When it comes to the universally revered “Mount Rushmore of Horror Authors”, there are a few names that automatically have to be there. We all know who those individuals are. Immediately after the three or four instant responses, there’s a cluster of authors who are all rightfully owed serious consideration for inclusion. One such gentleman is Clive Barker, who just so happens to be celebrating his sixty-seventh birthday today.
Mr. Barker has lived an extraordinary life. He’s enjoyed an illustrious career and seen his name became synonymous with horror. From the written word to the canvas with a significant small and big screen presence as well, there aren’t many more distinguished authors than the man from Liverpool.
Barker, of course, is the creator of Pinhead and Candyman, Rawhead Rex and Harry D’Amour. From his groundbreaking Books of Blood to The Scarlet Gospels and everything in between, there’s no denying you’re reading a Clive Barker story.
For all of the mention of horror, gore and splatter, Barker resides in the world of the fantastic just as often. His Abarat series is hailed as some of his finest work while Imajica is the author’s personal favorite from his library. Simply put, this world is far too boring for Barker so he prefers to create his own. There’s enough of our reality infused in the fantasy novels to easily settle in to his worlds and he weaves his fantasy stories with the precision and craftsmanship of one of his biggest inspirations, Ray Bradbury.
The works of Clive Barker have earned significant recognition in film, naturally. Of course, the Hellraiser and Candyman series would be his most acclaimed work and Nightbreed has a massive cult following. While his filmmaking career has been a tad uneven, a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to adapt his works and his worlds onto celluloid.
Artistically, Barker is in a class by himself. Often providing the artwork in his own novels, Barker also has created Halloween costume designs and contributed 150 original art pieces to the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. His art studio is the size of an apartment and he has stated that expressing himself through his art has been some of his most cherished cathartic experiences.
I had the incredible opportunity to be in the presence of Mr. Barker last year during Chicago’s leg of the Days of the Dead horror convention tour. An entire room was devoted to the man and his career. Barker had brought a large collection of his own library that he made available for sale. Of course, the walls and tabletops were covered in his original artwork as well.
I remember standing in line, waiting my turn to stand face to face with the literary icon. My palms were damp, my eyes wide. His assistant handed my book over and Clive began to sign. I managed to thank him for everything he’d done for the horror world. He thanked me with a bright smile and a fist bump. And that was that. I was wandering out of the room, shaking, and clutching my new prized possession- a signed copy of Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels.
A new year brings new creative challenges for Mr. Barker. His website has a list of projects that are either in development or in some sort of artistic limbo. Much to every fan’s delight, Barker has been on one of his most busy and ambitious convention tours ever. That will continue into 2020, with details available on Clive’s site.
Today, though, do yourself a favor and find a Barker story or two. Get comfortable in your favorite reading chair and prepare to lose yourself in the imagination of one of the best the literary world has ever had.
Happy Birthday, Clive Barker.