Review: Clive Barker’s Books of Blood #1 (Madefire)

Clive Barker's Books of BloodHorror supremo Clive Barker’s frightening short stories from the 1980s are brought to life on the Madefire Motion Book platform – just in time for Halloween with Clive Barker’s Books of Blood #1.
Clive Barker's Books of BloodPublisher: Madefire
Writer: Mark Miller
Artist: Sam Shearon
Colors: Sam Shearon
Covers: Sam Shearon
Price: 69p from Madefire

Originally launched in 1984 as a series of six books (each with four or five horror stories) Clive Barker’s Books of Blood have been adapted many times into films (Candyman, Lord of Illusions, The Midnight Meat Train), comics (Rawhead Rex) and even TV episodes (Tales from the Darkside’sThe Yattering and Jack). Madefire’s Clive Barker’s Books of Blood #1 marks the beginning of an ambitious 12-part Motion Book series based around Volume One of the original series. Made in conjunction with Clive Barker’s own Seraphim production company, this promises to be ‘the most faithful adaptation of the “Books of Blood” stories ever seen.’ with Madefire aiming to put out a Motion Book for every story from all six volumes!

Episode #1 opens with a series of subtitled black screens that are accompanied by a simple melodic piano soundtrack from Cris Velasco. These are interspersed with Sam Shearon’s beautiful photo-realistic, grayscale images of the dead and some seemingly random, jarring SFX from Ben Meares and Vicky Barber – which is used to great effect.

We eventually arrive at Number 65, Tollington Place where we learn that the house is haunted and empty due to previous tenants’ going insane. A psychic researcher, Mary Florescu enters the building (with cameraman) and they are shocked by the building’s drab, dingy interior. The duo are soon joined by quack medium Simon McNeal who has been employed by Mary to investigate the haunted house. Simon demands that no filming can take place until he has conversed with the dead alone. He sends the others away, strips and enters a room to talk with the dead. It is here that the dead leave their messages literally written in blood on Simon’s skin as he becomes the Book of Blood!

The overall tone of episode one is probably best described as haunting. Scribe Mark Miller has written a cool adaptation that retains much of the underlying, menace of Clive’s original books. His subtitles fit perfectly with the tone of the book and he expertly lets Sam’s artwork do the talking for him. The panels of the book flow upwards and change shape from rectangles, to squares, to triangles and fade in and out of the shadows. It feels a bit like you’re stuck inside the puzzle box from Clive’s other famous story Hellraiser. This feeling of uneasiness is kept alive by a very cool use of perspective within the panels. Hands reach toward the reader and characters move behind the main illustrations. Splash pages (particularly where we find Simon and the dead) add a sense of wonder to proceedings and allow Sam’s stylish painted, artwork to leap out at the reader. Colours are mainly muted – that is until our protagonists encounter the dead – and then the pages run red with blood!

The previously mentioned Cris Valesco has done an amazing job with his soundtrack. There is a menacing string section that almost oozes from your iPad. It is multi-layered and punctured by horns for extra effect when the action demands. The same compliment can be paid to the SFX team who have pulled out all the stops to make the depressing, empty house echo and creak along throughout the story.

pd_review4“At the bargain price of £0.69p Clive Barker’s Books of Blood #1 is pretty great value for such a (long) high quality read. The dead have highways and, if the next instalments of Books of Blood are as packed as this one, we’ll happily come along for the ride.”