Echo: A Book of Charles Burns Sketches

I recently purchased Echo: Cut-Up Drawings from Black Hole from Pigeon Press.


It's a book that sheds some light on how Charles Burns composed pages for his book Black Hole. From the product page:

"What is this? I took a bunch of pencil drawings from my comic Black Hole and taped them together and xeroxed them to make this book. When I "pencil" my comics I work in layers on sheets of tracing paper and build the drawings up by slowly refining and fixing them. Sometimes I get what I want in one or two tries, but that's rare..."

I love Burns' work, and I'd always been curious about his process. Just how does he make those insanely precise drawings?

Echo doesn't entirely answer that question. But it does offer a glimpse at the working process of the artist. I'd never seen anything other than his pristine, almost inhumanly precise finished work. Seeing his pencils alone has been quite illuminating. But seeing them in the context of the fractured, cut-and-paste environment in which Burns works is especially revealing.


Most fascinating to me is how much process there is in creating these drawings. They don't simply appear on the page, fully formed and perfect. There is a search for that perfection, and that search is long, complicated and messy.

And often beautiful.


I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of the deluxe version. It includes an original sketch from Black Hole, cut and taped into the book.


So it's official, I guess: I'm a Charles Burns fanboy. There are worse things to be.