At the juncture of fiction and memory, of cheap thrills and horror, lies the dark world of Charles Burns. His stories, which first attracted notice in the pages of RAW during the early 1980s, take comic book clichés — wiseacre kids, sinister scientists, tough-as-nails detectives, teenage lust and EC-style horror — and rearrange them into disturbing yet funny patterns. Beneath this interplay of familiar iconography lurk the real traumas of childhood, traumas of loss and alienation.
Similarly, Burns' ice-cold artwork polishes a "conventional" comic look to the nth degree, underlying the artificiality of what we take for normal. At times, Burns's work suggests that our worst fears about mainstream comics are true: that they are stamped out by machines programmed by someone who is going slightly insane.
"The work of Charles Burns is a vision that’s both horrifying and hilariously funny, and which he executes with cold, ruthless clarity... It’s almost as if the artist... as if he weren’t quite..... human!" – R. Crumb
"Burns is a central figure in a generation of artists who have absorbed Pop Art and pop culture as integral a part of their work as any classical tradition." – Spin
"At once alluring and grotesque, Burns' imagery has been eagerly embraced by the counterculture, mainstream media, and a recalcitrant art world without ever compromising his strikingly singular aesthetic." – Juxtapoz