Matt Dunford, president, Little Fish Comic Book Studio and chairman, San Diego Comic Fest 9 p.m., Jan. 17
Carnal Comics - the Inside Story, by Jay Allen Sanford
Local Comic Publisher Reveals the Secrets of Carnal Success
I blame Gene Simmons.
Yes, that Gene Simmons, bassist and founding dragonlord of Kiss. Gene was a fan of Revolutionary Comics Rock N Roll Comics line, which I began writing for in 1989. The company's founder, Todd Loren, died in June 1992, the victim of a still-unsolved murder. However, Revolutionary kept on producing comic books, including a Kiss biography, under the leadership of Todd’s father and myself.
I contacted Gene Simmons in 1993 about doing some new Kiss comics together, and the band ended up working with Revolutionary on several titles, as well as a hardcover coffee table book called Kisstory. This was before the four original Kiss members reunited, during a period when the group was essentially a trivia footnote in rock history. Kiss financial coffers were fading and they wanted Revolutionary to cover the cost of producing the Kisstory book. Hoping to impress us with their potential to still generate merchandising income, Gene invited me and several Revolutionary staffers to his birthday party, to be held in an L.A. bowling alley, promising a star-studded evening of rock and roll nirvana.
It was during a meeting leading up to this event, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, when Gene took me aside and said "Jay, instead of just rock stars, you should do something like Jesus comics. Or maybe porn star comics. People will always be into Jesus and porn stars."
"Hopefully not in the same comic," I allowed, and the subject was dropped.
I didn’t mention to him that I'd already looked into doing porn star biographies, but since the girls use pseudonyms and work in a somewhat secretive underground subculture, I'd had little luck making the necessary contacts. Pity, I thought. Todd had started an adults-only line in '92 called Carnal Comics - sex filled fictional stories having nothing to do with the adult film industry, but the series was cancelled after only three money-losing issues. I felt the name Carnal Comics would make a great imprint title for a porn star bio series, but the moniker had died with Todd.
It would have stayed buried, were it not for ol’ lizard-tongue’s birthday party.
Gene’s bash was filled with celebrities like Tom and Roseanne Arnold, Dweezil and Moon Zappa, famed groupie and author Pamela Des Barres ("I'm With The Band") and many others. One of the people Gene introduced me to was a hairy, nearly hunchbacked little man named Ron Jeremy, whom I recognized as The Hedgehog of countless porn loops. I did not shake his hand (I've seen where it’s been).
Looking around, I thought I recognized many of the half-nekkid ladies in attendance as porn starlets, but I hadn't been an active porn watcher in some time so I wasn't positive.
At one point, Gene asked me if I had any business cards, because "This would be a good opportunity to make some contacts." I handed him a dozen or so and off he went. I found out later that he placed those cards in the palms of porn stars throughout the room, telling them "That guy over there wants to do a comic book about you."
The following Monday, I was mystified when I began getting calls from sexy sounding women telling me that they were anxious to meet me and work with me. Most started right off by saying they wanted to send me naked pictures of themselves, and did I want to see them in softcore or hardcore shots?
This was not the usual Rock 'N' Roll Comics morning, to be sure!
One woman with a veddy propah British accent announced "I seduce women who’ve nevah been with a girl before…I’ll send you some tapes."
This turned out to be Miss Sarah-Jane Hamilton and I decided that I liked her quite a bit.
I wrote up a contract to do a three issue comic book series with the beautiful, busty redhead. The comics would serialize her illustrated life story and each issue would have a fictional fantasy tale which Sarah herself would write, with my help, based on her own fantasies.
Todd's father and I met with Sarah-Jane at her Hollywood bungalow and she greeted us at the door in a skintight red leather mini dress, fishnet stockings, sky-high red stiletto heels and, as I saw when she bent over to pick up the newspaper on her porch, no underwear. We had lunch together at a Hollywood bistro where my fruit salad cost $15.00 and later that day we were in her bedroom, shooting photos for the comic, which we'd sell in the ad pages.
