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  • Writer's picturePete Mesling

Off the Shelf: Clive Barker's Imajica

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Sometimes it occurs to me that a certain book could be put to great use in the classroom if I were a high school teacher. Clive Barker’s Imajica is one such book. You wouldn’t assign the whole thing, of course. It’s a whopper, both in size and scope. But for themes touching on LGBTQ topics; the difficulty of genre labels; and the inevitability of political corruption, love, loss, vengeance, destiny, and regret—not to mention the sheer quality of the prose—I’d be hard pressed to think of a better teaching novel.

I have a few outstanding signed editions of the book, so let’s start with the signed, slipcased edition put out by HarperCollins during Imajica’s initial publication over thirty years ago.

I was lucky enough to find this beauty at a local bookstore several years ago. I’ve always loved the design of the first edition, and this limited variant plays very nicely on the key elements, such as the use of purple and the distinctive yin-yang artwork. Even Clive’s signature was done in purple ink. There were only 500 of these numbered volumes printed, so good luck tracking one down, but it’s a real treasure.

Next we come to the more recent special edition from Suntup Editions. This came out in 2022 in three states: lettered, numbered, and artist edition. I wish I could have swung the two-volume lettered edition, because it boasts an absolutely groundbreaking cover design that allows both front and back covers to be curled back. Maybe one day I'll be fortunate enough to snag a copy on the secondary market (see the update at the end of this post, in fact), but trust me when I say that the artist and numbered editions are nothing to sneeze at, and those I do possess.

The numbered is easily the thickest book I own, yet Suntup somehow managed to keep its presentation elegant and readable. It feels much better in the hands than you might think.

I’m not the first person to point out that Suntup’s books tend to be a step up in quality compared to most other publishers. Their artist editions are of a caliber that could easily pass for numbered, and their numbered volumes tend to feel like traditional lettered editions. This is certainly the case with the artist edition of Imajica. It’s a stunning book, right down to the sweeping dust-jacket art by Jody Fallon.

These photos don't do justice to the iridescent slipcase for the artist edition, by the way. It's truly arresting when you get up close and personal. So are the interior illustrations.

And that's all I've got for now. Thanks for stopping by. I’m as curious as you might be as to what book, or books, I’ll feature next time, but I'll make sure the return visit is worth your time. Subscribe to this blog to avoid missing out!


UPDATE: Well, it didn't take as long as I thought it would. I stumbled across a lettered—though PC—edition of Imajica at a price I couldn't pass up. Behold ...

I can't believe I own this beauty in all three states issued by Suntup. It's also my first lettered Suntup, and, I believe, my third lettered edition of any kind. Suffice it to say that this is a banner day in my book-collecting life, even though what matters most is that Imajica is one the greatest novels I've ever read. Probably the greatest by a living writer.

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