Timeless Tropes of Terror in John Carpenter's Tales of Science Fiction

PREVIEWSworld Exclusive Trailer: John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Vault

by Vince Brusio

Science fiction that scares the hell out of you has its roots in The Thing, John Carpenter’s 1982 horror movie which put the Arctic at the scene of evil, with cabin fever the backdrop for what would inevitably be a massacre of human life by alien intelligence. To this day, it is one of the most suffocating horror films created, and this is due in great part to Carpenter’s knowledge of what makes the horror genre work. That same insight is what he lends to John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Vault TP (MAR181911), and in this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview Sandy King Carpenter and James Ninness from Storm King Comics give us a peek into what makes the book so…creepy. Get the trade paperback on May 23 at your local comic shop!


Vince Brusio: The creative team behind the first story in this series (Vault). What’s the back story on how they got together to create a story that’s itchy with suspense, and toxic to the touch?

Sandy King Carpenter: James (Ninness) has a unique voice as a story-teller that has appealed to me since I first read his work a few years ago on Insanity, Arizona. He writes beyond the obvious first layer, which makes him a good fit for us and our audience. When he brought the work of Andres and Sergio to my attention, what can I tell you? Working with them is like driving a Ferrari. The real joy is to have a team with so much talent and so much enthusiasm without ego. Janice is the literal icing on the cake. Her lettering is the glue that brings it together and drives it all forward.”

James Ninness: I was fortunate to participate in the first three horror anthologies Storm King puts together, John Carpenter's Tales for a Halloween Night. In the second volume, I worked with an incredible artist named Axur Eneas. Andres and Sergio, the pencils/inks/colors team on Vault came as a recommendation from Axur. As soon as I saw their art I sent to Sandy who was as enthusiastic as I was. They're amazing. Then Sandy connected us to Janice Chiang, who is a lettering god. Love her. It was one of the finest teams I've ever had the pleasure to be a part of.

Vince Brusio: What we have here is a future yarn told about soldiers that curse like sailors. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of verbal discipline between the crew of GAIA. Are they more friends than co-workers? Is this the future of space exploration?

Sandy King Carpenter: To me, the mix just feels real. No matter how far in the future you go, it’s going to be the toughest who will venture into the void and take on the roughest jobs. No cream puffs need apply. Lock them in a tin can in outer space long enough…it’s going to get raw.

James Ninness: The crew was modeled after NASA, which is to say that military experience isn't a requirement, but is certainly well-represented. The crew of the Gaia is a mix of military, astronauts, and miners. It's a future where mining on the moon is routine so it seems plausible that there be all flavors of discipline aboard. I'm not even sure "friends" is a good word, more like co-workers. I think pretty much everyone has had a job where they like some of their coworkers, and maybe enjoy the company of other coworkers less. If you haven't felt that way, you may be the one nobody likes. Just kidding, everyone loves you.

Vince Brusio: In Vault, one character in particular stands out from the rest. His name is William Nguyen. His gravity seems to be the heaviest. Who is he, and what is it about him that makes him seem to be the center of attention in this story?

Sandy King Carpenter: I think James did a great job of creating fully formed characters for us. Ones we can debate about or relate to—cheer for or hiss at. It’s not easy to do in such economical strokes that this format gives you: three issues, 28 pages each. I’m intrigued that you choose Nguyen over Adamo to focus on. That’s the fun of the dynamics James has given us — also the attention to detail Andres and Sergio have provided.

James Ninness: One of the reactions to Vault that has surprised me most is the variety of thoughts people have had regarding the characters. I've had people swear to me that Nguyen is the protagonist. Others say Adamo. I even got a few Dunfy enthusiasts. Nguyen is not the bad guy. I don't like the idea of bad guys. He's a scientist. He's curious. He's motivated by his desire to understand. I tried really hard to ensure that every decision he made was motivated by that desire, but balanced by his ability to prioritize the lives of his crew over that desire...to a point. That's where his conflict comes from. Is his duty to his crew? To the mission? Science?

Vince Brusio: Although this is a “science fiction” story, it is still very much grounded in horror, almost 80s splatter-style in some cases. A tip of the hat to Ridley Scott’s Alien, yes?

James Ninness: Oh, yes. And Event Horizon and Sunshine and Interstellar and maybe even a whisper of Donnie Darko or the Hyperion books by Dan Simmons... I love science fiction and horror. There are a few fun Easter eggs in there for people willing to pay close attention.

Vince Brusio: As this series is as an anthology series, can you give us a preview of what type of tales we can expect (rim shot) in the future?

Sandy King Carpenter: Vortex, the next mini-series up in the Tales of Science Fiction series, has a very different tone both in the story and its look. It’s based on a story and characters originated by John Carpenter and Mike Sizemore and myself, with Mike carrying on the writing duties on the comic and Dave Kennedy creating the art. It’s an outer space sci-fi horror story. It will be followed up by stories by Louise Simonson, David J. Schow, Kal-El Bogdanove & Adrienne Arno and Duane Swierczynski among others. We hope to twist your minds for at least the next few years.

James Ninness: Go read Vortex! My pals Mike and Dave and Pete and Janice are KILLING IT."



Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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