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Black Hole (2005)

by Charles Burns

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Black Hole (1-12 omnibus), Black Hole (1-12 Omnibus)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,522804,969 (3.82)57
And you thought your adolescence was scary. Suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area's teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested 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 of 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 (and, believe it or not, autobiographical), 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 any more, but Bowie was still just a little too weird. To say nothing of sprouting horns and moulting your skin...… (more)
  1. 20
    X'ed Out by Charles Burns (alaskayo)
    alaskayo: If you enjoyed Black Hole, Burns' newer trilogy of short graphic novels should not be missed. The X'ed Out series features a ~heavy~ dose of intentional David Lynch influence--think the dreamscape nonsense of Eraserhead AND the obtuse-as-hell symbolism of Mulholland Dr. (It also features a really bad title. 'X'ed Out.' Wow, that's bad.)… (more)
  2. 00
    Lupus by Frederik Peeters (kinsey_m)
  3. 00
    Teenagers from Mars by Rick Spears (ahstrick)
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» See also 57 mentions

English (74)  Danish (3)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
interesting idea and art... the metaphor kind of doesn't fully make sense for me though
  rottweilersmile | Feb 28, 2022 |
3.3/5 - GREAT.

The story in Black Hole isn't anything special, particularly when read later in life. But with the care and consideration Charles Burns took in writing and illustrating the work, Black Hole becomes a timeless coming of age piece. The story follows a group of teenagers exploring the forays of sex and love for the first time, applying the motif of an STI that inflicts body horrors onto the host. While Burns has stated the mutation reflects an adolescence tranformation into adulthood, I prefer to see it as a reflection of the sense of permanence each of us feel in our youth; every decision, consequence, and state of being will continue on in perpetuity. My only evidence would be the reveal that the mutations eventually disappear and victims return to (relatively) normal appearance.

The actions of the book reflect how various characters adapt to that illusion permanence. Many hide away in darkness, not wanting to expose their vulnerabilities and finding others like them to empathise with. Some are fully enveloped by that darkness and look to drag as many others down into their misery as possible. Others want to understand what they are going through and find someone to understand both themselves and the world around them. And then there are those who look to redeem themselves, however poorly.

It is a short series, 12 trade-paperbacks worth of content, with a tendency to drag through the middle-third, but it was a warm memory of a time gone by for me. The events readers witness do go to some unnecessary (fantastical) extremes - and there are some loose ends left untied - but the language used doesn't date the contents. Despite being written throughout the 90s and 00s, the setting is a suburban America of the late 70s early 80s. The art further lends itself to it being of a bygone era without feeling out of place - seemingly combining 1950s pop line-art with a wood carving asthetic. The simplicity of some panels allows for the extremes of horror and psychodelia to leap off of the page.

In general, this would be a strong recommendation for late-teenagers (that can stomach gore and violence) to reassure them that they are not alone in some of the struggles they inevitable go through. ( )
  HermitlyInclined | Jan 16, 2022 |
Talk about grotesque horror! I tend to stay away from comics that are clearly for adults with content that borders disturbing, but shockingly enough I was able to completely read Black Hole's 12 issues and actually enjoy it! I just had to know what was going to happen to all those affected by the disease. This series does not have the typically happy ending of the main male lead ending up with the main female lead. I quickly had to learn to squash all hopes of that happening. Although I found Chris to be such a frustrating character, for deciding to live in the woods and not seek out help from her family, I found that my mindset as well had to understand that "The Bug" was more than just a mutation. Shame, embarrassment, feeling like you do not belong- there are some themes that can be easily relatable. The profile images of an affected teen following by a blurb of their thoughts and feelings- these images allowed readers to understand the injustice that most of these characters faced. The black and white illustrations, especially when the drug induced imagery came up, were disturbing but made me want to understand the struggles and hardships of these characters. ( )
  DeisyValle | Dec 5, 2021 |
Não é uma obra que arrematou tantos prêmio à toa. É uma graphic novel fantástica e perturbadora. A arte de Charles Burns é incrível, a edição da Dark Side ficou linda, à altura de uma obra tão impactante. Fiquei com a sensação de ser uma crítica à contra cultura dos anos 1970, o "amor livre" algo pré-Aids, mas não somente isso, tem coisas sobre o pavor de ser adulto, das relações sociais convencionais, talvez mais profundamente neste sentido. Vou precisar pensar mais a respeito. Enfim, a leitura é mais do que recomendada. ( )
  tarsischwald | Oct 23, 2021 |
First, Keith and Rob looked exactly the same for the first 90% of the book, which was majorly confusing (though maybe intentional?)