I met a female artist at a Pittsburgh comic convention, a busty redhead who bore a resemblance to Sarah-Jane herself. I felt her sensual artwork was perfect for the comic. This was Fauve, aka Holly Golightly, and Carnal Comics would become her first published work. She drew for all three Sarah Jane issues and I'm proud to have watched her go on to become a well known and popular illustrator and writer. She currently publishes her own comic book titles as Broadsword Comics, assisted by Catwoman artist Jim Balent. She did several early Carnal Comics and many feel, myself included, that her feminine style set the tone for the entire line - sexy stories told from a female point of view rather than the usual pornographic male fantasies.
By the time the third and final Sarah-Jane issue was nearing its press date, sales returns made it clear that Carnal Comics was a huge hit. I began planning new editions with other well-known porn stars, but then Todd Loren’s father decided it was time to retire. It had been two years since Todd had died, and the flood of competing copycat titles were whittling into the sales for Rock 'N' Roll Comics. The company was in debt over the expenses incurred by a failed sports comic line and Todd's family was tired of the grind, wanting to move to the east coast and close Revolutionary's doors for good.
I’d invested a lot of my time efforts into Carnal Comics, and sales for the line were higher than our rock comics - higher than most other independent comics coming out at the time - so, in June 1994, almost two years to the day after Todd’s death, I became a publisher myself by purchasing the entire Carnal cache - lock, stock and barrel.
Sarah-Jane Hamilton #3 came out so quickly after this that I didn't even have time to alter the logos. There's still a Revolutionary masthead, as well as a small logo my then-common law wife Heather created for the company I’d decided to call Re-Visionary Press.
Why Re-Visionary? Truth to tell, because this placed our product listings in the same alphabetical-based spot that Revolutionary had occupied in consumer and wholesale catalogs. I didn't want to lose any of the sales momentum that the Sarah-Jane series had established and I certainly wanted the public to know that Carnal Comics were still being produced by the same successful creative team as previously.
Our flagship title was formally christened Carnal Comics: True Stories Of Adult Film Stars Told By The Stars Themselves. The stars of erotica worked directly with us, to turn their life experiences into comics. We focused on the pivotal events in their lives, the moments that defined who they are and what they’ve achieved. Most of the women were very honest and upfront, revealing things never known about them before.
For most issues, we also included a fantasy backup feature, where the star tells their wildest dream and we illustrated it, using their own words. The women themselves chose artists out of our large stable of regular and part-time freelancers. The entire comic was crafted with the stars' full input and participation, with some even writing their own scripts.
Heather and I basically ran the entire operation ourselves at first, in addition to the freelance art contributors based all over the country and in Canada. We seemed to work around the clock most days, and any money that didn’t go into rent and food was re-invested in advertising, production and retail promotion, not to mention contacting everyone we could find involved in wholesale distribution to adult bookstores.
Our hope was to get our comics into that market rather than settling for the traditional comic book shop network. This had been Rock N Roll Comics secret of success, being carried by music stores, rock memorabilia dealers and fan clubs.
From the start, we booked porn stars for Carnal promotions on radio and TV shows, as well as scheduling in-person autograph sessions at comic shops, conventions, and even adult bookstores and strip clubs.
By the time our first non-Sarah issue came out three months after SJ #3, Tiffany Million #1, we'd made serious inroads into this market, partly on the strength of Miss Millions popularity as a former pro wrestler for G.L.O.W. - Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. Miss Million recently had her own TV reality show - Mom, Wife, Bounty Hunter.
We'd met Tiffany through Sarah, but she wasn't nearly as charming or as easy to work with. I didn't find her sexy or even interesting, regardless of whether or not she showed up for our meetings wearing underwear. In fact, she was one porn star whose moneymaker I didn’t want to see, in any position or from any angle. Our relationship was adversarial from start to finish –
In many ways, the Million situation foreshadowed my eventual anti-porn feelings and activities, but we’ll get to that in a bit…
A little Hispanic dynamo named Alicia Rio came to San Diego for a dance gig at Déjà Vu on Midway Drive, requesting a chance to meet with us. Heather and I decided she was likeable and she had a positive story to tell, something that became more and more important to us in our attempt to avoid putting out mere illustrated press releases.
