2 weeks ago
10 November 2009
I've been sucked into a Black Hole . . .
I've just finished reading what may be the most deeply disturbing and yet truly beautiful graphic novel ever. It is Black Hole by Charles Burns, and this semester it's traumatizing my first year students in our course Gender and Graphic Narrative. We've also read Fun Home by Alison Bechdel as well as Ghost World and Shortcomings, but nothing has gotten quite the reaction that Black Hole has.
I have to say Black Hole is incredible--beautifully drawn, narratively non-linear and provocatively visceral. It tells the story of teenagers growing up in suburban Seattle in the 1970s; and Burns has created a version of the 1970s that includes a "bug" which is transmitted by sexual contact and manifests itself by creating different mutations on each infected person. My class decided that each mutation has significance directly related to that person's adolescent angst. One of my favorites is Eliza, whose mutation is a lovely little tail growing out of her backside. It's quite something.