAD POSITIVE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT THE WORK THAT I WAS DOING (he was being charitable, I am sure). I was in seventh heaven. I had asked him his opinion of some of my interests and obsessions from the era, some typical of the time (Charles Bukowski and Jhonen Vasquez), and some sort of interesting in retrospect (comic artist Chester Brown, to whom Brunetti referred as a “genius”). I was happy to come across the envelope again while moving earlier this year and to relive that excitement.