The darker side of the porn business - domination and S&M videos - was intriguing as well, if only as a story subject, and so dominatrix Nicole London was signed up.
Then came superstar girl-girl film star Janine, pillowy girl-next door Julia Ann and a parade of pulchritude to make any man (and many women) twitch and writhe.
(Stan Lee visits Carnal at Comic-Con, and autograph signing with Spike)
In one afternoon of L.A. meetings, I was scheduled to meet with, at different times, Howard Stern fave Aja, one of porn’s biggest stars, and Pamela Des Barres, who'd written a book about her experiences as a groupie associated with members of Led Zeppelin, the Who and dozens more.
First, there was lunch with Aja, during which I mentioned my upcoming meeting with Miss Des Barres. "My God," Aja grimaced, "how can that woman do what she does? I mean, f-ing guys just ‘cause they play guitar? At least with me, it’s my job, my profession. I'm great at what I do, I get paid well for it and then I go home feeling good about it all. She's nothing but a screwed up slut with delusions of grandeur!"
During dinner with Des Barres, I dropped Aja's name and said I'd met with her that afternoon. "What a filthy little thing," she frowned. "When I have sex with a guy, its because there’s something about him I’m already attracted to. I know and respect his music, I feel something from him and want to share some of myself with him in return. But that girl's nothing but a porn slut - hand her a few bucks and she’ll do it with anybody."
Soon, we began launching additional titles, sometimes several per month, such as Porn Star Fantasies, Superstars Of Erotica, The Golden Age Of Triple-X (adaptation of vintage adult films), the psychosexual horror series Nightingale, Mistress Of Dreams and many others. Every new issue seemed to outsell the previous one.
Jenna Jameson, an X-rated film actress with a role in Howard Sterns Private Parts, appeared several times on Stern’s radio and television shows, and Re-Visionary enjoyed skyrocketing sales on her comic every time she mentioned it on the air.
Jameson also hosted several specials on the E! Entertainment network, where she promoted her comic as well. Jasmin St. Claire, star of 1996s award winning top-selling adult video The World's Biggest G-bang II, appeared on the Stern show, along with Nico Treasures and other stars, managing to not only plug the comic but to promote autograph signings they were doing for us at various comic book shops and conventions.
Another X-rated performer, Lilli Xene, taped an episode of the Jenny Jones show where she also got to show some of the non-explicit artwork from her comic book to the audience, while Anna Malle discussed her Carnal Comic on HBO's Real Sex.
Brittany OConnell was featured in a long interview for WBAI FM radio in New York, and Porsche Lynn taped an episode of the Marc Scott show on WXYT radio, a CNN outlet in Michigan. Carnal Comics were everywhere, and it seemed almost everyone was talking about us. "Comics definitely aren't just for kids anymore" would be the inevitable byline.
Heather and I were making a comfortable living, with the ability to pay our contributors well and to offer more consistent work than most other independent comic book publishers. Illustrators were having trouble lining up jobs working for big guns like Marvel and DC Comics and instead began requesting the chance to work for us, albeit sometimes with the admitted hope of meeting (and mating) with their favorite sex star. This happened often enough, in fact.
More than once, I set up meetings at comic conventions between a porn starlet and an aspiring artist who ended up painting a cover or drawing a story without ever requesting a paycheck the artist had already made an arrangement to spend some quality time with the starlet subject.
One woman who shall remain both nameless and shameless talked her cover artist into the gig while performing oral sex on him under a covered table at the San Diego Comic Book Convention, while the artist was signing autographs for fans lined up in front of the table! I was standing nearby and can attest that most of those signatures came out pretty shaky.
Not that it was all bread and roses. Many stores and municipalities still considered our publications obscenity and sometimes our comics were seized by police and border officials as such. Even advertising outside the adult magazine market was a challenge, as newspapers and magazines often rejected our ads because of the sexual nature of the comics, without ever inspecting copies of the comics themselves.
