The Dark Fantastic

By Douglas E. Winter

The Dark Fantastic - UK 1st editionClive Barker : The Dark Fantastic - US trade edition

"Someone's doing a biography of me now, and I've said on a number of occasions that it's an interesting thing, doing a biography about somebody who really pours their subconscious into their work, because you wonder what there is to discover. It's sort of there on the page. It's just encoded. I've just changed the names to protect the guilty."

Imp Of The Perverse

By Sean K. Smith, LA Village View, 25-31 August 1995

"I know that Doug Winter is close to completion on the Clive Barker Companion book. That's all I know. One doesn't want to push too hard at this time. I know how I feel when I'm getting close to finishing a book. I have my head huddled down, keeping my head below the parapets. I know it's a big book and an ambitious project. I did hear a rumour that he was close to completion. Nobody on this planet has the grasp that Doug Winter has on my history and my connections in the theatre and how the cinema works. He's spoken to all those people in my past, more people than anyone else. He's spoken to my parents, my brother, my work mates in England and those here. He's really involved himself in my work practices. He just has a really great grasp on who Clive Barker is."


By [Stephen Dressler and Cheryl Bentzen],Lost Souls, Issue 10, June 1998

"I think the only question we have right now is the length of the manuscript and if we'll be able to run the entire [unpublished] story. But if the publishers don't mind putting this story in, which I wrote when I was 16, I think it'd be great to have it in there. Doug has the permission to use it and all, I think it is just a question whether this book turns out to be 900 pages and the publishers go, 'Wait a second.' But Doug certainly has the story."


By Craig Fohr and Kelly Shaw, Lost Souls, March 2001 (note - interview took place 14 December 2000)

"I had a huge amount of interaction, over many years [with Doug]. Doug has known me a long time, he's known my parents - he knew my dad - he's knows my brother, he's gone and interviewed people I didn't even know were still alive. The job that he did I think is amazing...
"You should check it out, it's very rich and very layered, because Doug comes at it as both a critic and a friend. So there are portions of the book that are as if he were reviewing my life as a book. Those portions given over to reviewing the book are in sort of one language, a writerly language. And the other is Doug as my friend, analyzing how I got from where I was to where I am and trying to project where I will be. My journey with Doug has been a fascinating one and I look forward to it continuing."


By Craig Fohr, Lost Souls, 22 February 2002 (note - online at

"I hope that the interesting thing about the book is that it does offer a very truthful portrait of a man who is sort of juggling and trying to work out paths on a spiritual level as he works out a path on an artistic level. I think that what Doug caught was that many of my arguments with myself are metaphysical arguments, spiritual arguments. Debate, confusion, depression. And I've never really hidden any of that stuff, my sexuality or, pretty much, the details of my life. When people asked, and they were the kind of people who legitimately wanted to know, like your good selves, I've never hidden anything - why would I? The interesting thing is seeing Doug put all of that stuff between two covers and I think he's done a brilliant job, an amazing job. I'm amazed at what I've seen some people say about me and I've thought, 'Well, at least now I know.'"

Open Roads... What Price Wonderland?

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 3 April 2002 (note - full text here)

"My father passed away about three years ago, and what's cool is that Doug was able to talk to my father as research before he died. My dad's voice is very strong in the book, and it's nice to have that voice on record.
"Is it strange to have a biography out there about yourself? Yes, but it's also flattering. And the book is truthful. It's not always easy to read about the mistakes you've made in your life, but we all make them."

Saint Clive

By Chris Wyatt and Anthony C. Ferrante, Cinescape, Issue 66 and 67, November / December 2002

...other comments

Doug Winter: "Hopefully my book about Clive Barker will be published next year. I delivered a long first draft to HarperCollins last year, and I'm turning now to the final version. It's much more biographical than my book on Stephen King,and hopefully I've matured as a writer in the years since Art of Darkness, so that the book will be even more enjoyable... The book is tentatively titled Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic."

