Beautiful Monsters

The Thirty-First Revelatory Interview
By Phil & Sarah Stokes, 30 May, 6 June 2014

*NB - updated with ZOOmbies material 7 October 2015*

Clive : "Hello - I'm eating - I'm sorry, I'll stop eating in just one moment... I'm eating a big doughnut, full of chocolate sauce. Really, really good! Okay - how are you guys?"

Revelations : "We are well, really well - we're in the middle of exam season with the boys."

Clive : "And are they important exams this year?"

Revelations : "Yes - they do A-Levels in a different way to the way I did them - they do half of them in Lower Sixth and half in Upper Sixth"

Clive : "I did that as well. I thought it was actually quite sensible because instead of having everything in the last year and panicking because all the chickens were in one basket, as it were. You know it was kinda nice: I didn't do badly after the first year, it meant that I'd actually got some of those out of the way that I was never going to think about ever again, so when I went into the second year it was just a lighter work course you know? There's shit that I'd done that I'd never need to do again.... Maths, Physics, Biology - anything that sounded like logic! It worked for me, I must say."

Revelations : "Hey, you sound really well!..."

Clive : "Thank you! Lena Headey - Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox) I do feel better than I've done for a while. There's a lot of medication - you know, all that good stuff - and tender loving care - and doughnuts! With chocolate sauce! And it doesn't hurt that we have a lot of projects which seem to be going well."

Revelations : "Let's start there - you've got lots of stuff going on over there and we've got loads of stuff going on over here. Why don't you tell us what's on your mind then we'll compare notes?"

Clive : "Well, that's a lot! OK, well, let's start with Lena Headey as Jacqueline Ess which I think is wonderful casting and I think the movie shows every sign of being really a class act and, you know, we have a female director, obviously a female star, a female protagonist and I'm excited, very excited. And I've always loved Jacqueline Ess; I've always wondered what kind of mind it would take not only in the director but also in the actor or actress, to actually pull that off. And I think, I know now that I have the answer to that question. And Lena, as you know, has sort of cornered the market in beautiful monsters, you know? Actually that's a good title: Beautiful Monsters - and she's wonderful, I think, in Game of Thrones, for instance - "

Revelations : "I thought she was great in the Sarah Connor Chronicles -"

Clive : "Absolutely! She doesn't seem to care about what the level of finance is in the project - if she's interested, she's interested, you know? She does little roles in little movies and then she does big things as well. She just seems one of those people who does it for the art of it."

Revelations : "We've seen great feedback and, you know, one single piece of casting has driven huge awareness for the movie."

Clive : "That's great and I think the fact that Game of Thrones is so big here - I don't know what it's like there? - "

Revelations : "Oh, it's massive - "

Lena Headey as Jaqueline Ess composite

Clive : "- yeah, it's right at that moment, you know? They took a photograph of her, of Lena, standing with her head in exactly the same position as I painted Jacqueline Ess for the cover of that book and it was just a very clever thing to do and I got a little shiver down my back - it was what, twenty years ago? No, more - twenty-five? Whatever, since I painted that picture. And here was a modern star, a woman who's very much actress zeitgeist as far as female villains are concerned, inhabiting that skin, inhabiting that character and that was a real rush."

Revelations : "Can you share some of the history of how the project come to you and to Seraphim, Clive?"

Clive : "Well we initiated it, it was always something we wanted to do - Russell Cherrington did a script and Russell was going to direct at one point and then we moved on to this young lady who I knew through Rue Morgue."

Revelations : "Yeah - Jovanka - she was editor there for a while, wasn't she - "

Clive : "Absolutely, and she was a brilliant editor, with a difference of opinion aesthetically and then they parted and I talked to her last time I was in Toronto and she said how much she wanted to direct and one thing led to another - we were absolutely sympatico about using Lena, I wanted her as much as they did, so that was great, and, you know there's many a slip twixt cup and lip and I'm never confident that everything will go well but right now it feels very nice."

Revelations : "I'm not sure I always realised it at the time but you've had some great casting in the recent films -"

Clive : "We've been blessed - "

Revelations : "- if you think, a Bradley Cooper or a Jackson Rathbone - "

Clive : "And Vinnie Jones - "

Revelations : "- and Vinnie - "

Clive : "And it's not only recently, I mean going back, you know - Ken Cranham - and, well even Doug Bradley, I have to say, he's turned out to be somebody who inhabited the skin of a character brilliantly."

