With the holidays rapidly approaching, tidings of goodwill abound -- except in Howard Chaykin's "Black Kiss Christmas Special," where rather than boughs of holly, it's mostly gloriously dirty revenge sex decking the halls.
Chaykin debuted "Black Kiss" in 1988, dazzling fans with erotic, pulpy storytelling steeped in classic hard-boiled crime, and shocking critics with the uncompromising sexuality of his artwork. Nearly 25 years after "Black Kiss" ended, Chaykin released a six-issue sequel, "Black Kiss II," continuing the story of Dagmar Laine, a transsexual hooker, jazz musician Cass Pollack and former film star Beverly Grove. Although the controversy over his original series had died down, "Black Kiss II" was met with opposition from Diamond Distributors, who wouldn't ship the book to Canadian and UK retailers due to concerns over customs regulations. ComiXology had similar distribution issues for their iOS platform based on Apple's App Store guidelines. Despite those hurdles, Image Comics proudly announced Chaykin's Christmas special at Image Expo earlier this year.
The writer/artist spoke with CBR News about bringing the holidays into his world of sex, violence and vampires, when and what to expect from "Black Kiss III" and what he hopes Santa brings him for Christmas -- if he's not on the naughty list, that is.
CBR News: What inspired you to write a Christmas special?
Howard Chaykin: Actually, there was no inspiration beyond a wisecrack from my esteemed editor, Thomas. And to quote him, "Just wait 'til Arbor Day -- when everybody's packing wood."
Is it in continuity with other "Black Kiss" stories, or is it a standalone? Will the horror element you introduced in "Black Kiss II" be present? I feel like Christmas vampires would be an incredibly festive, welcome addition to holiday traditions.
It's definitely in the continuity. Horror? I'm not entirely sure what you mean by hor -- oh, that. Sure. It's actually a heartwarming tale of over fifty years of revenge sex.
I loved how "Black Kiss II" had this great classic California feeling to it. Is the Christmas special going to continue along those lines, or does it take place in a new setting?
I was pretty happy with the California'ness of the original series, and I tried to continue that sense of place with "Black Kiss II." That said, there isn't a single chapter among the five parts of the Christmas special that takes place in California. Connecticut, Indiana, Leavenworth, Chicago and New York City…
What was the most fun part of incorporating Christmas into the "Black Kiss" universe?
Just that all pervasive sense of goodwill toward men -- and, of course, prison sex.
You have "Black Kiss III" in the works -- will the Christmas special inform us about what's coming there?
No. At this point, I'm in the process of developing the franchise of the third series, and I'm proud to say it's going to be a tribute to the American Musical Theater -- and you're hearing this first, right here.
Do you think Canadian fans will be able to enjoy the book for Boxing Day, or do you anticipate further issues with its international distribution?
Not likely. This is just as over the edge as the book that got "Black Kiss II" embargoed by our northern brethren -- so I'm hoping to return for a second visit to the Canadian Writers Conference to discuss further censorship issues in Canada.
When discussing the orginal "Black Kiss" series you said, "The book was done at a time when there was serious talk about trying to create a ratings system for comics, and the idea was that I would do a book that would be appalling and offensive...and funny." Do you feel the book's original mission statement is still relevant in the current comics climate?
Comics are actually far more politically and socially conservative today than when I did the original series. I still cherish the idea of being appalling, but of course, as long as John Byrne is still alive, I'll never be the most despised man in comics.
What do you hope Santa brings you for Christmas?
Actually, I'm hoping the fat fuck will help me drop a few pounds for the New Year. I'm just saying.
"Black Kiss Christmas Special" will be available December 18.