I’ve always hated mandalas. Almost intuitively, right from the very beginning.
Not the mandalas themselves so much, those seemed like 12-dimension maps imagined by Garret Lisey. Not mandalas themselves, but the meditation associated with them. The act of needing to destroy them immediately on completion. That seemed like the highest crime of all. Destruction of the beautiful before it could fully exist.
When in Tibet a few years ago, witnessing the completion of one such mandala just killed me. And in that moment I knew, knew in my soul that doesn’t exist, that I’d achieved A True Enlightenment. And what was that Enlightenment? That I loved money, infrastructure, everything that Russia (where’d I’d visited just prior) was in the face of what Tibet lacked.
And of course that wasn’t the case at all. That wasn’t the true, True Enlightenment.
I was too young for Clive Barker’s Hellraiser at first. Then I was too frightened.
Not frightened by the material, but frightened in a way that Hellraiser had become the secret victim to it’s own success. In that Hellraiser, in my mind at least, had accumulated much, much too much Weight. That there had been too much history gathered by what was now a fixture of popular culture. And by extension, there was no way I’d be able to catch up all that had already occurred by just picking up the new edition.
So what do the two have in common? My Spiritual Enlightenment in Tibet years ago, and my yearning towards Clive Barker’s Hellraiser for so long? They’re one experience, completing each other over the course of history.
Who could have guessed that it would be Clive’s darkest creation that would evoke the deepest sense of spiritual elevation? Certainly not Clive himself, certainly not me. But reading the Hellraiser prelude this last week, memories of Tibet came flooding back in. And that’s when the ‘enlightenment’ kicked in. Popular culture is only popular because it renews itself. Popular culture is revolutionary, because it revolves, renews itself. Just like a mandala being wiped away and starting afresh.
Working with artist Leonardo Manco, Clive (already with an illustrious career under his belt) has outdone himself this time. Hellraiser: The Prelude requires no history, has no accumulated weight, has no continuity that needs (needs) you to know what happened 13 years and 49 issues ago, in the rare Collector’s Edition that could only be purchased for a limited time between the 8th and 9th movies.
Hellraiser: The Prelude is the beginning, not the culmination. It is sleek, and elegant, and deeply profound, and accessible to anyone who will read it. Nothing to clog up and prevent access. Just like wiping away a beautiful mandala and starting over. Hellraiser: The Prelude is an act of immense courage.
And what’s beautifully moving is that it is the About for the character. Sickened by the sheer glut of accumulated continuity, Geoff Johns reintroduced readers to Hawkman by showing us all that Hawkman is About the trials of reincarnation and immortal love. It took Garth Ennis to remind us that the Punisher is About the natural response to the breakdown of social institutions. And J Michael Straczynski showed us that Superman is about inspiring greatness.
Clive Barker’s achievement is no less complete. More so in fact, since he is able to show us what Hellraiser is About in just eight short pages. Hellraiser: The Prelude is a lesson in how a dark price can be paid to chastise those who inflict suffering.
And Hellraiser: The Prelude is an act of immense courage in another sense. The story is free to download and distribute (click on any of the links on this page) and can be found nowhere else until the publication of the collected edition perhaps a year from now. By involving social media rather than shying away from it, BOOM! Studios is taking a courageous leap, they’re defining the pace of what comics could be.
Download Hellraiser: The Prelude and share it with everyone you know. Anyone who might like horror, anyone who aspires to more. Download Hellraiser: The Prelude, spread it on Twitter using the #HellraiserPrelude hashtag, “like” it on Facebook. Join the revolution.