Page 45 Review by Stephen
What didnt I tell her?
What parts of the story did I leave out?
I wanted to tell her everything. I wanted to tell her the truth.
And I tried
I really did.
The book of nightmares continues. The first instalment, XED OUT, freaked me out, playing fears that feature frequently in my dreams: food you really shouldnt eat, holes that shouldnt be there, getting hopelessly and helplessly lost only to be misled further by strangers. I dont know what happened to the missing stairs, filthy latrines and my teeth falling out on the floor. Maybe theyll be in book three.
Still, theres more of that here in Dougs head where he delivers romance comics on a metal trolley to bedridden female patients, pushing the cart down endless, roughly hewn tunnels in a semi-industrial warren prone to unseen accidents that render certain off-limit areas toxic. Apparently there was screaming in the late hours last night. It came from Cindys cubicle, and it went on for hours
until it stopped.
Meanwhile in his waking world, Doug is recalling his courtship with raven-haired Sarah: a stroll in windswept, autumn-leafed park where they picked up sixties romance comics from an old man at the flea market. Sarah was delighted at the find. Doug bought her the lot, and it bought him a kiss.
You know what? That was really sweet of you. I know you think these are stupid, but
but wait.. heres where you stop and kiss me
just like they do in the comics.
My kiss was awkward and clumsy, recalls Doug. But she made up for it
She made it perfect.
The evening too seemed perfect, a simple dinner together back at Sarah and Nickys. Nicky was out, at band practice. But Sarah
Sarah is a little more fragile than she looks.
Theres more about the buzzer and the threatening voice behind it, as well as Dougs stage performances behind a Tintin mask. More of Dougs Dad too. Oh yes, and those photographs.
But its the romance comics that particularly fascinated me this time: the search for missing issues, and speculation on what must have happened in the gap. For those of us reading comics before the birth of the collected edition thats got to ring bells, as well as dreams in which you finally fill your gaps at a second-hand stall gaps that in real life might never have existed. The comics are in Japanese so its even more difficult to fathom what happened, and theyre drawn unmistakably by John Romita Sr. Burns nails both the composition and the mans brush strokes. The hair is quite perfect.
For those vaguely mystified for this somewhat allusive and, yes, elusive review, please see X-ED OUT. Or indeed Burns most famous, self-contained work, BLACK HOLE: he really is the very best at body horror.