This loose confection of macabre, funny stories by Charles Burns reads like some twisted B-Sides compilation from an obtuse psychedelic surf-rock superstar that only eleven people have ever heard - let alone heard of - yet they shimmer with a vital, if totally trivial, importance.
A mélange of all Burns' poppy, sci-fi influences, SKIN DEEP is a peculiar joy to read as one of the true modern masters of comics loses himself in play, in having fun, in comics for comics' sake revelry. Burns adds new kinks and twists to familiar genre exercises, cross-pollinating and intertwining all of his influences and source materials (be they monster movies, romance comics, 50's-era paranoid science-fiction, weird Bachelor Smut, comics, wrestling, etc.) until, somehow, you find yourself reading a tale of transsexual war romance and it's perfectly natural... more or less. While SKIN DEEP is not a major work, there are small and strange gems here never anything less than creepy, sexy, funny, and entertaining.
With the added benefit of this book's size (massive), reproduction values (pristine), and bonus materials (lagniappe!), your coffee-table could certainly do worse than to be hipped-up by such a dangerous and decadent trifle.
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.