01 Oct Sunday Comics: Bruno’s “Bee Sting” and “Big Hungry Mouth”
Incesty, obscene, and raunchy af; Bruno clearly defines his filthy world.
I think obscene is a great way to describe Bruno comics. Bruno’s characters exist in a very different world than those of Josman or Julius, though the fluidity of sexuality and the quest for connection via socially taboo sexual congress overlaps heavily. Bruno always seems like sort of an also-ran when you discuss any of the grownup comics of Handjobs Magazine, with people usually agreeing they remember his works, but that they didn’t make the same sort of impact that Josman’s did.
Perhaps that’s because at the heart of Bruno’s stories is a vastly different kind of sex. Where Josman comics usually have a predictable arc of young man is exploring his burgeoning sexuality more boldly all the time, gets caught/gets himself “caught” by an older authority figure (dad, coach, construction worker, Indian chief), Bruno’s characters often forego the ‘father knows best’ element of the older character being authoritative and guiding in the awakening of the younger character’s desires. The dads and construction workers in Bruno’s stories are often just as clueless and shocked by the action taking place as their wards.
And Bruno does great clueless/shocked. The expression of intense confusion and conflict that his fathers and sons wear is one of the signature styles of a Bruno story.
They’re never usually guiding one another toward the interaction that the reader is witness to, but rather wrapped up in their own self-focused worlds which end up accidentally colliding over the course of some intense physical connection.
Like Josman, there is rarely a coercive or rapey element to Bruno’s comics. Rather everyone is shocked at how natural they find their physical connection and wrestling (at least superficially) with whether or not what’s happening is acceptable. Very often it’s the youthful characters feeling underpracticed and uncertain about what’s transpiring. But almost as frequently, it’s the father-figures saying “Hold on. Wait a minute. Why is my penis so big and hard over this? That doesn’t seem right…”
The two comics featured here, Bee Sting and Big Hungry Mouth, are hallmark Bruno stories. Both begin in medias res, leaving readers to fill in the narrative gaps that the author didn’t think important enough to waste precious panels on (I very often find myself wondering if I’ve accidentally discovered the second or third chapter of a story and missed all of the exposition necessary to understanding what’s happening, only to learn that the 10-12 panels I’ve got are all there is).
Bee Sting (from the April 2013 issue of Handjobs Magazine) is a short tale of a grandfather-father-son construction team, where the father discovers he’s been stung by something, right between the cheeks. Acting on an old wives’ tale about urine and stings, the grandfather immediately decides he’ll piss onto the afflicted area, and it seems to soothe his hurting son. The youngest of the three stands by horrified but aroused (another signature of the Bruno realm) and discovers he is unable to restrain the lust he feels for his father and grandfather and proceeds to ram his full face into his dad’s butt. What follows seems like it wouldn’t necessarily help a swelling bee sting, but seems to flow naturally from the three men who find themselves closer and satisfied at the story’s conclusion.
Big Hungry Mouth (Handjobs Magazine, June, 2013) is one of the raunchiest Bruno stories I’ve ever come across, and it may not be all of your respective cups of tea. That’s your warning. What I admire about it is the willingness to go balls-out and show the characters experiencing extreme sexual practices without even a nod to sincere humiliation or degradation. The duo find a sexual carnality that manages to gratify them both while they share fluids and force with each other in equal measure. It’s also the most cinematic of Bruno’s illustrations. Colored like a hand-drawn anime in vintage-looking sepias, golds, oranges, and browns, the detail of Bruno’s linework gets drowned in the gushing of pleasure and exposure, the way you could imagine it might in the minds of these characters. Everything is a bit blurred and your brain is racing toward the climax just to see how far things will really go.
Yet again, the characters find camaraderie and connection in their strange, instead of a disrupted power structure or personal shame and disgust.
Would that all of us could be so open about the things we desire.
Bee Sting 🐝
Big, Hungry Mouth
That’s just filthy, right?