Sandy King Carpenter talks success of her comic imprint

Film producer Sandy King Carpenter, wife of Halloween director John Carpenter, celebrates ten years of her DIY indie comic label, Storm King Comics.

Success in the film industry does not earn respect or open arms in other media. Producer Sandy King Carpenter, the wife of the master of horror John Carpenter, found that out the hard way in 2012, but now she has bragging rights in the face of initial rejection as she marks the tenth anniversary of her indie imprint, Storm King Comics.

A publisher of all-ages material with horror themes, nobody thought King Carpenter could pull it off, let alone for this long. “Nobody wanted us in the comic world,” she told Variety. “This was ten years ago and they were pretty hostile to what they thought were celebrity comics and vanity comics. The comic companies themselves thought that we were all just stupid.”

Even her husband was skeptical when she announced her intentions after a frustrating pitch meeting for a dark Breaking Bad-style of a TV show. “I come home and John says, ‘How’d it go?’ I went, ‘We’re doing a comic.’ He says, ‘What do we know about that?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely nothing, but we’ll learn,’” she explained.

Her determination sprung from a moment of improvisation during the meeting, or maybe it was provident inspiration setting King Carpenter on a new path, she recalled:

“This development person said, ‘Well, it’s not like it’s a graphic novel we’re matching to or anything,’ and I said, ‘Actually, it is. It is a graphic novel, because we always put together all these visual presentations. This is the comic book that everybody is always trying to get John to put his name on.’ So we walk out of the meeting in the hallway, and everyone’s going, ‘What was that about? We’re doing a graphic novel?’”

Like the TV pitch, her first meetings with comic book companies, who had the expectation a major studio would provide funding, didn’t go well. Suspecting she was being grifted, King Carpenter had enough and reacted sharply. “I wound up saying to one of the companies, ‘Is this because I’m a girl, or because I’m from movies? Either way, I didn’t just fall off that turnip truck.’ It was one of those things where you just went, ‘How about f–k you?’” she shared.

“That’s where I said, “How hard can this be?’ And then I spent two years finding out how hard it could be,” she continued. “Getting the whole comic put together and realizing I didn’t know how to deliver it. There [was] a lot of that kind of thing, but we spent two years learning the art and the business of putting together comics.”

Just as watching movies by itself doesn’t make someone a good filmmaker, she adds, reading comics and graphic novels doesn’t make one a deft creator or publisher. But King Carpenter learned the craft and realized her ambition. Storm King Comics launched with Asylum, based on her TV series pitch, and added the anthology titles Tales for a Halloween Night and John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction to the back catalog.

2023 will see the launches of a children’s series that mixes in Greek mythology as Marvel and the Percy Jackson books have named Fetch; a new sub-imprint — Storm King’s Dark & Twisted — focusing on horror based in real life; and science fiction by artist Dennis Calero, known for Marvel’s “Noir” line.

Sandy Carpenter King has been involved with filmmaking since the early 1980s and has worked as a script supervisor on Michael Mann’s Thief and John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles. She co-produced several of her husband’s films including They Live, In The Mouth of Madness, and Starman — where they first met.

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