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.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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