#1  
Old 10-26-2011, 03:04 PM
Stephen King vs Clive Barker vs Jack Ketchum

Who do you prefer and why?

I am a huge fan of Clive Barker's work, well I should restate that, I am a huge fan of his more serious toned works. I can't really get into his deep fantasy stuff. But recently I have really gotten into Stephen King's work as well. Jack Ketchum is someone that I don't know much about but intrigues me as well. I have Offspring but I have yet to get around to reading it. I'm just not sure who I like more out of the Barker/King debate.

What are you opinions?
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  #2  
Old 10-26-2011, 03:34 PM
I love Stephen King and his works (or the majority of them, anyway).

I've not read a single Clive Barker book. Of course I love the Hellraiser movies though.

Which books are Barker's best, as far as straight up/fucked up horror? (less into fantasy/adventure) and more into the horror aspect.

As someone who's been curious to read something of his for awhile now, I just thought I'd ask!
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  #3  
Old 10-26-2011, 07:54 PM
Clive Barker is by far my favourite author of all time! His prose is like poetry, and his stories Biblical in nature. I love his brutal honesty; his tales are not just phenomenal, they're beautiful. I can't say that anybody has inspired me in the ways that Clive Barker has touched my character and I owe him more than I could ever give for the countless days his novels, films, and opinions have helped me make it through. I was in some crappy places at some points in my life and good 'ole Clive was always there for me, and always will be there. He's like an allegorical godfather to me.

I would recommend The Hellbound Heart (which Hellraiser was based upon), Coldheart Canyon, and the Books of Blood for more strict Horror. I much prefer his high fantasy, but for those more into Horror that's your best bet.

Stephen King is also a very good storyteller, one of my favourites as well, so I have to give credit where credit is due there. I've never read a single story by Jack Ketchum.
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  #4  
Old 10-27-2011, 02:55 PM
Barker's unchallenged best horror, are absolutely the first 3 Books of Blood, there is some seriously great horror in there. All of them deserve to filmed too, I'm looking at you HBO or Showtime for an Anthology series! The Damnation Game and the Hellbound Heart are probably his next best pure horror. I didn't like Coldheart Canyon at all. It was really good at the beginning, but it really fell off the map in the middle and end of the book.
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  #5  
Old 10-27-2011, 11:10 PM
Thanks for the recommendations!
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  #6  
Old 10-28-2011, 01:36 AM
It's interesting you throw Ketchum into this mix. I don't know many who've read ANY of his stuff, or if so only one or two.

Ketchum I would say has some rather poignant moments in things that he writes, but overall he isn't as consistently hard-hitting as either King or Barker. His novella RED is my absolute favorite by him. OFFSPRING and OFF SEASON are both very similar and enjoyable on a bubble-gum drive-in movie horror flick kinda way.
Then he's done other things that are not quite the same in tone or intent. GIRL NEXT DOOR, although the subject matter is disturbing didn't disturb ME much because when someone goes so far to make the audience squirm I find it to be more of a cheap exploitation and it annoys me. I didn't know until after I read it that it was based on true events, and his reason for writing it was to work out the stress he had from knowing people like this existed in the world. He wrote about it in hopes of understanding more about the why.
His other stuff can be good (THE LOST), alright (SHE WAKES) to head-shakingly frustrating in badness (COVER).

Barker has done some wonderful stories, but I haven't liked anything he's done since the mid-90s. He has the most poetic writing style, with descriptions of people and things that make me stop and appreciate his prose. I loved WEAVEWORLD, but it would have worked a little better for me if he didn't throw in what he loves so much in horror; black, oily bug-infested type creatures (think Deadites), which to me didn't quite fit in with the setting of Weaveworld. I read that book at least three times, though. Great stuff!
I never got into IMAJICA, but I'm a minority on that one it seems. Sadly, his more recent stuff just bores me to fucking tears.

I've read all of King's books and he's had his ups and downs... it's impossible for someone who's written so much and in so many genres to make stuff that everyone can always enjoy. I feel there are times where he had a solid story base, but didn't quite know what to do with it so he makes predictable and implausible stock "bad guys" to finish the story in a less-than-stellar manner (INSOMNIA, ROSE MADDER, UNDER THE DOME and others). I can't say I'm not a fan of his, though. I most certainly am one of King's Constant Readers.

