Charles Burns

You wake in a strange room. But it seems familiar. The wood paneling reminds you of childhood. Your head hurts; you can’t remember anything. Hey—there’s your cat from when you were a kid! Where’s it going? Through a hole that leads you, Alice-like, into a phantasmagoric underworld. And there, amid the talking lizard-people and giant red-spotted eggs, are traces of your other life, the one you’re trying to remember. What happened that night, the night you met that girl? Welcome to the imagination of Charles Burns, who’s beginning a new comic series with X’ed Out (Pantheon, $19.95). The Seattle native, now living in Philadelphia, shifts his story between two realms. We can recognize the late ’70s punk scene of Pop-Tarts, bondage-photo Polaroids, jealous boyfriends, and Patti Smith albums. But is it real? Or should our protagonist, Doug, pay more credence to what the lizard people are telling him? On which side is it safer to wake? And which might restore what’s been x’ed out of his skull? We should have a new volume in about a year to answer some of those questions. And raise others. BRIAN MILLER

Sat., Oct. 30, 6 p.m., 2010

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