How did legendary filmmaker John Carpenter come to write a Joker comic book?

“I’m a Batman fan,” the director of The Thing and the original Halloween tells EW. “Of all the superheroes, he’s the best, represents more stuff, he’s more serious as a character. And the Joker’s just brilliant. He’s the greatest villain. This is DC comics. This is the Joker. The Joker’s the greatest! Who wouldn’t want to write this? So, here we are!”

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2014 - Day 2
Credit: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Publishing Oct. 9, The Joker: Year of the Villain is written by Carpenter and Anthony Burch, who previously collaborated on the Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack comic. (Burch is also known for his work as the lead writer on the videogame Borderlands 2.)

“DC went to John and said, ‘Hey, do you want to write for the Joker?’ and John asked me,” says Burch. “And when John Carpenter asks you if you want to work together, you say yes, because he’s a cool dude.”

“I pay him to say these things, you see,” Carpenter quips.

“Yeah, that’s the real good part,” Burch adds.

How much do you pay him, John?

“Oh, I can’t even divulge that,” Carpenter replies.

“It would make it difficult to negotiate with other sycophants,” Burch says. “It would be a whole thing.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Could you set up the comic for our readers?
ANTHONY BURCH: If you’re reading the main Batman comic right now, Tom King’s “City of Bane” run, the main thing that’s changed in Gotham is that Bane is in charge and there’s basically no law anymore to speak of. The inmates are running the asylum, except the asylum is now the entirety of Gotham City. So what we wanted to play with is the idea of, “Well, Joker exists to create chaos and throw a wrench in the works. What does that look like in a city where chaos is already reigning?” How do you be the crazy guy that’s surprising everyone when the world has already gone insane? He basically decides, “Well, maybe I’ll try to be a vigilante,” and he does a very, very Joker-centric version of that.
JOHN CARPENTER: You’re going to read some disturbing material.

Did DC give you any guidelines, or were you given a free hand?
CARPENTER: They didn’t say anything. They just said, “Do you want to write this?” And then Anthony and I got together, and Anthony came up with this outline, and it was brialliant. We sent it to them and they said, “Oh, it’s great, go ahead.”

John, how exactly does the collaboration between you and Anthony work?
CARPENTER: Well, Anthony is steeped in the lore of Batman, much more than I am. So he leads. He leads, and I follow through the darkness. [Laughs]

How did you two come to work together in the first place?
CARPENTER: I was signing a book on Big Trouble in Little China, the making of that movie. Anthony showed up and said some nice things. I said, “What’s your name?” and he said, “Anthony Burch,” and he wrote Borderlands 2, and I went nuts because Borderlands is my favorite game franchise, and Borderlands 2 may be the best game ever made. So I was on board. Then Boom [Studios] asked us to work together [on Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack]. It was easy!

Is The Joker: Year of the Villain going to be a one-off? Or would you like to return to the Batman universe?
CARPENTER: Well, it’s not about what we like, it’s what DC wants to do. Maybe we’ll be so successful that they say to us, “Guys, take [Batman] on an adventure!” Which we would love to do.
BURCH: Absolutely.
CARPENTER: But maybe not. We’re happy either way.

Anthony, what have you got coming up besides this comic?
BURCH: Oh, is the comic not enough for you?
CARPENTER: [Laughs] Oh, that’s a great line. I’m going to use it.

But as they, say, what have you done for us recently?
BURCH: Brutal! Absolutely brutal! I don’t know, man. If you like podcasts, I do a Dungeons & Dragons podcast called Dungeons and Daddies, and currently I’m working on videogames and stuff, trying to hustle.

What about you, John?
CARPENTER: Well, I’m producing two movies, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends.

Can you say anything about those movies?
CARPENTER: Are you kidding?
BURCH: [Laughs] Good try.

See the cover for, and a selection of pages from, The Joker: Year of the Villain below.

Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

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