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"People want to see the monsters. We supply the monsters."

    So said horror novelist and artist extraordinaire Clive Barker during a press conference with Todd McFarlane at the McFarlane Toys showroom in Manhattan to announce the new Clive Barker's Tortured Souls action figures.

    For many media folks and other attendees, this was the highlight of Toy Fair, the chance to corner two of the fantasy and horror world's most twisted creators and pick their brains. Most of the McFarlane Toys sculptors and painters who worked on the project made the trek up from New Jersey to meet the man.

    The beginning of the partnership between Todd and Clive is blurry, but both are fans of the other's work.

    "It's great dealing with Todd because you dispense with the middleman and talk directly to the creator," Clive said. "Todd is about making wonderful things, making things no one has ever seen before. He came along and said 'lets do something so scary, so extreme, it'll become a benchmark in horror toys.' "

    It seems as though they've been successful.

    The Tortured Souls line - The Scythe Meister, Agonistes, Lucidique, Mongroid, Venal Anatomica and The Fix - has drawn an incredible amount of attention in the showroom, often eliciting gasps or shrieks of horror upon initial viewing.

    "We're getting a reaction to these toys. I don't care what the reaction is, we're getting a reaction," Todd said. "If Clive -- who can be a little odd at times -- and myself, the two odd boys, if we got together and couldn't get a reaction, we failed at our task."

    "In the genre of horror, if you don't disturb people, you're not doing your job," Todd continued. "There will be a number of people who will look at these and say 'yeah.' There will also be a group of folks who look at these and wonder why they have to exist. And that's fine. We'll deal with that."

    For his part, Clive is thrilled with Tortured Souls, though he hesitates to call them "toys," preferring figures or art or, most famously, "objects of veneration."

    "These are the first toys I've had on the market," he said. "I've had model kits and whatnot, but this is a very different order of creation. These are technically amazing and the sheer level of detail is extraordinary."

    "These figures represent the creature that both obsesses you and repulses you simultaneously," he continued. "These are figures you put in a dark place in your house, probably with some votive candles, to haunt a corner in your home. We've really had fun pushing the envelope."

    As an artist, Clive is fixated on details and very much appreciates the fine points of the figures.

    "Detail is the deal with monster making," Clive said. "The idea is that somehow or other the artist knows what all these details are. The Fix, the character hanging with the bloodbag, you will look at that thing for three hours and still find things that disgust you."

    The creative process, not always the smoothest of conditions, went amazingly well between Clive and Todd.

    "Ultimately one and one becomes three," Todd said. "The strength of Clive and his studio and the strength of me and my studio, it's an amalgamation, a hybrid of a bunch of good creative people working together."

    "Agreed," Clive said firmly. "On my own I could not have done this. On his own, Todd could not have done this. Together we can. People are grasping for imaginative extremes and they are appreciative of that."

    Whatever else you can say about Tortured Souls, the figures are certainly graphic, arguably the most disturbing toys ever sculpted. Todd, as is his penchant, remained unrepentant in the face of potential controversy.

    "I am absolutely unconcerned about releasing figures this extreme," Todd said. "I've never apologized for a figure I've released. We will market these toys to appropriate venues for appropriate ages. Beyond that, it's up to parents to be the other half of the equation and control what comes into their home."

    "Some people choose to see toys like this as a sign that society is falling," he continued with a smile. "It's not, these are just an easy way to scare people."

    As for the future, look for more collaboration between Todd and Clive in the form of more action figures and possibly a movie. "We're really looking forward to pursuing a film featuring these characters," Clive said. "Ideally that will work out."

    As you can well imagine, Clive Barker's Tortured Souls will likely not be available in mass market retailers Look for these twisted action figures in specialty stores and comic book shops the world over in July.

All stories are Copyright © and TMP International, Inc., and may not be reprinted without permission.

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