Black Hole and AIDS

October 26, 2016 | | 1 Comment

In my opinion, Charles Burns’ Black Hole is a really good work of horror in fiction. Burns immerses the reader into very detailed environments, and draws a lot of focus on the setting of his graphic novel. What really makes it an effective horror novel is its  use of AIDS as a metaphor. The characters in Black Hole are typical Americanized teenagers who succumb to their debaucheries – Their indulgence in sex and drugs ultimately lead to their pitfall: the “bug”.

In Black Hole, the “bug” serves as a metaphor for AIDS. It is a sexually transmitted disease that, when caught, the host begins to grow grotesque, non-human features. For example, Rob has a mouth on his neck, Chris grows a fissure on her back, and Lisa’s hands look like fins from a fish. The abnormalities from the disease reflect the reactions from the general public to AIDS in the 1970s and 1980s. AIDS was treated as a bizarre epidemic, and was pinned as a homosexual disease.  The real life stigma for AIDS is demonstrated in Black Hole, where teenagers react in fear and disgust as they witness the symptoms of the disease unfold around themselves and people they know.


1 Comment so far

  1.    Hallie Peller on October 26, 2016 3:36 am

    I like your explanation of the comic and the way you connected AIDS to the “bug. AIDS did have a similar effect on people in the real world as this “bug” had on the teens in the comic. Although the “bug” affected these teens less dramatically than AIDS, it served as an example of what AIDS was to an extent.

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