Revelations : "We're feeling very close to that as we're deep now into drafting on the Hellraiser book, so we'll feedback to you on that a bit later..."

Clive Barker - Next Testament - Haemi Jang

Clive : "Excellent - so, next up would be, I guess, probably what is the best reviewed comic of the year, which is Next Testament, which is three issues from finishing. Well it's written, the last three issues are written so it's being drawn and I think - Mark isn't here unfortunately, he's just headed off to Paris - but if he were here I think he would say, and I would say, that it's a surprise that it was responded to so popularly."

Revelations : "You were a little nervous when we spoke, just before it came, out about the religious elements and how it would be interpreted."

Clive : "Right - we had anxiety about that right from the beginning and it turned out to be - going again to the zeitgeist - it turned out to be something that people were interested in; they wanted to talk about God. Or opine about God, should I say, and Wick is God by another name and you can critique the Godhood without necessarily getting into hot water with your local priest."

Revelations : "You've done a Next Testament signing recently so presumably people wanted to come and share what they were thinking about it."

Clive : "Oh yeah, oh yeah, but I think there was also the sense that they're not going to chance their opinions too deeply until they've seen the last three issues. The other thing is, there'll be no sequels to this, there'll be no revisits, nothing like that - this is the story. And it ends very - very appropriately, shall we say? And I think Mark has done an amazing job. And the artist, Haemi Jang, I mean she has - I've never seen art like that in a comic - beautifully simple, beautifully coloured, and you know that the colouring comes from photographs that I did of Mark - "

Revelations : "Yes - the original start-point - "

Clive : "Now in issue 9 there's a lovely orgy scene which is three full pages in which we move closer and closer and closer into the figure of Wick from a wide shot which perhaps has fifty people in, and it's really wonderful, dramatic, stylish storytelling, but it's art, you know? It really feels like this is a comic book which you can critique as art.
"And now, on other comics, I can pass you over to Ben Meares to talk about Hellraiser, and Nightbreed. Go to it, Ben!"

Clive Barker - Hellraiser Bestiary

Ben : "Let's see, well we've got the first issue of Nightbreed which came out two days ago and everybody I've spoken to absolutely loves it - we've got Marc Andreyko writing it, we've got Piotr Kawalski, who actually used to draw The Incredible Hulk, drawing it who has completely come into his element on this one."

Clive : "It's true - "

Ben : "It's very, very clear that Nightbreed is where the passion lies for this guy and it comes through and it's gorgeous. I've been working as the creative consultant on that one and on the upcoming Hellraiser Bestiary I'm writing at least one story per issue - each issue will be three stories apiece, going back to like the old, the early '90s / late '80s idea where it was all of these Hellraiser anthology stories which was where - "

Clive Barker - Hellraiser 17 (Epic) - Alex Ross

Revelations : "The Epic volumes - "

Ben : "- and the reason that we chose to go that way was because the anthology ones are the ones that are still sold in Barnes and Noble, they're still remembered and they're still loved and this is where people like Mike Mignola and Steve Niles and John Bolton - these guys - Alex Ross - all got their start on these stories and we're hoping to do the same again. And I've read every script that's going to be in it and they're all really, really, really good - shockingly good, even - I mean in an anthology there's usually a few duds and there are none in this one."

Clive : "What we're trying to do is get the flavours of these comics, and we're actually producing a lot of comics right now - some of them are rather rarefied, like Next Testament, some of them are sort of brutal down and dirty and I like that, I think that's a good balancing act."

Ben : "Another thing that just got announced is motion comics platform Madefire - we're adapting all of the Books of Blood with Madefire. We've got a tremendously talented artist named Sam Shearon who's going to be illustrating at least everything from Volume 1 and Mark wrote the adaptation for Book of Blood and I've written the adaptation for the subsequent five stories and we're just building Book of Blood right now - actually Gareth [Barker] is our builder on it, he uses the tool and he's taken to it like a duck to water!"

Clive : "You know how these things are done, right? You know what we're talking about, what the aesthetic is? It's somewhere between a movie and a comic book - it's a moving comic book - with music and - "

Ben : "Actually music by Chris Velasco, who scored Jericho."

Clive : "It's actually a great way to tell, to have the freedom to tell, let's say, In the Hills, The Cities - "

Revelations : "Sure - which is much more cinematic - "

Clive : "Right, and it's very hard to make it as a movie, but there is a way of making it big in this form so, yeah, I think it's pretty exciting. And there's another one which is ZOOmbies... We had another project open up yesterday which I just signed a contract on."

