Saturday, January 06, 2007

Black Hole by Charles Burns

Shortly after B gave this to his sister as a present, it returned to our apartment for many, many months. I keep seeing it, and after B told me he was going to give it back to his sister, I read it quickly.

BH is a thick, slick graphic novel set in the 70s in a suburb of Seattle. Burns takes the rather rote story of the boredom and small desires of the town’s teen population and makes a meditation on adolescence bubbling with mutation, hatred and murder. You see, the stoner kids and the popular kids and the nerds alike have been getting it on like mad in between getting drunk and high and driving around. Then they start growing extra mouths, or giant hairy lumps on their faces or their skin peels of in big chunks. Way worse than herpes, my friends. Just like a horror movie, parents are useless and the other kids are not to be trusted.

I had heard that this was a book of genius. Maybe the single issues worked better to tell the story because the wrap of the two storylines was unsatisfying for me. Maybe this was intentional; after high school things get less dramatic and generally, life after 18 is less full of small personal mysteries solved and full of the same large questions. I don’t know… The art is beautiful though (I like his natural details especially) and the dialogue is great, so it’s still worth checking out if you are a fan of smart comics.


amy said...

you know...i feel like a lot of graphic novels eke by on their pretty drawings alone (i'm thinking adrian tomine, etc)without really having much to say other than that some people are lonely or something like that. like the way student writers will write something just for the sake of writing, but end up with something that's not really ABOUT anything. know what i mean?

Carrie said...

Hmmm. Well a good graphic novel needs both, and I think if the story relies on the art a little it should be no problem.

I know what you mean about something-about-nothing-syndrome and I think it effects in a different way than literature. The truth is that I can really enjoy a personal comic about going to the store alot more than a book about it because of the art. What becomes problematic is when that is all that is getting published by the major houses because of a few succeses of the wandering memoir/wacky time type.

Also, in regard to AT, etc.-- fuck it, our generation loves to read about lost losers like themselves (or those cool-older-brother Generation Xsters) because it makes them feel understood and secure in that they still work at the 7-11 and "do art" on the side and didn't sell out. I fucking hate it, I don't need to hang around with boring, neurotic secrect-cool nerds with bad haircuts in my reading life, no matter how pithy their prattle.

Fucking boo F. Tell me a story.

A few people do this well, or started their careers' doing that kind of thing and have now moved on to more intricate stuff (like Jessica Abel). But, yeah, I'm bored with the theme and I wish it stop.