John Carpenter Tribute

Colour pencils on grey paper · 1 Oct 07
Attention!  You are viewing a resized version of this drawing.  There is a larger version available, which is of better clarity.  Click on the image below to view it.
John Carpenter Tribute — Art by Karthik

About this drawing

I had recently watched a few of director John Carpenter's movies and so, with inspiration fresh in my mind, made this drawing.  It is a tribute to three of the man's movies, They Live, Big Trouble in Little China and Prince of Darkness (more about the movies, below).  This one was made very quickly (less than an hour was spent on it) for two reasons.  One is that I did it on grey paper, which automatically gives an advantage as you have to do less colouring/shading, and two, it's done in a cartoon-style (like the one I used for my 2007 New Year Card).  The finished piece you see above has very little post-processing, only a bit of adjustment of contrast and the text added digitally.  After finishing it I was thinking I should have separated the three parts of the image more, so that I could have made individual mini-posters for the movies, which would also work as a triptych when combined!  Well, maybe next time...

Coming to the movies themselves, the first one featured here is 1988's SF-black comedy They Live, which is about a homeless man Nada (Roddy Piper) realising that aliens live among us and are controlling us like cattle, when he discovers a set of glasses that allow him to see the real world (the movie refers to people waking up and discovering reality — and this was more than a decade before The Matrix!).  Carpenter wrote this one and there are several satiric touches — the real world is entirely in black and white, with huge signboards all around saying things like "Obey", "Marry and Reproduce", etc.  Of course, on money, the text "This is your God" is printed.  On realising that people are living in a docile state of control by the skeleton-like aliens, the hero decides that enough is enough, and there's a scene where he enters a bank with a shotgun and declares "I have come here to chew bubble gum and to kick ass — and I'm all out of bubble gum"!  And this is what is represented in my picture.

1986's Big Trouble in Little China is an awesome fantasy that is about a trucker Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) losing his truck when he tries to save his friend Wang Chi's (Dennis Dun) girlfriend Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) from getting kidnapped.  Miao Yin has been abducted not by ordinary criminals, but by the centuries-old David Lo Pan (James Hong) who was cursed by a Chinese Emperor.  Lo Pan must marry a green-eyed girl to break the curse, and that is why he has abducted Miao Yin.  Poor Jack Burton has trouble believing in spirits and mysticism ("I'm a reasonable man, but I've just seen some very unreasonable things"), but he and Wang save the day at the end, and Jack says "We really shook the pillars of heaven, didn't we, Wang?".  Damn right, this movie is a blast.  Very cool stuff.  In the drawing the big guy is supposed to be Jack, the little guy on the right is Wang and the one on the left is Egg Shen (Victor Wong) who is showing off his sorcery skills like in the beginning of the movie.

Finally, 1987's Prince of Darkness is probably one movie which is considered by many to be Carpenter's worst.  I have to disagree there, I think it is one of his best movies and one of the best horror movies I've ever seen.  It has an extremely ambitious concept — a 2000 year old canister filled with swirling green ooze is discovered by a priest to be the essence of the Prince of Darkness, who exists in a parallel universe and wants to break into our own.  A group of scientists is called in to study an ancient Latin text that might contain the key to stopping him (in the form of differential equations).  Of course, the prince's power is gradually increasing...  Man, what an amazing movie this was, I loved the concept (even if Carpenter didn't go all the way with it — you could drop the quantum physics angle of the movie and go with a Cthulhu-type ancient evil and it'd still work), and when it got down to the nasty stuff there was a very creepy atmosphere, a good amount of scare scenes and gore presented.  Awesome.  This also has to be the only horror movie where you have two characters discussing Schrödinger's Cat.

It has to be pointed out that most of these movies were box-office disappointments when released, as they were either ahead of their time or had some pretty wild ideas.  Obviously, the fact that Carpenter went ahead and made the movies anyway is something that one has to admire.  Respect!

Date added 2 Oct 07

Comments for this Drawing

2 Oct 07 · 11:46 AM
Comment by user Karthik
Some of you might be saying TLDR, but anyway :)
3 Oct 07 · 04:47 AM
No, I read :) I remember seeing They Live on Star Movies 10 years ago and loving it. It pretty much ruined the matrix for me.
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Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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