Sunday, April 17, 2011


By Ellen Ma         
Staff Writer

Don’t let this cover fool you; although it has parallel elements to THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, the story will straight out make you wonder what you just dove into. If you found Charles Burns’s BLACK HOLE to be a challenging, exciting read (honestly, I never understood it until I read it twice with a six month gap in between),  X’ED OUT is a great graphic novel to follow up with.

The story has the classic “tumbling down the rabbit hole” vibe. The reader follows the protagonist, Doug –– in both his real life as he’s recovering from a head injury and also in his dream version through his dream world. Burns’ amazing storytelling really captures young adults in a harsh environment, and he seems to be taking it to the next step with adding in this dream element.

The mystery that surrounds this story is deciding which is the real reality since it’s not yet made clear as we’re taken back and forth between real life Doug and dream Doug.

I love how the art style slightly changes whenever Doug is going through the dream world. This “dream style” really reflects TINTIN, and makes me wonder why Burns decided to capture the spirit of the beloved baby-faced adventurer in his story. Burns certainly tackles some mature issues and conveys them through his art work, so I’m curious to know what inspired him to make this choice. Also, putting this graphic novel in colors makes the work even stronger in my opinion. I certainly enjoyed trying to figure out how a few panels only filled with a single color connected with the next panel, and what these colored panels could be signaling or portraying.

High school and up.

There are quite a number of disturbing images although they are necessary as being part of a very crucial aspect to the story.

I’m actually really curious to see how a classroom will handle this graphic novel. We have a protagonist who is having a harsh reality, which is something many of us can relate to or are familiar with, but then we’re traveling with him into his dreams that’s harsh as well though in a different fashion. Is there perhaps some reasoning behind all this madness?

As mentioned before, the storytelling within this graphic novel is perhaps going to get readers to read it a few times and figure out exactly what the story will try to lead the reader to. This will start getting readers to make predictions and critical analysis because this story can be expected to have strong messages that want to be picked up by readers.

I was able to make up some interesting writing prompts while reading through this graphic novel.

Author & Illustrator: Charles Burns
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Format: Oversized Hardcover
Pages: 56
Color: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-0307-379139

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