A cause for wonder in my early years, Tim Burton's films were unlike the other movies I saw as a little kid. Edward Scissorhands existed in the kind of world I recognized, but the reality was elevated, possibly my first glimpse into magical realism. Beetlejuice was possibly my first dark comedy. And Pee-Wee's Big Adventure introduced me to the character who would most influence everything for me (see tomorrow).
Despite commercial success, Burton is an auteur and a visual director inspired by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Grand Guignol, and the stop-motion of Ray Harryhausen. His early shorts (Vincent and Frankenweenie) were a glimpse into everything he would subsequently do. A few years ago he was given a retrospect of his work at MOMA which showcased everything he's done, including: the pictures he made as a boy, the frustrated drawings he would make all over his Disney animation pad, and the costumes, puppets, sets, and preliminary character sketches that defined his films - modern fairy tale masterpieces.
Tim Burton (young and brooding):