SPOILER ALERT!

A post-modern Tintin

X'ed Out - Charles Burns

The main reason that I picked this comic up was because there appeared to be some similarities with the Tintin albums that I loved as a child. For instance, there are the eggs and the mushrooms:

 

http://www.globalgraphica.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/xed-out-charles-burns-black-hole-comic-graphic-novel-artist-writer-tin-tin-herge.jpg

 

and then there are the main characters, Tintin:

 

http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20111118095003/tintin/images/6/62/Tintin-roi-de-belgique-en-mai-01.jpg

 

and Doug:

 

http://bookmunch.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/xed-out-03.jpg

 

though of course they have different coloured hair, and Tintin does happen to have a lot more than does Doug (at least at this point in the album).

Okay, maybe that was not the main reason why I picked up this album (or comic, though the term graphic novel probably best suits it) but rather because the album itself seemed to just be plain weird. I would suggest that the world of the comic book has entered into the era of the post modern, but in a way that had already happened with graphic novels such as [title: Fun House]. I could also suggest that they had also entered into the adult world, but then again adults have been reading comic books since they first hit the shelves.

So, where does that leave X'ed out. Well the novel does seem to jump back and forth between the world of the ordinary and the world of the unknown, and there also seems to be some seething mystery in the world of the ordinary because we are left wondering what it is that resulted in Doug being left in bed with a massive bandage wrapped his head and only four pills left. Further, what is that strange world that Doug inhabits at the beginning and the end of the novel, and what is it that happened to his girlfriend (the one that he dumped his other girlfriend for).

In many cases there seems to be a disconnect with regards to the reality in the comic, and in some cases it seems to follow the format of Fun Home, where the story does not have some definite beginning or end, but rather seems to act within some sort of circular form, as can be expected from the new form of literature. The story itself (and this is only part one, which is really annoying because the story does not come to some conclusion but is left on a cliff hanger, which seems to have annoyed some readers, though by glancing through the other commentaries there seems to be the strong suggestion that this is the nature of the work of Charles Burns) certainly has a beginning, but where the actually story begins not not necessarily all that clear in this album.

To me, this is certainly post-modern in style in the same way that Tintin is not only modernist in structure, but in some cases borders on the absurd. Further, we have the suggestion that with regards to the American comic book industry, it is only the modern era that the comics started to become dark and critical, and while Tintin is not necessarily dark, it can be very critical in many respects, though some of them had certainly bordered on the absurd (with the [book:Castafiore Emerald] something that you would expect to come out of the mind of [author:Tom Stoppard], at least in the years before he became corrupted by Hollywood).

As for this story, it seems to be bracketed, meaning that at the beginning and the end we have this strange dream world that Doug is exploring, and then we move from the dream world to the world where he is stuck in bed with only four pills left, and then from there to that world where he had come into contact with the photographer (though he seems to jump back and forth a bit). It is difficult to move much beyond that because, as mentioned, this novel seems to be only partly completed, and in a way, it also felt a little rushed, and somewhat confusing, however it is certainly on a level that is much greater than many of the other rubbish that you see around the place.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/920785952