Charles Burns’ most recent work of graphic fiction, X’ed Out (Pantheon, 2010) is testament to the ability of words and pictures combined to stand tall among the finest works of nonlinear prose.
Tribute to Burroughs
X’ed Out not only assumes the structurally complex qualities of postmodern literature, but also pays tribute to one of the movement’s early pioneers, namely William S. Burroughs.
In an annotated slideshow featuring scenes from X’ed Out, Burns provides intriguing and essential commentary explaining the primary influences in the first volume of his three-part series. The book simultaneously chronicles the ongoing events in the life of Doug, a young man with artistic aspirations, and the dreamscape inhabited by Doug’s alter ego, Nitnit. Burns explains,
The world where Nitnit lives is straight out of William S. Burroughs, populated by lizard-men and cyclopes. “Naked Lunch was originally called The Interzone—an agglomeration of places that Burroughs had visited, Mexico or New Orleans or Tangier,” Burns explains. “Where Nitnit is wandering is a reflection of that, vaguely Middle Eastern–looking but full of diverse elements, like punk-rock posters on the wall” (“Tintin gets scalped.” NYMag, October, 2010).
The above portrait was included as part of an Adam Baumgold Gallery exhibition in 2008 of Burns’ recent work. Burroughs is credited with having been one of the early innovators involved in literary experiments with fragmented narrative, in particular as embodied in the classic Naked Lunch. Burroughs’ approach was defined through the application of the cut-up technique. The cut-up approach has recently seen renewed notoriety, thanks to dj sampling and multimedia mashups. As early as the 1950s, Burroughs and Byron Gyson experimented with audio cut-ups using electromagnetic tape reels. Continue reading ‘“X’ed” Marks the Spot: Charles Burns’