Omni Chat

Transcript of an online chat at conducted by Ed Bryant,1 May 1997

Doug Winter: "Actually I was working on it last week. I just finished the Sacrament chapter and I'm now going back to do all the revisions. I'm hoping to turn it in within the next couple of months. Hopefully HarperCollins will bring out the book in 1998. I've tracked down some real interesting things for the book. I've interviewed a lot of people for this book. In England, you know, people would say, 'Oh, I thought you might like to look at this', and then they'd whip out this piece of artwork that Clive did when he was 13 years old. Clive had thought it had disappeared. So far I've discovered two manuscripts that Clive thought no longer existed. One was a novel he wrote and the other was a short story. I found what may be the only existing copy of "Humphri", which was the magazine that Clive created when he was in school. I'm trying to persuade the fellow who has it to allow photographic plates to be made. It would be something to reproduce as a little book because it's really pretty amazing. But, it's incredibly fragile. I've interviewed people from the Dog Company. They'd ask me if this thing they had with hundreds of old Clive doodles on it was worth anything."

Revelations of an Editor

By [Stephen Dressler and Cheryl Bentzen],Lost Souls, Issue 9, November 1997

Doug Winter: "I've written a biography and critical study of novelist, artist and filmmaker Clive Barker, which should be published within the year."

A Conversation With Douglas Winter

Transcript of an online chat at, 1999

Doug Winter: "My biography and critique, Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic, will appear in February 2001 from HarperCollins. It's a fine monster of a book, about twice the length of my text on Stephen King, and I think it's going to delight Clive's fans - and open the eyes (and, hopefully, the minds) of readers generally."

Douglas E. Winter: Offering Revelation

By Paula Guran, at, April 2000

Doug Winter: "People like Clive and Stephen King reach an extraordinary number of readers and television viewers and moviegoers, far more than the number reached by the very talented writers who are considered 'literary' but who publish to a much smaller audience. There clearly is something important in what they do. We're talking about novels that have ideas, that echo current anxieties or fantasies or metaphysical dilemmas, and that hopefully do so while telling a good story. That makes these people very powerful influences on our social, political and metaphysical thought."

The Relaunch of Clive Barker

By Jeff Zaleski, Publishers Weekly, 1 October 2001

Peter Ross: "Barker is clearly a fascinating man, and a biography of him is probably overdue. Douglas E Winter's forthcoming The Dark Fantastic does the job and then some. A huge and comprehensive book, it is a bizarre mix of detailed critical commentary on the work, and revelatory insight into Barker's life, stretching from the childhood of his parents right up to his current incarnation as the city of angels' leading dreamer of devils. Barker completely endorses the book - Winter is a friend - and gave hours of extremely frank interviews."

