Charles Burns’s The Hive (Book Acquired 10.15.2012)


For some reason—some reason founded on no reason at all but rather superstitious suspicion—I didn’t believe Charles Burns would follow up X’ed Out, the first chapter of a proposed trilogy. I suppose X’ed Out had unresolved cult classic written all over it (written metaphorically, of course).

X’ed Out was one of my favorite books of 2010. From my review:

In Black Hole, Burns established himself as a master illustrator and a gifted storyteller, using severe black and white contrast to evoke that tale’s terrible pain and pathos. X’ed Out appropriately brings rich, complex color to Burns’s method, and the book’s oversized dimensions showcase the art beautifully. This is a gorgeous book, both attractive and repulsive (much like Freud’s concept of “the uncanny,” which is very much at work in Burns’s plot). Like I said at the top, fans of Burns’s comix likely already know they want to read X’ed Out; weirdos who love Burroughs and Ballard and other great ghastly fiction will also wish to take note. Highly recommended.


So, of course I was stoked when Burns’s sequel The Hive showed up a few weeks ago—in fact, the only thing that got in the way of me reading it immediately was that it showed up in a package along with Chris Ware’s Building Stories (this is, without question, the best package I’ve received in six years of doing the blog).


Anyway, I’ll be revisiting X’ed Out and then reviewing The Hive in the next week or so. For now, a few pics. Two from the interior above. And our hero Doug, in his alter-ego/costume Nitnit (inverse Tintin):


I dig this panel in particular: A take on Roy Lichtenstein via Raymond Pettibon via the romance comics those pop artists were riffing on:



4 thoughts on “Charles Burns’s The Hive (Book Acquired 10.15.2012)”

  1. stoked vs. totally stoked. It makes me happy when I see people forgo the latter and just bore down into the essence of stokedness.


  2. The first two photos you posted, fromt the inside cover of The Hive, along with the rest of the images found there, are interestingly mirrored by the inside cover of X’ed Out. This in combination with the single frames on the cover pages display an interesting use of space and a common duality or reptation between the books. Great stuff all around. Hopefully it won’t be two years before the conclusion.


  3. Also, comics within comics is always an interesting motif. I love when any medium references themselves through parody or parallel art within art. . It seems to happen a lot in comics. Do you think this is in line with other mediums (film, novels) or maybe even a more common event in comics?


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