“Hellraiser: Bestiary” is a twisted new anthology series set in the world of the Cenobites. It will capitalize on the immense pain the series is known for and allow a wide range of stories that will expand the world of films. BOOM! knows you’ll love it. I know I did, and luckily I was fortunate enough to sit down with Ben Meares, Mark Alan Miller, & Victor LaValle to talk about their stories in the first issue of this incredible collection.
Everything you need to know:
CLIVE BARKER’S HELLRAISER: BESTIARY #1
Authors: Victor LaValle, Ben Meares, Mark Miller
Artists: Colin Lorimer, Carlos Magno, Conor Nolan
WHY WE LOVE IT: Over the past three years, Clive Barker has re-imagined the HELLRAISER mythos as only he could, building a long-form narrative that became one of the best-received horror comics in recent memory. Now, the Master of Horror takes us into his Bestiary for an anthology series—free of continuity, but full of shocking consequences.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Step into the Bestiary for all-new tales of the LeMarchand Device and its guardians! This first issue contains the start of a six-part serial written by Mark Miller (CLIVE BARKER’S NEXT TESTAMENT) and Ben Meares (HELLRAISER ANNUAL 2013), and drawn by Carlos Magno (DEATHMATCH), where a group of mercenaries are hired to steal Pinhead’s pins. Also, superstar author Victor LaValle teams with artist Colin Lorimer (CURSE) to tell a story set on the outskirts of New York City, as a close-knit community is torn apart by the presence of the puzzle box.
The first issue is divided into three separate storylines: Symphony in Red, Desert Fathers, and The Hunted. We focus on each in a series of three small interviews.
Bloody-Disgusting: We don’t often see the cenobites in a moment of vulnerability, what made you want to tell this story?
Ben Meares: For exactly that reason. We rarely see Cenobites acting as anything except tools of torture. But it has been established, both in the films and the comics, that Cenobites are three-dimensional characters; flawed in the same ways as we all are. Exploring that was far too exciting a prospect to ignore.
Mark Miller: And also the fact that we’d just come off of some very intense and often complex narratives. Elliott Spencer/Pinhead had been through the shit. It made sense that he’d have some issues he’d need to work out once he got back into office.
BD: The cenobites don’t seek pleasure in the same way that we do. Symphony in Red is perhaps Pinhead’s greatest creation—what sort of mindset do you have to get in when thinking of new ways to enjoy pain?
BM: I really don’t consider Symphony in Red to be about pain, per se. There’s a lot of torture and blood in it, sure, but it’s about obsession and the potentially devastating effects that can come from pursuing one’s obsessions without regard for responsibilities or duties. As obsessives ourselves, Mark and I both thought it would be an interesting subject to explore. But, to answer the question about a ‘mindset’: I’m a lifelong horror fan. I’ve always got this stuff in my head. I don’t need to be in a certain mindset to come up with gross or scary scenarios. Mark?
MM: Yeah. I’m already there most of the time anyway. It doesn’t take much channeling for me to get to the bloody stuff.
BD: The pages have a whole collection of cenobites we’ve never seen before, laying worship to Pinhead. Why do they follow him, what makes him so special, and why was it so worrisome he’s consumed by his work?
MM: Easy. He’s Pinhead.
BM: Exactly. Pinhead is the Pope of Hell. After the events of The Dark Watch, where Leviathan’s realm was nearly torn asunder, Pinhead’s return to his throne is celebrated… Except he never addresses his own return. Think of it this way: What if the Pope returned to the Vatican after a year-long sabbatical only to avoid addressing his congregants? It would be no small thing.
MM: You better believe there’d be a mass of people, waiting in their own waste until he showed his face. They’d all assume he had something revelatory to say. Pinhead is having a revelations…but it’s a very personal affair.
BD: What goes into exploring small stories within the world of Hellraiser? Is there a constant theme? Or does anything go?
MM: Surprise us. Make us cringe in a good way. Hellraiser is a transgressive playground. We’re up for anything as long as it’s working out some demons, so to speak.
