review of Black Hole by Charles Burns

available several places.  

My friend has the coolest last name on the planet.  But you can never know it for reasons of privacy.  She also has a fabulous graphic novel collection from which I have  borrowed several to read.  

Black Hole by Charles Burns is the second one I’ve picked up.  For those who do not know it and will not click on the link, it is a series from 1995-2005 about teenagers in the 70s getting an STI that causes grotesque mutations. And there are murders. 

The idea seemed fascinating and having flipped through it I felt the art was well-done enough. I was expecting loosely veiled HIV/AIDS  references only to find really loosely veiled vag imagry.  (not at all related vag hating and ethnic stereotypes) I mean, ‘Black Hole’…really?

The mutations are super cool.  And it’s sort-of super cool in the way that Heavy Metal is super cool. But the art is nothing particularly special with poorly executed narration boxes that block  a lot of what could be neat urban landscapes and pretty much miss the point of a graphic novel: the drawings are themselves highly narrative and literal and the addition of the narrative boxes make graphic interpretation redundant.  

Reading it also gave me a headache and made me nauseous, which I attribute to the high relief contrast in black and white and awkward panel reading movement.  This, according to some people, is in turn attributable to me being  a so-called ‘weiner-kid’.  Overall, the art is quite lovely in places but very hard to read.

The plot is a missed chance at character development/making a comment on the modern state of adolescent sexual politics and STIs.  It might be trying to be erotica, but it I would call it hetero-normative, white bread weirdo boy erotica. 

Should definitely be read but is officially not worth a headache.

p.s. poor Bea Arthur, she wasn’t Rufus Wainwright’s grandmother.

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