Communicating vessels and discursive virulence
in Black Hole
Black Hole intentionally confuses conscious states and blurs the boundary between the mind and the body. The inscrutability of Charles Burns's design can lead to readings that impose a psychoanalytical narrative based on a collection of symptoms. However, these signs reflect back on themselves. Instead, tracing surrealism's influence on Burns in the writing of Black Hole—an approach suggested by textual allusions made to early surrealists such as proto-graphic novelist Max Ernst—allows for an examination of the comic's psychological content that preserves the subjectivity of its teenage protagonists. By drawing out surrealism's roots in studies of hysteria, we can look at how the Bug allegorizes bodily terror associated with teenage sexual desire.
J. Ryan Marks is a University Graduate Fellow in the Masters program at the Pennsylvania State University.