I didn’t get that either and wondered if I had to pay more attention to the intercom on my next read-through (I read Sugar Skull without revisiting the first two books). The intercom makes the same noise as the one we hear when Nitnit is first made aware of the world on the other side of his wall— maybe the protagonist is being drawn back to the real world at the end of Sugar Skull in the same way that he’s letting himself go further into his dreams at the beginning of X’ed Out.
I just finished Charles Burns’ Sugar Skull, which came out today and which was a great ending to its trilogy. I’m going to spoil it.
I had read a preview of the book a few weeks ago that said people like me who had been following Burns’ new odyssey from the beginning wouldn’t have as good a time as those who discovered the books recently and were able to read all three in quick succession. That isn’t true for any comic, but especially not for this one, and the ways Sugar Skull played off of the five or six years since X’ed Out and the two since The Hive are incredible. In this way it’s one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever read.
The first time I read X’ed Out I didn’t pick up on any of it, but the second time, read a few months later, I found that the book was full of abortion imagery. The fetuses and half-formed egg things and rivers of blood with bones inside had made sense as standalone images, but I hadn’t put them together, maybe because I had been so excited to have a new Charles Burns book that I just read it as quickly as I could. But it was there. And it continued in The Hive. And it continues in this book, until it doesn’t and we see that the character that Burns’ background details have been telling us has had an abortion has instead had the baby and this baby is an adolescent now. I needed to have the time between picking up on the abortion themes and now, today, years later, for the reveal to hit as hard as it did. I had been preparing myself for the reverse of this reveal for four years.
Another thing that hit hard and that I needed the distance to appreciate— the origins of the main character’s visual art. We spend years thinking it’s as honest an expression of his feelings as his audio art is, and then in a couple panels we get those notions jerked away and we find out he’s just trying to be like his girlfriend’s ex. It’s just a bunch of insecurities. The book ends a dozen pages after we learn this.
Sugar Skull is part of a series even better than Black Hole and, I say this with no hyperbole, pure genius.
IDAHO IS BIG POTATO COUNTRY
Idaho had a bunch of postcards centered around potatoes (obviously) when I went as a kid in 1994 or 1995, and I collected them all. And this was one of them. Strangers could punch me in the face all day and I’d still be happy.
Marge vs. the Monorail vs. The Music Man
Hypnotic Influence Eyes