New York Comic-Con is the perfect place to find new and exciting reading material specifically if you’re into the world of genre fiction. Look no further than booth #2304 on the show floor and meet Storm King Comics. You might recognize the name atop their titles, the Master of Horror, John Carpenter. His wife, producer and collaborator, Sandy King Carpenter is a renaissance woman. Producing John Carpenter films since the 1980s, she is an artist, writer, and the CEO and founder of Storm King Productions. In 2015, Storm King ventured into the world of comics and graphic novels, publishing Asylum which she co-created with John Carpenter and Thomas Ian Griffith. Storm King also created two anthology series; John Carpenter’s Tales For a HalloweeNight which just released its third annual compendium of horror tales, and John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction, which just completed its first story, a 3-part outer space saga, “Vault.” I got a chance to speak with Sandy King Carpenter about the latest releases, her influences, and the future of the brand.
Geeks of Doom: So Tales For a HalloweeNight Vol. 3 just came out. Not just saying this because I’m talking to you, but my favorite story in the book was yours, “Everlasting Peace.”
Sandy King Carpenter: Was it really? Oh thank you.
Geeks of Doom: I’m a huge Lovecraft fan, and I love the idea of these classic horror writers being alive and waiting on kids to come mess with them.
Sandy King Carpenter: They’re lying in wait to f*ck with them.
Geeks of Doom: Where’d you come up with that idea?
Sandy King Carpenter: I think it’s just that there are people who just want to be left alone. They’re really annoyed, and really annoyed by each other. They’re harping on each other and ragging on each other, and I just started thinking what it would be like to be ghost and just be annoyed by everybody. What I was really trying to think about, because I think in absurd patterns anyway, is we always think about we’re scared by, but what are ghosts scared by or annoyed by? Probably kids who won’t stay away from the haunted house. I just think about the absurd. It seemed really absurd that they snatch kids, then they’re stuck with one, they’re stuck with the stoner and have to listen to him for eternity. I started out darker, where the house would reach out for the kids and grab one of them. But unfortunately, I was in that frame of mind where everything I came up with came out funny. So they do snatch a kid but it’s the stoner and he lightens it up all the time.
Geeks of Doom: Now you’re married to John Carpenter, the end all be all for horror movie fans. But were you always into horror growing up?
Sandy King Carpenter: Oh yeah. The earliest form of literature I fell in love with was horror. The first novel I really remember getting into was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. And then I immediately went to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and then right onto The Island of Dr. Moreau. That real classic horror I loved, I thought it was some of the best storytelling. And I still really recommend it to libraries and to teachers because I think it they spend so much time looking for tales that reach out to kids who feel alienated or feel like ‘the other.’ What’s a bigger tale of alienation and feeling like ‘the other,’ than Frankenstein? You know because beauty is in the eye of the creator until he sees his reflection in the water. What are these things where you’re rejected by society because of how you look; these are things that all kids who feel like outsiders can relate to. I just think those are great pieces of literature, and you get great allegorical tales in horror that you don’t get elsewhere.
Geeks of Doom: Yeah, for my generation it was Stephen King. I remember reading King in elementary school.
Sandy King Carpenter: That’s why Stephen King speaks to so many people. You know one of the mistakes in a lot of the film adaptations is they focus on the plot, not the characters.
Geeks of Doom: So if you could just talk a little bit about Storm King Comics and Storm King Productions and how this came about.
Sandy King Carpenter: Storm King Productions has been around a long time. It’s my production company that generally you have to form when you make a corporation. Storm King is actually named after my father and grandfather, I grew up on my grandfather’s ranch, Storm King Ranch, in Storm King Mountain, Colorado. Everyone assumes it’s from my disposition; it’s not. It’s the company I use to produce our movies, produce our TV shows, and when we decided to move into comics, I made a division to handle the comics.
Geeks of Doom: I’ve read the Asylum books, the first story of Tales of Science Fiction. That’s an anthology series, so what’s next for that?
