Black Hole
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The first issues of Charles Burns's comics series Black Hole began appearing in 1995, and long before it was completed a decade later, readers and fellow artists were speaking of it in tones of awe and comparing it to recent classics of the form like Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan and Daniel Clowes's Ghost World. Burns is the sort of meticulous, uncompromising artist whom other artists speak of with envy and reverence, and we asked Ware and Clowes to comment on their admiration for Black Hole:

"I think I probably learned the most about clarity, composition, and efficiency from looking at Charles's pages spread out on my drawing table than from anyone's; his was always at the level of lucidity of Nancy, but with this odd, metallic tinge to it that left you feeling very unsettled, especially if you were an aspiring cartoonist, because it was clear you'd never be half as good as he was. There's an almost metaphysical intensity to his pinprick-like inkline that catches you somewhere in the back of the throat, a paper-thin blade of a fine jeweler's saw tracing the outline of these thick, clay-like human figures that somehow seem to "move," but are also inevitably oddly frozen in eternal, awkward poses ... it's an unlikely combination of feelings, and it all adds up to something unmistakably his own.

"I must have been one of the first customers to arrive at the comic shop when I heard the first issue of Black Hole was out 10 years ago, and my excitement didn't change over the years as he completed it. I don't think I've ever read anything that better captures the details, feelings, anxieties, smells, and cringing horror of my own teenage years better than Black Hole, and I'm 15 years younger than Charles is. Black Hole is so redolently affecting one almost has to put the book down for air every once in a while. By the book's end, one ends up feeling so deeply for the main character it's all one can do not to turn the book over and start reading again." --Chris Ware

"Charles Burns is one of the greats of modern comics. His comics are beautiful on so many levels. Somehow he has managed to capture the essential electricity of comic-book pop-art iconography, dragging it from the clutches of Fine Art back to the service of his perfect, precise-but-elusive narratives in a way that is both universal in its instant appeal and deeply personal." --Dan Clowes

Questions for Charles Burns Cartoonists are about the only people today who are working like Dickens did: writing serials that appear piece-by-piece in public before the whole work is done. What's it like to work in public like that, and for as long as a project like this takes?
Charles Burns: There were a number of reasons for serializing Black Hole. First of all, I wanted to put out a traditional comic book-- I'd never really worked in that comic pamphlet format before and liked the idea of developing a long story in installments. There's something very satisfying to me about a comic book as an object and I enjoyed using that format to slowly build my story. Serializing the story also allowed me to focus on shorter, more manageable portions; if I had to face creating a 368-page book all in one big lump, I don't know if I?d have the perseverance and energy to pull it off. One thing that stuns me about this book is how consistent it is from start to finish. From the first frames to the last ones that you drew 10 years later, you held the same tone and style. It feels as though you had a complete vision for the book from the very beginning. Is that so? Or did things develop unexpectedly as you worked on it?
Burns: I guess there's a consistency in Black Hole because of the way I work. I write and draw very slowly, always carefully examining every little detail to make sure it all fits together the way I want it to. When I started the story, I had it all charted out as far as the basic structure goes, but what made working on it interesting was finding new ways of telling the story that hadn't occurred to me. Some of the very best of the recent graphic novels (I'm thinking of Ghost World and Blankets, along with Black Hole) have been about the lives of teenagers. Do you think there's something about the form that helps to tell those stories so well?
Burns: That's an interesting question, but I don't know the answer. Perhaps it has more to do with the authors--the kind of people who stay indoors for hours on end in total solitude working away on their heartfelt stories... maybe that kind of reflection lends itself to being able to capture the intensity of adolescence. In the time you've been working on Black Hole, graphic novels have leapt into the mainstream. (I think--I hope--we're finally seeing the last of those "They're not just for kids anymore!" reviews.) What did you imagine for this project when you started it? What's it been like to see your corner of the world enter the glare of the spotlight?
Burns: When I started Black Hole I really just wanted to tell a long, well-written story. The themes and ideas that run throughout the book had been turning around in my head for years and I wanted to finally get them all out--put them down on paper once and for all. I've published a few other books and while they sold reasonably well, they didn't set the publishing world on fire. I was pretty sure I'd have some kind of an audience for Black Hole, but that was never a motivating factor in writing the book. And my corner of the world is still pretty dark. I guess I'll be stepping into the spotlight for a little while when the book comes out, but I imagine I'll slip back into my dark little studio when it all settles down again so I can settle back into work.

Suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the out-set that a strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways — from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) — but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back.

As we inhabit the heads of several key characters — some kids who have it, some who don’t, some who are about to get it — what unfolds isn’t the expected battle to fight the plague, or bring heightened awareness to it , or even to treat it. What we become witness to instead is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself — the savagery, the cruelty, the relentless anxiety and ennui, the longing for escape.

And then the murders start.

As hypnotically beautiful as it is horrifying, Black Hole transcends its genre by deftly exploring a specific American cultural moment in flux and the kids who are caught in it- back when it wasn’t exactly cool to be a hippie anymore, but Bowie was still just a little too weird.

To say nothing of sprouting horns and molting your skin…

From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • The terror of teenage years.
    Black Hole is one of the more unsettling reads in the graphic novel world.

    You might know Burns' work from that Iggy Pop album cover he did. It's kind of hard to miss, particularly in Black Hole where colour is saved for the covers, and nowhere else.

    The run - gathered together here (more or less) tells the story of a 1970s STD. Not a regular STD, Dazed And Confused-style thing, but a complete mutative disorder. Through the use of the bug, as several characters call it, Burns highlights the unique terror of being an ugly teenager, and feeds it steroids.

    It's difficult to say exactly why this work is so affecting. The starkness and almost stock-imagery feel of the art is a reason, I suppose; its precision allows no room for misinterpretation when you see some of the deformities some of the characters are afflicted with. But it's more than that; Burns focuses on something that's rotten within the concept of the teenager, with the world itself.

    This is one you'll really have to read to understand. Sure, a lot of people won't like it, or won't see the big deal about it. But I'd urge you to look harder; like a Chambers or Lovecraft tale, there's a truly gargantuan horror lurking behind Black Hole, just out of sight....more info
  • Amazing, Transformative
    This is the first graphic novel I have read. Charles Burns uses this medium to it's utmost. The story is extremely compelling and as you go through the book you feel imersed in the atmosphere of the characters.

    The art work is outstanding. At many times in the book I just stared at some of the panels just admiring the fluidity and craft of the illustration.

    I think the greatest compliment for a book is when the reader feels transformed and different after having finished it. This is exactly how I feel. I look at life just a little bit different after having read this book....more info
  • unrelentingly creepy and disturbing
    I read this when it was released, but I'll never forget the feeling of dread that I had to finish reading it since I had a review copy. While this reaction is not generally taken to be complimentary, it is a testament to how effective Charles Burns' nightmare teenage world is. It's rare that you can be afraid of a drawing, but Burns reminds us that he's the master of graphic horror. Black Hole is a searing smack in the face of the fantasy that adolescence is easy or fun.

    basic, basic plot: Mystery disease that attacks only teens causes mutations and deformities to varying degrees. Some start to act as monstrously as they look.

    The disease is never explored and there's no cure. The mutations range from almost adorable to really disturbing. I interpret this story as a take on adolescence as a time of unpredictable, inevitable mutation that adults cannot understand and are ill-equipped to deal with. You can't stop looking at this - the art is really incredible. I heard a movie was being made, but it better be animated, as I doubt any live-action type special effects can capture the psychological unease that permeates Burns' work. These monsters aren't scary merely because of how they appear - they're frightening because they were once like you.

