An even grimmer look at adolescence is found in the recently concluded magnum opus by legendary artist Charles Burns. Described as semi-autobiographical, the surrealistic Black Hole follows a group of suburban teens in early '70s Seattle who are afflicted by a particularly vicious STD. "The bug" leaves its victims grossly disfigured: those who get it end up looking like monsters, ostracized from regular society and forced to retreat to the woods, where they're tormented by heavily symbolic dreams and visions. It's a gripping tale, with simultaneously gorgeous and stomach-turning artwork that somehow captures all of the paranoia and social terror of teenage life. Highly recommended just not as breakfast-table reading.

Becky Ohlsen keeps her comics collection in Portland, Oregon.

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