BM: The constant theme is the same theme as the films: lust, obsession and pain (or the obsession of lusting after pain, or the pain of obsessing over lust, etc). Other than that, the Hellraiser world is fit for nearly any genre of story. It’s one of the best aspects of Bestiary: almost any kind of story can work within the Hellraiser mythos.
BD: What’s the most challenging part in trying to create painful spectacles of torture?
BM: Figuring out a fear that is universal in most people, to me, is the most challenging thing. There are plenty of things that scare me that don’t scare other people. These are horror stories, after all, so the intent is always to incite a fearful reaction. The bottom line, though, is that it’s not particularly challenging for me to come up with a torture scene. It’s all fiction, after all, and it’s fun to make things up. Especially things that will make people cringe.
MM: I’m mostly concerned with how to top myself. But when I write myself into a corner, I usually find there’s something terrible waiting for me there. All I have to do is let it in.
BD: Where did the inspiration for the story come from?
Victor LaValle: I’ve always loved the Hellraiser universe, but had a particular curiosity about that special class of demon, the Eremite. While there’s obviously and rich and varied history of stories about the Cenobites there wasn’t too much about the Eremites so I thought it would be fun to tell a story about one of them. Since I’m originally from the part of Queens, New York that’s depicted in the story it was an easy choice to set it there. My little shot at immortalizing my neighborhood in the Hellraiser universe!
BD: How does it feel to have your first published comics story be one in the “Hellraiser” universe?
VLV: I read The Hellbound Heart at some point in high school. I’d already been a fan of Barker’s Books of Blood and The Damnation Game. He’s one of the writers who most made me want to start telling stories. The idea that you could flash ahead a couple decades and I’d be pitching a story to him, and getting his go ahead, well it’s one of the true honors of my writing life so far.
BD: How did you craft the look of the gigantic beast in the climax with Colin Lorimer?
VLV: I think all I wrote was something like “the Eremite appears in beast mode” and Colin turned it into the absolutely stunning creature that’s on the page. I’m proud as hell of my writing but I can’t take any credit for the beauty of the art. That belongs to him. I’m just happy I got him to illustrate my first comic story.
BD: What made you want to turn the tables against the cenobites?
BM: That was all Clive. He wanted to see the hunter become the hunted, and we were more than happy to oblige. A good role-reversal story is always so much fun. How could we resist?
MM: This is the question that comes up the most about Bestiary. And it’s a good one. We’ve never really seen Pinhead this vulnerable. It always seems like he’s one step ahead of the game. Clive thought (and we agreed) that it’d be kind of cool to see what happened if Pinhead found himself in a totally helpless situation. He’s a creation of pure will. What would that kind of entity do in such a situation. Fight tooth and nail, if you’ll pardon the pun, to get back what belongs to him.
BD: What was it like working with Carlos Magno?
MM: He just gets it. When we send the script over, we know we’re in good hands and it’s just a matter of having the patience to wait and see what he sends us. That’s the hard part!
BM: Carlos is a genius. He’s a visualist to the umpteenth degree, with a skill for visual storytelling that is, quite frankly, unmatched in the majority of the comics world. He’s remained faithful to our scripts throughout, while always going the extra mile to make sure that the visuals are far deeper and richer than we could ever describe in our scripts.
BD: Did Pinhead enjoy the pain they inflicted upon him?
BM: This is one of those ambiguous moments in the story that I personally would much rather remain ambiguous. I like the idea of leaving some of the conclusions to the reader.
MM: I will go one step further and add that Pinhead definitely finds something to enjoy here.
BD: How will Pinhead exact his glorious revenge?
BM: He defeats his enemies with the help of his lovable robot octopus pal named Slickity Splitz. Slickity, you see, had one of his mechanical tentacles stolen by the same poachers… I’m lying. That doesn’t happen. You’re just going to have to wait and see. Besides, who’s to say if Pinhead gets revenge at all? Who’s to say this isn’t the end of Pinhead as we know it?
MM: I reckon you’ll have to read it to find out.
HELLRAISER BESTIARY IS IN SHOPS 08/20/14