Charles Burns (cartoonist)

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Charles Burns
Charles Burns at the 2009 Comic Strip Festival of Sollies Ville, France, 2009
Born (1955-09-27) September 27, 1955 (age 68)
Washington, D.C., US
Area(s)Cartoonist, Writer, Artist
Notable works
Black Hole

Charles Burns (born September 27, 1955) is an American cartoonist and illustrator. His early work was published in a Sub Pop fanzine, and he achieved prominence in the early issues of RAW. His graphic novel Black Hole won the Harvey Award.



Charles Burns's earliest works include illustrations for the Sub Pop fanzine, and Another Room Magazine of Oakland, but he came to prominence when his comics were published for the first time in early issues of RAW, the avant-garde comics magazine founded in 1980 by Françoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman. In 1982, Burns did a die-cut cover for RAW #4. Raw Books also published two books of Burns as RAW One-Shots: Big Baby and Hard-Boiled Defective Stories.[1] In 1994, he was awarded a Pew Fellowships in the Arts.[2] In 1999, he showed at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.[3]

Most of Burns's short stories, published in various supports over the decades, were later collected in the three volumes of the "Charles Burns Library" (hardcovers from Fantagraphics Books): El Borbah (1999),[1] Big Baby (2000), and Skin Deep (2001). (A fourth and last volume, Bad Vibes, has yet to be published, which would have the Library collecting the entirety of his pre-Black Hole comics work. It was later stated that Burns did not feel there was enough material for a complete fourth volume.)[4]

From 1993 to 2004, he serialized the 12 chapters of his Harvey Award-winning graphic novel Black Hole (12 issues from Kitchen Sink Press and Fantagraphics Books). The series was collected into a single volume in 2005.[5] Black Hole was featured prominently in the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

In 2007 Burns contributed material for the French made animated horror anthology Fear(s) of the Dark.

In October 2010, Burns released the first part of a new series, X'ed Out.[4] Part two of the new trilogy, The Hive, was released in October 2012.[6] Sugar Skull, the final installment in the trilogy, was released Fall of 2014.[7] The series was collected into a single volume, Last Look, published by Pantheon in 2016.[8]


Burns's high-profile illustrations include album cover work for the Iggy Pop album Brick by Brick. His art was also licensed by The Coca-Cola Company to illustrate product and advertising material for their failed OK Soda product. More recently, he has worked on advertising campaigns for Altoids and portrait illustrations for The Believer. In the early 1990s, his Dogboy stories were adapted by MTV as a live-action serial for Liquid Television. In 1991, choreographer Mark Morris commissioned him to create illustrations that were then used as a basis for his version of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, The Hard Nut. Burns's style was a source of inspiration for Martin Ander's artwork for Fever Ray, Karin Dreijer Andersson's solo project.[9]


Comics and graphic novels[edit]

  • 1988 Hardboiled Defective Stories (Pantheon Books) ISBN 0394754417
  • 1991 Curse of the Molemen (Kitchen Sink Press) ISBN 0878161341
  • 1992 front cover of The Residents - Freak Show (Dark Horse Comics) ISBN 978-1569710012
  • 1995 Black Hole 1 (Kitchen Sink Press) ISBN 978-0878163373
  • 1995 Black Hole 2 (Kitchen Sink Press) ISBN 978-1606990308
  • 1996 Black Hole 3 (Kitchen Sink Press)
  • 1997 Black Hole 4 (Kitchen Sink Press)
  • 1998 Black Hole 5 (Fantagraphics Books)
  • 1998 Black Hole 6 (Fantagraphics Books) ISBN 978-1606990315
  • 1999 El Borbah (Fantagraphics Books) ISBN 1560973269
  • 2000 Big Baby (Fantagraphics Books) ISBN 1560973617
  • 2000 Black Hole 7 (Fantagraphics Books) ISBN 978-1606990322
  • 2000 Black Hole 8 (Fantagraphics Books) ISBN 978-1606990339
  • 2001 Skin Deep: Tales of Doomed Romance (Fantagraphics Books) ISBN 1560973900
  • 2001 Black Hole 9 (Fantagraphics Books) ISBN 978-1606990346
  • 2002 Black Hole 10 (Fantagraphics Books) ISBN 978-1606990292
  • 2003 Black Hole 11 (Fantagraphics Books)
  • 2004 Black Hole 12 (Fantagraphics Books)
  • 2010 X'ed Out (Pantheon Books) ISBN 978-0307379139
  • 2012 The Hive (Pantheon Books) ISBN 978-0307907882
  • 2014 Sugar Skull (Pantheon Books) ISBN 978-0307907905
    • 2016 Last Look (Pantheon Books) ISBN 978-0375715174; collects X'ed Out, The Hive and Sugar Skull
  • 2019 Dédales (Cornélius, France) ISBN 978-2360811649
  • 2021 Dédales 2 (Cornélius, France) ISBN 978-2360811892
  • 2023 Dédales 3 (Cornélius, France) ISBN 978-2360812080

Illustration books[edit]


  • 1990 Defective Stories (A.P.A.A.R, France)


  1. ^ a b El Borbah / Hard-Boiled Defective Stories at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  2. ^ "Artist Profile: The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage". Archived from the original on 2013-09-09. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
  3. ^ "Charles Burns". 1999-12-05. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
  4. ^ a b "Charles Burns is "X'ed Out"". Comic Book Resources. 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
  5. ^ Burns, Charles (2005). Black Hole. Pantheon. ISBN 9780375423802.
  6. ^ "The Hive by Charles Burns « Knopf Doubleday - Graphic Novels". 2012-06-13. Archived from the original on 2013-03-05. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
  7. ^ "Burns's 'Sugar Skull' debuts first image". Digital Spy. 15 November 2013.
  8. ^ "Last Look by Charles Burns: 9780375715174 | Books".
  9. ^ Willens, Max (28 September 2009). "Fever Ray Likes Google Image Search, Has No Master Plan". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2011.


External links[edit]