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Book Review < Back

Black Hole

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Charles Burns
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

BLACK HOLE is currently being serialized in individual installments. Ask your local retailer for the latest installment or the availability of back issues.


BLACK HOLE just might be the most perfect comic book going, if not the sexiest. Sometime in the mid-seventies, the teenagers of an anonymous and unnamed suburb are afflicted by a strange sexually transmitted disease that inspires horrific mutations. As our characters stagger in and out of parties, drug hazes, and one another's beds, they begin to lose control of their bodies: a tiny mouth over the adam's apple; a preternatural tail; the shedding of skin. The metaphors are easy to pick apart, but it's really not Burns' point: BLACK HOLE is a slow, sexual creeping horror and is at once exhilarating and terrifying, oscillating madly between Cold and Hot.

The books themselves feel like art objects: slick and heavy covers adorned with full color Charles Burns pop art masterpieces wrap around perfectly-rendered art. Burns crafts every page and panel with a woodcutter's precision: acres of inky blackness and elegant line work combine and create an atmosphere unlike anything in modern comics. Burns' visual style is so opulently overwhelming that it's easy to ignore just how great of a writer he is. The awkward emotional explosions his kids must navigate and endure is painfully honest, never cheap. An evisceration of young adulthood, BLACK HOLE is as startling and evocative a work as the medium has ever produced. God fucking dammit you need BLACK HOLE in your life.

-- Matt Fraction

Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.


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