IDW Publishing’s Chief Creative Officer and Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall and Senior Staff Writer Tom Waltz announced at Comic-Con last July that they are publishing a new comic book series for the iconic rock group KISS. Being a big fan of the band, I was immediately intrigued to find out what they had planned for the Starchild, the Demon, the Catman, and the Spaceman. Waltz and Ryall shared with me exclusively what sort of adventures fans can expect to accompany KISS on when the book hits shelves.
KISS has been the subject of several comic book series with several different publishers. Why did IDW pick the group to work with?
Chris Ryall: It pretty much follows the way we choose to pursue any license: we’re fans of the material. Both Tom Waltz and I are lifelong KISS fans; and add to that the fact that we produced a line of Simmons Comic Group releases with Gene Simmons a few years back and it’s just been something we’ve always wanted to do. Some of my earliest comic-reading moments are of enjoying the KISS Super Specials that Marvel produced in the ’70s, and it’s a personal thrill to not only be able to carry on with Kiss comics but to now write them myself, too.
Tom Waltz: As Chris states, we tend not to pursue any license at IDW that won’t have an editor behind it who is a fan and willing to champion it through the long process of getting it approved and into print. In the case of KISS, Chris and I are not only champions of the license, we’re uber-fans of the band and their music, not to mention the KISS comics from various other publishers in the past. Like Chris, I ate up those Marvel KISS comics and to now be able to be a part of the ongoing adventures of our hard-rockin’, kabuki-wearin’ heroes is a real highlight of my career as a writer/editor.
Are you a KISS fan? If so how does that influence your writing of the book? If not, how does that affect the writing of the book?
Ryall: We really are, and that’s going to be evident on just about every page of our comics. The first storyline I’m writing is called “Dressed to Kill” and used that record cover’s imagery as the basis for our story (which is set in 1920s Chicago). And in addition to telling a more human story that hearkens back to those 1970s Marvel KISS comics, we’re also bringing in many familiar KISS characters and moments: the overall story involves a battle between two cosmic entities, the Elder and the Destroyer; and in issue one, one of the villains is named “Wicked” Lester, an enigmatic woman named She shows up, and there are some demon-dogs called Parasites in there, too, just for starters. We’ve really tried hard to make this comic something longtime KISS fans, even if they’re not regular comic readers, will enjoy right alongside comic-book fans.
Waltz: A fan? Oh, man, you don’t even know. I remember going to my best buddy’s house many a time when I was a kid and we’d sit and listen to the “KISS Alive II” album over and over, mesmerized by the album cover that opened up to show the band on-stage in all their blood-soaked, explosive glory. KISS, with their make-up and carnival-like theatrics, was (and is) one of those bands that’s larger than life and ripe for urban legends (was Gene Simmons’ tongue real or did he have a cow tongue attached? My favorite!). These off- and on-stage elements, along with their many cool songs, really do set the foundation for fun comic book storytelling, both in words and pictures. And Chris and I plan to take full advantage of the medium to tell KISS stories that we hope will both entertain and surprise.
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Eric Shirey is the founder and editor of Rondo Award nominated movie and comic book news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other national entertainment websites. Besides his three decades long obsession with everything sci-fi, horror, and fantasy related in TV and movies, Eric has what some would call an unhealthy love for comic books. This has led him to interviewing and covering legendary writers and artists in the medium like Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson, and Howard Chaykin.