X'ed Out by Charles BurnsI just received my copy of “X’ed Out”, the new comic from Charles Burns. Beyond the meticulous ink work, I admire Burns for always going deeper with his personal obsessions -teenage angst, mushrooms and viruses, old Tintin covers (see the reference to Herge’s “The Shooting Star” on the X’ed Out cover, and constant references to Tintin throughout the album including a black cat called Ink that operates as the negative of Snowy) and the cleanest line possible in the grand tradition of the Belgium masters.

X’ed Out uses these obsessions in a more mainstream format than Burns may have used in the past. In that way, X’ed Out works as an introduction to some of his past masterpieces for first time readers -and for the fans it’s another opportunity to visit his artistic closet. It is almost as if Burns conceived X’ed Out to bring a true “bande dessinĂ©e” to the US, a country where comics dominate narrative art.

I find X’ed Out to be a bit weaker than what Burns has written before -but it is conceived as a series, possibly a very large one, so what I perceive as weaknesses in the pace of the story may simply due to the fact that he conceived it as an introduction to a larger whole. No matter – X’ed Out is a must read and a must buy for all. If you become a fan, also make sure to get your hands on the extraordinary large format collector piece about his work put together by United Dead Artists.