August 1, 2003

part 2

part 1 | part 2


Can we speak about Rare Flesh?

Rare - Flesh Cover

Clive: Of course you may speak about Rare Flesh.
LS: I've seen some of the images already, very nice; hopefully we will be able to use a couple on in some way. Since some of the images are inappropriate for young children, we will try to use what we can to promote the book.
Clive: There will be a bunch of my poems, which are being used with David's images. There are a couple of very long poems a number of very short ones. They are complimentary to David's photographs, rather than David's photographs being illustrative of my words, nor are my words illustrative of his images. So much hopefully, as they fit together as two parts of puzzles about love, which is basically the subject, love of one kind or another. I think Rizzoli is going to do an amazing job with the book. Michael Hadley designed it, and it looks beautiful. I think it is going to be an amazing thing.
LS: I'm looking forward to it. Is it coming out in September?
Clive: I think October though the publisher will be able to give you a better indication.
LS: Can you describe the collaborative creative process between you and David?
Clive: David's photography has been something that I've watched going on over the period of the last several years, often because my painting studio is right next door to his photography studio. If he was working in the evening with a model, I would be working downstairs painting so he'd bring the models in to look at the paintings I would go watch the photography. So I've watched this book being created over a period of time. I liked very much the idea of being inspired by photographs my other half was taking as a starting off place for words that seemed like a really interesting idea. Plus when you start to do it, it becomes much more of a challenge.

I agonized probably more over these words than just about anything else I've ever done, partly, because they needed to be very short. You don't want to spread too far into a page, which has got a photograph on it. So you need to have a kinda density of intention and a density of form, the words, and hopefully, a meaning so I threw away lot of drafts and a number of poems, which I agonized over and ended up not being good enough for the book. I just wanted to make sure that whatever was going beside David's pictures was the best that I could do.

David had his views and shared them with me. We talked about the selection of photographs together. So that's been an ongoing discussion. It's been a long time to put this book together. The main reason because there are thousands of photographs. When David works with a model he may work with them for 6-8 hrs. Very often it will be the last roll of 36 pictures. David still works the old way with film, not digitally. It will often be the last reel that will produce the amazing picture because all the models anxiety about being naked, being honest about their emotions, about being there in front of the camera for 6-8 hours will suddenly be there. So there are very intense pictures in this book, and I did what I could to match it with my words. Since we had some pictures to choose from, it's been an ongoing thing of, "Well here's this picture. How will these words fit? No, that doesn't fit very well. Let's throw those words away. Let me go back, and come back to you in a couple days, and see if I have something that fits."
Not every picture has a poem. Just a few poems scattered throughout the book. It's a way hopefully to stimulate a different kind of thought about the picture, or for perhaps, a series of pictures. So you don't simply look at the picture, you have a thought about the emotional content of the picture as well. There are a lot of emotions in these pictures.
LS: There was one that I saw that I really liked.
Clive: Which one? Tell me.
LS: The poem was about 2 men and the one dies and how he wished he was on the other end of the telephone. I thought it was very good. I liked that one a lot.

Rare Flesh page-56
Photograph ©David E. Armstrong, Rare Flesh, Universe Publishing (an imprint of Rizzoli International Publications) 2003

Clive: Thank you. Hopefully we are bringing something to the picture, to enhance or enrich the experience. Obviously, the pictures are oftentimes very sexy. I think Rizzoli is a very strong advocate of the book as very legitimate publisher and they felt they wanted to find a line between the erotic and the artistic, and I think we found it.

One of the things that I think is fun is that over the years I've always had erotic content in my novels. Almost always, except obviously in the stuff for kids. It's nice now to put something of that into poems. I'm very excited about the book, and proud for David's extraordinary achievement.
LS: Do you plan on creating any new mythologies after the Abarat is completed?
Clive: Oh yeah, (laughs) I have one huge fucking gigantic mythology which is sitting in my head, sort of a master mythology if you will, the mythology of mythologies. So yes, yes. It's something which is very big which I will probably get to in about 8 or 9 years, and that's not a joke.
LS: By then it will be even bigger.
Clive: Yeah, by then it will be even bigger! (laughs)