Sandy King Carpenter: Next up is Vortex. It will be eight issues. Mike Sizemore is writing that, Dave Kennedy is illustrating it. That’s off of a story John and I came up with, and Mike Sizemore is a better writer than I am and he’s really kicking its ass, and it’s another great tale of outer space science fiction. We have many more coming up, one by Duane Swierczynski that Richard Clark is drawing, Joe Harris is doing one, we have stories for the next three years. They just rock. We do them monthly and miniseries. I think we found from our Halloween anthologies that a lot of people like the shorter stories. For those that like Asylum, Asylum will be back next year. But I think a miniseries coming out hits the sweet spot in between.
Geeks of Doom: That’s me definitely. My wife can grab a 700 page book and go to town, but I see 700 pages I think, ‘how many stories?’ You mentioned reading horror classics Frankenstein, Dracula etc. But what were your influences as a writer?
Sandy King Carpenter: Ooh, I don’t know. It’s been very interesting because writing comics is a whole new discipline. I realized coming from writing a movie, you have to be a lot more concise with comics. It’s not the outline, you just have to script it in a different way. It’s just different disciplines. Like you can’t just stroll in and think well I write for movies so I can write for comics. Particularly when writing horror, you have 22 pages here and you’re supposed to build suspense or get some kind of big reaction and I’ll be going through it and I’ll say YES, then I’ll read it back and I’ll think ‘Damn, it’s eluded me again.’ You just really have to be precise with your thoughts.
Geeks of Doom: You and John are really into everything. He’s obviously known for his films, but he hasn’t made one in a long time. You’re both involved with Storm King Comics, writing stories, he’s about to go on tour with his music. How do you guys balance all the mediums you play to?
Sandy King Carpenter: That’s a little bit how we’ve always been. We always have music in the house… we have a recording studio in the house. There’s always been art in the house, my background is in art. And there’s always been writing because he was writing scripts, I was always editing them. So it’s just a matter of how it’s manifested to the public. Comics came about kind of by accident. People for years had come to him and wanted to get his name on comics, but they weren’t great. So it was just the right time, where we wanted to be home and deal with life issues and parents that are aging and things like that; we decided it was the right time to do a comic. John said, “What do we know about comics?” And I said, “Nothing, but we’ll learn.” We spent two years researching the comics industry, working with the right people. People like Tim Bradstreet to Steve Niles to Bruce Jones who originally started out writing Asylum; they were very generous with their time. But it was two years before we put out a comic. But we loved doing it, so we kept doing it. The horror anthology came about as a fluke.
Geeks of Doom: The horror anthology reminds me of John’s original idea for Halloween 3. Thirty years ago?
Sandy King Carpenter: Probably. It was largely because we have a local comic shop, Golden Apple Comics, in Hollywood that we liked having something for, a new issue of Asylum or something like that, and John would go down and sign stuff for the local fans and give them something special, because I feel comics fans really love to celebrate Halloween. We didn’t have anything for Halloween, so we thought let’s do a one shot book. And we were having dinner at San Diego Comic-Con and everybody got drunk and said, ‘Why didn’t you ask me?’ I told them if they can meet this deadline then they could be in. It all kinda went from there, but 12 stories were the most that I wanted.
In the middle of one of the most crowded events in the largest and most crowded city, Sandy King Carpenter took nearly 15-minutes to speak to me and she was as cool a person as you can meet. She and John Carpenter make a horror super-team, which is now expanding comics into the vast array of talents they have. If you’re going to NYCC this weekend, Storm King Comics is located at booth #2304 on the show floor at the Javits Center. Sandy King Carpenter as well as several other writers and artists from Tales of Science Fiction and Tales For a HalloweeNight are there selling and signing books. NYCC runs through Sunday, October 8th. If you can’t make it to NYCC, head to Storm King Productions to browse and shop.
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