    I understand it's quite long and seems intimidating, but you'll get through it with no trouble...provided you can put your imagination aside and not make it any more terrifying than it already is.
    ...more info
  • absolutely fantastic
    I very much like reading graphic novels and I came by this one by accident. I had never heard of Charles Burns before. When I looked through it at first, I was immediately drawn to the great artwork and bought it straightaway. The story is just plain great, no other words to describe it. Dark, intense, scary and fascinating.
    I would highly, highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes the genre. If you, for instance, enjoy the books by Daniel Clowes (like a velvet glove cast in iron), this will not disappoint you! In fact, it is even better! Great, great book!...more info
  • Easily one of the year's best.
    Charles Burns, Black Hole (Pantheon, 2005)

    Really, the only thing I should need to say about Charles Burns' superlative Black Hole is "wow." And I'm not terribly sure I can say anything more; many professional reviewers have tried, and as good as the reviews have uniformly been, all of them have failed to capture what it is that makes Black Hole one of the best books, graphic or no, of the past half-decade (or more). When faced with such glorious failure, why not give it a shot?

    Set in suburban Seattle in the mid-seventies, Black Hole centers on two high-school students, Keith and Chris, who know nothing about one another other than the they share a biology class. Keith, like most of the rest of his class, has a major crush on Chris; Chris thinks Keith is a really nice guy. The chapters alternate between the exploits (and points-of-view) of the two.

    Surrounding the tale of these two would-be lovers is the Bug, a sexually-transmitted disease (while one couldn't call it akin to pregnancy, given its 100% infection rate, Burns does have a few amusing moments where his characters liken it to same). People infected with the Bug are outcasts who live in a wooded area above Ravenna Park that Keith and his stoner pals call Planet Xeno (for no particular reason they can name). There are also weird goings-on in the woods (that will likely put you in mind of The Blair Witch Project). And then people infected with the Bug start to disappear...

    Black Hole is pitch-perfect in tone, pacing, and characterization. There's just a touch of nostalgia, though Burns never allows himself to fall into the trap of romanticizing the mid-seventies. The mystery angle is handled strangely but effectively; the world outside doesn't know about it, and the infected themselves almost seem to accept it as one more way in which they're outcasts. No one's really interested in solving it; it's just there. It's an unexpected way of handling things, and risky. But as everything else in this book, Burns handles it with brilliance.

    If there is a weakness to the book, it comes in the final fifty pages. One of the storylines (telling you which would probably be considered a spoiler) has a weak ending. Burns, however, makes up for it with the ending to the other storyline, which is handled with even more eloquence and power than the rest of the story.

    I can't say enough about the art, either. Burns cut his teeth in early issues of RAW Magazine, and it shows; his work (this was, according to interviews and other reviews, a conscious decision on Burns' part) never changed during the decade it took him to write this book. From the looks of things, if you compare his work in RAW (what I remember of it, anyway; it's been a while) to the work in Black Hole), it's still strikingly similar. Because it's what I've been reading, I have an urge to compare the art in Black Hole to that of, say, Sandman; the problem is that the Sandman artists and Burns are miles and worlds away from one another artistically. It wouldn't be like apples and oranges, but maybe Golden Delicious apples and d'Anjou pears. Burns does what he does, and while it may look more crude than recent titles, everything has its reason, and by the time you've finished this, there will be no argument that Burns is at the top of his game here.

    Fantastic. Will easily find a spot near the top of my Best Reads of the Year list. *****...more info
  • a bit of a let down
    I'm never disappointed with Burns' artwork, and "The Bug" was a great vehicle for it, but I found little else with which to be impressed. The characters don't have that much personality, and what personality is there is stale and sort of cliche, especially the grown-ups. But it's the plot that really is rather lame. It goes nowhere in particular, and ends nowhere in particular.

    (Spoiler warning)

    The Bug takes a back seat to the whole of what little plot there is. Even what turns out to be the plot, the murder, seems to be incidental. It's mostly a Beach Blanket Bingo gone horribly wrong. Burns seems to be using a lot of teen sex and drug use to sell this, and it's probably a good idea, if you imagine how utterly dull this graphic novel would be without it. Startlingly so, considering there's an epidemic and a murder involved.