So that's where it's going to be, towards my 50's. I will do this. I already told Jane in England about this. Towards the end of my 50's I will begin this huge book, and she said, "Great… good!"
I think it's totally long term planning, very much as it will be a mythology, which will dwarf everything that I've done so far.
LS: Do you ever think you will fully illustrate a world as you did for Abarat again?
Clive: No. It would be an overwhelming task I'm sitting in my drawing room right now, my illustration room. Originally, when I began painting, when I began to make the Abarat images, I painted all these pictures and then I started to write about the world as a way of talking about these paintings I had made. What's happened as I begun to write the books this stuff started igniting ... I looking at a room with maybe 200 pictures drawn, some of them on the wall, some of them are incredibly done in the middle of the night from dreams. It's almost like a different part of my imagination caught fire when I started the Abarat book. The thing is, I have a way of painting I have never painted before, a way of imagining that I have never imagined before. That is to paint the pictures, and then write about them. Now it's reversed in a sense that I'm waking up in the middle of the night, and I'm having to do these sketches, because I'm thinking of a way something might happen. It's almost like the two processes image making and writing are informing one another. When I say it's an overwhelming experience, it's like being in very choppy waters in a very small boat, and the waters all around you are your imagination, and the waves keep threatening to overwhelm the boat. I find myself, on some days, very often at the end of the day wishing I could dial my imagination down just a little bit so it would let me go watch some television. There are drawing pads and there are writing pads throughout the house in dozens of rooms.

I made it my business, when I turned in the novel Abarat 2, to go round everything and take out all the drawings. Some of them are just little doodles; some of them are quite elaborate drawings. There's one here of Christopher carrion. It's a picture of Christopher Carrion with all the nightmares being unleashed from the tank, or the collar that he wears. It's entitled "Christopher Carrion Unleashes His Nightmares." Then I have in brackets [bright hallucinately colored little creatures]. I don't know what I meant by that. I was drawing them in the middle of the night. In a wonderful sense, the thing has become the world and its contents are overwhelmingly large. I've said this before, I feel like I'm an observer of it.

It's nice to have turned in the second book because now I know that I am halfway through this journey. I am going to go to another beach in Kauai for a while. I feel I have been bailing in this little boat for quite awhile now. There are now a bunch of pictures on the walls here, but there are probably a thousand, or a thousand and a half, drawings and 450 paintings, plus 2 books. That's a lot of stuff to generate. In order to generate it, my hand keeps moving and my head keeps working. Sometimes it would just be nice to say shut up for awhile, but they won't do that. Sorry that was a long answer.
LS: No problem.
Clive: It's very interesting, because I don't have any love - hate relationship with the material. I love Abarat. I'm just startled how much of a grip it has upon me.
LS: Any progress with the Nightbreed director's cut to DVD?
Clive: Absolutely none right now, because nobody at Fox seems to know where the material is. It is incredibly frustrating. Everybody that we worked with has long since gone at Morgan Creek, who was the company that originally worked with Fox to make the movie.

Part of the problem, is that it is old news to us. I heard a story, I don't know if it is true or not, but when they were going to do the special edition of the Howling, they were looking around for the material. Joe Dante smiled, and said "I kept it all in my garage." I don't know if it is true or not, but I hope it is. If I make another movie, trust me, that's just what I'll do. I mean we'll find it eventually, but in a way it's like having to be a squeaky wheel. In studios the people change, and just at the time you get someone interested. There was a wonderful guy called George Feldenstein at MGM who was responsible for doing the brilliant packaging of the laser edition of Lord of Illusions, and making sure that the extra 12 minutes of the director's cut was properly scored, and so on. He's since gone. He was a visionary. He was a guy who really understood, and who saw, even before the DVD revolution came upon us, that there was going to be a real appetite for these extra features and things like that. The problem is, over at Fox right now, I genuinely don't think they know where the material is. I think it's probably sitting in a ... this depresses the hell out of me to say it, but it's probably true. It's probably sitting in a series of unmarked canisters, a lot of unmarked canisters in a warehouse. I think probably they would help me if they possibly could. I don't think they are being willfully difficult I just don't think anyone knows where the hell this stuff is. I wonder if somebody's gonna come across it by accident, and that may happen or else eventually we figure we'll find someone at Fox who, if we dog them enough, they will give us the key to the warehouse. Maybe that's what it will take, maybe they will say, "Barker, you've bothered us enough, here's the key. Go find it."

