Illustrations by Charles Burns
You know Charles Burns for his epic black-and-white body-horror comic Black Hole (or his portraits on the covers of The Believer). This month, Pantheon publishes Burns’s X’ed Out ($19.95), and he makes the most of his first full-color graphic novel: Blank-faced teens and fetal pigs have never looked more vibrant. The book takes place in two worlds: the seventies “real world” of our hero, Doug, an art student obsessed with William S. Burroughs, and the alien land where Nitnit, Doug’s alter ego, travels with a mysterious, diapered guide. X’ed Out is the first of a planned three-book series, and in it, these parallel worlds begin to converge in tantalizing ways, as Doug becomes infatuated with a girl and Nitnit discovers her doppelgänger. It’s a gorgeous head trip, equally indebted to Tintin artist Hergé, one of Burns’s childhood inspirations, and Burroughs, whom Burns read avidly as a punk-listening art student in the seventies. Burns agreed to annotate a page of X’ed Out.