Booth 2304 at this year’s New York Comic-Con was once again occupied by the fine folks at Storm King Comics. Led by matriarch Sandy King Carpenter, they welcomed writers, artists, collaborators, and more. I was there to interview Mike Sizemore, who contributed an 8-issue story, Vortex, to the John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction comic book anthology. I was introduced to David J. Schow, writer of countless novels, short story collections as well as the noted screenwriter of The Crow and Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part III. Schow is currently working with Storm King on The Standoff, the latest in the monthly Tales of Science Fiction line. See below for my interview with Schow.
Geeks of Doom: I haven’t read any of The Standoff yet, tell us how you got involved in comics and with Storm King?
David J. Schow: It’s basically pretty new for me because I never wrote comics before. A long time ago they wanted to do a Leatherface comic. Because I had written Texas Chainsaw Massacre III they wanted me to write it and I tried but it kept getting screwed up and I really couldn’t do it and a friend of mine named Mort Castle took it over. Basically two friends of mine, Tim Bradstreet and Duane Swierczynski, whose a hard boiled crime writer and friend who was working for Sandy said, you really gotta try this. I was hesitant because it was comic books. You know, guys in tights throwing each other through buildings, I can’t do it. They said, no, it’s not that at all. I had read other comics that weren’t superhero comics, they were dark and I thought I could give that a try if I adapt one of my stories that I already had published. So I took it to Sandy and gave her a one-liner on the story and she said do it. I discovered I could do script versions. There are all kinds of versions of comic book scripts and I thought, wait a minute, this is actually easier than screenwriting. I got a story in the first Tales For A HalloweeNight and I’ve been in every issue since then, and we’re up to part 4. So then Sandy said she wants me to do a series for their Tales of Science Fiction and that’s what we started, The Standoff. We’re up to issue 3 out of 5 and we’re lined up for another series after that which is tentatively titled John Carpenter’s Hell. And we’re gonna keep going. It couldn’t have been smoother or better. The artists I’m working with are fantastic. I have a team of two guys on The Standoff, and for Tales For A HalloweeNight the first three were done by a guy named Darick Robertson. In 4, we had a conflict with a script I’d written and some artists and we didn’t get to illustrate it in time. Sandy called up and said there was a painting by a guy named Nick Percival, can you do a story based on this painting like tonight. I said sure, and I got into book 4 also which makes me happy. Tim Bradstreet has done five covers for me, for my crime novels. The first two Thomas Jane was the model, so Thom is all over the first few. The next one is coming out in February and he did the cover for that one too. Between Bradstreet and Duane I got sucked into the world of comic books.
Geeks of Doom: I mean you wrote The Crow, which is based on a comic, and you’ve worked in horror for years. Was it just getting over the perception of comic books?
David J. Schow: Oh definitely.
Geeks of Doom: The Tales For A HalloweeNight books remind me of Tales from the Crypt, which helped get me into horror when I was a kid.
David J. Schow: I wrote for that TV show. Those were also based on comics. Ironically there were stories of mine that were adapted to comics for different things, usually one shots. And James O’Barr, who did The Crow, adapted a short story of mine long before we met. So luck of the draw there.
Geeks of Doom: What’s it like working with John Carpenter? Had you collaborated at all before?
David J. Schow: Well, working at Storm King, John approves everything at Storm King and he has control and veto power over everything that goes into the books. We usually do these big group signings at Golden Apple Comics in LA, in Hollywood every year and we’re gearing up for number four I think the first week of November. But I’ve known John a long time. I first met John at the press party for The Fog, met Jamie Lee, met John and ended up having sushi with Martine Beswick.
Geeks of Doom: I ask this to all the comic writers I speak with: What is the relationship like between writer and artist? Is it collaborative? What’s your process?
David J. Schow: Usually on a Tales For A HalloweeNight I’d send the script in and I wouldn’t know what it was going to look like until I saw the final issue. On The Standoff, which we just started, it is incredibly collaborative. There have to 400-500 emails between me and the artists. They ask me, what does this guy look like, how tall is he, what’s his background, where was he born, and I’ll do character sheets for everybody. Then we vet the finished versions of the comics to the point where I’ll say ‘No, the sound effects are wrong for this guy, and he should be better lit’ and they go and do all the changes and Janice [Chiang] does all the lettering changes. We did lettering changes on The Standoff #4 the day before it was turned in because I thought the shotgun noises were wrong, so she changed them. With The Standoff, which is much more my baby and my show, it’s a lot more collaborative. It’s drawn by a guy named Andres Esparza and colored by a guy named Sergio Martinez. They’ve done a super job, I’m in touch with them a lot. I met Sergio in San Diego and I’ll meet Andres when we get together when The Standoff is in a collected book. That will force Bradstreet to do another cover for me.
David J. Schow was yet another super cool member of the Storm King family I was privileged to meet at NYCC earlier this month. After the interview, we sat and talked about his initial vision for Texas Chainsaw Part III and the never-ending sequels and remakes in that franchise. You can buy issues 1 – 3 of The Standoff as well as all four issues of Tales For A HalloweeNight now, some are available with autographed cover. Go to Storm King’s site and click the tab for “official store.” And check out the trailers here below for more from Storm King Comics.