X'ed Out


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 ...
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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.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher

“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

Kirkus Reviews

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 old—similar 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 bed—assuming 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..."

Douglas Wolk
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 filters William S. Burroughs's body-loathing and disjunction through the iconography of Hergé's "Tintin" comics.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307379139
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/19/2010
  • Pages: 56
  • Sales rank: 362,575
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.70 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

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.
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