Animal Instinct

By Peter Ross,Sunday Herald, Scotland, 18 November 2001

Revelations: "This oft-delayed Barker critical analysis / biography has finally made it to UK shops just in time for Christmas 2001, with the US edition out in July 2002. With one or two reservations, we'd say it's been well worth the wait.
"Winter appears to have undertaken extensive interviews with just about anyone who's anyone in Barker's past and present; time-consuming research which has enabled him to pepper the biography with asides and footnotes which enhance the overall collection. The Dark Fantastic is clearly the work of someone who cares deeply about Barker and his work; a subjectivity to which Winter admits in his foreword, and which is perhaps among the book's most interesting aspects rather than being to its detriment.
"As well as chapters covering Barker's early life and chapters on each of the novels and films, it includes the complete text of a never-before-published short story ('The Wood On The Hill' from 1966) and glimpses into additional unpublished stories and plays. It also has a fascinating Abarat preview chapter, notable for its freshness in an upcoming projects section that is otherwise hampered by the timing of the book's publication, some eighteen months after delivery of the main text.
"The text presents information chronologically and gathers together an enormous number of facts and quotes. But... (and as self-confessed obsessives maybe we're not the best people to judge) given the unparallelled access that Winter has clearly had, the lack of much new information is a surprise.
"There are certainly several gems that make the book a 'must-have' - for example, it really excels in its chapters on Underworld and Rawhead Rex (Winter having secured the first real interview with George Pavlou) and those on The Secret Life Of Cartoons and Chiliad. In other areas, however, subjects are dealt with disappointingly quickly - the four (soon to be five) Hellraiser sequels get just six pages (lifted from Winter's Hellraiser history published by Fangoria back in 1992) and Nightlives only warrants a single paragraph.
"A heavy proportion of the book's heavy page count is devoted to detailed synopses of each book, film and play. The critical analysis that follows each synopsis intrigued us in places but elsewhere seemed that much of Winter's thunder had already been stolen by Barker's self-analysis in 1999's The Essential Clive Barker. The Everville chapter, meanwhile, crosses the fine line between academic endeavour and analysis in blind superlatives...
"Long in the gestation, The Dark Fantastic is, of course, a hugely welcome addition to our shelves and reveals the influences and dilemmas of a hugely creative mind.
"Look out for a limited edition produced by Cemetery Dance Publications which promises specially commissioned Barker artwork - and possibly other extras not in the regular mass-market edition. This has been delayed repeatedly from an original publication date of January 2002 back to the end of 2009* - now long after the original trade editions..."

Revelations Review

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, December 2001

*Note - still not published and now (2012) removed from CD's slate.

Doug Winter: "After his success with his fiction initially there was an opportunity to be able to illustrate the covers to subsequent editions of the Books of Blood and to do some other graphic art work for book covers illustrating his own work, illustrating that of others. Then in the early 90's with The Thief of Always he created a book in which his skills as an artist and as a writer were combined but only with the Abarat works has he really taken what I think was the inevitable next step.
"Really only through a sense of introversion and personal strife did he retreat for a time into artwork, painting some very moving canvases that were done simply for his own therapeutic benefit. They were a way of pouring a lot of emotions, some of them negative, into a kind of work that could exorcise some of those feelings or otherwise take some of the things in his imagination and give them a life of their own. In doing those canvases he began to see connections, and create the notion of a book which was then called The Book of Hours. What at the time he described to me as 25 oil canvases and a number of smaller illustrations that would go into one children's book, called The Book of Hours then expand it exponentially to 250 and now I think we're in the range of 400 oil canvases and any number of other drawings all related to the grand Abarat Quartet, which of course HarperCollins will be publishing but which has also been acquired for the cinema.
"It's fascinating to report it in the book having seen the full process, the personal one that I just described, a situation where Clive was not painting for any commercial reason but for personal reasons. Then, as I think he's often done, he began to find the connections and find the reasons for what he was doing. But really those reasons were still personal and they were not ambitious in a commercial sense. He found himself suddenly having an outpouring of work and then getting all of this work outside himself with the connections and at that point taking it to market. It's something that - for someone in his position - is a tremendous risk in a way. It's certainly not the kind of thing he would have done if he'd thought about it at the beginning and said 'This is what I'm going to do now. I'm going to devote five years of my life to this'.
"Consider the amount of time that was spent really working for himself, working for a kind of pleasure and a kind of exorcism and a kind of exploration. The compensation for him was simply whether he could do it, not some deal with Disney - that was not on his mind at the beginning and in any event a great uncertainty at the end."

