X'ed Out by Charles BurnsX'ed Out by Charles Burns

X'ed Out

byCharles Burns

Hardcover | October 19, 2010

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From the creator of Black Hole: the first volume of an epic masterpiece of graphic fiction in brilliant color.
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.
What’s going on?
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 . . .
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.
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 Igna...
Title:X'ed OutFormat:HardcoverDimensions:56 pages, 11.9 × 9.2 × 0.5 inPublished:October 19, 2010Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307379132

ISBN - 13:9780307379139

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from A rich and worthwhile piece If you've read Burns' "Black Hole" (which came out from 1995 to 2004, before being collected in 2005), you have an idea of what to expect here: a devastatingly disturbing tale rendered in stark, precise, razor-like strokes. Whereas "Black Hole" dealt with teenagers (and the shattering transformations ― or should we say 'mutations'? ― they go through), here the protagonist is a young man, Doug, who is going through the aftermath of some kind of accident or trauma. In a seemingly random fashion, his story his relayed to us, whether through drug-induced dreams or through flashbacks, the two modes (dream / memory) being distinguished by a subtle visual shift. In his dreams, Doug is like Tintin's dark-haired non-identical twin, wandering through a shifty dream-world similar to William Burroughs' Interzone; there, he wanders in a city reminiscent of archetypal Morocco peopled by various exotic people (from warehouse reptile-men to mute cycloptic cooks to midget-sumo guides), alternating (as in a nightmare) between fear and disgust. In the memories, he and his surroundings are more realistic, and we see him at various points of his life: recovering from some unidentified head-wound, strung out on pain-pills; having breakfast with his father; going to a party with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, giving a poetry performance and then falling in love with another girl; dating this new girl, with whom he shares a passion for photography. The referential echoes to Hergé's boy-reporter are plenty, from the strange eggs featured on the cover and in a gross restaurant sequence (see: the mushroom from "L'Étoile Mystérieuse") to his occasional animal companion (Inky the Cat, Snowy the Dog's negative image) to the character's stage-name (Nitnit). But mostly, it is through the comic's color palette and "ligne claire" style of drawing that this homage to Hergé is most manifest. All in all, it is a most worthwhile effort on Burns' part, demonstrating a mastery of style, content and execution, and the semantic hyperlinks to Burroughs, Hergé (or even his own work) are not detrimental to the book's overall merit, on the contrary. They elevate it to something more than just a "weird for weird's sake" narrative. What that "more" is, well, it remains to be seen. If I had one negative thing to say about it: it's over too quickly. Just as we're starting to get fully immersed into this universe, it cuts off. The final image is impressive and awe-inspiring, but still, I can't help but wish there was more. It's an unfair criticism, to be sure, and one that will become irrelevant in the future, when the other two planned volumes (or 'albums', in the French and Belgian "bande dessinée" meaning of the word) are out. But seeing as we can expect months and even years before the tale is complete, it's unavoidable. Still, maybe the wait is good. Maybe that expectant anticipation is all part of what makes comics such an engaging passion. And in the meantime, we can read this first volume again, and float in its rich, interwoven layers.
Date published: 2011-08-25

Editorial Reviews

“A haunting first chapter in what promises to be a spellbinder…Burns’ control of the story is masterful…it will leave you begging for the rest of the story.” –Publishers Weekly“Like an apocalyptic hallucination…the visionary artistry of Burns exists beyond the bounds of time and constraints of conventional narrative.” –Kirkus starred review “Tantalizing…a gorgeous head trip.” –New York Magazine  “Gorgeously ghoulish… it will leave you hungry for more.” –Philadelphia Inquirer“Nightmarish but oddly innocent… some of his most visually mesmerizing and handsomely presented work to date.” –Santa Cruz Metro“A fantastic meta-reality where Burns’ spastic yet tightly reined imagination is allowed to feed on itself deliciously.” –AV Club“Creepily intimate…Burns’ best-looking work to date.” –Newsday “Burns’s comics are fluid, smooth and as solidly built as a vintage TV set, but they shudder with the chill of the uncanny.” –New York Times Book Review  “I hope it's the first of many.” –Straight.com  “A surrealistic, often horrifying book… a Tintin homage for grown-ups.” –The Stranger“Headily beautiful…a trippy experience.” –New York Press“Bizarre, haunting, horrific, funny…Burns is skilled at paralyzing readers, and leading us into worlds we never knew existed.” –USA Today“Burns fans will definitely get their dollar's worth of weirdness…Burns has outdone himself in sheer ambition.” –Los Angeles Times “Long awaited first chapter in what promises to be a trippy, wildly experimental and typically disquieting epic.” –npr.org“An essential addition.” –Indie Street Reads “Uncompromisingly hallucinogenic storytelling…haunting.” –Omnivoracious.com  “Weird, wild stuff…brimming with punk rock energy and druggy art madness.” –artklept.com  “Its pleasures are many…a very beautiful book.” –The Guardian“Decadent…His art is as unique as always, and rich in style—as distinctive as any artist…this one throbs with color. Even with the vibrancy, it’s still unsettling.” –Bookgasm    “Cause for celebration…a visual feast as much as a literary one, and it dwells in the mind long after the final pages have turned.” –Culture Mob“Vivid, glorious weirdness…a gorgeous book, both attractive and repulsive…highly recommended.” –bibliokept.org  “Taps into the archive of gothic and grotesque imagery…What’s dormant inside of Tintin—the abject fear that Hergé rarely acknowledges—X’ed Out brings to life.” –The Comics Journal   “Burns dares you to give him control, stop guessing, and just let him take you where he wants to go with the story. But you have to have the courage to do so…highly recommended.” –Comics Waiting Room  “The plot is something you’ve come to expect from Burns—a premise loaded with darkness and mystery with potential for a great deal of humor…With a creator like Burns, you know whatever you get will be good.” –Broken Frontier.com“Visceral, emotional, and nightmarish.” –Bookslut.com  “Intriguing…brilliantly ominous.” –The Skinny “Epic…Burns has given us a dazzling spectral fever-dream—and a comic-book masterpiece.” –The Geek Curmudgeon“Burns is gifted at rendering a peculiar mix of lust and innocence…The brilliance of this volume of X'ed Out is that Burns's mirroring of Herge's visual and thematic motifs never seems heavy-handed…a masterful volume” –Book Forum“A gratifyingly dense work that rewards multiple readings.” –AV Club  “Terrifically creepy…I loved every second of this book.” –Boing Boing  “X’ed Out is easily the best comic I’ve read this year, and we’re living in an age when ambitious, ground-breaking comics are hardly in short supply. Unreservedly recommended.” –FA online “The art in X’ed Out is immaculate…the world he has crafted is so rich and full of life.” –Comicbuzz.com “Surreal…Waiting for volume 2 is going to be tough.” –Vice Magazine “Waiting for volume 2 is going to be tough.” –Vice Magazine “Quite possibly the beginning of Burns’ finest work.” –MTV Geek “This is the only comic I’ve ever seen that stabs back at the light that encases it, that radiated something off the page and into my eyesight, that actually made my eyes do something they wouldn’t have otherwise…it’ll go down in history as a masterpiece.” –Comics Alliance“Challenging and unique…an engaging, engrossing start by one of the most talented comic artists working today.” –October Country blog“You don’t need any special knowledge to appreciate X’ed Out…You just have to remember what it’s like to be a teenager, to feel alone and lost and stung by love.” –Courier-Journal.com