The prodigiously talented Burns hit the comics scene in the '80s via Raw magazine, wielding razor-sharp, ironic-retro graphics. Over the years his work has developed a horrific subtext perpetually lurking beneath the mundane suburban surface. In the dense, unnerving Black Hole, Burns combines realism—never a concern for him before—and an almost convulsive surrealism. The setting is Seattle during the early '70s. A sexually transmitted disease, the "bug," is spreading among teenagers. Those who get it develop bizarre mutations—sometimes subtle, like a tiny mouth at the base of one boy's neck, and sometimes obvious and grotesque. The most visibly deformed victims end up living as homeless campers in the woods, venturing into the streets only when they have to, shunned by normal society. The story follows two teens, Keith and Chris, as they get the bug. Their dreams and hallucinations—made of deeply disturbing symbolism merging sexuality and sickness—are a key part of the tale. The AIDS metaphor is obvious, but the bug also amplifies already existing teen emotions and the wrenching changes of puberty. Burns's art is inhumanly precise, and he makes ordinary scenes as creepy as his nightmare visions of a world where intimacy means a life worse than death.
An unsettling, allegorical tale of adolescence and mutation in the 1970s. Part coming of age drama, part Cronenbergian body horror. Burns' superb writing and bold black and white artwork make this a highly engrossing and highly impressive read. Not one for the easily shocked.
Outstanding! Absolutely the best graphic horror novel ever written, and brought together in one book that I literally finished in only a few hours. Then I had to go back, and peer once again at the wonderfully twisted graphic cells. Forget herpes and AIDS, this story is about a $exually transmitted disease that is sweeping through the teen population in Seattle WA during the 70's. Sure, it may be fatal, but when teenagers are so concerned about looks and cliques and fitting … more
Pros: Humor, horror, mystery, the 70s... what more could I ask for? Cons: May be offensive to immature audiences The Bottom Line: A great graphic novel with an interesting, thought-provoking storyline. I'm adding Charles Burns to my "To-Read" list. I'm always trying to find new graphic novels and their authors and illustrators. Often, I pick a few by different authors, hoping to find someone who's style I'll like, then I can … more