In which case we'll go find it. I wouldn't have the slightest problem with doing that, if that is what it will take. I can't imagine them doing that anytime soon. Maybe they will, and then we'll do it. One of these days we'll do it.
LS: Could you talk briefly about your involvement as the host of AMC's Monsterfest
Clive: I did this a couple of years ago, and it was sort of fun. They asked me to do it again. It's fun, you get to get dressed in dark clothes and they take you to a neat place, in this case an old dark house somewhere in Pasadena. You sit in a chair and pretend you're Robert Stack or Rod Serling. I had great fun doing it, and the people were really nice. There's a little part of me that keeps that public part of me alive, so that I can still do that stuff. I was just reading a book about Alan Moore. I'm a huge fan of Alan's work. It was talking about his withdrawal from the public eye, from comic conventions, and how he chose eventually to actually do that. Increasingly, I've done that. I don't go to a bunch of conventions and so on, but I do like to do Bill Mahr's show when it was on once in awhile. I like to do the AMC thing. I like to do the public signings when a book comes out. I think it's important to still be seen, if you like, if it's only to say Barker's still alive he's on the television. (laughs)
LS: Do you get to select which films are being shown?
Clive: They asked them to do a very tough thing. They asked them to make a 60 second movie. That's a very hard thing to do. I think there are some very fun things there. But no, they didn't. They allowed me to see those that were already finished up before I actually commented on them. I didn't see the great mass of them, and they had already made their selection when I got to see them.
LS: Are you familiar with Voltaire?
Clive: Of course.
LS: I was just speaking with him a couple weeks ago.
Clive: Oh you aren't talking about...we're talking about two completely different Voltaires.
LS: Oh yeah. (laughs)
Clive: The Living Voltaire.
LS: Yes, the living Voltaire.

Yes, I am familiar with the living Voltaire.
It was a wonderfully surreal moment. I was going to say how much I loved Candide. You were talking with him were you? You were speaking to him though a séance perhaps? (laughs)
So you were speaking to the living Voltaire?



Voltaire - CD Boo Hoo

Oh My Goth Comic



Voltaire CD - Boo Hoo

Oh My Goth Comic

LS: Yes, and he heard a rumor that you would watch his Chi-Chian series on when it would come online?
Clive: Yes, I'm a huge fan. Please communicate my passion for his creation when you talk to him again.
LS: I'm going to see him in the next couple weeks.

Please, the man is a god. It's a wonderful creation and my husband can do a perfect impersonation of Chi-Chian saying, "Why can't everybody be nice?"
We love that world! In fact I just bought a beautiful statuette of her for David, have you seen it?

Chi-Chain Statue

Chi-Chain Statue

LS: Yes.
Clive: It's beautiful, I just bought it for David as one of his birthday gifts.
Yes, you are absolutely right, David and I would be sitting, watching... waiting to see the further adventures of Chi-Chian.
LS: Would you ever consider a collaboration with him?
Clive: Absolutely, what's he up to?
LS: He's been working on several things with his art, his comics and his music. He has a new apparel deal with Mighty Fine creating Oh My Goth! and other designs for Hot Topic.

He's also just released a Chi-Chian Role Playing Game and there are Chi-Chian feature film and X-box game deals in the works. He's also still making comic books and is recording a new CD and touring.
Clive: Where is he based?
LS: New York City
Clive: If and when he comes out here tell him he is most welcome to come talk to us. If anything occurs to him in the way of movies I would than love to hear from him because I am a huge fan. And that's from the bottom of my heart. Tell him that with all of my heart. If there is anything that he has in his head, it doesn't have to be a movie, it could be TV stuff. I'd love to be able to take something to the Sci- Fi Channel with him if he has anything in his head. I think his work is marvelous.
LS: I've been a fan of his music for about 5 years now. Have you heard any of it?
Clive: Absolutely, I have. What cool is he is a polymorph. This is a guy that does a bunch of shit. That's what's cool. Maybe putting out heads together we could practically create an entire show between the two of them. Words, music, and images. They won't need to hire more than the 2 guys. Voltaire and Barker, it sounds like it should be a vaudeville act. But no, I'm a great fan of his imaginative abilities. If there is ever anything he feels that we could get involved with together, don't hesitate to give him my number.

part 1 | part 2

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