Clive Barker (born 5 October 1952) is an English author, film director and visual artist best known for his work in both fantasy and horror fiction.
Clive Barker was born in Liverpool, England, the son of Joan Rubie, a painter and school welfare officer, and Leonard Barker, a personnel director for an industrial relations firm.Educated at Dovedale Primary School and Quarry Bank High School, he studied English and Philosophy at Liverpool University and his picture now hangs in the entrance hallway to the Philosophy Department.
Barker has been openly homosexual since the early 1990s, first mentioning his dating life to US audiences in the pages of The Advocate magazine. He currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, with his partner, photographer David Armstrong, and Armstrong's daughter from a previous relationship, Nicole. His household also includes many pets, including dogs, fish, and a bird named Malingo.
Clive Barker had said, "I want to be remembered as an imaginer, someone who used his imagination as a way to journey beyond the limits of self, beyond the limits of flesh and blood, beyond the limits of even perhaps life itself, in order to discover some sense of order in what appears to be a disordered universe. I'm using my imagination to find meaning, both for myself and, I hope, for my readers."
In 2003, Clive Barker received The Davidson/Valentini Award at the 15th GLAAD Media Awards. 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". While Barker is critical of organized religion, he has stated that he is a believer in both God and the afterlife, and that the Bible influences his work.
Fans have noticed of late that Barker's voice has become gravelly and coarse. He says in a December 2008 online interview (published March 2009) that this is due to polyps in his throat which were so severe that a doctor told him he was taking in ten percent of the air he was supposed to have been getting. He has had two surgeries to remove them and believes his resultant voice is an improvement over how it was prior to the surgeries. He said he did not have cancer and has given up cigars.
Barker is one of the leading authors of contemporary horror/fantasy, writing in the horror genre early in his career, mostly in the form of short stories. Later he moved towards modern-day fantasy and urban fantasy with horror elements,bringing in the deeper, richer concepts of reality, the nature of the mind and dreams, and the power of words and memories.
Barker's distinctive style is characterized by the notion 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" or the "fantastique". His stories are notable for a deliberate blurring of the distinction between binary opposites such as hell and heaven, or pleasure and pain (the latter particularly so in The Hellbound Heart).
When the Books of Blood were first published in the United States in paperback, Stephen King was quoted on the book covers: "I have seen the future of horror, his name is Clive Barker."
As for influences on his writing, Barker lists Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, William S. Burroughs, and Jean Cocteau, among others.
Barker has a keen interest in movie production, although his films have received mixed receptions. He wrote the screenplays for Underworld (aka Transmutations) and Rawhead Rex, both directed by George Pavlou. Displeased by how his material was handled, he moved to directing with Hellraiser.
His early movies, the shorts The Forbidden and Salome, are experimental art movies with surrealist elements, which have been re-released together to moderate critical acclaim. After his film Nightbreed, Barker returned to write and direct Lord of Illusions. Barker was an executive producer of the film Gods and Monsters, which received major critical acclaim. He had been working on a series of movie adaptations of his The Abarat Quartet books, and he is developing a film based on his Tortured Souls line of toys from McFarlane Toys. Also, there is a planned remake of Hellraiser to be released in 2011.
Barker is a prolific visual artist working in a variety of media, often illustrating his own books. His paintings have been seen first on the covers of his official fan club magazine, Dread, published by Fantaco in the early Nineties, as well on the covers of the collections of his plays, Incarnations and Forms of Heaven, as well as on the second printing of the original UK publications of his Books of Blood series. His artwork is currently exhibited at Bert Green Fine Art in Los Angeles, CA, and in the past has been shown at the Bess Cutler Gallery in New York and La Luz De Jesus in Los Angeles. Many of his sketches and paintings can be found in the collection Clive Barker, Illustrator, and in Visions of Heaven and Hell. The most complete selection of Clive Barker's paintings and drawings are available to view in a gallery setting on the website Clive Barker, Illustrator. Clive's official site has an extensive online gallery of his artwork including exclusive sketches, the Imagining Man project and unpublished work-in-progress.
He worked on the creative side of a horror computer game, Clive Barker's Undying, providing the voice for the character Ambrose. Undying was developed by DreamWorks Interactive and released in 2001. Barker announced in July 2006 that he has returned to the video game industry, working on Clive Barker's Jericho for Codemasters which was released in late 2007. Barker created The Dark Bazaar a sortiment of Halloween costumes for Diguise Costumes.
A longtime comics fan, Barker achieved his dream of publishing his own superhero books when Marvel Comics launched the Razorline imprint in 1993. Based on detailed premises, titles and lead characters he created specifically for this, the four interrelated titles — set outside the Marvel universe — were Ectokid, Hokum & Hex, Hyperkind and Saint Sinner.
Barker horror adaptations and spin-offs in comics include the Marvel/Epic series Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Pinhead, The Harrowers, Book of the Damned and Jihad; Eclipse Books' series and graphic novels Tapping The Vein, Dread, Son of Celluloid, Revelations The Life of Death, Rawhead Rex and The Yattering and Jack, and Dark Horse Comics' Primal, among others. Barker served as a consultant and wrote issues of the Hellraiser anthology comic book.