Tim Burtonby Hannah Carter, contributing writer

Tim Burton, director, producer, artist, writer, and poet, turns 56 today. The California native was born in Burbank in 1958. He attended Burbank High School and went on to California Institute of the Arts, where he studied character animation.

Burton started making stop motion films at a relatively young age. One of his oldest known films is The Island of Doctor Agor, which he made when he was only 13. He continued making short films into his college years, including Stalk of the Celery Monster and King and Octopus.

Burton has created countless original characters in his drawings, paintings, poems, stories, shorts, and full-length films. He has also re-imagined such beloved classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland.

A popular theory among Burton fans

A popular theory among Burton fans

In the 1980s, Burton decided to tackle the film adaptation of the Batman comics. He directed both Batman (released in 1989) and Batman Returns (released in 1992). The original script Burton got for Batman was more akin to the campy 1960s television series than he cared for. He wanted to add depth and gravitas to Batman’s story, giving Bruce Wayne a more psychologically complex character. This opened the door for the complexity and darkness woven into Bruce Wayne’s personality in the Batman Begins franchise, qualities that many fans have come to love even more than the silly antics in the original television series.

Tim Burton’s ability to flawlessly blend the macabre, the melancholy, and the gruesome with beauty, love, and laughter has made him world famous. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art dedicated an exhibition hall, outdoor space, and an entire gift shop to Burton’s art, stories, characters, and movies (pictures in the slideshow below). There is an endless supply of groups, websites, fan art, fan fiction, fan-made characters, and cosplay guides dedicated to Tim Burton’s characters, from the well-known to the more obscure. There are even fan theories about the characters in Burton’s stop-motion films. One in particular is that Frankenweenie (2012), Corpse Bride (2005), and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) are all one story.  This lines up with a quote from Tim Burton himself: “Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Not necessarily in that order.”

We at SCIFI.radio wish Tim Burton a very happy birthday and many more years of fantastic creativity to come!

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