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Black hole
Burns, Charles
Adult Fiction BURNS

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The prodigiously talented Burns hit the comics scene in the '80s via Raw magazine, wielding razor-sharp, ironic-retro graphics. Over the years his work has developed a horrific subtext perpetually lurking beneath the mundane suburban surface. In the dense, unnerving Black Hole, Burns combines realism-never a concern for him before-and an almost convulsive surrealism. The setting is Seattle during the early '70s. A sexually transmitted disease, the "bug," is spreading among teenagers. Those who get it develop bizarre mutations-sometimes subtle, like a tiny mouth at the base of one boy's neck, and sometimes obvious and grotesque. The most visibly deformed victims end up living as homeless campers in the woods, venturing into the streets only when they have to, shunned by normal society. The story follows two teens, Keith and Chris, as they get the bug. Their dreams and hallucinations-made of deeply disturbing symbolism merging sexuality and sickness-are a key part of the tale. The AIDS metaphor is obvious, but the bug also amplifies already existing teen emotions and the wrenching changes of puberty. Burns's art is inhumanly precise, and he makes ordinary scenes as creepy as his nightmare visions of a world where intimacy means a life worse than death. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Burns has been serializing this chilling story, nominated for several Eisner and Harvey Awards, since 1994. It depicts a group of mid-1970s high school students and their everyday lives of partying, drugs, and sex, with one horrific deviation from reality: an apparently incurable sexually transmitted disease referred to only as "the Bug," which mutates its victims in grotesque ways. One victim grows a tail, another grows a second mouth on his chest; some can still pass as normal in society, while others, more noticeably changed, live in a makeshift tent camp in the woods. The story, told in a suspense-building non-linear manner, largely follows one attractive girl who catches the Bug and is forced into hiding with her boyfriend, while someone is apparently stalking the frightened outcasts in the woods. Burns's highly polished cartooning combines naturalism with jolts of unreal horror; his frequent dream sequences are full of bizarre, nightmarish imagery. The Bug seems not just a metaphor for AIDS, but a metaphor for how teen sex itself is often viewed: as something that taints those who do it, and separates them from those who haven't. With full-frontal nudity, sex, and disturbing imagery, this is for adult collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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