Today we are publishing my interview with Charles Burns, in which we discuss Sugar Skull, his slow working methods, learning not to censor himself, and much more. Here’s a sample:
That was another thing [Todd] Hignite included in that In the Studio book — it has a bunch of different drafts you did of a picture of a ghoul, I don’t know what it actually is.
Sure, yeah. That’s it, I forgot. That’s actually a fairly good — that’s just a single image for a cover, but it would be similar for working a page. Breaking down a page and figuring it out. But that’s kind of the way I work.
What was amazing about to me was how much it changed and it’s not like it ever was a bad drawing, but in some ways the early version was just so different and so less interesting than where you ended up at in the end. I know that’s the goal, but it still almost feels like you have to have faith in your own ability to eventually get it right – you don’t worry about too much at first.
That’s something really important, for me anyway. And that’s the way that I write as well. It’s not sitting down at a keyboard and writing a script and thinking, oh shit, what’s the next line? I sit with cheap notebooks or cheap sketchbooks and just fill them up with ideas and maybe pieces of dialogue and bits and pieces. I keep circulating through all those notes. Go back to those notes. So nothing feels cut in stone or permanent. It all feels like it’s open and I can move in any direction that I want.
It’s starting with a lot of information and slowly, slowly distilling it down to something that’s concrete. So maybe that says something about my personality that I’m very cautious and very careful about all that stuff, but I don’t have the kind of brain that can sit down and write beautiful dialogue and a beautiful story. There’s people who certainly can do that work really quickly and just do amazing work, but I don’t have that facility unfortunately. I wish I did, but I don’t.
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