    It does have the creepy, unsettling imagery that we've come to love about his comics, tho', and if you want to buy it for that, you've come to the right place. But if you're in the market for a sci-fi thriller, or a whodunit, you're sure to be disappointed. Certainly not his best work....more info
  • Something so familiar, yet it feels so strange...
    I suppose I'm grateful to have stumbled upon this book now, as it's available all in one piece, as opposed to as the serials which were released over a 10-year time period. It would've been hard to wait that long to read more!

    This book was recommended to me by a community interested in "disturbing books." How right they were, but in the best possible way. I've scarcely read anything that was so surreal, and yet still seemed so in touch and to perfectly describe the unbearable awkwardness and insecurity of being a teenager, with your hormones developing faster than your brain could keep up.

    Everything in this book feels disturbingly familiar, and yet surprisingly alien, all at once, which is part of it's genius. While you feel so in touch with the characters, having experienced that awkwardness, that young love, and that desperate longing for sex, coupled with the intense fear of the consequences, everything seems just a tiny Just far enough from reality, just surreal enough to keep you on your toes.

    I would highly recommend this book, and am already trying to pass it on to friends to share the read. The book is overall very strong, and I did not find it predictable, pandering or even boring at any point, which is saying a lot. I will agree with some of the other reviews - the two biggest complaints would be that I absolutely wanted more, more of everything, and the fact that one storyline a way that feels mildly like trying too hard for a happy ending for someone, when you might not believe it could be.

    Again, overall...I really recommend this book. If you're into graphic novels, if you liked Ghost World, or if you're just looking for something a bit disturbing, make the time to read it. You won't be sorry....more info
  • good stuff
    great stuff, especially for when you're home under the covers running a fever....more info
  • Polished obsodian jewels
    Charles Burns is absolutely unique in the world of today's graphic artists. You can identify his work from across the street, and I am positive his is a name that will survive over time, like Alex Raymond, Will Eisner, or Charles Schultz.

    He is most often compared to the great EC Horror comic artists from the fifties, closest in style to Al Feldstein or Jack Kamen. While I think that is a fair comparison, I think Burn's work also resembles the powerful, beautiful woodcuts of Lynd Ward from the late 1920's or perhaps Chester Gould's richly inked Dick Tracy (although I must say Burns is a far better draftsman than was Gould).

    Simply told, this graphic novel is about the horror of adolescence and the disfiguring pain of becoming an adult. If you think it is about AIDS, that's okay, too.

    Do yourself a favor and get this book. The art is incredibly black, lush and perfect. I had the odd experience of finding the beauty of this work increase as I turned the pages. I found myself staring at certain panels for long periods of time, increasingly amazed at the perfection of Burns' line.

    There is truly nothing else like it in the world. I highly recommend it. --Mykal Banta
    ...more info
  • Teenage Wasteland
    I don't usually read graphic novels -- especially not gruesome graphic novels about teenagers with bizarre sexually transmitted deformities. But I loved this! Well, "loved" might be the wrong term, but I thought it was incredibly compelling.

    With some graphic novels, I've found that the text distracts from the art, or vice versa, but Black Hole is seamless. The art and words equally carry the story. And that art is stunning -- the book looks like one long, detailed woodcut.

    For a sometimes graphically horrific story, it's surprisingly sweet -- the teenagers are vulnerable and oddly romantic. It's a very realistic portrait of many aspects of teenage life in America (set in a convincingly detailed late '70s milieu) -- the boredom, the worries about social acceptance, the moony crushes. The effect ends up being less horrifying (although some of the images are unforgettably gruesome) than wistful, sad, and sometimes funny.

