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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
X'ed Out
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:£12.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 12 October 2010
Before the story even begins, Charles Burns invites comparisons to Kubrick's 2001 and Kafka's Metamorphosis with a page of black and red panels followed by a picture of our protagonist, Doug, looking through a window at a vegetable monster lying in bed. This will be an unusual book.

And, with the beginning of the story where a Tintin-lookalike character (the cover's homage to The Shooting Star is an indicator of one of this book's key references) with a bandage on his head, waking up in bed, it's clear Burns is aiming to place the reader on the same uncertain footing as Doug with his deliberately choppy narrative style. Is this a dream? A hallucination? What's real and what isn't?

Like Alice in Wonderland, Doug starts off following an animal into a hole that leads into a fantasy land. Rivers of green water, ruined houses, talking lizardmen, noseless monsters and strange red and white eggs, populate the eerie landscape as Doug tries to figure out what's happening through a fugue state brought on by drug abuse and/or head trauma.

The story then switches to our world and Doug's appearance changes from the cartoony look to a more realistic face. We're presented with fragments of his earlier life as an unsuccessful performance artist called Nitnit (Tintin backwards), who reads Burroughs-esque cut-up poetry (a nod perhaps to the way Burns has written this book?) over discordant music while wearing a Tintin-like mask.

Scenes of his sickly father, his disturbed art photography love interest Sarah, and foetus after foetus - human, pig, alien - pass by. The mood is tragic, doomed, violent and dark, though it's unclear (so far) what the story is. It's possible that this is how Doug is dealing with heartbreak from losing Sarah, and maybe the miscarriage of their baby is responsible, especially as a Sarah lookalike enters the fantasy land at the end and is introduced as a "breeder", a new Queen for the Hive.

And, though the story is as mysterious and unsettling as a David Lynch film, X'ed Out is so well-written, presented, and drawn that not knowing exactly what's happening doesn't matter because it's so enjoyable. The swiftly moving story sweeps you up and you want to know more, you want to find out what's happening and how it'll end, and that's the mark of a great story.

X'ed Out's short episodic nature is what keeps it from being a masterpiece - maybe after Black Hole Burns didn't want to make something quite so lengthy? - especially as it seems like it will read much better as a whole rather than individually. But it's still a brilliant comic that's ambitious, thoughtful, creative and compelling, and definitely worth reading.
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on 28 December 2011
I loved 'Black Hole', though I'm not a great reader of graphic novels/comics. I first came across it on a You tube music video (can't remember what music was). This is just as good graphically - very similar in fact (do i recognise some of the characters?) I was a bit disappointed though to find it's the first part of a series which doesn't as yet exist (except maybe in Charles Burns's head). You'll read this in about ten minutes. Maybe i'm being a bit of a prig here, but why bring out part 1 (which makes no sense at all on its own) two years before part 2? (not to mention parts 3, 4 ....?). I was just getting into the alternate reality here presented (I really like C.B.'s obvious faithfulness to dream reality), when suddenly book (or 'booklet') suddenly ends. A bit like having cold water thrown over you just as you start getting into a dream. To summarise... Love it, but if i'd known, i'd have waited till the whole novel came out rather that just chapter one.
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on 19 March 2013
I'm a huge fan of Charles Burns work. This series of books are really out there on their own. It's (so far) a total enigma as to what exactly is going on-think, if David Lynch wrote graphic novels then you're half way there. There will be three in total (this is 1st). Artwork is stunning and a very trippy homage to Tintin and I cannot wait for more.
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on 4 January 2012
As mentioned in other 4 to 5 stars reviews I really liked the script .
In my opinion the magic is not only created by Charles Burns.
Format and print quality are really sublime ( congrats to the publisher )

OOhh ... by the way "Hey Charles ... Hurry up, man !!! We want more !!!!
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on 12 March 2014
perfect state fantastic comic book - the volume was new without imperfections - the story is psychedelic and surrealistic. Must have
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on 11 October 2010
If you like Charles Burns. Buy it. Now.
Mr Burns is well known for his sharp black and whites but this book is in full colour - and it works brilliantly, adding another layer to his Lynchian dreamscapes. This first volume in a new series is an instant classic in my opinion. The nod to Hergé's Tintin enhancing the weird-factor beautifully. Impeccably printed on gorgeous paper, don't waste any time - buy the hardback. You won't regret it.
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on 21 December 2010
I am a massive fan of Charles Burns and this defiantly does not disappoint, the art work is amazing and the story very intriguing defiantly leaves you wanting more! It is a very cryptic story with lots of hidden meaning behind the story on the surface, which is an apparent trend in Charles Burns work, most noticeably in Black Hole. Anyone interested in buying this book i would defiantly recommend it and i would also suggest that you buy black hole as well as after reading this you are going to be left wanting more!

P.S.Notice to buyers this is the first book in a series that has not yet all been released, this should not put you off but thought that I'd state it in case you were not aware of this.

P.P.S Go buy it!
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on 19 December 2014
It's ok but unfortunately I finished it in 10 minutes - definitely not worth ten pounds. A similarly-priced volume of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman", or Jimmy Gownley's "Amelia Rules!" would take several hours to read, and provide far more emotional depth.
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on 18 October 2010
Short and sweet...I feel kinda drunk and strange after reading through this... in a good way of course. As an illustrator myself i would recommend this to anyone who likes it weird and wonderful.
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on 4 January 2011
Reading this I was reminded of an interview with Kingsley Amis in which he commented on the fruitlessness of trying to find artistic inspiration in a whisky bottle. The simple truth is that good writing and alcohol don't mix. Judging from this, the same can be said for drugs of any variety, medicinal or otherwise. If you're thinking about spending your own money in order to read this book I can attest to the fact that it is very aptly titled. I don't know if the writer was x'ed out when he wrote it but the experience of reading it is very much like having someone recount every painstaking detail of, like, this really weird dream they had when they were seriously spaced out. Dude.

In its defence, the artwork is both witty and sufficiently unsettling to create the necessary sense of unhinged dreamscape (and yes, that disorientation bleeds into "reality" too), while the narrative is well structured and fairly engaging. But it all seems built on the gossamer foundation of a half-remembered dream, soon to fade from memory forever. Which may of course be the writer's only point. In which case you need to ask yourself whether or not the tail-chasing of your own or anyone else's stoned mind will offer you any ultimate reward. If you answer that question in the affirmative then go ahead and enjoy this book - and good luck to you.
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