Abarat Insight

...Delving into the archives at Clive's house, it's always fascinating to come across early sketches and artwork that show how an idea can develop on its way to publication.
With thanks, as ever, to Clive, this page showcases another example of how the images and narrative of Abarat are formed and change in the process of creating the Abarat books...

Clive is never far from a pad of paper but when one's not to hand he sketches on whatever's available! He's constantly capturing dreams and other thoughts about plotlines and characters and his house has thousands of pages of notes and sketches to help him as he writes and paints. Occasionally, looking back through these can reveal images that have survived almost intact onto canvas for the Abarat books...

Clive Barker - Original drawing of Kaiaphar Clive Barker - Leeman Vol

...Instantly recognisable as Leeman Vol, Christopher Carrion's insect-loving henchman, Clive's original character sketch hints that his first Abaratian incarnation was to have been as Kaiaphar, "master of spies", capable of "Three whispers at the same time." Written alongside the sketch are Clive's character notes, that Kaiaphar is "Rotting away from spider poisons. False nose. False ear. Puts them on. They fall off."

Leeman Vol

Extract from Darkness and Anticipation, Abarat Book Two

Nothing about Vol was pleasant or pretty. He did not like the company of his fellow bipeds much, preferring to enjoy the fellowship of insects. This in itself had gained him a measure of infamy around the islands, not least because he bore on his face more than a few mementos of that intimacy. He had lost his nose to a spider many years before, the creature having injected his proboscis with a toxin so powerful that it had mortified the skin and cartilage in a few agonising minutes, leaving Vol with two slimy holes in the middle of his face. He had fashioned a leather nose for himself, which effectively masked the mutilation but still made him the target of taunts and whispers. Not that the nose was the sole reason that people talked about him. There were other facts about Vol's appearance and personal habits that made him noteworthy.
He had been born, for instance, with not one but three mouths, all lined with bright yellow teeth that he had meticulously sharpened to pinprick points. When he spoke, the mingling and interwoven sounds of those three mouths was uncanny. Grown men had been known to block their ears and leave the room sobbing because the sound put them so much in mind of their childhood nightmares. Nor was this second grotesquerie all the vileness that Vol could boast. He had claimed from his childhood that he knew the secret language of insects and that his three mouths allowed him to speak it.

...Next up, the picture below began life as a sketch in pen for a triptych depicting a street scene in Chickentown after the waters of the Abarat have overwhelmed the town. The central panel was selected - with typical humour - as showing both the absurdity and the reality of the flooded town. It was then worked both in pastel and in brush and ink before the final oil was painted...

Clive Barker - Original sketch of Chickentown under water

Clive Barker - Brush and ink working of Chickentown under water

Clive Barker - Pastel working of Chickentown under water

Clive Barker - Chickentown under water

Chickentown Under Water

Extract from The Sea Comes To Chickentown, Abarat Book Two

At one thirty-eight in the afternoon, the first wave from the Sea of Izabella entered the streets of Chickentown.
It swept through the street like a great cleansing river. It uprooted trees and picked up cars like toys. It wasn't strong enough to level brick houses, but it took off their roofs and it blew in the windows and smashed in the doors, entering without invitation to wash away the remains of lives that had been lived there. It sluiced the cereal off the kitchen table and the toothpaste oozing from the tube on the bathroom sink. It overturned the unmade beds and pitched the television against the wall. It emptied the closets and the cabinets and the goldfish bowl.
Street by street the waters of the Izabella took over the town, moving between the houses as though it were solving a puzzle, turning, turning, turning and coming to meet itself as it rounded another corner -

...Despite its rough sweeps in brush and ink, the sketch below is one of the most well-formed of Clive's ideas for the Abaratian islands, surviving in almost every detail as it is transformed from just an A4 sheet to a full-size oil on canvas...

Clive Barker - Original sketch of church with dragon-skull steeples

Clive Barker - Church with dragon-skull steeples

Church With Dragon-Skull Steeples

Extract from The Sea Comes To Chickentown, Abarat Book Two

With the tenderness of a loving mother, the waters carried the sleeping Candy through the channel between the Outer Islands of Autland and Efreet, protecting her from the bitter winds that howled around the latter island by calling up a current from thermal vents concealed in the coral shelves north of Qualm Hah. Occasionally Candy's eyes would flicker open and she would catch a glimpse of some sight that reminded her she was back in the Abarat... she sleepily opened her eyes to see that she was travelling past a rock on which there stood a church with twin steeples made of the skull of an immense dragon. She smiled to herself in her dreamy state. There was so much more to see, she thought. So much more to learn. So much more to be.

More Abarat insight...

Elathuria and Numa Child, The Wormwood
The Scattamuns, from acrylic to canvas
Mater Motley, a procession of sketches

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