We did some comic adaptations of famous porn flicks like John Holmes Does Paris, Marilyn Chambers Still Insatiable, Jenna Jameson's Wicked Weapon, etc --- to script the comics, I had to watch video screeners of the movie and transcribe all the dialogue, along with descriptions of the scenes.
Just imagine writing down everything someone says and does in a porno --- of my many WTF gigs, that was one of the WTF-iest.
I had to phone-interview the porn stars for their bio comics, and my home desk was under an open window facing a driveway parking lot I shared with several neighbors. One day, I was interviewing either Kendra Jade or Annabel Chong, one of the "g-ngbang queens," just as a woman neighbor was unloading groceries from her car nearby. When I asked my interviewee the next question, I had no idea how clearly I could be heard in the driveway -
"So," I asked, "Doesn't your -ss bleed from having anal sex with 50 men at once?"
My neighbor had dropped the groceries to the pavement and was just standing there, staring at me in the window, a look on her face like she'd just stepped on flaming poo, busted groceries all around her.
I bet she thought I was paying $5 a minute on a 900-line for that phone call!
I moved my office to a windowless back room -------
We doubled our net profits in 1996 and reached the million comics sold mark late that year. Re-Visionary’s major 1997 project was a three issue series called Triple-X Cinema: A Cartoon History.
Participating in its creation were dozens of the major figures of the erotic film industry including Marilyn Chambers, Bill Margold, Hyapatia Lee, Porsche Lynn, Nina Hartley, Seka, Kay Parker and dozens of other producers and performers, including the elusive Gerard Damiano, who directed the original Deep Throat film.
The release party for the Triple-X series, at the Golden Apple Comics megastore in LA, included many of the stars and contributors - the now legendary event drew a standing room only throng of fans and media, with lines going halfway around the block to get in.
Re-Visionary was placing its adults-only line in places that had never been exposed to comics before. Our biggest boost came from joining forces with Adam And Eve, the largest mail order catalog of adult merchandise in the world. A&E even have their own cable network, so this provided us with real growth.
The women who star in Carnal Comics began promoting the line on the Adam And Eve Channel and Spice, as well as on The Playboy Channel and TV shows like Jerry Springer and Geraldo, and the comics generated positive press in Hustler, Chic, High Society, Screw, Adult Video News and dozens of other major magazines.
It was probably inevitable that we'd spin off the Carnal Comics into a comic strip version as well. We began producing a multi-page full color version of Porn Star Fantasies for various adult magazines, most notably Oui Magazine, one of the three top selling men’s periodicals. Oui's Carnal Comics ran for well over a year before their company went bankrupt and we stopped turning in work to them, whereupon I began producing similar strips for Hustler, Adult Cinema Review and others.
To our surprise, Heather and I found ourselves becoming friends with some of the women we worked with. Kimberly Kupps introduced herself to Heather by offering to let Heather feel her new 72GGG breast implants, which for some reason was endearing to us. We particularly grew to love Hyapatia Lee, the Amerindian superstar whose class and sensuality is sorely missed. All of these women were upfront but not overpowering with their sexuality, and none tried to tempt me - or Heather - away from our commitment to each other.
A few of the women did indeed profess to developing crushes on Heather, as she was and is one of the prettiest women on the planet, and a couple of the stars went as far as asking me if I was interested in, well, tasting the merchandise. None ever asked twice, once I told them that Heather and I were a team.
Unfortunately, the stress of working so closely together contributed to Heather and I eventually separating. During that separation, I strayed sexually and that put an end to our professional and personal pairing after having been a couple over fifteen years.
With most of my social companions being porn stars and strippers, it goes to follow that I began dating those very same women.
It's interesting, dating porn stars. Especially the way the public reacts, ranging from worshipful praise to shocking condemnation. As the woman’s companion, that recognition, or rather infamy, reflected on and affected me as well.
