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John Carpenter explains why his “Asylum” comic book is an “irresistible” project

John Carpenter explains why his “Asylum” comic book is an “irresistible” project (photo)

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When it comes to the Halloween season, there are few directors whose films get more mileage than John Carpenter.

So, how is the filmmaker responsible for horror classics like “Halloween,” “Christine,” and “The Thing” celebrating the holiday this year? By attending this weekend’s Long Beach Comic and Horror Con and showing off his latest tale of terror, apparently.

IFC caught up with the director ahead of his appearance at this weekend’s show to get more info on John Carpenter’s Asylum, the upcoming comic book series he helped create with his wife, Sandy King, and actor Thomas Ian Griffith. (You can check out a teaser for the book at digital publishing site Graphicly.)

“It’s essentially a horror comic about a conflict that involves the most powerful evil of all, and a plan to open a portal in Los Angeles that would be the beginning of the end for mankind,” said Carpenter of the series. “The stakes are big, but I love shit like that. I’ve loved that type of stuff since I was a kid. It’s irresistible to me.”

Announced earlier this year, Asylum will be scripted by veteran comics writer Bruce Jones, with interior art by Jason Craig. Carpenter will be in attendance at Long Beach Comic and Horror Con this Saturday (October 29) to sign a special preview issue of the book alongside King and Griffith.

And even though the book is making its debut at a comic convention, Carpenter warns that the project isn’t your typical capes-and-tights story.

“The characters are conflicted. They’re certainly not superheroes,” he explained.

Carpenter also made it clear that this isn’t just some project he lends his name to, either. While he’s well aware that the comics industry is relatively new ground for him, he’s confident that he’s learning from some of the best — and enjoying the fact that he’s a student of the medium.

“I’m definitely involved in this, but I’ve never ever done [a comic] before, and I’m not writing the script,” he told IFC. “Bruce Jones is writing the script, because he’s a comic book writer. I’m learning a lot about it, though. Some of the techniques are similar to screenwriting, but some of them aren’t — some of them are very new to me. But I’m following it from script to finished page.”

“I’m kind of being carried through this,” he continued. “And I’m putting that in the best possible terms. My wife is acting as the editor of this comic book, and I’m still learning. I know about directing, but I don’t know anything about comics. I’m kind of a babe in the woods here.”

However, Carpenter considers this foray into the comics world a return to a medium he grew up with, and one that helped shape his future career.

“Of course I read comics,” he laughed. “I read the first issue of MAD Magazine ever. I was a big fan of EC Comics, maybe more so than any other comics. I loved those things. I went through the Marvel period and their coming of age and growth, too. I stopped for a while, but I appreciate Sin City and a lot of the new comics, like The Dark Knight and such. I’ve been a comic fan since before you were born.”

So, why is he only getting into the comics scene now? The time was just right, the filmmaker explained, and there’s nothing more to it.

“It just seemed like a good time,” he said, simply. “I know that the world of comic books is changing a great deal. I know that a lot of the comic book stores have been closing, and these are hard times, but there have been hard times in the past, too.”

In fact, in speaking about the project, Carpenter’s enthusiasm seemed to call back to those aforementioned younger days reading EC Comics.

“What can I say?” he laughed. “There’s just a lot of great shit that goes on in this book and I’m really excited about it!”

Carpenter and his Asylum co-creators will be signing preview copies of the book this Saturday (October 29) at the Storm King Productions booth (#913) inside Long Beach Comic and Horror Con. You can find out more information about his appearance at LBCC at the show’s official website: www.longbeachcomiccon.com.

What do you think of Carpenter’s take on comics and “Asylum” plans? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Boo! The Onion News Network’s Shelby Cross Exposes the Halloween Threat

Boo! The Onion News Network’s Shelby Cross Exposes the Halloween Threat (photo)

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Halloween is just around the corner and kids across the nation are clamoring for costumes and a chance to go door-to-door collecting candy. While normally as a rational society we shy away from letting our kids talk to strangers with candy, for some reason when it comes to Halloween trick-or-treating we collectively lose our senses and send our young impressionable children to ring the doorbells of creeps carrying sweets. What are we thinking? Halloween is pedophile Christmas, after all. Want to keep your kids (and some of the lucky neighborhood kids) safe this Halloween? Onion News Network reporter Shelby Cross has a few helpful tips:

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The Onion News Network airs tonight at 10/9c

Ray Villafane brings “Predator,” “Child’s Play” and many others to life in pumpkin masterpieces

Ray Villafane brings “Predator,” “Child’s Play” and many others to life in pumpkin masterpieces (photo)

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If you’re a fan of comic book action figures, you probably know who Ray Villafane is even if you don’t recognize his name. The 42-year-old Arizona native earns his weekly paychecks by sculpting wax prototypes of toys and action figures for companies like DC Comics. But every year come fall, Villafane becomes known for something a bit more festive.

Along with his gift for working with clay, the sculptor makes a yearly tradition of creating masterpieces out of pumpkins every Halloween. The Wall Street Journal, who were duly impressed by Villafane’s skills, caught up with the sculptor to talk to him about his pumpkin carving endeavors.

“I like carving pumpkins for the same reason people who enjoy looking at them enjoy looking at them. I experience the same enjoyment that they do. It hasn’t lost that appeal to me yet,” he explained.

Villafane doesn’t typically go into pumpkin designing with a clear idea in mind. Sometimes he sketches an outline on the gourd to give him the right idea, but sometimes all it takes is a malformed section of the pumpkin or a shadow hitting it in the right way to give him inspiration. In the video above, Villafane designed a giant ogre-shaped pumpkin and one that has a notch for him to put his fist so it looks like he’s punching it in the face.

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“The fact that pumpkins are temporary art is an added bonus. It’s kind of like that holiday dessert that you only have once a year,” Villafane explained about his attraction to the art. “Your memories of it are really heightened and you become more emotionally attached to it.”

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Does Villafane’s carved pumpkin put the one on your doorstep to shame? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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