In the end, if I was to choose ONLY ONE person, it would be King. Each one of them have their own style within similar storytelling genres and themes. Barker's strength is in his prose. Ketchum can grab you emotionally through a solid relatable story with people you can empathize with. King can do a lot of things, but I guess I would say he was most masterful at writing in wildly opposing story types - dramatic small-town homespun tales like LAST RUNG ON THE LADDER, THE BODY, or even SHAWSHANK - then spin over to fantasy such as THE EYE OF THE DRAGON and THE DARK TOWER series, but still be most well known for his balls-to-the-wall horror.
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  #7  
Old 10-28-2011, 12:33 PM
I would have to agree with you on King.
Barker creates incredible fantastical worlds, which I believe not even King can match. Barker is a fantastic writer, with an unmistakable style, but I just can't get into his fantasy epics.

With King I can get into almost anything that he writes, even his fantasy. However, I'm not a big fan of his short stories. I feel that Barker is much more focused and intense, and cinematic in his short story writing. This topic seems like a love or hate thing, but with Under the Dome, I absolutely loved it! I thought King's writing and characters, descriptions, everything were very strong (the ending is another thing), but it was a very strong book. I have to say that Under the Dome is one of my favorites from King.

But that's what's great about him, he has such a vast catalogue that everyone has their own favorites.
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  #8  
Old 02-23-2012, 06:24 AM
While I'm not a big reader of horror, I must throw in my 2 cents for Ketchum's Ladies Night. Years ago on this very site, I read that it had been optioned for a film. I'm not sure why, but I sought it out (which wasn't easy as it's long out of print) and I LOVED it. It's a short read and if you can find it, I can't recommend it enough. I won't spoil it here but I have seen similar projects with a somewhat similar plot come and go through the low budget side with forgettable results.
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  #9  
Old 02-23-2012, 05:34 PM
You know, I've attempted to read Offseason by Ketchum on three seperate occasions, and I just couldn't get into it. I'm not going to shut Ketchum out though, he'll come around to me sooner or later.

I have been reading a lot of King's work. Actually for the past year, I've really been into his work. There's something about his writing that never gets old for me. I have liked everything that I've read so far. I'm actually really loving the fact that when he was churning out the big time hits, I was just a youngin' and unfortunately wasn't allowed to read much of his work, because now I'm blowing though his catalogue and it's all fresh and new to me, even if it is old. King really is the king of his craft.

Now Barker on the other hand...he's very strong when he contains himself. His shorts are simply incredible (Books of Blood, Hell Heart, Thief of Always). However, I just don't like his longer works of fiction. I read Coldheart Canyon and while the first half was very strong, the last half didn't work. The same goes for The Damnation Game. I just don't have the same reaction to his novels the way I do with King's novels. Barker's writing sometimes seems, confusing?
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  #10  
Old 03-10-2012, 07:35 PM
The Thief of Always, since it has been brought up, is such a masterpiece. It is one of, if not my all-time favourite children's novel. The Pandora's Box of my raging fandom has just been opened!!
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  #11  
Old 03-29-2012, 02:59 PM
Between Ketchum and King, two years ago I would have said King. As of now though I don't like King. I think he's overly descriptive.

Last edited by SL Dubbs; 06-13-2012 at 04:27 PM..
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  #12  
Old 03-30-2012, 04:15 PM
I've only read The Girl Next Door by Ketchum. Good stuff.

I need to read more Barker. I've only tapped Hellbound heat and Vol. 1 of Books of Blood and they both rocked as well.


Stephen King, for all the crap he gets from "serious literally types" is my favorite author. There is just something about the way he tells his stories that have always grabbed and pulled me in. It, The Stand, Salems Lot, Christine, Pet Sematary, The Talisman, The Long Walk, The Green Mile, Different Seasons, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Hearts In Atlantis and of course The Dark Tower series are all some of my favorites.

