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  • CHRIS SEBELA talks KISS/VAMPIRELLA #1, on sale in JUNE!

    CHRIS SEBELA talks KISS/VAMPIRELLA #1, on sale in JUNE from Dynamite!

    BYRON BREWER: Chris, how does the human mind handle the mash-up of these two extremely iconic, extremely EXTREME franchises?

    CHRIS SEBELA: I wish I knew so I could bottle it. It was a big challenge when Dynamite asked me if I had any thoughts about bringing KISS and Vampirella together in a book. After talking it over with my editor, we came up with the time frame as a fun angle to approach it from and I went off to figure out how to bring these two different elements together in a way that made sense. I did my KISS homework and when I saw they came to Los Angeles to record “Hotter Than Hell” and how Paul had his guitar stolen from the studio on the first night, my wheels started turning. I knew I wanted to deal with the idea of rock ‘n’ roll as “devil music” and it all kind of snowballed into what the book is now.

    BB: In deference to regular KISS title author Amy Chu, I will ask early on: what is the soundtrack (in your head, or on your device) of this book as you write it?

    CS: All I listened to while writing this was rock music. Definitely a lot of KISS, leaning heavily on their first two albums, since those are the ones most relevant to this book’s version of KISS, a band still very new and just starting to make an impact. But other stuff from the later catalog too just to round things out. There’s also a lot of late 60s and 70s bands like The Stooges, MC5, The Avengers, X, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Ramones. Then throw in some modern stuff like Sleater Kinney or Monster Magnet for flavor.

    BB: Are you a fan of KISS?

    CS: [As said] I love rock ‘n’ roll. I grew up going through my mom’s old LPs and listening to weird Roxy Music albums when I was way too young to process them. Once I grew up and got money of my own, most of my money went into buying albums, going really deep and really broke building up a collection. I was in a band for a hot second too, but after awhile I realized I was made to listen to music, not make it. But rock is usually the first thing I reach for.

    As for KISS, I’m a pretty casual fan, but I’ve been around KISS Army members all my life and have seen just how deep that devotion runs. That’s something I can definitely relate to strongly as I’ve definitely given myself over to the stuff I get obsessed with. I tried to keep that in mind when I was writing KISS, to make sure I didn’t let any members of the Army down.

    BB: I have seen a lot of iterations of Vampirella, but I don’t think I have ever seen her as a rocker! Tell us about Witchkraft.

    CS: Vampirella has been around since 1969. She’s gone through countless adventures and approaches, but having this story set so close to her arrival in our world felt like a chance to explore her as someone still new in town. She’s got a mission to fulfill, to kill all the evil things she can track down, but that’s not enough. So Vampi joins an all-girl rock band called Witchkraft. Their stage uniforms and décor are all witch-inspired but at their heart, they’re just a rock band. Vampi plays bass, because who pays attention to the bass player? It allows her to fill this part of her life and, as a bonus, to see if anything evil is hiding out in the crowd so she can track it down later. I’m really excited about Witchkraft. It was my first time writing songs in a long time and it scratches an itch I haven’t felt in forever.

    BB: What can you tell readers about the storyline of this series?

    CS: This book is set in Los Angeles in the Summer of 1974. As they did in actual history, KISS has come to town to record their second album. They’re not the huge band we know now, so when they’re not recording, they hit the town looking to meet up with some of the bands they’ve met on tour. But all the old bands they knew are gone. Broken up or sold out. Vampirella is playing with Witchkraft and, from the inside, she’s noticed the same thing happening. Rock bands that felt poised to take over the world just vanished. If this wasn’t enough, Vampi and KISS are being haunted by a secret group dressed in black, who lead them into an explanation for what’s happening to the rock bands of L.A. that is nothing they ever expected. It’s big and loud and bloody and I’m really excited for people to read it.

    BB: From the little I have seen, Annapaola Martello seems to be rockin’ the art on this very difficult (I would think) assignment. Tell us about your collaboration with Annapaola.

    CS: Annapaola is amazing. From the very first pages she finished, I knew she was going to kill it with this book and she’s been outdoing herself on every page since. Her art has a real organic feel to it. There’s a swagger to her work, which fits this story perfectly. She can draw Vampi stomping the heck out of someone or Gene Simmons swinging an axe bass as well as she can draw a band rocking out on stage. Annapaola is able to take all the weird and mundane stuff I put in my scripts and make it all gel together so it feels completely natural. I couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator in telling this story.

    BB: Chris, are there any projects current or near-future you’d like to tell readers about?

    CS: Yeah, the second season of my creator-owned book about heart transplants and bank robbery called Heartthrob will be coming out the same time as KISS/Vampirella, so if you want to double up on your me reading, that’s a perfect way to do it. I’m doing more crowdfunded comics through my imprint, Two Headed Press, and I’ve got a lot of other secret projects no one can know about yet.