Marty Graham 8:53 a.m., March 26
Local Writer Lands Gene Simmons Comic Book Gigs
Kiss bassist Gene Simmons has announced that one of the comic books originally planned for local publisher IDW, Gene Simmons House of Horrors, will now instead be published by Arcana Comics. In addition, comics earlier announced (and cancelled) by Arcana will finally see publication.
However, the press release gives little indication that the upcoming Arcana titles are anything other than "all-new." Nor does any mention appear in the press release about the original cancelled IDW House of Horrors comics, though there IS a lot of hoopala about the Kiss bassist promoting his Simmons Comics Group at Comic-Con this week.
In Spring 2007, Simmons was working with IDW on a horror anthology comic titled Gene Simmons House Of Horrors. “Think Chiller meets the Twilight Zone,” publisher Chris Ryall told the Reader at the time. The comic was originally to be published by the Kiss bassist’s own Simmons Comic Group, in partnership with IDW.
The second Simmons Comic Group House of Horrors issue (cover art above) remains unpublished, and it's unclear if this material will now appear in the same-named comic from Arcana. “We originally planned to do a comic with Iron Maiden, until Gene’s comic came along,” IDW creator Tom Waltz told the Reader in 2007; his locally-created Children Of The Grave comic series is loosely based on a Black Sabbath song. “The band was totally up for it, but then all these middlemen got involved with licensing and permissions, and it became really difficult to get simple yes or no answers.”
The Simmons Comic Group was next announced as an Arcana publication, but the aborted launch was also affected by an apparent falling out with co-creator (and fellow musician) Jazan Wild, which led to two announced issues of another Simmons series being canceled, as well as a planned reboot of House of Horrors. The comics seen in below Arcana ad from several years ago were among the cancellations:
“We all agreed and listed the books to come out on Halloween and even had a collector's book that was going to be in Barnes and Noble and Borders,” according to Wild, who says he spent five months working with Simmons on the comic. “But, Gene Simmons has a ton of things going at any given time, and sadly this one seemed to not be the right time for him…since I own the story and all of the art, I decided to change the title to Jazan Wild's Funhouse Of Horrors and let everyone see this terrific story…I know thousands of people ordered this book.”
Simmons and Arcana Comics plan to relaunch the line by debuting the Simmons Comics Anthology at this week’s San Diego Comic-Con. The Anthology brings together comics originally co-created by Simmons, which includes the first issue of Zipper™, Dominatrix™ and Gene Simmons House of Horrors™ plus the first chapter of an all-new crossover event, “The Slave Trade”, where Zipper™ and Dominatrix™ will face off against each other.
“We intend on using the finest artists and writers in the comic book medium,” says Simmons in today's press release. “Zipper™, Dominatrix™, and Gene Simmons House of Horrors™ will be published throughout the year. For Comic-Con, we thought we would do something special and give the fans a jam-packed Simmons Comics Anthology featuring all of our comic book titles. This is just the beginning.”
In the case of House of Horrors, this would actually be the THIRD beginning, with the title having been cancelled twice before.
At Comic-Con, Simmons will be doing a book signing on Friday, July 13 at 2:00 pm, at Arcana Comics Booth #2415. Only 200 copies of the Anthology will be made available at Comic-Con. Fans will get the chance to meet Simmons and get their photo taken with real life versions of Dominatrix™ and Zipper™.
Says Simmons, “Sean Patrick O’Reilly has been completely supportive and a great partner in our re-launch of Simmons Comics Group. As a lifelong fanboy, I’ve been madly in love with the medium ever since I was in my early teens and have continued to ravenously devour comics through the decades...along the way, I created our three comics – Zipper™, Dominatrix™ and Gene Simmons House of Horrors™. Zipper™ is an alien among us. Dominatrix™ deals pleasure and pain, CIA meet T & A. Gene Simmons House of Horrors™ consists of stories by some of the best talents in comics today.”
Art in the Comic-Con Anthology is by rising star Yannis Roumboulias, with scripting by Arcana writer Erik Hendrix, who lives in Oceanside.
“I’m a corporate cube farmer by day, and a freelance writer by night and by train,” the 36 year-old Hendrix told the Reader. He says he spent over a decade wearing his not-so-secret corporate identity at Unisys Logistics and Order Management in Rancho Bernardo.
Hendrix has long aspired to be a writer, but hadn’t considered comics until around 2008. “I was working on my first novel, and I had a ton of ideas gnawing at my brain. Just jotting them down didn’t clear them from my thoughts, so I started dabbling in comic scripts, tying together my love of writing with my love of comics.”
In 2010, he took a job at Arcana Comics as VP of Promotions. "In 2008, I was a fan. In 2009, an aspiring creator walking around with flyers and pitches. In 2010, I was working at a booth and had contracts." Last year, he was running Arcana’s booth and debuting his first mass-distributed graphic novel.
The local publisher who put so much time and effort promoting Gene Simmons comic books that will now instead be published by Arcana isn't new to the growing cross-pollination between comics and mainstream showbiz media.
IDW Publishing has risen to become one of the top-five best selling U.S. comic companies, thanks in part to developing licensed properties based on CSI, 24, Angel, Transformers, Star Trek, Dick Tracy, G.I. Joe, Doctor Who, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which actually started as a small press comic book).
“I’m roughly the same age as Comic-Con,” IDW publisher and writer Chris Ryall told the Reader last year for a cover feature tied into Comic-Con, "Keys to the Comic Kingdom" ( http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20... ). “I think my first show was in 1997. I've been a comic fan since I was a kid, and have vague recollections of getting [Superman co-creator] Joe Shuster’s autograph at a show in Los Angeles when I was about four or five.”
Regarding Hollywood-VS-comics, Ryall counters that “Comic-Con is so large now that you can easily make it into whatever you want the show to be. If you want movie trailers and to see stars, sure, that’s an option. But there’s so much more, from talking to publishers and creators of current books, to seeing people from your childhood favorites, and everything in between.”
Having already reached the status and sales only dreamed by the majority of Comic-Con hopefuls, Ryall says “IDW doesn’t really do [conventions] to make money as much as getting directly in front of fans, offering an outlet for fans to meet IDW creators, and hopefully expose some new people to our books. It also serves as a nice place to meet and talk to creators face to face, which has led to some nice projects.”
The 2012 Comic-Con will be no exception. As he told the Reader last year, “The ideal scenario for me is just that people walk away even more excited about IDW’s books than they were before it started. And hopefully, along the way, I’ll have made a few new deals, brought on a few new creators, caught up with old friends, and maybe even gotten a little sleep somewhere during that week.”
IDW also published the relatively recent Archie/Kiss crossover (above). Previous Kiss comics have been published by Marvel, Revolutionary (also based in San Diego), Personality Comics, Celebrity Comics, Dark Horse, Rock Fantasy, and Image...
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More comic-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/
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford