Monday, 7 November 2016

Clive Barker's Hellraiser

I mentioned Clive Barker’s Hellbound Heart in my last post and at the weekend I took some time to reacquaint my myself with my collection of Hellraiser comics picked up in the early 90’s. The series ran for 20 issues from 1989 to 1993 and I was fortunate enough to pick up most installments (not so easy in the pre-Internet days). I was quite an avid reader of Clive Barker’s early excursions into the world of mature Horror comics (or graphic novels as I stringently referred to them back in the day). By the early 90’s Barker had relinquished control of Hellraiser and was inching ever closer to full blown fantasia with the epic novel Imajica and The Thief of Always, a book written for young adults. The dark and perverse horror of the Books of Blood and the two Hellraiser films seemed increasingly remote. Fortunately, Barker found an outlet for the darker side of his imagination with comics like Tapping the Vein (1989-1992), Son of Celluloid (1991), Revelations (1992), and Dread (1992). The Hellraiser series which Barker occasionally contributed to was not based on the films, but instead built upon the Hellraiser mythos, as characters in various time-lines and locations (the Middle Ages, Silent-era Hollywood, the Vietnam War) invoke the Cenobites by meddling with the Lament configurations.

Revisiting the comic again, I was a tad disappointed by the writing, which seems squarely aimed at teenagers looking for lashings of gore flavored with a little sex and nudity – which was fine by this 14 year old reader in search of illicit thrills upon graduating from 2000AD. The story artwork is rather variable at best (apart from exceptional work by John Bolton, Bill Koeb, John Van Fleet, and Scott Hampton) but my attention was drawn to the full page illustrations which bookended each of the 4 or 5 stories contained within each issue. I’ve gathered together some of the more striking illustrations that appeared throughout the series…

Issue 1 - Artwork by Kent Williams

Issue 1 - Artwork by Kent Williams

Issue 4 - Artwork by Bill Sienkiewicz

Issue 5 - Artwork by John Van Fleet

Issue 10 - Artwork by Mark Evans

Issue 11 - Artwork by John Van Fleet

Issue 19 - Artwork by Chris Titus

Issue 20 - Artwork by George Pratt

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