Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Black Hole by Charles Burns

Charles Burns is one of my favorite comic artists. His high-contrast black and white drawing style and subtly creepy storytelling are a perfect combination. In Black Hole, which is set in the Seattle suburbs of the 1970s, a strange, sexually transmitted plague has infected area teens.

Some develop a mouth in their chest,

or a cute little vestigial tail. Or molting skin, goiters, and other deformities. Black Hole is the grotesque and eerily beautiful saga of how they deal with this disturbing epidemic--whether by covering it up (if possible), or retreating into isolation, accepting their outcast status. Or committing murder.

One of my favorite aspects of the design is the inside front and back covers, a series of yearbook photo-like portraits. The front depicts the "before" shots, when they were normal teenagers.

The back page is the after shots, post-plague. It makes me thankful that my high school experience only involved alienation of the psychological kind.

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