Monday, March 20, 2006

Book 5: Black Hole

By Charles Burns

Olman and I were visiting his sister and brother-in-law this past weekend, and this unusual graphic novel was brought out from a shelf. Right away I was intrigued by the black & white art and the premise of suburban teens in the 1970’s plagued by a horrifying STD that inspires grotesque deformations. I read the entire thing in a single evening.

Here’s a short online review that describes “Black Hole” better than I can at the moment: Black Hole Review

I included this as a 50-booker because “Black Hole” was such a rich and surreal reading experience. It really felt like I had entered Burns’ twisted and hallucinatory world where diseased, outcast teens run rampant in the woods and growing up is like a living Cronenberg-esque nightmare.

Critics liken the strange plague as a metaphor for AIDS, but for me, it’s more like a narrative device to explore the teenage psyche and societal behaviour toward aberrations, which the comic does frighteningly well. Also, the disease doesn’t behave like AIDS and is referred to very vaguely. Once it sets in, the disease doesn’t progressively worsen, or kill its victim. Rather it seems to either transform, or deform, the victim into a mutant-like, almost chimerical, creature.


Olman Feelyus said...

Ugh, I'm dying to read this! I have read several issues when they were coming out, but they were released so sporadically, that I could never remember the overall story arc. I'm so glad to hear that it actually comes together as a complete story. I definitely remember the creepiness and anomie. Burns is good at that! Nice analysis refuting the simplistic AIDS theory. btw, the book is beautifully printed.

beemused said...

Yes, I should've mentioned that the art is amazing. I think I may include a panel sample in the review section...

Since this book was ten years in the making, the jacket designer Chip Kidd remarked what a feat is must've been for Burns to keep his style totally consistent throughout a whole decade.

Lantzvillager said...

FYI I was just reading up on A. Aja whose new projects in the pipline include a remake of a Korean horror film (ugh!) and some ghost movie.

In addition though, he will be directing a film adaptation of Black Hole written by Neil Gaiman. Could be interesting.

beemused said...

mmm, potentially very interesting projects... but can Aja deliver? thanks for the tip, LV!