Ben Meares (Seraphim) : "Yes, there's an animation company that's very, very interested in making a film called ZOOmbies, which is based on an idea that Clive had where a kid is trapped in a zoo during a zombie outbreak - and it's something that I wrote as a two-issue comic just to see if we could do anything with it and we ended up sending it to this company and they went, 'We're very, very interested in it, this is something we want to do' and it will be their first venture into children's movies. It's pretty cool, they looked at this one and they went, 'This is the one we want to go with...'"

Clive : "And this will be full animation, right?"

Ben : "Full animation."

Clive : "Yeah, so I think the tone of it is something like ParaNorman, you know that kinda dark, but funny thing? What's weird is, I pitched the thing as I was falling asleep - I was off and I'd completely forgotten about it, but Mark remembered it all, he taped it all and it was there! And so, that's where we pretty much are right now."

Revelations : "I think there's a wonderful mix of re-inventing the back catalogue at the same time as stimulating it with all the great new stuff which we know is heading down the comics and movie pipeline and that we'll be able to talk about publicly before too long; it's a great mix."

Clive : "Yes, I mean that would be true of the novels as well, obviously Scarlet Gospels is waiting for publication, I'm just finishing up on the illustrations for Volume Four of Abarat and I'm dug in, deep into the final textual fixes so we're moving towards delivery of that.
"And actually - this is a whisper - but I'm actually, and I don't know when I will be able to start this because of scheduling, but I've started to structure the third book of The Art... It should be a whisper because it's a while off, but the fact that I have the narrative in place and I know where I'm going on it you know is useful."

Revelations : "Wow, it's not just useful, it's a massive step forward!"

Clive : "It is a massive step, and it's a massive narrative. I mean, I always knew it was going to be a massive narrative and I had to have an idea that belonged there; that had earned its place to be the third book of The Art and to my mind that meant dealing with the Western mystical traditions somehow or other - because I think that was always implicit in the first two books - you know? The Dead Letter Office was leading us to Clive Barker sketch a sense of what those mystical traditions were and how it all pulled together and so this is really about the greatest evils of the last century or so against the greatest good of the last two thousand years and how we are somehow or other, for better or worse, in a place that positions us between those two things with our shoelaces tied together - in other words, in a dangerous place, not sure of our equilibrium as a species, not sure I think even if we belong alive.
"It's amazing how often I hear people say, 'You know, we shouldn't be on this planet.' I'd never heard that before. That's very new, the whole idea that the people on the animal planet are talking about the fact that we are the problem not the solution - the wolf not the shepherd - and the decent thing that we should do is just get a gun and put it to our collective heads, I'd never heard of that said before, or mooted before, but it's an incredibly scary prospect that people, sensible people now think the only solution for what they consider a more valuable piece of creation than us - which is the rest of nature - is best served by us packing our bags and leaving. And that is a frightening thought, just because sensible people are saying that. And I want to address that in the third book of The Art - we need to be pro-life; and pro-life isn't just about babies, it's about old people too."

We couldn't help ourselves at that point and spent several minutes on the ideas that Clive is working on for the conclusion of the Art's narrative. With apologies, we're sworn to secrecy for now but will certainly present these early thoughts in due course and fold the extra material back in here, we promise...

Revelations : "You've talked to us in the past as it being almost a theatre show that you wanted to write about."

Clive : "Yes, well it was always a show - the Great and Secret Show - always the idea that there was a presentational element to the story."

Revelations : "With something in the wings, waiting to come on in the third act."

Clive : "Exactly. Exactly - and the sense that there were narrative solutions which were about people taking roles: Kissoon takes a role, Tesla takes a role, the idea that there's a massive toy theatre which is the size of the world and with a narrative which is ten thousand years long. And what we're going to watch is that theatre go up in flames to find out which of those characters are made of paper and which are made of steel."

Clive Barker - Demon, 2014

Revelations : "And still with evolution very much at its heart - "

Clive : "Absolutely - always, right? So that's the third book of The Art, or a tiny part of the third book of the Art, and the Iad Uroborous, waiting in the wings, and they've been behind all of this from the very beginning..."

Revelations : "In terms of the last six months, you've been busy across multiple projects, not simply working on Abarat to the exclusion of everything else, and throwing ideas out in a number of different directions."