I was fascinated to discover how many women are porn fans. When I’m with, say, Jasmin St. Claire, the girls who ask for her autograph treat her like a revered rock star - and treat me like the consort of a goddess. And, when it comes to preferred treatment on airplanes, in restaurants and at clubs, man oh man, having someone like Alicia Rio on your arm allows for the kind of pampering I once thought was reserved for Hef, Brad Pitt and, well, Gene Simmons.
Some of these relationships got quite serious. For several weeks, I took to the road with blonde bombshell Christina Angel, attending stripper conventions and dance dates at clubs with her and catching her clothes as they flew from the stage. Every night, I considered myself the luckiest guy in the world to be sleeping with a one-time Playboy Playmate who’d been voted one of the ten most beautiful women in the world after her third Penthouse centerfold.
It was while I was with Christina that I discovered how many regular women want to sleep with porn stars and, simultaneously, with the porn star's man. I can’t count how many young girls wanted to come home with Christina and I, apparently hoping that we'd teach them whatever supposed tantric sexual secrets people in the sex biz must know.
I gave up a lot of my personal time while dating the women of erotica, but I managed to keep up my workload. With help. For the editorial department, I hired a new Managing Editor, Karen Misty, who previously served as editor of various mens magazines including Hustler and Oui.
When Sordid Stories, a combination film and comic book which I wrote and which came out simultaneously, was nominated for two Adult Video News Awards (the adult industry’s Oscar equivalent), more filmmakers began contacting Karen and Re-Visionary about storyboarding and other pre-production work.
Before long, we were doing full film treatments and shooting scripts, most all of them based around fantasy and science fiction storylines. One was a superhero thriller from Wicked Pictures, known for their high gloss big budget adult features, starring Jenna Jameson, then the best known and most popular porn star in the world. The half-million dollar movie was shot on film (a rarity in adult movies these days).
As with Sordid Stories, the Wicked Weapon comic book and video was released and cross-promoted simultaneously in the comic and adult boutique markets. We even produced a special 16 page mini-comic which was included with the entire initial video run of the big budget adult film Wicked Weapon, packaged with the video itself, now one of the rarest of all Carnal publications. The Wicked Weapon video was nominated for five AVN awards, increasing our credibility and reputation in the adult marketplace even more. By this point, I was long past calling prospective subjects to work with - I had a year-long waiting list of girls clamoring to be in a Carnal comic book.
Publishers in thirteen countries bought exclusive licenses to reprint Carnal Comics, such as Christos Koudakis & Associates, which has the exclusive rights to publish 48 page magazine versions of Re-Visionary’s adults only line in Greece.
(Greek Carnal Comics, with covers by Boris Vallejo)
I was thrilled to see stories I co-wrote published beneath covers by famed movie poster and book cover artist Boris Vallejo, though I cant read a word of the re-lettered dialogue. My name looks pretty cool in Greek though. And of course I like being paid for doing little more than sending artwork stats overseas accompanied by a signed license agreement.
As the end of the nineties approached, I launched even more new titles, since everything I published seemed to outsell the previous comics. Issue number one of Legends Of Porn featured one of the best known names in the history of erotica, Annie Sprinkle.
Sprinkle is the author of a best selling book Post Porn Modernist, as well as being in demand as a university lecturer. Her performance art stage show Herstory Of Porn has been playing sold out houses around the world for over four years (Senator Jesse Helms called the show a sewer of depravity, which Sprinkle cites as her favorite review quote). The star of hundreds of adult films in the seventies and early eighties, she’s also written over three hundred articles for magazines like Penthouse, Hustler, Oui, The Utne Reader and many others.
"I'm basically a total multimedia whore," Annie says. "People either love me or hate me. At times, I'm worshipped as a sex goddess, and other times I'm screamed at, snubbed, arrested, censored - I've even had my life threatened for daring to call myself a feminist porn star! After all, I'm a lot of things people love to hate: a prostitute, a pornographer, a witch, a Jew, an artist, a full figured woman, a bi-sexual, an avowed masturbator and, perhaps worst of all, a New Yorker!" A Carnal Comics kinda gal, to be sure. She and I ended up becoming very close and I still consider her a valued friend and always fascinating conversationalist – when she brought her stage show to San Diego’s [email protected], we gave out her comic to all attendees and had a wonderful time visiting with her after the show.