The only King books I've truly been let down by are The Tommyknockers, Cujo, Cell, The Shining (I know, I know) and Thinner. Books fans aren't to keen on like Dreamcatcher, From A Buick 8, and Liseys Story I've loved. Under the Dome was a blast. I dug the hell out of it but the ending wasn't the strongest. I have yet to read Duma Key or 11/22/63 (which a lot have said is his best in years).

Last edited by poopontheshoes7; 03-30-2012 at 04:19 PM..
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  #13  
Old 05-25-2012, 09:14 PM
^^King is the true storyteller of the triumvirate; Barker is the poet. (I have still yet to read Ketchum, so fill that in as you wish.)
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  #14  
Old 05-28-2012, 09:53 AM
I find that I don't like Barker's lengthy novels, his short stories are much stronger. I also find that I don't like King's short stories, his lengthier novels are much stronger. It sounds odd that one would be stronger than the other, however Clive tends to lose focus and direction when he gets overly wordy, and King doesn't have enough focus and direction in his shorts. I know I'm in the minority on this one, but I just don't like King's shorts.

I thought I'd give his short stories another chance so I purchased "The Night Shift" for my KFire, and I stopped right after the "Lawnmower Man". I just can't get into them. I did the same thing with Barker. After the pain of reading "Coldheart Canyon" I chalked it up to him delivering a dud-- after all I did like "The Thief of Always". So, I gave his masterpiece (arguably) "The Damnation Game" a try. The book grabbed me from the beginning and held my interest until about midway through the book when it started to fall apart. What followed was a downward spiral of character development. Clive set up such an enigmatic and (potentially) evil character with Mamoulian, then let him slip into nothing in the books final chapters. What a disappointment!
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  #15  
Old 05-28-2012, 09:11 PM
The Damnation Game is honestly the only Clive Barker novel that I have read and did not fall in love with. I was really meh about the whole thing. Granted, I read it forever ago when I was not nearly so in love with his works as I have become since, but that would still probably qualify as my least favourite story of his. I enjoy Weaveworld, Imajica, The (as of yet) Trilogy Of The Art, The Thief Of Always, Coldheart Canyon, The Hellbound Heart (you've surely read that one?), and the others, to make this obnoxiously long list a little less obnoxious and long. I certainly wouldn't judge his longer works based on his first full novel, but that's just my opinion. Others seem to love it.
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  #16  
Old 06-13-2012, 04:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mopar Fanatic View Post
Between Ketchum and King, two years ago I would have said King. As of now though I don't like King. I think he's overly descriptive.
This still applies after reading Dolores Claiborne I still think he sucks. That's it for me. I'm done with his books.
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  #17  
Old 06-20-2012, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Mopar Fanatic View Post
This still applies after reading Dolores Claiborne I still think he sucks. That's it for me. I'm done with his books.
That's a real shame..You should really try reading 11/22/63..easily one of the best books he has written


As for me I am a huge fan of Stephen King and have been reading his books since the mid 80's..and though I love King I have to admit that Clive Barker is the superior author (have never read Ketchum but I can probably make a good bet he comes no where near Barker).after reading Barker's The Great and Secret Show there was no turning back for me
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  #18  
Old 07-15-2012, 06:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beard_of_Meat View Post
As for me I am a huge fan of Stephen King and have been reading his books since the mid 80's..and though I love King I have to admit that Clive Barker is the superior author (have never read Ketchum but I can probably make a good bet he comes no where near Barker).after reading Barker's The Great and Secret Show there was no turning back for me
I know that feel, and The Great and Secret Show is only the tip of the iceberg (in my opinion). The sequel, Everville, is easily just as good, Imajica is far better than either, and he just never fails to impress, nor does he fall short of astounding. I just read a few of his Tapping The Vein comic adaptations of Books Of Blood stories and they hold up much better than I remember them being. I may have to rediscover that series in the near future!
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  #19  
Old 07-30-2012, 05:48 PM
Don't get me wrong, I like Barker, I just think he writes better short stories than novels. I loved the Thief of Always, and would love to see it made into a movie. I like Cold Heart Canyon, but halfway through the book falls apart. The same can be said for the Damnation Game. I loved the first half, and then the book fell apart! I hate to say it, but Barker's writing style tends to annoy me after a while. When Clive goes on those tirades about the mystical and magical, it gives me a headache. When he writes the shorts, they are to the point, and have impact.

I find that I can't frequently read Clive's work. I can frequently read King's, though. I find myself finishing a King novel, attempting to read something else by another author, and then quitting halfway through because I want to read some more King. He's just that good. I have downloaded most of his work onto my Kindle Fire, and can't wait to catch up with them all. The problem is I enjoy reading him so much that I take my time and let the characters and settings sink in, which makes it more time consuming to read him. I don't consider myself a very voracious reader either. I usually read a book or two a month, depending on other things that I'm focused on.

I just finished reading The Stand, which took me about 3 weeks, and I have to say for all the praise this one has collected over the years, I can't say it was my favorite, or even that I think it is his best! As Beard_Of_Meat posted, 11-23-63 is definitely in my top 2 favorite King novels. Man, that was some good shit! I mean, really good shit. I also thoroughly enjoyed Under the Dome. IT was great, except for the silliness in the end, and 'Salem's Lot is also a great read, especially in the fall, emulating that feeling of watching a classic horror film. The nice thing about King is his deep catalogue, especially for me being a new fan. Barker doesn't have half of what King has in terms of reading material.

On a side note, I love Stephen King's son, Joe Hill. Though he only has two novels and a short story collection out, they are fantastic! I wish he would spend less time writing comic's and more time writing novels! Heart Shaped Box was flippin' cool as hell, and will make an awesome movie. Horns was good, but not nearly as good as Heart.
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  #20  
Old 07-30-2012, 06:01 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Ed View Post
On a side note, I love Stephen King's son, Joe Hill. Though he only has two novels and a short story collection out, they are fantastic! I wish he would spend less time writing comic's and more time writing novels! Heart Shaped Box was flippin' cool as hell, and will make an awesome movie. Horns was good, but not nearly as good as Heart.
I agree..Joe Hill is great..I loved Heart Shaped Box and feel the same as you about Horns..I see a lot of potential in him and can't wait to see what else he's got up his sleeve.

Good lord does he look like his dad!

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  #21  
Old 08-01-2012, 06:39 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beard_of_Meat View Post
That's a real shame..You should really try reading 11/22/63..easily one of the best books he has written
I felt I gave him unfair treatment with one of his lesser titles.

So I recently gave Night Shift a try. Turns out it was right up my alley. My only objection would be most of the endings. I don't like endings left open for interpretation. I feel that it's the authors job to start and finish the story. Ya other than though I dugg the short stories.
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  #22  
Old 08-01-2012, 06:56 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by SL Dubbs View Post
I felt I gave him unfair treatment with one of his lesser titles.

So I recently gave Night Shift a try. Turns out it was right up my alley. My only objection would be most of the endings. I don't like endings left open for interpretation. I feel that it's the authors job to start and finish the story. Ya other than though I dugg the short stories.
Night Shift was great..Another great collection of short stories by King is Full Dark,No Stars..I actually just bought the hard cover of this at Meijer for $6..Cheaper than the paperback...I do agree with you though on King's endings though..a lot of times they just fizzle but with 11/22/63 he did a knockout fucking job

Last edited by Beard_of_Meat; 08-01-2012 at 06:59 PM..
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  #23  
Old 08-02-2012, 12:13 AM
I veer generally toward King in terms of stories (though truth be told, the last recent one of his that I have read is 'Under The Dome' which IS pretty good, but I am more partial to his earlier epics.

That being said, as Evil Ed pointed out, Barker's strengths usually come from his novellas or short stories if you prefer. I have tried to read a few of his full length material, but I just didn't feel it.

Truth be told, I actually find that Barker's material translates quite well on visual media compared to King's.
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  #24  
Old 09-28-2012, 10:45 PM
My first horror books were King novels but at around 13 I picked up my first Clive Barker and read a few. Over all I would go with King, great horror and really great writing. Barker is insane horror and mediocre writing. Both are good but King is better.
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