The American rock group Kiss have a reputation for their massive licensing of merchandise and have, over their career of nearly four decades, licensed their name to “more than 3,000 product(s)...to become nearly a one-billion-dollar brand.” According to Gene Simmons, all the band members save himself "hate comic books"; yet comic books have been an integral and popular part of Kiss merchandising since 1977, beginning with an appearance in Marvel Comics, Howard the Duck issue #12.
Howard the Duck
Kiss’ first comic book appearance was in issue #12 of Marvel’s Howard the Duck in May 1977, titled “Mind Mush!”. The group also appeared in issue #13 of the series titled, “Rock, Roll Over and Writhe!”.
#12: Mind-Mush! #13: Rock, Roll Over and Writhe!
A Marvel Comics Super Special!
In 1977 Marvel Comics published a magazine-format full-color comic book, titled, A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss presenting the band Kiss as superheroes. It was the first in the Marvel Comics Super Special series which featured other well known musicians such as the Beatles. Blood from each band member was drawn by a registered nurse, witnessed by a notary public, and poured into the vats of red ink used for printing the comic at Marvel's Borden Ink plant in Depew, New York. Marvel also published a second Kiss comic magazine, issue #5 in the super Special series, in 1978 with much less fanfare. In 1995 Marvel printed a trade paperback issue compiling issue #1 and #5 of the Super Special series titled, Kiss Klassics. A year later Marvel released the magazine Kissnation, which featured interviews and photographs concerning the bands reunion and subsequent Alive/Worldwide Tour. Kissnation also came with the Kiss Meets the X-Men comic.
#1: A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss (1977) #5: A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss (1978)
Kiss Classics (1995) Kissnation (1996)
In 1997 Image began printing the first officially licensed non-Marvel Kiss comic, Todd McFarlane’s Kiss: Psycho Circus. It lasted for 31 issues and was compiled into four trade paperback issues. The series was based on a tour theme that Kiss were working on at the time, and spawned five magazines that focused on the comic series. Wizard also printed a special edition magazine detailing the characters that appeared throughout the comic series. The series was completed in the year 2000.
Note: TBK stands for trade paperback.
#1: The Witching of Adam Moon, Part 1 #2: The Witching of Adam Moon, Part 2 #3: The Nature of the Beast #4: Smoke & Mirrors, Part 1 #5: Smoke & Mirrors, Part 2 #6: Smoke & Mirrors, Part 3 #7: Bottle Full of Wishes #8: Forever #9: Four Sides to Every Story #10: Destroyer, Part 1 #12: Destroyer, Part 2 #13: Destroyer, Part 3 #14: Year of the Fox, Part 1 #15: Year of the Fox, Part 2 #16: World Without Heroes, Part 1 #17: World Without Heroes, Part 2 #18: Sunburst Finish #19: Fragments #20: Make Believe, Part 1 #21: Make Believe, Part 2 #22: Mirror Image, Part 1 #23: Mirror Image, Part 2 #24: Cat’s Eye #25: The Devil’s Tale #26: The Nightingales Song, Part 1 #27: The Nightingales Song, Part 2 #28: Perdition Blues #29: Shadow of the Moon, Part 1 #30: Shadow of the Moon, Part 2 #31: Sins of Omission
Kiss Special Wizard Edition [1 promo Issue] (Wizard) (1998)
Kiss: Psycho Circus Comic Magazine #1 (McFarlane/Medina/Image) (1999) Kiss: Psycho Circus Comic Magazine #2 (McFarlane/Medina/Image) (1999) Kiss: Psycho Circus Comic Magazine #3 (McFarlane/Medina/Image) (1999) Kiss: Psycho Circus Comic Magazine #4 (McFarlane/Medina/Image) (1999) Kiss: Psycho Circus Comic Magazine #5 (McFarlane/Medina/Image) (1999)
#1: Psycho Circus (TBK) #2: Destroyer (TBK) #3: Whispered Scream! (TBK) #4: Leg & Nigh! (TBK)
Kiss (Dark Horse)
Dark Horse began the next Kiss comic series, simply titled Kiss, in 2002, with X-Men writer Joe Casey. The series lasted for 13 issues, with each issue having a variant photograph cover (with the exception of issues #1 and #7 which each had a third variant cover) and was compiled into four trade paperback issues. Dark Horse completed the Kiss series in 2004.
Note: The 13 issues of this series were unnamed.
Kiss Volume #1: Rediscovery (TBK) Kiss Volume #2: Return of the Phantom (TBK) Kiss Volume #3: Men and Monsters (TBK) Kiss Volume #4: Unholy War (TBK)
In 2007 the KISS Comics Group launched a joint venture between Platinum Studios for a new Kiss comic, Kiss 4K, in 2007. The series was launched at the Los Angeles Wizard World Convention in March with the unveiling of the oversized, Destroyer Edition, which measures 20”x30” and was released in five variant editions. The series was written by writers Ricky Sprague and graphics were handled by artists Kevin Crossley and Thomas Ruppert. Kiss 4K lasted for six issues, along with the Destroyed Edition, Preview issue and Kissmas special. In 2009 a lithograph boxed set of exclusive art from the 4K series was released.
