As part of the Catacombs "Strange Terrors" celebration, here is the first of four weekly posts in my 2010 "Icons of Horror" series, with this years set focusing on popular or significant genre authors.
Clive Barker is one of the leading authors of contemporary horror/fantasy, mostly in the form of short stories such as his Books of Blood and novels such as The Damnation Game. He has also written modern-day fantasy, blending urban-fantasy with horror elements in Weaveworld, The Great and Secret Show, Imajica and Sacrament; bringing in deeper concepts of reality, the nature of the mind and dreams and the power of words or memories.
Barker's distinctive style is characterized by elements 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" and his stories are notable for a deliberate blurring of the distinctions between binary opposites such as heaven and hell, or pleasure and pain.
Displeased by how some of his theatrical screenplays were being handled, Barker began directing with Hellraiser (1987), based on his novella "The Hellbound Heart". After his film Nightbreed, was widely considered to be a flop, Barker returned to write and direct Lord of Illusions. He later served as an executive producer of the film Gods and Monsters, a fictionalized account of the last days of troubled film director James Whale (Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein) which received wide critical acclaim.
A longtime comics fan, Barker achieved his dream of publishing his own superhero books when Marvel Comics launched the “Razorline” imprint in 1993. Other comic book publishers that have adapted Barker’s works include Eclipse, Dark Horse and IDW.
Barker has been openly homosexual since the early 1990s and he received The Davidson/Valentini Award at the 15th GLAAD Media Awards in 2003. 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. [Portrait illustration (above; left) by Maya Samuels-Smith.]