I remember the days when Steve Geppi used to rail against the portrayal of a birth in Miracleman as the kind of content that Diamond should not distribute. (They did distribute it.) When Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss was published, it was published by a minor publisher and distributed in sealed bags to as not of offend browsers. While it had sexual content, famously full frontal naked scenes with a pre-op transexual, it was far more a hard boiled LA thriller with religion, Hollywood and vampires. Those looking for sexual jollies would find more joy elsewhere.
And joy they found. Diamond created a special separate section of Previews for the more pornographically aware titles that profilated in the eighties and early nineties (now relegated to an online-only PDF.)
This week, Image Comics publish Black Kiss 2. Rather than being hidden away, it has pride of place in the premier section of Previews. Image have published a number of books that were sexually explicit to varying degrees, Butcher Baker being a prominent example. But nothing like Black Kiss 2. The explicitness of Milo Manara, currently to be republished by Dark Horse in English, is kept in a big heavy hardcover, but this is in floppy form. Even if the penises aren’t. From page two we’re already putting it now, Tom. The comic is marked Mature Readers, but this may still catch many people unawares.
This is set on the East Coast, decades before the original. That’s right folks because, despite the “2” in the title, this isn’t a sequel, it’s Before Black Kiss. Looking at the beginning of the supernatural cult on the other side of the country and a certain individual on the Titanic who has a very different story to Leonardo DeCaprio.
It’s intelligently told, with some great storytelling tricks along the way. The cinema sequence is especially strong, the unchanging audience confronted by scenes on a cinema screen that change them dramatically.
There’s even a sex class structure at work here, defined by position, both sexual and in society. The language of bodily parts on conjunction with each other, spreads wide. As it were.
The use of photography reminds me very much of the earlier work of Brian Bendis, but it’s used with greater scope here, grounding this series in reality, just as you step up into the supernatural. And all the penises you can muster.
Fifty shades of Howard Chaykin and all in black and white.
And for those who care, there are many lady parts to accompany the men’s bits. But if I catch any of you fiddling with yourself when reading this, then I will be having words. The themes, attitudes and horror of the situation presented should have the opposite effect.
Black Kiss 2 by Howard Chaykin is published by Image Comics tomorrow.