When it comes to comic books and comic book stores, I have three distinct memories of the latter half of the 1980’s:
First, I remember buying multiple copies of the premiere issue of Justice League. The local comic book shop I frequented had a two-copy limit on purchases of it so I used my younger brother (who didn’t read comics) as an excuse to exceed that threshold. I cashed out with a part-timer, but the owner actually chased me into the parking lot to verify my story! Easily done when you have a bemused – and in on the game – Dad waiting for you in the car.
Secondly, I remember forlornly waiting for the last, delayed issue of Watchmen, every extra week, an eternity. “I did it thirty-five minutes ago” has an entirely different meaning in my world.
Lastly, I remember standing inside my local comic book shop in the summer of 1988 and looking up at the top shelf of the bookrack behind the cash register – the rack where many European comics were kept on display – wondering, “What’s in that sealed plastic bag?”
That, my comic book loving friends, was what the late 1980’s, had become. That was Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss #1.
Black Kiss was one of the most controversial American comics published during he 1980’s. So much so that small, independent publisher, Vortex Comics had to distribute the twelve-issue monthly series in sealed plastic bags to prevent curious, underage kids like me from being exposed to it’s near pornographic images and situations. That action alone probably made me, and everyone else like me, more curious as to it’s contents.
So what was Black Kiss about? It’s a little crazy, to be sure.
Black Kiss, written and illustrated by comic book maverick (and industry legend) Howard Chaykin, is an erotic, hardboiled and violent thriller, set in La La Land during the same decade it was produced. The story stars a transsexual prostitute on the hunt for a famous old movie starlet’s sex film, now in the trading hands of the Vatican, the Mafia and an underground order of the undead. That’s right. Vampires.
Yep. It’s that kind of crazy. And that kind of famous! Not everyone read Black Kiss, but it’s kind of a cult classic for those in the know. And now, nearly twenty-five years later, Howard Chaykin returns to that crazed noir world with Black Kiss 2, the first issue of a six-issue series, released today.
So, what can we expect from the sort-of sequel? Well, I imagine that the themes and images that got everyone in a tizzy in 1988 probably wouldn’t make many blush today. Chaykin had to kick it up a notch or two. Like the original, this series is in perfect black and white and contains blood, death, the cinema and dirty, dirty, dirty explicit sex. Hell, there are even tentacles in this thing for those of you that know or are into such…imagery. Think James Elroy and Brett Easton Ellis meets vampires – with dark satire thrown in for good measure – and that will start you off.
Yeah, it disturbs. And that’s the point. But Howard Chaykin is a smart man. There’s a story here, too. I expect that it’ll be interesting one.
So make the run and get Black Kiss 2 #1 if you can. Word is that the first issue has already been held up by customs in the United Kingdom.
I’m guessing that it didn’t ship in a sealed plastic bag.
Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!