I dreamt about highschool last night. I wonder if this gn had anything to do with it?
It's the 1970's in suburban Seattle and a new STD is making the rounds. It's not like the STDs that you can typically cover. This can manifest itself in giving you a tail, extra mouths, webbed hands, facial deformity etc. (Wow! Come to think of it the hardcore bible belters may use this to scare teens off sex before marriage!)
Our story concentrates mostly on Keith and Chris. Keith is a nice run of the mill guy, who hangs out with his friends smoking pot among other things. He pretty much hates his teenage existence. He is searching for something, but he's not sure what.
Chris is in his biology class and she is the object of his affections. She too, is a nice girl, if more popular than Keith.
One night at a party Chris finds herself attracted to Rob. They both drink heavily and head out to the cemetery for an intimate moment. Right before they have sex, Rob tries to warn Chris about something, but she shushes him and continues on. Soon after, Chris is showing symptoms.
I think this is more a story about what it is like to be in high school than it is a sexual warning. Burns has captured those manic highs and lows where every outcast feels like a leper, and falling in love happens fast. I'm not sure that I would have enjoyed this as a teen...it may have creeped me out. There are quite a few full frontal pictures, and the deformations are the kind of things that make my skin creepy crawly.
That said, the starkness of the black and white is stunning, and the bold style of the illustrations suit the story perfectly. Some of the art reminded my of the Bongwater album, Too Much Sleep. Upon checking, that artwork was done by Jim Shaw. It's got that same yearbook thing happening.
Overall, I really enjoyed this gn. I sat down and read it in a short period of time, and was very satisfied. I am glad I didn't read it in comic form, simply because the waiting would have been difficult!