Black Hole - Charles Burns

A beautiful mix of fantasy and truth.

Book Review by Kimberly Carpenter | 17 Mar 2006
In 1970s Seattle there is a sexually transmitted disease that affects teenagers by mutating them, some to such an extreme that they are hardly recognisable as human beings. There is no cure and no one tries to find one. The disease is just one more thing teenagers have to deal with, alongside accidental pregnancies, drugs, rejection and murder. Some of the teenagers manage to conceal their deformities and pass as normal but others are not so lucky. The worst affected are the geeks who are forced to live in garbage bag tents out in the woods, alienated from society.

Burns successfully captures the horrors of high school and exaggerates them through his use of fantasy and powerful visual techniques. His extensive use of black ink amplifies the feeling of teenage isolation. The mutations and sexually charged imagery vividly express his characters' inner turmoil. 'Black Hole', a graphic novel of twelve volumes that took Burns ten years to complete, is a beautiful mix of fantasy and truth. Well worth a read. [Kimberly Carpenter]
Published by Jonathan Cape. Out Now. (Cover Price £16.99)