Christopher's Reviews > Black Hole

Black Hole by Charles Burns
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's review
Sep 02, 2007

it was amazing
Read in September, 2007

About 12 years ago I pre-ordered a copy of Charles Burns' collected Black Hole comics sight unseen. I'd never read any of his books before, but I was really into reading alternative comics, especially big fat ones with beginnings, middles and ends. You know; real stories. I'd had enough of reading continuous, never-ending, soap opera story-lines from the big comic publishers, and the really good single issue comics from Drawn and Quarterly only came out sparingly; maybe one issue every two years or so.

Anyway the promised first collected edition of this book never happened, and my pre-order was canceled. I forgot all about it. Then a few weeks ago I was in a comic shop for the first time in years and noticed this big book sitting there on the shelf. It apparently made it out of the publisher sometime in 2005. I was considering buying either this or John Porcellino's King-Cat Classix, and then suddenly, without warning, I decided to buy that Jay Ryan poster book instead.

Anyway again, the local library recently revamped it's inter-library loan system so that it now includes a lot more collections from a lot more libraries in Illinois. Some fairly obscure stuff that I never could have gotten from there before (like this book) suddenly became available. Step 1: Internet. Step 2: Search. Step 3: Reserve. Step 4: Wait. Step 5: Read.

Thanks Joliet Public Library for sending this book to me. It is absolutely freaking beautiful, creepy, and sexy all at the same time. I can't say I know exactly what the story is about. Through the entire book, I walked a line between understanding and total confusion, sometimes stepping on one side and sometimes the other. Luckily, Burns has laid tons of tiny, visual clues in the corners of his panels to help decipher the meaning during subsequent rereads. I guess it is mostly about sexual awakening and the teenage aversion toward becoming a responsible adult, wrapped up in the guise of a sexually transmitted disease that turns teens into freaks.. There's also a lot of vagina/gaping-wound/gnashing-teeth/crawling-insect visual metaphors for you woman haters to read something into. Oh and there’s also a hot girl with a sexy tail.
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