Clive : "Yes, I've definitely been trying to diversify and Abarat - you know, if you stay on one project seven days a week it kinda gets dull, you know? So yeah there's a lot stuff, a lot of stuff.
"I've been two and a quarter years out of my coma and I'm still not well - I'm getting there but I'm still not well and so it slows things down a little bit but I think you'd be proud of me, I've done about 200 paintings in the last six months but I haven't been able to do oil paintings because I can't stand up, so I've lost a little time, no question, but I'm trying very much to keep my nose to the grindstone even though sometimes it's a bit depressing because I don't feel well.
"I'm determined - there are a certain number of books in my head which I'm determined to write before I die. And it's going to keep me on the planet for a while but I also want to be a rationalist about it, you know? I want to make sure that I don't overthink them, overcreate them, I'm putting as much out into the world as I possibly can. That's why we're seeing so many flowerings of the work in other areas like comic books which is a great way to tell stories which could end up as movies, or whatever. But I am very aware that I was very close to death - I'm not dead but I am marked by that, I am marked..."

Revelations : "Switching to what we're doing, we wanted to tell you what's going on with the British Library."

Clive : "Yes - please!"

Revelations : "So Sarah and I went across to see the people who are curating the Gothic exhibition on Monday and it looks like the exhibition will include a couple of pages from the original handwritten Hellbound Heart manuscript, together with written material, sketches and posters from Frankenstein in Love and Hellraiser. They came over earlier this year to see the whole archive and have selected some things that they'd like to borrow for the exhibition. "

Clive : "That's great!"

Revelations : "And the list of other things that they've got lined up for the exhibition is just wonderful - it's called Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination and it's tracing the subject all the way from the first Gothic Novel in 1764 to the present day through work that has the Gothic aesthetic - so they're taking it from Walpole's The British Library - Tales of Mystery and Imagination illus, Clarke Castle of Otranto through - if all goes to plan - things like William Blake's manuscript for The Four Zoas, Mary Shelley's original manuscript of Frankenstein, on loan from The Bodleian, Matthew Lewis's own edition of The Monk with his annotations in it, then taking it through more modern works too - they're going through Victorian Gothic - Spring-Heeled Jack and things like that - to the movie of Poe's Tell-Tale Heart, to your material."

Clive : "And they're calling works by me into this company of geniuses? Are you serious? It is an incredible honour, I mean I'm honoured to be in such incredible company - I didn't realise that there'd be all this cool stuff, you know?"

Revelations : "It's going to be on for four months, from the beginning of October this year, through to 20th January next year. There's a big ground floor exhibition space which they've built which we went round this week for the Comics Unmasked exhibition which is running there at the moment."

Clive : "Awesome - and are they doing some sort of document of it or a catalogue?"

Revelations : "Yes, definitely - the Comics Unmasked exhibition has a beautiful softcover and hardcover book to accompany it and we're told they'll be doing something similar for this one."

British Library - Comics Unmasked - ©Jamie Hewlett 2014

Clive : "That's just wonderful - just wonderful, thank you both so much for doing this. I'm amazed - I'm actually a little gobsmacked right now..."

Revelations : "Well it's great, we've had enormous fun working with them - they're incredibly nice people who are very enthusiastic and it's been a complete delight. And then, just to tell you what else we've been up to, we're just about to send the third volume of Memory, Prophecy and Fantasy to the printers."

Clive : "And that goes to where, Phil? Where does that take you?"

Revelations : " That takes us up to the end of Secret Life of Cartoons so it hasn't quite managed to get as far as Crazyface, as the first of the Cockpit youth theatre plays, but it closes off the Dog Company."

Clive : "Lovely, lovely - I'm very excited."

Revelations : "And then the other thing that we've been busy working on - and there's been some wonderful stuff coming together - is the Hellraiser book where there are lots of unseen photographs and production materials that we've managed to track down from various kind people and places. We're just beginning to format and draft that as well, so that will be a little bit further away before you get to see anything that looks sensible, but that's coming together really quite nicely, as is the similar Nightbreed book that will follow it."

Clive : "And it's just Hellraiser One, right, it concentrates entirely upon the creation of that first movie?"

Revelations : "Correct - "

Clive : "I think that's a great way to do it, a great way to do it - what are you going to call it? "

Revelations : "Don't know yet..."

Clive : "That's a good title!"

Revelations : "You know, lots of our books start that way!"

Hellraiser - previously unpublished

Jacqueline Ess adaptation
Abarat Books Four and Five
The Third Book of The Art
Next Testament
Motion Books from Madefire
Hellraiser: Bestiary comics
Nightbreed comics
British Library exhibition
Volumes 1 and 2 of Memory, Prophecy and Fantasy

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