    I just finished "Never Let Me Go," and these books seem to have much in common to me -- oddly passive protagonists in a horrific situation, who mostly seem to lack the will to do anything to avoid it. Burns' teens get infected almost haphazardly -- they know the mysterious disease exists, but they'll still sleep with each other at the least pretext, as if trying to save themselves is futile. And yet they're capable of great courage and kindness. It's a haunting book on many levels and I'm really glad I read it. ...more info
  • burns' excursion into the depths of teenage melancholy.
    Aw. Burns creates a moody world that's as beautiful as it's eerie. Very moving, makes you don't wan't to be a teenager again. ...more info
  • One of the best books i've ever read
    This is not only an incredible graphic novel, filled with top notch and telling illustrations, it's also one of the best written pieces of modern fiction that I've read. It captures the fear, insecurity, confusion, sexuality, and perversion of high school and teenage life in an incredibly detailed way. On top of that, the story is truly compelling, and there were several times in the book when I found myself worried to turn the page. The characters are clear and succint, and the artwork is fantastic. Do yourself a favor and put this one on your shelf. I literally couldn't put it down once I'd picked it up....more info
  • Very Satisfying
    Touted as `one of the most stunning graphic novels yet published' by Time magazine, Charles Burns's Black Hole had a lot to deliver just to be deemed adequate. A bit to my surprise, I found it an excellent and haunting story, with several stylistic choices that really enhanced Burns's narrative.

    Set in mid 1970s Seattle, the narrative focuses on a group of teens who are infected with a mysterious, sexually transmitted disease that causes all manner of mutations and leaves them outcasts from society. One boys face turns feline, another girl sheds her skin, while yet another grows a second mouth on his lower neck. Though many of these teens are involved in the drug culture, Burns avoids a judgmental stance by presenting several people who are users and having sex yet do not contact the `bug.'

    It is refreshing to see teenagers written in a believable way. Too often I have read books or seen movies, most recently Juno, where it is impossible to believe that a person that age would say those things or have those thoughts. Yet throughout the novel, I felt my own teen years conjured up, and seeing how Keith pines for Chris only to have his love unrequited, I remembered how I felt the same way in high school. And while I wasn't around in the mid-1970s, the elements of the drug culture seemed to be accurate to me as well.

    Instead of exploring the origin of the disease, Burns is more interested in how its presence affects those who are infected. Their relationships with each other and the outside world are altered, often tragically, yet a chord is struck between the alienation these teens feel and the alienation we all felt as we were growing up. Perhaps we didn't have strange growths coming off of our bodies, but in a sense we were all infected.

    Burns uses varying perspectives, often of the same material, in order to tell his story. The inner monologues of Chris, Rob, and Keith are poignant, and it is interesting to note that the fourth major character, Eliza (the sexy woman with the tail), never serves as the point of view in the narrative. Wavy lines are used to border panels that show the past or contain dreams, blurring the line between memory and fantasy.

    There is no gray in this comic: only black and white. Mostly black. In the world of Black Hole, there are only two ways to end, happily or horribly. And the dominance of black is reflected by the ending, with the majority of characters meeting not so happy fates.

    Burns also shifts visual perspectives from panel to panel is striking ways, often blending faces together. In one instance, he splits the faces of Rob and Chris and sets them side-by-side, so that a reader must rely on the boxed text and dialogue to grasp that the face, which merges from the two panels, is actually two distinct faces. In another, the adjacent panels are aligned so that it appears the back of one character's head is spread between the two, yet Burns actually has this over the shoulder perspective flip from character to character, causing temporary confusion until one realizes that we are over Rob's shoulder in one perspective, and Chris's in the other. I know that images would help convey this better than I can with mere words, but I am unable to locate appropriate ones online.