I was given the chance to publish comics featuring two of the biggest names in erotica. During a meeting with one of my all time favorite adult film stars, Veronica Hart (Pandora’s Mirror, Roommates), she told me she was directing two films featuring comeback appearances by women who'd long been out of the biz but whose names were still legendary - Ginger Lynn (1985’s New Wave Hookers) and Marilyn Chambers (1971's Behind The Green Door).
Chambers' last X-rated film had been 1980's Insatiable. She remained in the public eye with R-rated TV series on HBO, Cinemax, The Playboy Channel and more. Lynn retired from hardcore in 1986, and had gone on to some success in films like the Vice Academy series and music videos.
Chambers’ new film was to be called Still Insatiable, while Lynn’s was called Torn. Both were filmed by VCA Pictures, known for lavish, groundbreaking and expensive feature films and an exclusive stable of the industry’s most popular performers, and I was contracted to do official comic book souvenir magazines based on the two most heavily promoted films in X-rated history.
By early 1999, I was tiring after six years of non-stop Carnal Comics production. I was suffering from my second bout with illness in two years, and my health was not improving. My romantic liaisons with various porn stars had disillusioned me in regard to most aspects of the business. If you've never been in a room filled with men who've just had sex with the girl who’ll be sleeping with you later, you can’t imagine the disgusting physical smell, and the emotional reek that comes with reliving that thought as your lover climbs under the covers with you an hour later.
One day, I was watching TV when a porn star lover of mine brought up our relationship on The Jerry Springer Show. I hadn’t been given any warning that this was coming.
I decided on the spot that, when my life is being discussed on TV with Jerry Springer, it's definitely time to change my life.
I set about wrapping up my involvement in the Carnal biz and began talks with a prospective new publisher, Steven S. Crompton, who’d made his Demi The Demoness character into a cult figure of great renown and popularity, perhaps helped in part by her many appearances in my own Carnal line alongside real-life porn stars.
(SS Crompton and actor John "Gomez" Astin at a Carnal comic-con booth)
Under Crompton's guidance, Carnal Comics has continued to thrive, well into the next century. In 2008, he made history with the big budget film Demi the Demoness, the very first longtime adult comic character ever to be turned into a live action adult movie (unlike the film adaptations I did, which were created and released together). It's available at www.demicomix.com.
I used my portion of the Ginger Lynn/Marilyn Chambers proceeds to pay for a major medical procedure and checked myself into the hospital. When I came out, much of my recuperation took place with my newest girlfriend Susan at my side, an ex-porn star (Shyanne) who’d sworn off the business and who, with her six month old baby, was living with me at the time.
Also living with me, for a time, were two other women - a curvy platinum blonde stripper calling herself Savannah who “danced” at the Jolar Cinema on University Avenue (later replaced in my home by porn star Sunshine Blue) and an internet sex performer named Tricia (later replaced by a call girl named Olivia).
Pretty much at any given time, my house was always occupied by three beautiful women, a man and a baby. Who needed comic books? Especially dirty comic books.
I actually became somewhat of a family man. Midnight feedings (for TWO, once little Daniel was joined by his brother Dennis), baby shots, shopping for cribs - a far different life from the porn magnate I'd been known as. I still sold a lot of Carnal Comics through mail order and magazine ads, and there were a million back issues floating around with ordering information printed in the back pages.
However, when the opportunity came to hand the whole shebang over to S.S. Crompton, it was a relief and a pleasure to do so.
(Lisa Ann, Kylie Ireland, and SS Crompton with Nightingale)
Susan moved out but we remained close, and I pretty much swore off dating porn stars from that point on, current or ex. If nothing else, I no longer need to buy condoms and K-Y lubricating jelly by the case, and it’s made for a lot less leather and freaky looking lingerie cluttering up the closets of my house.
