Cover image for X'ed out
Title:
X'ed out
ISBN:
9780307379139
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Pantheon Books, 2010
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : chiefly col. ill. ; 31 cm.
General Note:
"The first volume of an epic masterpiece of graphic fiction in brilliant color"--P. [4] of cover.
Summary:
"Doug is in bad shape. All the drugs in the world won't shut out the images that haunt his fevered dreams-- fetal pigs, razor blades, black cats, open wounds-- and eggs. Let's not forget the eggs"--P. [4] of cover.
Holds:

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On Order

Summary

Summary

From the creator of Black Hole : the first volume of an epic masterpiece of graphic fiction in brilliant color.
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Doug is having a strange night. A weird buzzing noise on the other side of the wall has woken him up, and there, across the room, next to a huge hole torn out of the bricks, sits his beloved cat, Inky. Who died years ago. But who's nonetheless slinking out through the hole, beckoning Doug to follow.
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What's going on?
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To say any more would spoil the freaky, Burnsian fun, especially because X'ed Out , unlike Black Hole , has not been previously serialized, and every unnervingly meticulous panel will be more tantalizing than the last . . .
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Drawing inspiration from such diverse influences as Hergé and William Burroughs, Charles Burns has given us a dazzling spectral fever-dream--and a comic-book masterpiece.


Author Notes

CHARLES BURNS grew up in Seattle in the 1970s. His work rose to prominence in Art Spiegelman's Raw magazine in the mid-1980s and took off from there. He has illustrated covers for Time, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine , among many other publications. Burns's most recent book, Black Hole , received Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz awards in 2005. He lives in Philadelphia.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fusing the unsettling kitsch of EC horror comics, the storytelling sensibility of Euro-classics like Tintin, and the astute observations about young adults that made Black Hole so engrossing, Burns has turned out a haunting first chapter in what promises to be a spellbinder. The opening pages flip among the various realities of Doug, a young man recovering from a head injury of some kind with only a box of pills and some strawberry Pop-Tarts to speed his recovery. Flashbacks and dreams switch among various scenes: Doug and his hypocrite father; a wild party gone awry when Doug's crush object's crazy (but unseen) boyfriend goes on a rampage; and, most mysteriously, another world-found behind a hole in a brick wall-where dead cats live, worms weep, and a giant hive rules a grim city of deformed creatures. Burns's control of the story is masterful-the recurring imagery make it unclear just which is the reality and which is the dream. His sharply delineated art captures a grotesque yet sympathetic view of kids thrust far beyond a world that they can control or even understand. The only disappointment about X'ed Out is its brevity-the first of several installments, it will leave you begging for the rest of the story. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Booklist Review

The latest work from Burns, who is known for his weirdly cryptic yet strangely comedic graphic novels, may be his most enigmatic effort yet. It opens with Doug, a young student with an unspecified head injury, recalling a dream or is it? in which he follows his dead cat, Inky, into a bizarre, devastated environment populated by lizard-faced men and other grotesque creatures. Doug's waking life is nearly as disturbing: his mother is mostly absent, his father is zoned out, and the object of his affections, a girl from his photography class, has a violent but mysteriously unseen boyfriend. Burns' neurotically precise, high-contrast artwork evokes a surface normalcy that makes the underlying creepiness all the more disconcerting. This too-brief volume the first in a series is tantalizing but frustrating, raising questions that readers can only hope will be answered in future installments: What is the nature of the injury that's left Doug largely bedridden and dependent on pills? Where will the ominous relationship with his classmate lead? And what's with all the Tintin references that permeate the tale?--Flagg, Gordon Copyright 2010 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

