Clive Barker (born 5 October 1952) is an English author, film director and visual artist.
Barker was born in Liverpool, England
, the son of Joan Rubie (née Revill), a painter and school welfare officer, and Leonard Barker, a personnel director for an industrial relations firm. Educated at the same schools as John Lennon: Dovedale County Primary and Quarrybank. He studied English and philosophy at Liverpool University
. Barker lives in Los Angeles
with his partner of 17 years, photographer David Emilian Armstrong and Armstrong's daughter Nicole from a previous relationship.
In 2003, Clive Barker received The Davidson/Valentini Award at the 15th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. This award is presented "to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individual who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for any of those communities". While Barker is critical of organized religion, he has stated that he is a believer in both God and the Bible, and that the Christian message influences his work.
Clive Barker had said, "I want to be remembered as an imaginer, someone who used his imagination as a way to journey beyond the limits of self, beyond the limits of flesh and blood, beyond the limits of even perhaps life itself, in order to discover some sense of order in what appears to be a disordered universe. I'm using my imagination to find meaning, both for myself and, I hope, for my readers."
Barker is one of the leading authors of contemporary horror
, writing in the horror genre early in his career, mostly in the form of short stories (collected in Books of Blood
1 - 6), and the Faustian
novel The Damnation Game
). Later he moved towards modern-day fantasy and urban fantasy
with horror elements in Weaveworld
), The Great and Secret Show
), the world-spanning Imajica
) and Sacrament
), bringing in the deeper, richer concepts of reality, the nature of the mind and dreams, and the power of words and memories. His most recent novel (2007) is Mister B. Gone
Barker's distinctive style is characterized by the notion of hidden fantastical worlds coexisting with our own, the role of sexuality in the supernatural and the construction of coherent, complex and detailed universes. Barker has referred to this style as "dark fantasy" or the "fantastique". His stories are notable for a deliberate blurring of the distinction between binary opposites such as hell and heaven, or pleasure and pain (the latter particularly so in 'The Hellbound Heart').
When the Books of Blood were first published in the United States in paperback, Stephen King was quoted on the book covers: "I have seen the future of horror, his name is Clive Barker. A critical analysis of Barker's work appears in S. T. Joshi's The Modern Weird Tale. (2001)
Barker has a keen interest in movie production, although his films have received mixed receptions. He wrote the screenplays for Underworld
- 1985) and Rawhead Rex
(1986), both directed by George Pavlou
and matched with little critical success.. Displeased by how his material was handled, he moved to directing with Hellraiser
(1987), based on his novella The Hellbound Heart
. His early movies, the shorts The Forbidden
, are experimental art movies with surrealist elements, which have been re-released together to moderate critical acclaim. After his film Nightbreed
(Cabal), which was widely considered to be a flop, Barker returned to write and direct Lord of Illusions
. Barker was an executive producer of the film Gods and Monsters
, which received major critical acclaim. He had been working on a series of movie adaptations of his The Abarat Quintet
books under Disney's management, but has admitted that because of creative differences, this project will not go ahead. He is also developing a film based on his Tortured Souls
line of toys from McFarlane Toys
In October 2006, Barker announced through his official website that he will be writing the script to a forthcoming remake of the original Hellraiser movie.
A short story titled "The Forbidden", from Barker's Books of Blood, provided the basis for the film Candyman and its two sequels.
Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura directed the 2008 film Midnight Meat Train from Jeff Buhler's screenplay based on Barker's short story of the same name for Lakeshore Entertainment and Lionsgate.
A movie is planned of his 'Book of Blood' short story, to be filmed in 2007. Also he will write and produce upcoming films Born, The Thief of Always and other future projects.
Visual art and plays
Barker is a prolific visual artist working in a variety of media, often illustrating his own books. His paintings have been seen first on the covers of his official fan club magazine, Dread, published by Fantacoin
the early Nineties, as well on the covers of the collections of his plays, Incarnations
(1995) and Forms of Heaven
(1996), as well as on the second printing of the original UK publications of his Books of Blood
series. His artwork is currently exhibited at Bert Green Fine Art in Los Angeles, CA, and in the past has also been shown at the Bess Cutler Gallery in New York and La Luz De Jesus in Los Angeles. Many of his sketches and paintings can be found in the collection Clive Barker, Illustrator
, published in 1990 by Arcane/Eclipse Books, and in Visions of Heaven and Hell, published in 2005 by Rizzoli Books. His official site has an extensive online gallery of his artwork.
He also worked on the creative side of a horror computer game, Clive Barker's Undying, providing the voice for the character Ambrose. Undying was developed by DreamWorks Interactive and released in 2001. Barker also provided the artwork for his young adult novel The Thief of Always (1992) as well as the Abarat series. Barker announced in July 2006 that he has returned to the video game industry, working on Clive Barker's Jericho for Codemasters which was released in late 2007.
A longtime comics fan, Barker achieved his dream of publishing his own superhero books when Marvel Comics
launched the Razorline
imprint in 1993. Based on detailed premises, titles and lead characters he created specifically for this, the four interrelated titles — set outside the Marvel universe — were Ectokid
(written first by James Robinson
, then by future Matrix
co-creator Larry Wachowski
, with art by Steve Skroce), Hokum & Hex
(written by Frank Lovece
, art by Anthony Williams
(written by Fred Burke, art by Paris Cullins and Bob Petrecca) and Saint Sinner
(written by Elaine Lee
, art by Max Douglas). A 2002 Barker telefilm titled Saint Sinner
bore no relation to the comic.
Barker horror adaptations and spin-offs in comics include the Marvel/Epic series Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Pinhead, The Harrowers, Book of the Damned and Jihad; Eclipse Books' series and graphic novels Tapping The Vein, Dread, Son of Celluloid, Revelations The Life of Death, Rawhead Rex and The Yattering and Jack, and Dark Horse Comics' Primal, among others. In addition, Clive Barker also served as a consultant and wrote issues of the Hellraiser anthology comic book.
In 2005, IDW published a three-issue adaptation of Barker's children's fantasy novel The Thief of Always, written and painted by Kris Oprisko and Gabriel Hernandez. IDW is also currently publishing a 12 issue adaptation of Barker's novel The Great and Secret Show.
In December 2007, Chris Ryall and Clive Barker announced an upcoming collaboration of an original comic book series, Torakator, to be published by IDW.
Quotes about Barker
"To call Clive Barker a 'horror novelist' would be like calling the Beatles a 'garage band'... He is the great imaginer of our time. He knows not only our greatest fears, but also what delights us, what turns us on, and what is truly holy in the world. Haunting, bizarre, beautiful. These are words we can use to describe Clive Barker only until we invent new, more fitting adjectives." -Quentin Tarantino
"I think Clive Barker is so good that I am literally tongue-tied. He makes the rest of us look like we’ve been asleep for the past ten years." -Stephen King
"A powerful and fascinating writer with a brilliant imagination... an outstanding storyteller" -JG Ballard
"Barker is one of the few writers who has altered an entire field: more than anyone since Lovecraft, he has changed the shape, the corporeality of horror." -China Miéville
- (1991) Cliver Barker's Shadows in Eden A collection of essays written by multiple authors and friends of Barkers discussing production on his movies and intersperced with early sketches and drawings. Edited by Stephen Jones.
- (2002) Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic by Douglas E. Winter