Monday, 11 February 2008

The Murky World of Charles Burns

Comic writer/artist Charles Burns has been slowly gathering fans and art commissions for years now. His breakthrough work was the fascinating, un-nerving adolescence parable Black Hole, collected into graphic novel form a couple of years ago.

An interior spread from the book is shown here, giving you a good idea of his thickly inked, moody style.

Before Black Hole, he produced a number of shorter comics, which have been collected in three volumes by Fantagraphics.

Recently, however, he has started to get commissions for book covers. Two of the more notable ones are shown here. The first is his appropriately grisly cover for Upton Sinclair's muck-raking The Jungle, published as part of Penguin's Graphic Classics series (classic books with cover art done by great comics artists).

Then, late in 2007, he provided the cover for the Zadie Smith-edited story collection, The Book of Other People. The UK and the US versions use slightly different variations of his artwork. I think the UK version succeeds because of the cunning use of a "belly strap" which hides one of the more alarming 'other people'.

Here's the US version, by way of comparison.

And as a final offering, here's the man himself in a self-portrait from the inside flap of the Black Hole hardcover.

Not a man you'd accept a lift from on a dark night, but a great illustrator.

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