THERE'S nothing quite as creepy as a creepy drawing: almost real, but just wrong enough to suggest it's wearing only the torn-off skin of reality. Charles Burns's comics are fluid, smooth and as solidly built as a vintage TV set, but they shudder with the chill of the uncanny. His slim graphic novel X'ED OUT (Pantheon, $19.95) filters William S. Burroughs's body-loathing and disjunction through the iconography of Hergé's "Tintin" comics. (Hergéphiles will notice a string of allusions, beginning with the front cover's visual paraphrase of "The Shooting Star.") As with Burns's 2005 graphic novel "Black Hole," the central source of unease here is the world-warping chaos of youth and sex. The tufty-haired protagonist, Doug, is a frustrated young punk whose life's tiny orbit encompasses pills, Pop-Tarts and the trasgressive art that he and his girlfriend are awkwardly starting to imitate. He also becomes a more Tintinish, stylized version of himself, wandering through a nightmarish post-catastrophe landscape where cyclopean monsters trade omelets for cigarettes. The most insidious kinds of horror are all about what you don't see, especially in comics. You have to fill in the gaps between panels yourself, and whatever's lurking there can be as terrible as you imagine. Burns exploits that effect: Doug keeps trying to look away, to think of something else, and the story leaps from ghastly intimations to blank or black panels, then to a different point in time or a different reality. Still, a handful of images bubble up in varying guises: eggs, tunnels of blood, curled-up homunculi, holes in walls that lead to a sadder place. The first installment of a projected series, "X'ed Out" ends on a sort of cliffhanger that also serves as a thematic conclusion: an image (the largest in the book) that mashes its narrative threads together and hints at the nature of the disaster that has transformed Doug's life and fantasies. As fragmented as its chronology is, "X'ed Out" has a story at its heart. Kevin Huizenga's WILD KINGDOM (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95) has something weirder. At first, the book poses as linked stories involving the Everyman character Glenn Ganges, groping his way through places where the natural world and human detritus collide. But it gradually succeeds in violently shaking away any semblance of sense. The closest thing it has to an organizing principle is the calm, clarifying tone of natural history, absorbed via the Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck's essays and various illustrated books, then run through the shredder (the "index" is in fact a collage of other books' indexes). The book is propelled by its own bank of reappearing motifs, which become funnier and more frightening with each iteration: Mutual of Omaha, a hapless squirrel, a "truth" fish that eats "Darwin" fish, the phrase "I was saved from my own life." Every few pages, there's a hilariously inventive piece of cartooning, like a series of drawings of "fancy pigeons" that start out looking almost convincing and end as horrifying abstractions of feathers and eyes, or a set of deadpan explanatory diagrams that dissolve into gibberish on examination (a caption for a drawing of a beetle: "Dangerous. Unite to form Devastator. There is no you"). Most of Mike Mignola's comics (notably his "Hellboy" series) operate within the realm of pulp fiction, specifically the uncharted territory between H.P. Lovecraft and "Doc Savage." The six eerie short comics collected in THE AMAZING SCREW-ON HEAD AND OTHER CURIOUS OBJECTS (Dark Horse, $17.99) are the nightmare-logic version of Mignola's other work. They're built on familiar adventure-story standbys and played for nervous giggles, but Mignola draws them drenched in shadow, as if they're dredged up from primal anxieties, and wrenches the plots out of joint whenever they start running too smoothly. The title piece involves a seemingly immortal Abraham Lincoln assigning his robot-bodied secret agent to save the world from the wicked Emperor Zombie; rather than concluding the story with Screw-On Head's secret origin, Mignola presents drawings of "three horrible old women and a monkey," as one character announces, "Cheers!" The other stories, loosely connected to "Screw-On Head," include a variation on "Jack and the Beanstalk" and a little fable involving geometric forms that signal a magician's doom. But they're mostly an excuse for Mignola (and the colorist Dave Stewart, who sticks largely to fungal earth tones) to cut loose with surreal, cobwebbed arcana: a potbellied devil beneath a parasol; a monkey with a crown, surrounded by flies; a tuxedoed gentleman listening to a glass-domed turnip hooked up to a gramophone speaker. Everything is broken, wrinkled, potentially hazardous. It's easy to imagine a single out-of-tune violin scraping away in the background. RENÉE FRENCH'S graphic novels, including "The Ticking" and "The Soap Lady," tend to split the difference between adorable and horrifically gross. The wordless H DAY (PICTUREBOX, $30), its cover informs us, addresses "her struggles with migraine headaches and Argentine ant infestation." The migraine part is fairly straightforward: the book's left-hand pages are a stripped-down, flipbook-style animation of a body with a ganglionic mass inside its head that crawls out, envelops the head and lashes it to a bed. The right-hand pages, though, are where French gets to show off her command of pillowy pencil textures and viscerally alarming imagery. The book's early sequences are built around lush drawings of blocky, right-angled urban megaliths and their interstices, populated by tiny dark forms (antlike people and dogs), and swirling gusts of black wind that become swarms and streams of dots. Then the plot gets more opaque: there are wrapped and mummified creatures, a hooded figure deploying a white bundle, wicker cages that turn in on themselves. You can skim through the whole thing in about four minutes or spend hours puzzling over how it all fits together. There's only one image on each page, surrounded by clean white space, but it often seems as if teensy crawling beasties are about to emerge and skitter across the whiteness, toward your tasty fingers. Douglas Wolk is the author of "Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean." He writes frequently about comics for The Times.


Kirkus Review

This graphic novel is more like an apocalyptic hallucination.The first installment of what promises to be a full-color series from one of America's most renowned graphic artists, appears in some ways to be a throwback to the comic books of oldsimilar length, size and paneling (though not price). Yet the visionary artistry of Burns (Black Hole,2005, etc.)exists beyond the bounds of time and constraints of conventional narrative. To summarize the novel (nightmare?) is to misrepresent its contents and betray its spirit. What the reader learns from the start is that a man in pajamas with a bandage on his head lies in bed before his black cat (Inky) leads him through a mysterious hole in the brick wall of his spartanly empty bedroom. "This is the only part I'll remember," thinks the narrator. "The part where I wake up and don't know where I am." The realm he enters is more horror-land than wonderland, filled with threatening creatures, questionable food, language barriers and a flood of biblical proportions. It is also punctuated by flashbacks in which the man is identified as "Doug," is at a party or performance space with his girlfriend, recites some lines from William S. Burroughs to an indifferent crowd and becomes attracted to an innocent-looking young woman whose photos suggest a streak of sadomasochism. The title might refer to the Xs on the calendar that he uses to keep track of his pills or the cuts on the arm of the young woman, though it is never entirely clear whether these flashbacks are memories or simply another alternative reality conjured by the bandaged man in the bedassuming there really is a bandaged man in a bed.The narrative builds to a revelatory climax that falls far short of a conclusion, implying the unstated, "To be continued..."]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.