Let's have Amy Chu's Writer's Commentary on KISS: The End #1 on sale now from Dynamite…
Hello again. I have to admit, it feels great to be back writing KISS. It's sort of like being invited to be with the cool kids club. Whatever your feelings are about the band, there's no denying their imprint on American culture. My neighbor's six-year-old kid just informed me that he's a big fan of the guy with the long tongue and teeth, then proceeds to demonstrate. That's how ingrained the band has become in the cultural DNA of America.
I was not asked to do so, but I decided to make this story a love letter to KISS to coincide with their last tour. So we as a team are taking it very seriously. And if you look at their touring dates? A different city almost every day. It's more intense than a Neal Adams convention schedule. Pretty good for a bunch of guys in their seventies. I'm doing thirteen cons the entire year and already feeling tired just thinking about it.
Our creative team for this series: Edu Menna interior pencils and inks, Jorge Sutil colors and Troy Peteri on letters. You may remember Troy from the previous series. Troy is the biggest KISS fan so by rights he should get to letter every KISS comic! I asked him to jump in here with a mini commentary…
ME: Troy, what's your favorite part about working on the KISS comics?
TROY: Since I've been working on all of the KISS books from Dynamite, I always like spotting the references hidden throughout each issue. Whether it's the KISS mini-golf course in Vegas or the Big Bad being the Lord of the Wasteland. Mixing the fantasy elements of the mythology of KISS as "characters" with the real band's actual origins in 1973 was my favorite touch, though. (Although the door from the cover of Music From The Elder was a pretty good deep cut!)
ME: Troy, talk about your lettering process.
TROY: As for the lettering, I wanted to differentiate the fantastic world from the real world, so I just decided to give the word balloons a little color, but I didn't want to get ostentatious with it. I wanted Mania's father to have a word balloon that looked completely inhuman, since I pictured his speaking voice as being similar to Gene Simmons' demon voice from songs like God of Thunder and War Machine. (And speaking of that character, I think the splash page reveal in the Waste Land is probably my favorite image in the issue, actually.)
I work on the pages chronologically/consecutively, so I'm AS curious as to what happens in the next issue as the readers!
ME: I'm sure Edu feels the same way!
About the covers: I always say I love them, but I do. The pink on the Stuart Saygar cover is such a refreshing jolt of color. Stuart loves to sign with pink and this masthead is the bomb! It really pops! I may start signing in pink for this issue too. Bring me pink paint pens!
Thanks to Kevin Ketner our editor for getting everyone credit on the cover. because I hope you feel as I do, this issue rocks!
So here we go…
Meet Jay. I think we all know someone like Jay, or maybe you ARE Jay. I love that Edu Menna gets this character immediately. If you see my script notes, they are pretty sparse — this is all Edu.
Meet Kimiko. She is a bit of a nod to my previous KISS run. The gesture she makes to Jay as she walks out pretty much sums up her personality.
Do you know these lyrics? Of course you do! I think you pretty much get what Jay is about by now, hopefully…
I needed to get Jay to hit rock bottom, and that means getting fired from his job. My brother lives in Las Vegas so he told me about a great KISS mini golf course/museum in the Rio so of course I HAD to check it out. So what better place to get him fired from? This little cameo doesn't do it justice, but I put the head honcho Christine in there — the place is her brainchild. I had coincidentally met her while signing with Gene in Philadelphia a couple of years ago. She's a comics fan and works with Gene backstage on his VIP experiences. If could, I would have put more in there — the place is great!
What could be worse than getting fired from your job? Oh.
Welcome to the Waste Land.
First, I want to shout out to the colorist Jorge. He took the colors in this scene in a completely different direction than I envisioned, and it works so much better.
Also dropping some allusions here for T.S. Eliot fans… In some lore Mania is goddess of the dead.
And here's the page Troy was talking about. I feel like it's partly inspired by a Chinese landscape painting composition. Must ask Edu about that… Do you recognize the lyrics here? I feel like I should run some kind of contest. Maybe next issue!
As a side note, part of the delight of working on KISS comics is that I can do just about anything in the KISS universe including using any of the lyrics. Very few licensed comics offer this much freedom and usually there's a lengthy approval process if we want to try to incorporate even just the smallest lyric in anything.
Of course Jay still doesn't get it, much like most of his life.
[electric guitar introduction]
Introducing the Lord of the Waste Land. Funny, I was watching one of the KISS music videos and there were skulls, so I asked Edu for more skulls. Here they are!
You know what's coming next…
And you were wondering how KISS was going to come into the story… look, more skulls! Thanks, Edu!
I got the idea for the flaming sword from one of Christine V's posts. Full disclosure: I haven't seen the show yet, so trying to tie the comic in with it is a little trickier. If you like one, you can in fact order it (and mention me while you're at it).
Some of you may recognize some elements of mythology here. This is the first time I'm seeing this page colored, and wow, Jorge, that is some BLOOD.
Mania makes a deal with her dad.
Recognize those doors? If you don't, turn in your KISS Army badge right now!
The foot made me giggle.
Shades of early Terminator here, but no naked body builders falling out of the sky… Mania looks a bit like Mary Poppins, no?
Some of you may remember Times Square before the Disney version it is now. KISS was born in New York City during a time where it was headed towards bankruptcy so I thought it would be fun and interesting to revisit this part of the city's history.
Now I can see KISS historians saying, hold on, the first concert was in fact at the Popcorn Club, not the Hotel Diplomat. To which I reply, this is obviously an alternate universe because the band is not actually made up of demons, are they? Or are they (laughs)?! Basically, it was a lot of fun to research, but then I discovered that the Popcorn Club was basically a boring building in Queens and the band had not started wearing makeup yet. '70s Times Square is just more fun to draw than Queens. So there, this is not a documentary but do look forward to some alternate history facts coming up.
So there you go! I hope you enjoyed our first issue. In case you're wondering, I drew some inspiration from T.S. Eliot, The Good Place, and of course the band and their songs. If you haven't pre-ordered the rest of the series, go tell your store now, because it's about to get crazier!