Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the rock group KISS were joined by Scott Rosenberg, chairman of Platinum Studios and writer Ricky Sprague to talk with fans about the future of KISS in comics and the advent of the KISS Comics Group.
Rosenberg began by speaking bluntly about the origins of the KISS Comics Group. “I was just sitting at my desk at Platinum Studio one day and the phone rang and it was Gene and he said, ‘Stop by my place on your way home and sit and don’t talk, only listen for sixty minutes.’ So, I did and then we negotiated out a deal for the Kiss Comics Group. Why can’t Kiss conquer the world why can’t we have the biggest comic book ever?”
In addressing the tremendously sized Destroyer Edition of the first issue of “KISS 4K,” Simmons added that the book, at 30″x18″ has been certified the biggest comic book in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. “They had to create a new category for comic book just for this,” said Rosenberg.
“When Gene saw it for the first time, he hugged me.” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg added that because of the special handling necessary, a second printing of the Destroyer Edition has been ruled out. “We went to every printer in the world to find someone that could handle this. What we ended up doing was taking off each sheet from the press by hand, hand folding it, hand stitching it and hand [packing].”
Talking more about the creative side of the venture, Simmons talked about the characters spawned from the members of KISS. “The Greeks really got it right,” he said, “The Greeks had mythic heroes who transcend the Earth. [The KISS characters] are modern mythic heroes who would be gods.”
“It’s a big deal to me,” Sprague said, “because I am a really big KISS fan. I know it’s a bit of a cheeky idea, but I wanted to make each issue like listening to a KISS album. I want there to be a moment that’s like a great anthem and another like a ballad.”
Speaking to the direct subject matter of the series, Sprague said, “The band members are attached to spirits that come to Earth to right some horrible wrong. The series will run at least 12 issues. It’s kind of a novel. There’s a lot of fall out from the first issue.”
“We’ve always been the perfect cross between rock band, super-heroes and athletes,” said Stanley.
The panelists then turned their attention more toward speaking about the process behind the comics, specifically the level of involvement from KISS members Simmons and Stanley. “We’re pains in the asses,” Simmons said. “We have too much pride in anything we do to keep an arm’s length.
“Part of what we do is oversee,” said Stanley. We try to keep objective, as we are as much fans of KISS as we are members of the rock band KISS
We’ve found them to be right every time,” Rosenberg added.
“It’s much more exciting watch the stars of tomorrow,” Stanley said in reference to the relatively unknown nature of Sprague and artists Kevin Crossley and Daniel Campos. “It feels new. It’s not jaded. There’s a real passion in their work.
From there, the panel was thrown open to questions from attendees.
Asked about how far back his involvement with comics goes, Simmons joked “The 1800s.” He went on to say that he paid for his college education buying and selling comics. “I would offer a dollar a pound for whatever comics people had in their attics. Every once in a while, you would find one golden age comic like a Bill Everett Sub-Mariner book. One of those would net me a thousand dollars.” Stanley would drive Simmons around to make those deals.
One fan asked in there would be any blood in the new KISS comic, referring to the publicity around the original 70s Marvel KISS books that band member’s blood has been added to the ink.
“No blood in this issue.” Stanley said. “I suggested we put something in the yellow ink, but Scott was against it.”
Another attendee asked if there would be any movies forthcoming.
“There are discussion and meeting being held all the time,” said Simmons. “Development is in process for a KISS CGI movie. Until it is released, it’s just in development. That’s why they call it development hell.”
“There are no plans right now to do any music,” Stanley said in response to a question regarding a new album. “When you go see any classic band, when they play new material, you tolerate that material. When they play their classic songs, the crowd gets to their feet. It’s hard to compete with the classic material. It represents memories of another time in the fan’s lives. If there is one, when it comes out, you probably won’t buy it.”
Asked if the new series will refer back to any of the previous comics incarnations of KISS, Sprague said, “The talismans will be making an appearance. “We’re going to try to do a….crossover event of the Marvel, Image and Dark Horse versions. This is the culmination of KISS in comics.
Rosenberg spoke on the subject of how the creative team was assembled. “We put together a team in the office,’ he said, “who were strong enough to handle pains in the asses.”
Simmons pointed out that KISS Comics Group will consist of more than one title. “KISS Girls” will be about four teen girls who have something to say about life on Earth and look good doing it.
Lastly, one fan asked if the comic will make reference to members beyond the classic four characters first embodied by Stanley, Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Kriss, specifically Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent.
“There will be some subtle and not-so-subtle references to KISS history, but there are no concrete plans to include those characters.” Sprague said.
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