Second, I was hoping for more of an examination of the disease and it's symptoms, rather than typical teenage angst. It wasn't even necessarily that creepy.

Third, that weird ending. Not Keith's ending, but Chris's. So Rob was a bad guy, who would rape girls to give them the disease, and somehow Dick was caught up in it. But then Rob... had a change of heart? Or became obsessed with Chris? And then got Dick to make weird totems for her camp? But then he killed Dick (and some random strangers) because they were a threat to him vis a vis Chris?

Another incredibly interesting concept that was a letdown in execution. ( )
  Elna_McIntosh | Sep 29, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
A high-school kid keels over and faints after hacking open a frog in biology class, and within weeks a plague is moving through 1970s Seattle. Spread by sexual contact and fluid exchange, it attacks only teenagers. One grows a little tail. One begins to shed her skin like a snake. Some lose their noses; some get harelips; some degenerate into little more than skulls. Deformed and cast out, the victims retreat to tents in the woods and live a hand-to-mouth existence among their own kind. But something is stalking them there too...
added by stephmo | editThe Independent, Tim Martin (Nov 20, 2005)
 
Black Hole is presented as a supposedly autobiographical novel. It was originally published serially as a comic, and 10 years of labour went into its making. Its serious intent is not in doubt; but what about the execution?
 
"Everything's either concave or -vex," the Danish poet Piet Hein once wrote, "so whatever you dream will be something with sex." In Charles Burns' decade-in-the-making graphic novel "Black Hole," the natural concavity and -vexity of everything leaps out at you: Nearly every image is a sexual metaphor, with the distorted clarity and mutability of a nightmare. And sex in "Black Hole" also means body horror, sickening transformations and loss. The first page's abstraction -- a thin, wobbling slit of light on a black background -- opens up to become wider and fleshier, then to become a blatantly vaginal gash in a frog on a dissecting pan (surrounded by pools and pearls of liquid).
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Douglas Wolk (Nov 7, 2005)
 
The arrival of Halloween always brings with it a plethora of horror-related media, including comix. This season's standout graphic novel focuses on one of the scariest of all horrors: high school. The title of Charles Burns' long-awaited book, Black Hole (Pantheon; 368 pages; $25), says it all. For many people—including myself, naturally—high school felt like an endless, inescapable vacuum without air or light. Unlike more conventional horror stories set among high school kids, where each one gets "offed" by a masked killer, Black Hole uses the worst parts of emerging adulthood, like changing bodies, alienation and sex, as the sources for a skin-crawling creep fest that will likely be the best graphic novel of the year.
 
I couldn't really get into the book, i was reading it but it didn't really have a good message to me personally.
added by NickGrey | editComputer, Zak Scales
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Burnsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ahokas, JuhaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Series

Black Hole (1-12 Omnibus)
Black Hole (1-12 omnibus)
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This book is dedicated to Dean, Mark, J., Phil, Casey, Colleen, Vickie, Mike, Patty, Janet Penny, Lisa, Jeri, John, Karen, Kathy, Reta, Claudia, Ted, Terri, Doug, Paul, Jan, Tom, Scott, Kurt, Ann, Kim,Diane, Sally, Kathleen, Mari, Libby, Jon, Jim, Pat and Pete. I never forgot you.

Thanks to John Kuramoto for his technical assistance and to Susan Moore who lettered this entire book.
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It was so weird.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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And you thought your adolescence was scary. Suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area's teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested 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 of 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 (and, believe it or not, autobiographical), 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 any more, but Bowie was still just a little too weird. To say nothing of sprouting horns and moulting your skin...

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