    My experience and knowledge aren't broad enough to judge whether Time's assertion is true, but I can say that Black Hole is an engaging and satisfying read. The narrative is compelling, but you would be doing yourself an injustice to not slow down and take in the artwork as well. A haunting read that will likely evoke your own feelings of adolescent alienation....more info
  • Heart of High School Darkness
    I just finished reading Black Hole by Charles Burns. It took over ten years (1995 - 2005) for the 12 issues to come out but as of last October it has been collected into one book.

    For those who don't know, Black Hole takes place in Seattle in the 70s, and tells the story of "The Bug" (venereal disease / mutation-causing plague / something) that is sweeping through a high school there.

    This is one of the most affecting comics I've read in a while. The intertwining stories of the kids who've got The Bug, the kids who don't, and the kids who are going to get it frame the story which also dredges up all the horrible high school crap you've tried to forget. It's not just "body horror" along the lines of Junji Ito, where I feel like he's just trying to see how far he can go (although there is some of that), but a true Horror comic in the sense that both the mutated kids and what happens to them is horrifying.

    If you're looking for something as depressing as Jimmy Corrigan and as disturbing as Videodrome, you've found it. This is NOT a thumbs down. I can't exactly say I "enjoyed" reading it, but it was compelling, and Burns' stark black and white art is great as always. Definitely recommended - as long as you're prepared to keep thinking about it long after you've finished reading it. ...more info
  • A beautiful, hallucinatory nightmare.
    I can't think of any other book (or movie or record for that matter) that so perfectly captures the feelings I associate with being a teenager and experimenting with drugs and sex. It's a mixture of fear, wonderment and lust that's hard to articulate... but it's done perfectly here, both in the artwork and in the writing....more info
  • Not what I expected...
    A lot of reviewers have gushed over this GN, but I just didn't see what all the fuss was about. I will say that the art is great, actually very disturbing at times. I did not grow up in the seventies, but the experiences of these teenagers were very familiar and it is obvious that Mr. Burns' teenage years are very fresh in his mind. With all that said, the story really doesn't go anywhere and there is never a satisfying, "wow" type moment. Maybe it was supposed to just be a nihilistic journey through a surreal group of high school kids who want to get high and laid. It acheived that for sure, but the effect was quickly forgotten after closing the book....more info
  • Intriguing, Exciting, Beautiful
    The art is stark and beautiful, more like wood cut block prints than pen and ink. The story is intruiging, propelling, and sensitive. I love how Burns uses swirling recombinations of visual motifs and symbols to biuld a sense of mounting chaos and intesnity. I love how the plot centers on an extremely bizarre and outlandish premise (the "bug") but the narrative barely seems to notice; we're not subjected to any off point explanations about what it is, how it works, the philosphical or political implications. Like everything else in a teenage world, the bug is just one more f-ed up situation interfering with everyone's attempt to find meaning and love and fun. This book is all about the characters, who are unravelled masterfully from beginning to end. I didn't give it a 5 because I need to save something for Chris Ware's work....more info
  • David Cronemberg in comics
    Black and white, dark, ultra-dark stories about teenage's love, sex and drugs mixed with mutations, bugs, virus and hallucinations. A lot of young people are becaming ill (just like AIDS but this don't kill, just destroys and mutates your skin) and there's nothing we can do. Unforgettable, you'll read it twice minumum, i'll bet....more info
  • Brilliant. Creepy. Thought-provoking.
    I forced myself to finish this book in two nights...otherwise I would have sped through it in one. This is a great story that's as fun to look at as it is to read. No need to get into the plot here, but it's a thoroughly original tale that'll have you thinking about the "other meanings" behind it. Great stuff....more info
  • Chilling but leaves you hanging
    This was really enjoyable to read. At first I was weary of the surrealistic content, but I really grew into it.
    One thing though, I was kind of perturbed that it is very easy to get two characters, Keith and Rob mixed up. They are drawn almost identical, and I thought Rob was Keith at times and Keith was rob. Therefore, I was confused for half the story. Just remember, Rob has a small beard and Keith does not.

