According to writer Amy Chu‘s website, she owns “seventeen different coffeemakers” and has “been to over 50 countries and all 50 states of the US.” What her bio doesn’t tell you though is that she’s also a huge fan of KISS, a band best known for huge singles like “Rock and Roll All Nite” and their singular black and white makeup.
The aesthetic of very few bands fits the nature of comics better than KISS’. That’s why it’s a no-brainer that this fall, Dynamite is launching a new series featuring the band with Chu on scripts and Kewber Baal on art. We recently sat down with Amy to talk about what the band means to her and where the series is heading.
Alex Lu: Amy, you’ve spoken a little bit about how you mom wouldn’t allow you to join the KISS army as a kid. How did you your relationship with the band change once you moved away from home and what’s it like now getting to not only experience, but create the legend?
Amy Chu: It’s an interesting challenge to revisit things that were such a huge part of childhood – like KISS and comics. It’s really a good test – do the things you loved as a child or teen seem silly now or do you like it just as much, or possibly even more? Honestly, my appreciation and admiration for the band is even deeper now that I’m an adult. Sure, it’s a lot of responsibility taking this on – it’s something I take very seriously, and I want to get it right or I wouldn’t do it.
Lu: Music from “The Elder” has a fascinating history—for readers unaware it is a concept album released by KISS designed to work as a soundtrack to a movie that does not exist. Commercially, it flopped so badly KISS did not go on tour to support the work! What inspired you to base the story for your take on KISS around this album?
Chu: I think it was too early, fans just didn’t know what to make of the album. It came out around 1981, right about the same time as Blade Runner – which also did poorly commercially. Listen to it now, there’s a lot of interesting elements – characters, lyrics that were the starting point for a good story. If the album had come out later, I believe it would have been received in an entirely different way. I thought making this story might convince more people to revisit the album and give it another chance.
Lu: In previous interviews, we’ve learned that KISS’ story will take place in a future where people live underground and that the story will be set around four teenagers go a journey to discover the truth about their subterranean city. Other than Music from “The Elder” and KISS in general, what influences did you draw from to develop the story? What themes are you interested in exploring?
Chu: I grew up reading and watching a lot of science fiction and it just seemed like a no brainer – something different and something serious that hadn’t been done before. You don’t have to be a KISS fan, to get into this story. It’s about challenging what’s around us, our society, beliefs, authority. KISS is larger than life. There is a mythology around these characters- they are rock GODS.
Lu: KISS, in many ways, is a band best remembered for its aesthetic. Their looks are iconic. Are you and artist Kewber Baal putting any unique spins on their look to accommodate for the new dystopic setting you’re placing them in?
Chu: Kewber is throwing his all into this book. He’s building this gorgeous incredible world with an enormous amount of detail. It’s raising art and storytelling to a whole new level. Every time I send a bunch of ideas and photo references, it comes back with some amazing trippy design. I can’t wait for everyone see it.
Lu: Have you spoken to the band about your take on their characters?
Chu: Not yet personally, but would love to, eventually! So far the feedback from the band has been nothing but positive. So crossing my fingers…
Lu: While KISS is indelibly one of the most prolific and well-regarded bands in American history, a great deal of readers will have grown up in an era where their music is not as omnipresent as it was in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. What would you say the importance of KISS is today?
Chu: Like I said, you won’t have to be a fan to enjoy this series. The band itself will remain important as long as fans live and they tour. The fact that they have survived this long and still remain relevant, actually I would argue KISS is even more iconic now. Back in the ’70s they were a huge band, but now they are part of the cultural landscape. Now I don’t know ANYBODY who doesn’t know KISS (except maybe my mom…)
KISS #1 hits store shelves on October 19th!