#1: Destroyer Edition Variant: Black & White, Yellow Bar, White Bar, Black Bar, Scott’s Vault Yellow Bar 4K Preview Issue
#1-6: Legends Never Die #1 Variant: Scott’s Vault Silver Foil Edition, Red Foil, Gold Foil, Sketch cover, Untrimmed version
#0: Kissmas Variant: Scotts Vault Silver Foil
#7-9: Legends Never Die (Online Editions)
The Art of Kiss 4K [Lithographs Box Set]
Archie Meets Kiss
In 2011 Kiss announced that a new comic book series would be released in conjunction with the popular Archie Comics, in a series of four issues. Each issue was released with two variant covers and all four issues were compiled into both, a trade paperback and trade hardcover book.
#1: Riverdale Rock City #2: Creatures of the Night #3: Rock N’ Roll All Fright! #4: Shout It Out Loud!
Archie Meets Kiss (TBK) Archie Meets Kiss (Hardcover)
Kiss is the current comic series being printed by IDW Publishing, written by Chris Ryall and illustrated by Jamal Igle. The first issue was released in June 2012 and so far up to six issues have been planned. The first issue has been titled, “Dressed to Kill”, and has six variant covers. Part 2 of “Dressed to Kill” was released sometime in July and has five variant covers.
#1: Dressed to Kill, Part 1 (6 variant covers) #2: Dressed to Kill, Part 2 (5 variant covers) #3: World Without Heroes, Part 1 (5 variant covers) #4: A World Without Heroes, Part 2 (5 variant covers) #5: Kiss Meets the Phantom, Part 1 #6: Kiss Meets the Phantom, Part 2 #7: Into The Void, Part 1 #8: Into The Void, Part 2
Greatest Hits (IDW)
IDW has announced that they would begin releasing a series of trade paperbacks titled, Kiss Greatest Hits which will compile every series of Kiss comics, starting with Kiss’ Marvel comics. The first issue is to be titled, Kiss Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: The Marvel Years and will compile issue #1 and #5 of the Marvel Super Special series featuring the Kiss characters. The second edition, slated for release in October 2012 collects issue 1-6 of the Todd McFarlane Psycho Circus series.
Kiss Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: The Marvel Years Kiss Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 Kiss Greatest Hits, Vol. 3
Mars Attacks (IDW)
One Shot: Flaming Youths (2 variant covers)
Kiss Solo (IDW)
Beginning in March 2013, IDW Publishing will release a four-issue series starring the Demon, the Starchild, the Catman and the Spaceman, starting with Demon. The series was illustrated by Angel Medina and was once again written by Chris Ryall.
#1: The Demon (3 variant cover) #2: The Starchild (1 variant cover) #3: The Celestial (1 variant cover)
Kiss Kids (IDW)
The first issue was released on April 10, 2013. The series will be illustrated by Jose Holder.
The Kiss Kompendium is a hardcover collection of Kiss comics released on December 8, 2009. It compiles both issues of the Marvel Comics Super Special, the Marvel Kissnation comic, the comic printed especially for 1995 book, KISStory, along with the Psycho Circus and Dark Horse comic series’. The book also features exclusive Kiss photos taken backstage at the bands then current concert tour in support of their Sonic Boom album. As well as commentary by band members, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
See also: Kiss books
Throughout each Kiss comic series, apart from the superhero protagonists, there have been a range of villains and supporting characters. Below is a list of characters from each series.
- The Demon - Gene Simmons
- The Starbearer - Paul Stanley
- King of Beasts - Peter Criss
- The Celestial - Ace Frehley
Ever since the phenomenon created around the first Kiss comic in 1977, many unlicensed comics featuring the Kiss characters have been published. The most notable of these is the series’ by Revolutionary Comics subsidiaries, Rock ‘n’ Roll comics and Hard Rock comics. Although the series’ on both publishers were not sanctioned by Kiss or the groups lawyers, Gene Simmons was especially vocal in his support of the company.
- "Adweek – Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology". Brandweek.com. 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- Herzog, Marty (April 1983). "Gene Simmons". Comics Interview (2) (Fictioneer Books). pp. 57–62.
- "Howard the Duck 1-32 + Extras - First KISS in Comics". Worthpoint.com. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- "Psycho Circus Comics". Kiss Asylum. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- McLauchlin, Jim (August 1997). "Todd Lures KISS to McFarlane Productions". Wizard (72). p. 24.
- "KISS Volume 1: Rediscovery TPB :: Profile :: Dark Horse Comics". Darkhorse.com. 2003-03-26. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- "CBR Interviews KISS". Comic Book Resources. 2007-01-30. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- Kiss Characters to Star in 2013 Individual Comic Book Issues
- By Mr. Gene Simmons, Mr. Paul Stanley. "KISS Kompendium by Mr. Gene Simmons, Mr. Paul Stanley". Harpercollins.com.au. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- "Blood in KISS Comic Book". Snopes.com. May 14, 2007.
- Weiland, Jonah (January 30, 2007). "CBR Interviews KISS". Comic Book Resources.
- http://www.comicvine.com/kiss/65-45153/ Comic Vine