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Charles Burns Books In Order

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Publication Order of Last Look Trilogy Books

Publication Order of Graphic Novels

Hardboiled Defective Stories (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Curse of the Molemen (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
El Borbah (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Skin Deep: Tales of Doomed Romance (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Black Hole (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Charles Burns IllustrationBooks

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Best American Comics 2007(2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Best American Comics(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon

Charles Burns
Charles Burns was born September 27, 1955. He grew up in Seattle during the 1970s. His work rose to prominence in Art Spiegelman’s Raw magazine during the mid-1980s and it took off from there, in an extraordinary range of projects and comics, from an ad campaign for Altoids to Iggy Pop album covers. He also did portrait illustrations for The Believer and his art was licensed by The Coca Cola Company in order to illustrate advertising and product material for their failed OK Soda product.

In 1992 he designed the sets for the restaging Mark Morris was doing of “The Nutcracker”, now renamed as “The Hard Nut”, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Charles illustrated covers for The New York Times Magazine, Time, and The New Yorker. He was also tapped as the official cover artist for The Believer magazine during its inception in the year 2003.

In 1994, he was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. “Black Hole” received Ignatz, Eisner, and Harvey awards in 2005.

“El Borbah” is a graphic novel that was released in 1987. Meet El Borbah, who is a 400 pound private eye that wear an eerie Mexican wrestler’s mask and tights. Subsisting totally on beer and junk food, he conducts his investigations with a short temper and tough talk. He smashes through skulls and doors while stalking a perfectly realized film noir city that is filled with mad scientists, geeks, punks, and business suited creeps.

“El Borbah” features five true detective and science fiction episodes. “Love in Vein” sees this mad visionary sperm donor planning a master race and turning “his” children against their parents. “Robot Love” features rebellious kids in nightclubs replacing their “parts” with mechanical substitutes as part of this new fad, just to find that their parents were automating themselves the whole time. “Bone Voyage” details a cult’s exploits, one known as the Brotherhood of the Bone, a sort of cross between the Mansons and the Masons.

The fantastic plots take up the weird fears of this scientific society, however the action is just pure pulp. Charles effortlessly spins yarns with gritty punchlines and pictures that are so perfect that they had to have existed in some collective memory of junk drama. Through all of it crashes El Borbah, attempting to just make a buck off dishonest people.

This is Charles’ earliest work, created during the 1980s, even though the work stays eerily contemporary. Steeped in a ‘sci-fi noir’ aesthetic informed by his own steadily childhood diet of B movies and comic books yet with a sophisticated sense of humor which is often just as disturbing as it is hilarious.

“Skin Deep” is a graphic novel that was released in 1992. “Skin Deep” includes Dog Boy, a popular Charles Burns character. He is a red blooded All-American boy with the transplanted heart of a dog, which got turned into a live action segment on MTV’s Liquid Television series.

“Big Baby” is a graphic novel that was released in 1999. Big Baby is Tony Delmonte (an especially impressionable young boy), who lives in this seemingly typical American suburb until the night he sneaks out of his room one night and gets tangled up in this horrific plot that involves backyard burials and summer camp murders.

Charles’ clinical precision as an artist adds this sinister chill to his droll sense of humor, and his affection for 20th century pulp fiction permeates through the entire novel, creating this brilliant narrative which perfectly captures the fear and unease of adolescence.

“Black Hole” is a graphic novel that was released in 2005. Suburban Seattle during the mid 1970s. We learn right off the bat that an odd plague has descended upon the teenagers in the area, transmitted by sexual contact. This disease has manifested in any number of ways: from the subtle (and concealable) to the hideously grotesque. However once you have it, that is it. There is no turning back.

While we inhabit the heads of multiple key characters: some kids that have it, some kids that are about to get it, and some that do not, what unfolds as a result is not the expected battle to fight this plague, or bring heightened awareness to it, or even treat it. What we become witness to instead is an eerie and fascinating portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself. The cruelty, the savagery, the relentless anxiety and ennui, that longing to just escape. And that is when the murders start.

Equally as horrifying as it is hypnotically beautiful, “Black Hole” transcends its genre by deftly exploring a specific American cultural moment in flux and the children that get caught in it. Way back when it was not quite cool to be a hippie any longer, yet Bowie was still just a little too weird. To say nothing about molting your skin and sprouting horns.

“X’ed Out” is a graphic novel that was released in 2010. Doug is having an odd night. This weird buzzing noise coming from the other side of the wall woke him up, and there, on the other side of the room, right next to this huge hole ripped out of the bricks, sits Inky, his beloved cat. Who died several years ago. Yet who is still nonetheless slinking out right through the hole, and is beckoning Doug to follow him.

What is going on? To say any more would just spoil the Burnsian and freaky fun, particularly since “X’ed Out”, unlike “Black Hole”, hasn’t been previously serialized, and every unnervingly meticulous panel is going to be more tantalizing than the last.

“The Hive” is a graphic novel that was released in 2012. A lot has happened since we last saw Doug, the Tintin like hero from “X’ed Out”. Doug, who confesses his past to this unidentified woman, struggles to remember that mysterious incident which left his life ruined. It’s an incident which might have involved Sarah, the disturbed and now-absent girlfriend and her menacing former boyfriend.

Doug is now warily seeking answers in a nightmarish alternate world which is a distorted mirror of ours, where he’s a lowly employee which carts supplies around the Hive.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Charles Burns

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