    Ending was what I expected, but I was a little disappointed, it kind of seemed to trickle out. Doesn't explain why or how certain things happened. However, this seems to be quite characteristic of this style of storytelling so I wasn't too surprised.
    I love the cleanline drawing style....more info
  • Cool Book
    I read it from start to finish in one sitting. It's a great idea for a story with cool characters....more info
  • Spellbinding
    This is a real triumph of story telling and art. It held me spellbound in the two days it took for me to read it while on vacation.

    Caution: This work does contain nudity. ...more info
  • Blackest Despair captured brilliantly in comic form
    Black Hole is a disturbing story filled with love, loss, transformation and the grotesque, but with a sense of hope as well. The art is stunning and the inking of each panel is particularly well done, giving a sense of darkness to each chapter in accordance with the title. If you haven't read it yet, borrow it, buy it, get your hands on a copy any way you can!...more info
  • The story is lacking.
    Black Hole was brought to my attention on a GQ article 20 Best Graphic Novels to read. I purchased three GN books-Black Hole, Y:The Last Man (Mediocre, 2 stars), and The Nightly News (5 star+, groundbreaking. Definitely the GN to get).
    The main pro of Black Hole is the artwork. The book is aesthetically beautiful inside and out. The black and white art of Charles Burns is highly stylized and a big step forward for comic and graphic novel art development. It is a large book at 368 pages, but a quick two to three day read.
    My main reason for not liking the book is the weak, uninteresting story and the aimlessness of it. The four main characters relationships with each other are well developed with interesting interaction and emotional tension between them, and the story creates a interesting morbid tension (ala Donny Darko), but this wans't enough for me, and unfortunately it results in an anti-climactic ending where I felt cheated after putting the book down. There were a few times I had to push myself to read as it began to fell like simply a bunch of kids wandering aimlessly and why should I care.
    The story and characters reminded me of a 1986 movie, The Rivers Edge, the similarities being the teenage characters coming of age sex and recreational drug use, discontent with life and suburban hangin at the 7-eleven angst. But as The Rivers Edge's storyline became more interesting as it developed and the REdge's supporting characters actually contributed to the interest and development of the story, Black Hole's did not. The Black Hole's big story "twist" is kids mutate and grow tails or third eyes when they hump, yet this was not enough to keep me interested.
    I wont reveal the killer at the end, but it came out of left field, and not in a fall of my seat Keyser Soze way. More of in a thrown in way.
    All in all, I am not disappointed for purchasing the book mainly for the art alone, yet I would not recommend the book to friends....more info
  • Look again at the one "happy" ending
    A word to the few people that said that the ending for one of the main characters was "happy" and therefore weak. Don't you see, people? That sweet, naive character is delusional! Do you really think his plan is going to work out, especially given the situation that will be attributed to him at the place he was housesitting? Burns is just capturing that crushingly poignant moment of irrational hope before the inevitable doom that awaits (which he satisfyingly leaves to your imagination to fill in). There is no escape, no relief, no redemption... BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA... :-)...more info
  • Brilliant
    Charles Burns has done something really special and unique in the comic book world. Having taken over a decade to complete in single issue form, Burns' Black Hole is a sight to behold. Taking place in the teenage drug culture of Seattle in the early 70's, Black Hole revolves around a group of teenagers all effected in some way or another by a sexually transmitted disease called "the bug". Unlike other STD's, the effects of "the bug" can be noticeable to the ungodly hideous and deforming, or can be subtle and easily hidden, like a small mouth on your neck or a tail growing on your backside. And once you get it, that's it, there's no coming back. The AIDS metaphor is used to full effect here, but it's Burns' stark black and white artwork that is the main attraction of Black Hole, as it is both horrifying and understated at the same time. The tragic storyline and bleak conclusion won't put a smile on anyone's face, that's for sure, but this is a must read nevertheless. All in all, if Black Hole doesn't prove to you that there is more to comics than spandex, muscles, and busty babes; than nothing ever will....more info