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Black Hole by Charles Burns

A graphic novel by Charles Burns

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Eueww! It touched me with its second mouth...

  • Nov 9, 2008
  • by
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 in, this little bug reaches into the core of their self esteem and strips it by making them become...freaks. Every reaction is different, from second mouths to boils to skin peels to total disfigurement.

In an era of heavy greenery-smoking, a group of friends, including Keith Pearson, like to make their way to a private spot in the woods to get high. They find strange items, like a campsite of sorts.

Keith is enamored by a girl in his biology class, Chris. But Chris has a crush on Rob Facincanni. At a party, Rob protests but Chris seduces him, only afterward discovering why he protested. Rob is one of "them", the 'diseased'.

While Rob and Chris come to an understanding, Keith meets an affected girl names Eliza. Rob helps Christ to escape to the `encampment', a place where the 'diseased' live in peace, in their makeshift camps. Keith tries to save Chris from the camps, but still feels Eliza pulling him to her.

But really, can anyone be saved from this monstrous evil? Is hiding the best way, or would running away be better? How many of the diseased within the camp are also diseased in the mind? What will happen to Keith, Chris, Rob, and Eliza? Certainly, you will find it to be more than your average teen must deal with.

'Black Hole' is heavy gauge graphic-novel-horror at the best its ever going to get. Subtle in places, horrific in others. The setting of the 70's really touched me also, concert tickets to Emerson, Lake & Palmer, David Bowie's "new" album 'Diamond Dogs', the parties, the smoking, the haircuts. Its all realistic and stupendously great. 'Black Hole' makes my teen years in the Seattle area not look so bad after all.

The only thing I could find wrong with 'Black Hole' is that there wasn't enough of it. I want more. More disfigurement, more violence, more squinginess. If you read only one book in 2006, make sure it's 'Black Hole'. A MUST for any aficionado of the horror genre, and the graphic novel nuts. Definitely worth the price. Enjoy!
Black Hole by Charles Burns

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More Black Hole (graphic novel) reviews
Quick Tip by . March 22, 2012
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.
Quick Tip by . December 02, 2009
A graphic novel that you enjoy reading, like a novel. Stark & compelling illustrations.
review by . February 12, 2008
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 …
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I want to thank Everyone for welcoming me back! :) I'm here to stay folks, my sabbatical on writing reviews is over and I'll continue to review for Lunch. It's great to be back, too! Thanks again for … more
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About this book


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.
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ISBN-10: 037542380X
ISBN-13: 978-0375423802
Author: Charles Burns
Genre: Japanese Horror, Gaphic Novel
Publisher: Pantheon (October 18, 2005)
Date Published: (October 18, 2005)
Format: Hardcover: 352 pages, Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.8 x 1.6 inches
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