Originally published in May 2014
To celebrate the launch of Storm King Comics app, we have reached into our archives to republish this great interview with Sandy King about the comic book John Carpenter’s Asylum.
Sandy King is a Los Angeles native who has been in the film industry since the 1970s. Starting off as a script supervisor, Sandy King has gone on to become a producer, casting director, executive producer, and more. Recently, Sandy King has co-created a comic book series called Asylum with John Carpenter and Thomas Ian Griffith. . Wanting to learn more about King and Asylum, I was able to interview her.
Also, Storm King has also recently launched an app that you can download here.
Nicholas Yanes: Before we talk about Asylum, I wanted to ask you about your background. When did you know that you wanted to work in the entertainment industry?
Sandy King: In college, I was an art major–specifically pictorial arts, which meant I was a painter. A fine artist. Not a designer or someone trained to make money at what I was learning.
Most of my friends were in the building next door in the film department. The only commercial things I learned to do were animation over in the film department and photography. I liked both.
I worked with two of my friends on educational animated films and dug it. I thought that might be my future. At the same time, I would work on my friends’ live-action films in various capacities just to help out. Anything involving the arts interested me. It was only when I was offered a job at Disney, the ultimate animation destination, that I found that live-action filmmaking had stolen my heart. I turned it down and committed to live-action from then on.
Yanes: A large portion of your work deals with the horror genre. This field has been historically seen as a bit of a boys club. Do you think that this is still true? On this topic, what advice do you have for anyone wanting to get into horror production?
King: The environment is what you make of it. All filmmaking was a boys’ club when I entered it. On the other hand, that never stopped Ida Lupino, Verna Fields, or Kay Rose, so I don’t get why young aspiring filmmakers whine today. Just suck it up and go for it. Do good work. Learn from those who go before you.
Study your craft and for God’s sake, stop acting like a victim. Or batting your eyelashes to get work. Neither path is a good one.
Yanes: You and colleagues have recently worked to produce a new horror comic titled Asylum which centers on one man in the middle of a war between heaven and hell. What was the inspiration for this idea?
King: Thomas Ian Griffith first came to John and me with the basic story of a man with the gift of discernment. That was the taking-off point. None of us had seen a story that dealt with that kind of character and the ability to recognize true evil and take it into yourself and diffuse or dissolve it.
I thought it would give us an interesting Jekyll and Hyde character to add to another storyline. Between the three of us, the story gelled. Thomas and I went on to create the story and character arcs.
Yanes: On this note, were there any specific stories that you drew inspiration from?
King: Not really. The stories for each issue are coming from the three us. They are originals inspired by what we learned about church theology and general Judeo-Christian mythology. We are broadening some of that to expand the universe as we proceed with the books.
Yanes: Any important part of any comic book is the artwork. How did you and your team determine what the visual style for Asylum should be?
King: The idea was to reflect John’s cinematic view while giving anyone who buys the book the richest experience possible. Nothing is worse than buying a book with a great cover only to have it fall off when you open it. Leonardo Manco has a spectacular sense of the cinematic and the dynamic.
Yanes: Given that you’ve worked on both movies and television shows, why did you specifically want to create a comic book? Do you feel this medium offers something as an art form that film doesn’t?
King: People have been coming to John for years wanting to put his name on a comic book–generally not very good ones. This story just seemed to lend itself to the medium.
We have always loved telling stories. This is a fun way to tell a story in a new way to a new audience that crosses over into our film audience. I think we might be experiencing a new Golden Age of comics. The art is more beautiful than ever and maybe it’s my imagination, but it feels like more people are recognizing that real story-telling is happening here.
As a writer, I also find it a great discipline. You have to find a way to be evocative and effective in fewer, more efficient words. I’m loving it.
Yanes: On this note, what are some of the business reasons for producing a comic book? Given that the comic book market isn’t as robust as it once was, what are some of the business advantages of creating a comic book?
King: None whatsoever. I just like it. 😉
Yanes: What are your long term goals for Asylum? Would you like to see it adapted to other mediums? Also, are there minor characters that you’d like to explore further?
King: Right now, it’s just to create the best comic book we can. In future books I think you will see all the characters step up to the plate in major ways. There is a two book mini-arc that will reveal more about King Leo that might be fun. Just a thought.
Yanes: Beyond Asylum, are there any other projects that you are working on that fans can look forward to?
King: We are in pre-viz on the feature film, Darkchylde. We also have several television shows in development and two more comic books in the works.
Yanes: Finally, horror has always been a powerful genre because of the commentary of contemporary culture that it can offer. What are some social issues that you’d like to see horror narratives take a bite out of?
King: I think that social issues are best addressed subtly through setting or character–not necessarily through the overt subject matter.
One of the main things I tried to do with Asylum was integrate the comic in a realistic way. Los Angeles was a perfect setting because we are so multi-racial and multi-cultural. Having inter-racial couples, etc. could be done without comment because it’s real. I like to do the same things we did with “They Live” with disabled and disenfranchised people as the good guys or the truly good people to make other points. It’s more subliminal but I think perhaps more effective in the long run.