Charles Burns

Seattle-raised cartoonist Charles Burns ended his X'ed Out with a cliffhanger two years ago. Now that hallucinatory saga continues with The Hive (Pantheon, $21.95), the second part of a projected trilogy, in which amnesiac protagonist Doug finds himself working for surly lizard people, trying to remember his past from within their strange ovoid factory, where captive women work as breeders. Somewhere between dreaming and remembering, Doug is doubly confronted with bodily horrors, the repulsion of sex, the death of his father, and comic-book echoes of the story he keeps trying to recall. Burns fills his parallel tales with more references to Tintin, pregnancy scares, and organic grotesquerie of the sort that pre-coma, punk rock Doug hoped to achieve with his spoken-word performances. Perhaps it took a head wound to make him a successful artist? Coma Doug and pre-accident Doug are both intent on solving the mystery of how and where they came to be. The Hive pushes them both forward on an interior journey, like the figure of dreaming Doug on his mattress, floating down a fetid green river, covered by a pink blanket that offers no warmth or security. Burns is joined tonight by fellow artists Gabrielle Bell and Tom Kaczynski. On Sunday, from noon to 3 p.m., he'll be sampling the Blight Pumpkin Ale—inspired by his graphic novel Black Hole—at the Elysian Brewing Company on Capitol Hill. And he also also appears on Monday at Town Hall with Chris Ware (8 p.m., $5.) BRIAN MILLER

Sat., Oct. 20, 6 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 21, 3 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 22, 8 p.m., 2012

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