Artist Spotlight: David J. Schow

DAVID J. SCHOW is a multiple-award-winning West Coast writer. The latest of his ten novels is a hardboiled extravaganza called The Big Crush. The newest of his ten short story collections is a greatest hits anniversary compendium titled DJStories.

He has been a contributor to Storm King Comics’ John Carpenter’s Tales for a Halloween Night since its very first issue. In 2018 Storm King released his five-issue series, John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: THE STANDOFF. In 2021, the eight-issue series HELL commenced.

DJS has written extensively for film (The Crow, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, The Hills Run Red) and television (Masters of Horror, Mob City, Creepshow).

His nonfiction works include The Outer Limits Companion, The Art of Drew Struzan and The Outer Limits at 50.

Thanks to him, the word “splatterpunk” has been in the Oxford English Dictionary since 2002.

1. First John Carpenter memory?

I probably first met John through Mick Garris, who was working as a publicist and also doing “making of” short films for the likes of Gremlins, Videodrome and The Thing. We walked through the Norwegian base set. But even before that, I think John and I first shook hands at a screening party for Escape from New York that was held in the Universal commissary. Kurt Russell was still limping. I got to tell Lee Van Cleef I had just watched It Conquered the World on Channel Five the night before. I still have my Escape T-shirt from that party.

No, wait! It was even earlier: John and I first met at Forrest Ackerman’s house during a press conference for The Fog! (It was supposedly the first time alcohol was permitted in the “Ackermansion.” Over ten years later I would be photographed in that same upstairs living room for the Los Angeles Times.) I also met Debra Hill and Jaime Lee Curtis on that occasion. I remember this because it was the first time I ever ate sushi ― after the event, in the company of no less than Martine Beswicke.

2. How did you get started writing/drawing/lettering?

By writing, submitting, getting rejected, starving,and persevering. Very early on, writing struck me as a pursuit that could be honorable and important and maybe even artistically significant; damned near noble. (I know that probably sounds lofty and hollow, now.) To date, writing is the only way I have ever made a living, discounting a few odd jobs and bank robberies, that sort of sideline.

3. How did you get involved with Storm King Comics?

I had met Sandy King sometime in the very early Nineties. In fact I found a photo of us on her balcony from that prehistory. I wanted to reconnect with her, and Duane Swierczynski became my cheerleader, because he was staying in my guest room, underneath my house, banging out a comic for Sandy during one of his initial sojourns to Hollywood from Philadelphia. I was reluctant to do comics but Tales for a Halloween Night was just getting started, and … abracadabra! I’ve been in every issue since then, and also completed two series ― The Standoff and Hell ― all for the greater good of the Storm King empire. And there’s more in the offing.

4. Who are your idols/mentors?

I admire certain writers/artists but don’t want to reduce them to a shopping list. The list would change every five minutes anyway. Mentors? They would be mostly spiritual mentors, I’m afraid. Is this a bullshit answer? Yes, but I don’t want to trot out friends and colleagues like a police lineup. Everybody still living would get privately pissed off if I didn’t check-box them. Pretty often, I’ll write entire columns or articles if I want to honor them individually, and properly.

5. What is the thing you geek out the most about and why?

It may be sad, pathetic, and small, but finding anything new concerning either The Outer Limits or Creature from the Black Lagoon can still be exciting to me ― especially, at this late date, a photo or script draft I’ve never seen before, and you can call me obsessive about those two topics. And you’d be right.

6. Guilty pleasure….food? music? entertainment? Everyone needs an escape.

None of my pleasures are “guilty.” I’m not wired that way. I truthfully don’t need to escape anything because I love what I do. Another bullshit answer, right?

7. The world has changed..is there anything you like in the post covid world?

Actually, I really enjoyed lockdown. It fit perfectly with my average day anyhow. Telecommuting? It’s about damned time. Masks? A-OK, because most people you encounter in public can be pretty disgusting. Forgive me, but I underwent open-heart surgery in 2021, which makes me a health risk in public ― still! So I appreciate the fact that people who handle your food in restaurants are at least masking up, now.

8. What change would you like to see in the world?

Fewer people overall; more readers. Less mob hysteria, fewer people frothing at the mouth, literally and figuratively. Don’t be a dick in traffic. The return of natural selection would be nice.

9. Favorite 2021 memory?

Surviving 2021, since it very possibly could have been my final year on the planet. There were tense moments. And I wouldn’t have made it without shit-ton of drugs and therapy, a complete dietary flip, excellent doctors and the love of a superior and very tolerant woman, Kerry. And the steadfast support of my dog, Muggsy (yes, he came to visit me in ICU).

10. What brings you joy?

Kerry and Muggsy. Storm King. My library. Rebirthing my entire backlist through Cimarron Street Books, which is a whole separate interview. Oh, and writing. Always writing.

See David J. Schow’s work in these Storm King releases: