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Clive Barker: An Icon For Halloween

“I’m confident in my own complexity and that really interests me, because of the ambiguities of sexuality, the ambiguities of metaphysics and the metaphysics of sexuality are things which hugely influence what I write. So there are gay characters in my fiction, who haven’t really appeared in horror fiction before, except for the occasional lesbian vampire. And there are sexual transformations in my fiction. Horror fiction, fantastique fiction, as a whole hasn’t taken on board sexual radicalism whatsoever… There’s no sense that the sexual in all its ambiguities and complexities has a place in fantasy. I think as kids we are polymorphously perverse. We see the world as being full of tactile and potential sensual experiences, which are at root sexual, but also about pleasure in all its diversities… we get educated out of that… We get told we have to be this way or that and preferably this! And then what happened for me was that I discovered, in imaginative fiction, you can construct scenarios in which all those barriers are broken down again.”

Happy Halloween…today, we give you Clive Barker!

Clive Barker was born near Penny Lanes, Liverpool in 1952. After attending junior school in that city, he entered Liverpool University to study English Literature and Philosophy. At twenty-one, Clive moved to London. There he formed a theater company to perform the plays that he was writing and worked in that medium throughout his twenties as a writer, director, and actor. Many of these early plays contained the fantastical, erotic and horrific elements that would later become part of his literary work. They include: History of the Devil, Frankenstein in Love, Subtle Bodies, The Secret Life of Cartoons, and a play about his favorite painter, Goya, entitled Colossus. HarperPrism has put together The History of the Devil, Frankenstein In Love, and Colossus in a collection entitled Incarnations.

The imaginative qualities that were such a fundamental part of Clive’s theatrical work found their first literary outlet in the short fiction to which he turned in his late twenties. The first published examples of these tales are Book of Blood, Volumes 1-3. They saw only modest success in the U.K., but with the publication of the book in the United States and the appearance of his first novel, The Damnation Game, he began to find favor with readers and critics alike.

Three more volumes followed, published in the U.K. as the Book of Blood, Volumes 4-6, and retitled in America as The Inhuman Condition, In the Flesh, and Cabal. By this point many of his books were finding their ways into translation, and now appear in over a dozen language.

In 1987, following the adaptation of two of his stories for the movies (Rawhead Rex and Transmutations, both of which he disliked), he decided to direct something himself. The result was Hellraiser, based on a novella called The Hellbound Heart. The film developed a cult following and has since spawned several lines of comic books as well as three movies sequels: Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (directed by Tony Randal), Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (directed by Tony Hickox) and Hellraiser: Bloodline. Subsequently, Clive adapted his short story Cabal into Nightbreed, which he also directed.

After the publication of the novels Weaveworld and The Great and Secret Show, several Barker-related publications appeared: graphic art adaptations of his short story called “Tapping the Vein” and two large format covering his art work called Clive Barker: Illustrator, Volume I and II.

The epic fantasy novel Imajica followed, then an illustrated children’s fable called The Thief of Always, a line of superhero comics for Marvel called “Razorline”, and a one-man art show at the Bess Cutler Gallery in New York where his work is still being displayed.

Clive has served as Executive Producer on the film Candyman (directed by Bernard Rose) which was based on his short story, “The Forbidden” and on Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh (directed by Bill Condon).

Most recent, Clive published Galilee, Everville, the sequel novel to The Great and Secret Show, Second Book of the Art, and Sacrament, a dark fantasy for all ages. His most recent film project was Lord of Illusions, which he wrote, directed and co-produced. Projects currently in development are: an animated feature based on The Thief of Always, a mini-series Weaveworld, and an interactive computer game called Extosphere.

Though Clive has moved to Los Angeles and is now involved with several projects for both the large and small screen, his first love remains books. He number amongst his literary influences the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Herman Meville, William Blake, Will Burroughs, Arthur Machen and both the old and new testaments.

About himself, Clive writes: “My enthusiasm as an artist is rooted not in any particular medium, but in the act of imagining. My books, films, drawings and plays, thought they may seem to be very disparate in content, are still mapping out different parts of the same landscape: that is to say, the world between my ears, I am motivated to write or paint by the images and scenes which arise from my subconscious, without invitation, which seems on closer inspection to dramatize elements of my deeper self.

I am a Jungian, not a Freudian. I believe that a collective unconscious–a pool of shared images and stories which all humanity is heir to–exist, and the artist dealing in the fantastique is uniquely placed, in that he or she can create stories or paintings which dramatize the eruption of the unconscious into our day to day lives.

I’ve pointed out many times that we spend one-third of our lives asleep. During the adventure of dreaming, we are making both a private investigations into our hopes and fears and also swimming in the dream pool, which we share with the rest of our species.

I hope that the fiction I write will empower us to both comprehend our secret dream selves and understand the profound intimacy we share with every other human being.”

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