Black Hole
Charles Burns
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Buy *Black Hole* online

Black Hole

Charles Burns
Pantheon Books
368 pages
October 2005
rated 5 of 5 possible stars
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The latest effort by Charles Burns (El Borah: El Borah, Skin Deep: Tales Of Doomed Romance, Big Baby) is an amazingly accurate tale of teenage exploration. Black Hole perfectly nails the fear, the lust, the anxiety, the sex, and the drugs, all inside a beautifully dark tale complete with incredible artwork that matches the story and captures the mood exquisitely. The book opens up with Keith getting lucky. He gets to sit next to a foxy girl named Chris Rhodes as they start to dissect frogs during a biology class

“All the other girls were squealing and stuff and the guys were sort of taking over and putting on the whole tough guy act. I guess I was trying to do the same thing… I went ahead and pinned the arms and legs down like you were supposed to and was just starting to cut it open when it happened. As the skin opened up, a bunch of formaldehyde spilled out. You could see the guts through the slit I’d made and they looked all hard and white. I froze. I can’t explain what happened. It was like a déjà vu trip or something… A premonition. I felt like I was looking into the future… And the future looked really messed up. I was looking at a hole… a black hole and as I looked, the hole opened up. And I could feel myself falling forward, tumbling down into nothingness.”
This is where seeing the art really tells the story as Keith blacks out and imagines that slit to be more than what it is (use your imagination). From here on the book continues on its eerie, hallucinatory path as we see deformed dweebs in the woods, women shedding their skins (and getting naked, too), garbage eating monsters, sex in a big, dark graveyard, and other assorted zombies and ghouls. It’s pretty amazing how the tone of this collection has remained true since its inception ten years ago. Even if you weren’t a teen in the 1970s, the work still rings true, and I’m sure will always ring true as Burns captures the teenage experience well. The hypnotically bizarre yet extremely engrossing story can even rival watching a movie. It’s that good.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Bobby Blades, 2005

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