My friends react with horror and disbelief that I now pass up the invitations to attend swinger sex parties with porn biz associates. And, even though my current girlfriend is stunningly beautiful and sexy, I regularly get grief from guys who gasp "You actually broke up with a Penthouse centerfold? Are you out of your mind?"
Of course, none of these guys had to drive that centerfold to the Methadone clinic or hide her heroin needles, or sit at a restaurant dinner table with a girl while men come up to compliment her sexual skills.
I’ve now concluded that the porn industry is no road to fame and riches – it’s a dark, dirty, and depressing dead-end. At the moment, I’m working on a comic book with a Porn Survivor’s group – few people really have a clue about what goes on and what often happens to these women, not to mention what happens with their friends and family. And lovers (he said, raising his hand sheepishly….)
If it sounds like I’ve given up the life of a junior Hefner for a boring, humdrum, day-to-day existence, all I can say is "Pay more attention to what I've just told you."
If you still can't understand, don’t blame me.
Blame Gene Simmons.
THE RETURN OF ROCK 'N' ROLL COMICS!
The Pink Floyd Experience: All five issues of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics series The Pink Floyd Experience have been out of print and in demand for over fifteen years. As showcased in Pink Floyd’s own official box CD set Shine On, the Floyd comics chronicle rock’s most enigmatic psychedelic warriors, from their early dayz with stoner icon Syd Barrett, through their split (and later reformation). With art by Marvel and DC star Ken Landgraf (Wolverine, Hawkman, Nightwing & Flamebird, etc.), the collection also includes update material, bringing the saga up to 2010.
Hard Rock Heroes: What goes together better than comics and rock music? With almost 300 pages of Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics, Hard Rock Heroes goes WAY beyond Behind the Music, to tell the real life, behind-the-scenes stories of rock’s most heavy hitters. Creators include Stuart Immonen (Superman: End of the Century), Ken Landgraf (Wolverine), Jay Allen Sanford (Overheard in San Diego..), Todd Loren (Beatles Experience), Scott Pentzer (Razor), Mike Sagara (Ninja High School), and many others.
Hard Rock Heroes is a book-length pictorial history, covering bands like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Poison, Megadeth, Pantera, Anthrax, Motorhead, Sammy Hagar, and more. The cinematic stories are realistically drawn, researched from countless photo and video archives, with an encyclopedic eye toward visual accuracy, dramatic flair, and journalistic depth.
Also includes the never-before published “missing” Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics #8 from 1990, on Skid Row. The lack of an eighth issue has vexed collectors and catalogers for years – exactly 20 years later, the story can finally be told, and collectors can finally own ALL the Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics!
As a bonus treat, Hard Rock Heroes also features the Motley Crue comic story from their official box CD set Music To Crash Your Car To II, released in 2004 and written and drawn by original Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics creators Lyndal Ferguson and Larry Nadolsky. Shipping February 2010.
"Great ideas, like the marriage of rock 'n' roll and comics, have the half-life of Uranium and will always be popular," says series co-creator Jay Allen Sanford, who has worked on over 200 reality-based comic books and thousands of similar cartoon strips for the San Diego Reader, as well as for magazines like Rip, Spin, and Oui. "The folks at Bluewater clearly have their fingers on the same pop culture pulse that enabled the original Rock 'N' Roll Comics to become one of the top-selling indie comics of the '90s. Truth is often stranger than fiction...and certainly much more interesting!"
The Beatles are bigger than ever, now available online for the first time digitally, on the Vegas stage in “Love,” and in the new Beatles: Rock Band video game. Now comes the most comprehensive and encyclopedic illustrated Beatles story ever, the Beatles Experience! Over 200 pages, dramatizing one of the most compelling tales in pop culture history, drawn from thousands of photos and interviews, meticulously researched and featuring stunning art by Mike Sagara (Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics) and Stuart Immonen (Legion of Super Heroes, Ultimate X-Men).
