Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

[Kiss]KISS bassist and frontman Gene Simmons promises that his new partnership with Dark Horse Comics doesn't mean the end of his relationship with Todd McFarlane, publisher of the now-defunct "KISS: Psycho Circus" series.

"I love Todd," Simmons told CBR News Saturday during an appearance at the Wizard World convention in suburban Chicago to promote his alliance with Dark Horse. "He really was responsible for putting together a great series of books. The main thing is that Todd and I will continue to be friends, and hopefully we'll do something together soon."

Simmons signed autographs and posed for pictures with dozens of adoring fans who waited in line to meet the legendary musician. Dressed in black from head to toe, he was happy to talk about the Dark Horse project, which is slated to launch next spring.

The line will begin with four titles, each named after the original members of KISS: "The Demon," "Starchild," "Space" and "Cat Man." Dark Horse spokeswoman Shawna Ervin-Gore said the comics should more closely resemble the classic KISS images and mythology, something the "Psycho Circus" books shied away from. "McFarlane's comics were signature McFarlane," Ervin-Gore said. "We have a healthy appreciation for what made KISS a great band in the first place, and that's what fans still want today."

Dark Horse is no stranger to licensed comics, with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Star Wars" among the properties in its stable. Editor Scott Allie said the new KISS comics likely will reach fans that traditionally don't buy comics, just as the "Buffy" and "Star Wars" series do. "It's a big new license that will open us up to a new market," he said. "We're really going to make it something they'll want."

The surprisingly soft-spoken Simmons is excited to help create a new mythology for the illustrated versions of himself and his bandmates. A lifelong comic-book fan, he compared KISS to Marvel's first supergroup, the Fantastic Four. Like Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny, the members of KISS can stand strong on their own but are even stronger together. "They are four who are one," Simmons said.

Simmons' knowledge of comics actually is extensive, something he was happy to flaunt Saturday. "I'm a comic geek," Simmons admits. "I came to America from Israel, and I learned to speak English by reading (comics). It changed my life."

Although work on the Dark Horse deal only began a few weeks ago, Simmons already has big plans for the KISS line, including 50 issues of the various titles the first year. He also would like to reprint the original KISS comics that Marvel produced in the 1970s. Simmons owns the rights to the books.

Creative teams for the new titles haven't been chosen yet.

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