Clive Barker: Mythmaker and Nightmare-Shaper

By [ ], an interview with Douglas Winter at HarperCollins, December 2001

Doug Winter: "Clive is very much a creature of instinct and ambition. And although he has particular passions and obsessions, he believes, very strongly, in moving on. Just moving on. He doesn't like being pigeon-holed, placed into convenient niches - even those of 'author' or 'filmmaker' or 'artist.' He has prodigious talent and the kind of imagination that just stretches - and pushes - perceived boundaries. So his life is a constant process of re-invention, and one that's far less concerned with reader expectations than his publishers, certainly, would like. What's extraordinary, of course, is the way in which he has proved that commercial success as a writer need not be built upon repetition: the book-a-year, category novelist who is publishing's perceived ideal...
"In the early stages, Clive, although a close friend, was reticent - and very shy - about himself. He preferred to talk about his work. But then he realized that our discussions were comforting - and often self-revelatory. So he was very forthcoming, on all fronts - and talked with me at length about his father's death and its impact on his work and on him. This kind of biography is a curiosity, in the sense that, because we're friends, there was a blurring of the ordinary lines - I've experienced first-hand some moments of his triumphs and his personal tragedies. I mean, how often do you have a situation where a novelist changes a novel-in-progress because of the critical commentary of his biographer?"

Douglas E. Winter

By Roland Taylor, Slate Magazine at, March 2002

Doug Winter: "I've known Clive since before The Books Of Blood were published, and there was a fortuitous relationship between my growth as a critic and his growth as a writer. As I've said, it seemed almost predestined that I was to become his biographer. He cooperated graciously in the book, principally with interviews and moral encouragement, but he didn't deign to advise me. I think he trusted me to write the kind of book that would honor him - and more important, the aesthetics that we hold so dear and in common...
"His response has been equally gracious. Although he hasn't adopted me - yet."


By Kelly Shaw, Lost Souls, February 2002, online at

Nicola Sinclair: "As a great fan of his novels and films, I was fascinated to see how incidences from his childhood manifest themselves in his characters and stories. Winter takes us through every single book and film in great detail, opening up Barker's mind to those of us who are less than blessed with such talent. We learn of the creative differences between publisher and author and the different personae of a man who, in my opinion, created Gentle from Imajica in his own image. We also see the change in a man who was finally able to accept the person he was and learn not just to live with himself but love himself too...
"The Dark Fantastic is well-written and insightful; every Barker fan should read it as should any serious student or lover of fantastic fiction. Barker is, indisputably, a prodigious talent who has created some of the more memorable monsters, characters and cinematic moments in the history of the fantastic. So when Winter describes him as 'graphic, grotesque, compellingly readable and breathtakingly original', you'll understand, and realise what you've been missing."

Blood From 'Stones

By Nicola Sinclair, Enigma: SF, Horror & Crime from Waterstones, Issue 10, February/March 2002

Doug Winter: "Part of the problem was trying to work with Clive himself. Working with a living writer who is constantly creating, and constantly evolving as an artist - you can't pigeonhole Clive; the guy just can't stop creating. There were times when I started to wonder if I could ever find a way to reach an ending for the book that was anything other than an open-ended look into the next few years of work. Fortunately, when I was coming to what I felt had to be the end, Clive was coming to the beginning of the Abarat Quartet project which will consume him for the next few years and is a major junction in his career, so that made for a real strong ending."

Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 214, July 2002

Jane Johnson: "We always knew it would require a lot of careful research and consideration, but in the end the fact that it took 10 years to come through has meant that it presents a far better perspective on Clive's career than would otherwise have been the case."

Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 214, July 2002

Mark Graham: "It wouldn't be too difficult to write a fascinating biography of Barker. His rise to fame has been anything but ordinary. And summarizing his variety of works would be an interesting volume in its own right. Winter shines at tying the two together, developing the connections between his work and his life.
"Winter also includes a comprehensive bibliography of the author's works and a secondary biliography of works written about Barker.
"In all, Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic is a thorough and enthralling examination of one of the most important contributors to the world of the fantastic."

Unreal Worlds

By Mark Graham, Rocky Mountain News, 6 September 2002

Lawrence Tucker: "Sometimes the author's reverence for Barker's work is hard to share, such as when he hails The Books Of Blood as 'classically English in their diction, echoing not contemporaries but Robert Aickman, Arthur Machen, even H.G.Wells.' Those are echoes that I, for one, don't hear. Winter is more persuasive, though, when he praises Barker's writing as 'remarkable in its elegance and intelligence.' Those same words seem an apt description of this book."


By Lawrence Tucker, Sci-Fi, December 2002

home search contact books