Covering the Beatles’ lives from birth and beyond their breakup, dramatized in dialogue and scene recreations more akin to a film bio than a mere documentary, the Beatles Experience also includes a Chronolog timeline going down each page, with encyclopedia background and footnotes detailing related events happening at the same time in the world, in music, and in the Beatles’ own tumultuous and extraordinary lives.
The Led Zeppelin Experience:
The Led Zeppelin saga is one of the wildest in rock history, and this graphic novel pulls no punches in dramatizing the backstage, behind-the-scenes story. From their early days as the New Yardbirds on through their rise to superstardom (and controversy), all five issues of the original Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics series are collected in one rockin’ volume, with art by Scott Pentzer (Razor), Marshall Ross (Deepest Dimension), David Neer (Sports Superstars), Francois Escalmel (Frank Zappa: Viva La Bizarre), and others. The collection also includes update material, bringing the saga up to 2010.
THE KOMPLETE KISS KOMIX KRONICLES - Comprehensive collection of stuff I’ve done about working with Kiss on a comic book series, along with a bunch of never-before-seen artifacts from the Kiss Komix archives AND an article by Kiss comic author Spike Steffenhagen, offering his own very-different take, ala Rashomon, on the same events I describe in my essay...
ROCK 'N' ROLL COMICS: THE INSIDE STORY - In 1989, local Revolutionary Comics ("Unauthorized And Proud Of It") launched Rock 'N' Roll Comics, featuring unlicensed biographies of rock stars, most of which I wrote. Some performers, like Frank Zappa and Kiss, were supportive, while others like New Kids On The Block considered our comics akin to bootlegs and sued. In June 1992, publisher Todd Loren was found dead in his San Diego condo, brutally murdered...
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK VS REVOLUTIONARY COMICS - The inside story of how a hugely successful boy band tried to sue local-based Rock 'N' Roll Comics over an unauthorized biography of the group, sparking a court case that established, for the very first time, first amendment rights for comic books. Illustrated by comic superstar Stuart Immonen (Superman, etc.)...
THE ROCKETEER AND OTHER FAMOUS '80S COMICS BEGAN RIGHT HERE IN SAN DIEGO - Here's a detailed history of local Pacific Comics, who recruited comic superstars like Jack Kirby to create one of the first successful indie comic book lines. Pioneers in the fight for comic creators' rights and royalties, former employees and operators reveal how they did it, and what went so terribly wrong...
COMICS AND CENSORSHIP - DON'T BE AFRAID, IT'S ONLY A COMIC BOOK - A local-centric history of comic book censorship, and the fight for the rights of comic creators...
TWILIGHT ZONE AND STAR TREK WRITER GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON PRESENTS - The inside story of a local horror comic book series featuring Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, plus sci-fi king Larry Niven, Zap Comix co-founder Spain Rodriguez, Matthew Alice artist Rick Geary, Vampire Lestat painter Daerick Gross, yours truly JAS, and many more...
THE BIRTH OF IMAGE COMICS: INSIDE STORY OF A LOCAL PUBLISHING POWERHOUSE - Illustrated tale revealing how Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and local comic artist Jim Lee (the Punisher, etc.) conspired to create the ultimate creator-owned comic books...
On March 30, 2004, when Dwight Whorley found the Japanese website of Fractal Underground Studio via Yahoo and clicked on a couple of the thumbnail images...(http://comipress.com/special/miscellaneous/down-the-slippery-slope-the-crime-of-viewing-manga )
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford
More like this:
- RIP Reader cover artist and underground comix legend Spain Rodriguez — Nov. 28, 2012
- The History of Comic Books In San Diego: The ‘90s — Sept. 22, 2008
- Painting Rock Stars, plus Behind the Scenes: Overheard in San Diego & Famous Former Neighbors — May 8, 2008
- 25 Local Musicians Reveal “My Favorite Twilight Zone,” plus Local-Produced Zone Comic Books — April 3, 2008
- The Birth of Image Comics - An Illustrated History — Sept. 3, 2007