Thief of Always 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition UNBOXING/REVIEW
The great grey beast February had eaten me alive. Here I was, buried in the belly of that smothering month, wondering if I would ever find my way out through the cold coils (well, not that cold in Arizona) that lay between here and Easter. Muttering to myself, I stared around the office. It wasn’t even untidy. There were one or two games scattered around; a couple of Clive Barker hardcovers on the couch; a couple of cats staring at me for food, a podcasting microphone wrapped in its own cable next to a notebook: It looked just fine.
Suddenly, the bell rang. I went to see who it was. Standing there was a USPS mailman. He looked harmless enough.
“My name’s Rictus. You are José Leitão, aren’t you?”
“I thought for a moment I’d got the wrong house.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off Rictus’s grin. It was wide enough to shame a shark, with two perfect rows of gleaming teeth. “Thank you” I said, taking the package from his hands. Rictus got back into his truck and flew away.
This looked promising. I took the box to the dining room and opened it. It smelled of Summer and Magic…
This is the amazing Seraphim Ink 25th Anniversary Deluxe edition of Clive Barker‘s first published children’s book, The Thief of Always. Seraphim Ink’s previous release was Clive Barker’s First Tales, another serving of fantastic fables from Clive’s juvenilia. A lot of care went into this book; this is the first fully in-house edition, as First Tales had some help from another company. The design of the clamshell is stunning. Vicky Barker and Christian Francis designed this edition, and it will light up any shelf— it is definitely a conversation piece.
Like a modern-day William Blake, Clive Barker created this book as a complete artistic vision: it’s profusely illustrated throughout. All the art in here was hand-drawn by Clive in 1992, to complement a story he wrote in 1991, around the time he was also working on the second book of the Art Trilogy: Everville.
“The story had occurred to me a while ago and I’d written it down in short form called The Holiday House and I showed it to my agent who wasn’t particularly eager about it, so I went into a corner and just did it, Clive Barker – Hungry Waters because it was a story I wanted to write. Sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do! It took about three months to write, probably another couple of months to do fixes on, and then I gave it to HarperCollins and said, ‘I realise you’re taking a huge risk with this, because here’s a children’s book coming from Clive Barker, and maybe nobody will buy it! So I’ll sell it to you for a dollar.’ Actually, they ended up giving me a silver dollar for it. And I did the illustrations and the thing went from there. It has since turned out to be a very successful book.”
from An Interview With Clive Barker: The Thief Of Always graphic novel, Book 3, May 2005.
The first edition came out on November 1st 1992. This 25th Anniversary edition comes out this February, the same month as the story opens with, a cold month that makes us long for the Summer. No more waking up while it’s dark to go to school, no more cold feet in bed while the rain patters against the panes. Just magic and fun all the year round, with Holiday parties every day of the week. I can’t help thinking this February release just adds to the immersion. Give it a try.
This anniversary edition comes in 2 formats: Standard ($70) and Deluxe ($425), both amazing pieces that deliver at the end of the story an Unused Art Archive with a lot of paper and ink drawings from Clive that never made it to the final edition, and a Thieves Around the World cover section where you can see different international editions of Thief. The Deluxe brings a bit more to the table, featuring fac simile reproductions of the manuscript pages as they progressed: Chapter One first draft handwritten manuscript pages that give us some extras, an alternate beginning, early and later drafts, as well as handwritten screenplay adaptation manuscript pages with first and last scenes. The Deluxe also comes with a golden envelope inside the clamshell with 4 small but beautiful art prints taken from the story’s illustrations. You can find an alternative art gallery at the Revelations website here.
As you may know, the last time we ever heard about a possible Thief of Always movie adaptation was back in 2013, and Oliver Parker (who played a Hellraiser Moving Man, Nightbreed‘s Peloquin, and went on to direct Dorian Gray and the Bafta-nominated An Ideal Husband) is attached to direct that project. I’m not sure what adaptation these screenplay pages were originally made for (in the mid-2000s there was work done on a 20th Century Fox adaptation with Kelly Asbury), but for the sake of posterity you can now take a peek at how Clive Barker wanted to translate The Thief of Always onto the silver screen. I hope we will eventually have a live action or animated version of this fantastic fable.
The Thief of Always crystallizes Clive Barker‘s love for the Fantastique, marking his escape from the labels of Horror fiction. It’s a lovely book that captures this childlike fantasy and innocence but isn’t sickly sweet: there’s monsters in the shadows, there’s teeth and death, there’s evil creatures and gulfs of darkness out in the empty woods. Our protagonist, Harvey Swick lives in a small bland fictional town called Millsap, and what flies through his window one February is not Peter Pan or an owl with a message; it’s Rictus. A very strange, scary creature, servant to a higher power that offers Harvey a vacation. What follows is a fable I think you will enjoy tremendously, if you haven’t already in the 25 years it’s been out entertaining adults and kids alike.
There’s a lot more Thief merchandising being offered for sale by Seraphim and Clive Barker, including pins, t-shirts, prints and coasters. You can find them here. There is a particularly striking print available right now, featuring the complete original art reproduced in the cover:
Special Thanks to Clive Barker, Mark Miller, Christian Francis, Ben Meares and everyone at Seraphim for the work they do and support they offer to the @BarkerCast. It’s been a great 5 years sharing the love with other fellow fans on the internet. Remember to visit Revelations and The Clive Barker Archive for more interesting news and archive memories. And please, if you liked the work we do and our articles and episodes, consider supporting our Kickstarter and you’ll receive some very cool backer rewards from us: