What do you say about a book, where the first chapter begins with an intriguing illustration of a frog cut open and stray blood drops splattered around it.
Well, welcome to “Black Hole” by Mr. Charles Burn. The ‘graphic’ graphic novel that will keep you engaged till the last page. Set in the 70s America, the book is a mix of all the words I just wrote.
“It’s not an appropriate book to be reading in a public place” boyfriend told me when my eyes were scanning the dark panels of the book on a metro train, with a stranger peeping in to see the pages.
What’s the book about?
It’s sort of a horror comic about teens catching a sexually transmitted disease that’s simply called the “bug”, which manifests itself in some or the other grotesque form. It shows up in unique ways in each victim. While some teens maybe able to hide their deformity, others cannot.
For example, one teen who has the disease may have a mutated face, while another teen may have a gross deformity in the back that doesn’t show until he/she is half naked.
So while some suffering from the bug can conceal their state, there are others who abandon their regular lives and start living in the woods as outcasts because their bodies have become too alien for ‘normal’ people to accept them.
Like one of the characters has a ugly slit in the back that can be covered up by an upper garment. Here is a picture.
However, other teens are not as lucky. Their physical deformity is so repulsive that they are forced into abandoning their regular lives.
Here is a scene where a “normal teen” spots an alien like creature in the woods, but figures that he is more human than alien.
It took Charles Burns ten years to finish this book. And you can see why. It’s filled with bizarre sequences, horrifying dreams, sex, drugs, teenage heartache and everything that a cult horror film needs. There is also a lot of symbolic scenes that have a deeper meaning that what just meets the eye.
Black Hole is a must read for anybody who loves reading comics and graphic novels.
(I wrote this first as answer in Quora )