Starting way back in ‘96 Bruno is a very early webcomic and participated in what is credited as the first web comic cross-over between itself and another webcomic called Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet. It finished in 2007, after an 11 year run, and the comic was available in its entirety in an archive.
However, the old archive is no more and starting back in July 2010 the comic’s author decided to re-release the comic, one page a day Mon-Sat (following the release schedule of the original comic). So although the comic is finished, presently only the first five years are accessible.
*The page count represents the number of pages in the current five year run but the actual page count for the complete series would be a bit more than twice that.
The characters and comic concept
Bruno is a young women, in college at the beginning of the story, who feels things very deeply and has never developed (or has chosen to never compromise herself by developing) the coping mechanisms that allow a person to grind through the tedious bits of everyday life. She is also prone to over-thinking (or over-analysing, one might say) every relationship, every decision, every little thing that life presents her.
The story of Bruno follows her life, her loves, her jobs, thoughts and musing on life, religion and everything in-between. It’s a true slice of life comic in that there are no story arcs per se, just periods of a person’s life and what they happen to be going through at various points.
I find Bruno to be a fascinating character; she’s intelligent, kind and full of potential but is one of those people who never really found where they ought to be. She is also, at times, hugely self-indulgent, perhaps immature, and egotistical.
One thing you get from the comic is a very clear and vivid sense of Bruno as a real person, the character in fact is semi-autobiographical in parts though I wonder if even the author knows exactly where Bruno ends and he beings.
All the characters in the story are very well realised and I suspect many are based on real people from the author’s life. They develop throughout the life of the comic in much the way real people do; sometimes going forwards, sometimes back, changing all the while.
As the comic follows Bruno’s life its tone is very much dependant on what is going on in her life. Bruno’s life tends to periods of depression and introspection, followed by sudden change, and then periods of near normality and productiveness before cycling back to the depression and introspection.
It sounds kind of terrible written like that but the largely redeeming quality of it is the humour that accompanies it, both from Bruno and from her odd-ball collection of friends and occasional lovers. It can get a bit trying though to read through Bruno’s repeated bouts of depression when the comic is read en masse and for that reason it’s probably best read in short bursts or, as it was originally published, a page at a time if that takes your fancy.
The delivery of the story in Bruno is largely done by exposing very short moments in time in a single panel, accompanied by the dialog leading up to that moment. There is rarely any direct continuity between panels, rather we might be shown a series of, or even a singular, moments that take place at different times over the course of an evening, or days, or even weeks.
These moments allow us to infer what has been happening in Bruno’s life and/or in the lives of the characters around her with enough detail that you actually feel (or at least I do) like you know these people in real life. It’s a canny bit of writing that I wish I could emulate.
Bruno is full of literary references, poetry, philosophical jokes and other cerebral content that largely went whizzing over my head. Despite that I’ve always found it a compelling read, even if I didn’t always get the point or joke of the panel.
The art of Bruno is similar in style to that used in some Saturday morning cartoons, black and white sketches, but at a higher level of detail. There is some refinement of style as the comic goes on but you’d only notice by jumping large sections of the comics.
As mentioned above the delivery of the comic is often done via single panel but with enough dialogue that reading it is more like a traditional 3-4 panel strip.
Author, publishing and timeline
Bruno is written by Christopher Baldwin who resides in Glen Falls, New York, USA. Christopher is a professional cartoonist and author, has written a number of different comics and has published a novel. He currently works for MAD magazine.
Bruno is published and can be purchased via the ‘store’ link of the left side of the comic’s main page or here.
As mentioned above Bruno is already finished and has another six years to run if the strips continue to be released at the one a day rate Mon – Sat.