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Black Hole Hardcover – 6 Oct 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (6 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224077783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224077781
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 17 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Many regard Black Hole as one of the greatest graphic novels, and it's not hard to see why. Burns's black-and-white strips are so cool, and his story - sex, drugs and teenage mutants - grips like a vice." (Rachel Cooke Observer)

"Black Hole just might be the most perfect book going, if not the sexiest... As startling and evocative a work as the medium has ever produced." (Matt Fraction Art Bomb)

"Make no mistake: this is a bleak book that tries desperately in its final frames to introduce a note of optimism in resignation. It's also brilliant." (Peter Millar The Times)

Book Description

It's here: Charles Burns' epic story of existential horror, over ten years in the making.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't often buy graphic novels (with some notable exceptions) - despite my continuing adultescence and status as a member Generation-Y, I'm not really that into typical comic books or superheroes - you'll never find me in a Spiderman T-shirt and I find the writing in even some of the "good" comic book serials, well, a bit far-fetched and stupid. I'm glad I took a chance with this one, though and I hope you, dear reader, will too!

Set in Seattle in the early/mid 1970s, "Black Hole" inhabits the damp, sticky, slightly wiffy world of teenage angst, as it following the lives of a group of senior high school kids over the course of a long (somewhat rainy and miserable) summer: so far, so "Dazed and Confused".

The fantastical conceit here (don't worry, no vampires or werewolves in sight), is the underlying presence of a disturbing, teen-only epidemic that's gradually infecting our young charges one-by-one. "The Bug", as it's referred to colloquially, is spread via sexual contact (or is it?) and manifests itself in the form of a spectrum of strange physical mutations - from the subtle and concealable, to monstrous physical deformities; X-men it ain't. Regardless of the severity, the over-riding fact seems to be this: once you've got "The Bug", that's you forever. Those afflicted find themselves ostracised by their peers and some seek refuge by running away into the local woods, leaving them vulnerable to drink, drugs and other perils...
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Format: Hardcover
This has to be one of the greatest graphic novels of the past few years. If David Lynch did teen-drama this would be it. The alienation of teenage life taken to the max. Beautifully drawn, visually like nothing else around. Story of subtlety and eery atmosphere. This is a work of depth and sublime power. Totally recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Set amongst high school students in a fictional mid-70s Seattle, this is a compelling and horrific graphic novel about urban alienation, teenage despair and the ways in which fear can spread through a community.

Charles Burns uses the metaphor of plague - a mysterious, AIDS-like illness which spreads through sexual contact, with horrifying results. The changes contagion brings are individual - often seeming to echo the carrier's own fears or hidden traits. One boy develops a second mouth which always tells the truth; an infected girl learns to shed her skin like a snake.

As with the shapeshifting feats of traditional comicbook superheroes, it's unclear whether catching the bug is a curse or a blessing in disguise. New powers accompany the loss of normality, although the consequences vary according to the character's moral integrity. There's a Freudian dimension to all this, too; sometimes the transformations of the disease are nightmare echoes of the physical changes of adolescence, the fears of infection a kind of amplified sexual neurosis.

Against the weight of all this metaphor, the sub-plot involving a series of murders almost seems extraneous. Nevertheless, this is a good buy: originally serialised in twelve parts and appearing over the course of a decade, this new edition brings the entire story together along with Burns' darkly beautiful black-and-white illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover
I was unfamiliar with the work of Charles Burns, well i was aware of Ghostworld but had no interest in reading it, but when I read the synopsis for Black Hole i had a feeling i would enjoy its strange creepiness. I was not wrong. Being a body horror fan i was impressed by the ideas in the novel but also the subtlety Burns uses in introducing these horrific infections into the story. This is really about the alienation one feels during those horrible teenage years, Burns increases this angst with a sexually transmitted disease that has numerous effects upon the sufferer, bumps, growths, tails that only adds to the teens sense of loneliness.

The artwork is some of the best i have seen in a graphic novel and has a linocut/woodblock quality in stark black and white, this imagery is beautiful, mundane grotesque and surreal all at once and is a fantaastic achievement in itself. The story starts slow but reveals itself through the various stories of the infected, i had no idea where it was going to go but was hooked and actually finished the book in one sitting but know i will be sitting down and starting it again tomorrow.

A great book featuring beautiful art and a dark, touching, creepy surreal story.
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Format: Hardcover
Black Hole is a book about adolescents in an American town, who suffer from a strange disease which causes mutations in their appearance. Instead of just making this a trite metaphor for puberty, Burns runs with the concept and makes it an important part of the world he creates where the characters run from home and go to live with hippies and drug dealers or camp out in the woods, afraid of the world they have run from.

I read Black Hole over two Spring evenings at the park. After the first half of the book I felt disappointed because it seemed like nothing especially interesting had happened and what had happened was too slow and unclear (several of the characters look similar). However, beyond the half way point, everything falls into place and the character focus becomes a bit sharper with you caring about the fates of certain people in the book and feeling angry about how they are treated. It may spend a while setting the scene, but when the plot gets going and the character relationships develop, it becomes a fascinating work and impossible to put down. I particularly like the way that violence is for a long time absent from the story then strikes suddenly and shockingly.

I do feel that the book could have been edited down and better presented. Although the art style is nice-looking and Burns is highly skilled at facial expressions and body language, I did feel at times it was generic and inarticulate - there were only very few points in the book where I felt compelled to stop my flow and step back to admire the composition of a scene.
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