Writer’s Commentary – Erik Burnham Talks KISS: The Demon #4

Here we have a writer’s commentary from Dynamite, featuring Erik Burnham talking about the final issue of KISS: The Demon that he co-wrote with Amy Chu. Cover by Kyle Strahm, interiors by Eman Casallos.

Okay, so it’s my turn to do a writer’s commentary here for the finale of KISS: THE DEMON!

kissdemon4covastrahmI must say, I had a lot of fun playing in this sandbox, and I’m grateful to Amy Chu for inviting me along for the ride on this story, the prequel to her KISS ongoing series, and to Eman Casallos for just KILLING it on the art.

As Amy noted in the commentary for #3, I pitched in on issues 1-2 and then was lured away to write the KISS FOREVER annual (coming in May!) but I was back to help wrap up issue 4 — let’s chat about the big finish, shall we?

PAGE 01
So as we pick up from issue #3, Milo has been run off the road and rescued by Kimi. They’re at her house now, chatting.

What I remember from the initial artwork was the diamond on that wedding ring was bigger. A lot bigger. Like the diamond on the end of the Kingpin’s cane, that’s what we’re talking about. There was a discussion about whether it should be made smaller, or whether Sam was the kind of guy who would buy a rock big enough to give Kimi carpal tunnel syndrome within a week, just to brand her as his.

(It was a tough debate, since I kinda think Sam is that guy — but as you can see, the diamond is now more reasonable. And yes, the engagement ring is on the right hand. That’s, uh… that’s totally a subtle commentary that Kimi knows something is wrong and not an error that we missed owing to the size of the huge diamond. Honest. )kissthedemon004int1

PAGE 02
Don’t be surprised that Kimi is gasping; those bridal mags have enough heft to do some damage.kissthedemon004int2

PAGE 03
Project SHANDI. Shandi is a song off of KISS’ album “unmasked,” so it has a little bit of double meaning here — Sam’s true nature is about to be unmasked for Kimi! Clever, right? I wish I could take credit for it!kissthedemon004int3

PAGES 04-05
The Next Night… this series takes place in Iowa, and as a midwesterner myself I can tell you that there are few things more of the region than a Supper Club. (I’ve never seen the term anywhere else, to the best of my knowledge.) So I had to sneak one in, as opposed to a more typical high-end restaurant.

Also: Sam, buddy, that scarf makes you look like a fella with bad intentions, bro. Just throwing it out there.kissthedemon004int4 kissthedemon004int5

PAGE 06
I love the emotion on Kimi’s face. Well not the fact that her world is coming apart, just how well Eman rendered it. He does a great job with the acting on these characters overall, everyone give him a legit high five.

PAGES 07-08
The Mission Impossible theme should maybe be playing.

And also, of course the release date to KISS’ first album is Milo’s passcode. (The danger of being a superfan.)

PAGE 09
BEHOLD! A giant evil laboratory! If there’s one regret, it’s that it doesn’t look like Jack Kirby’s imagination exploded all over the panel. But there ARE giant robots, which is most definitely a win.

And I dig that USB drive, Milo. Stylish.

PAGE 10
And here’s a little bit for those reading Amy’s KISS ongoing — the Demon program — and some new features — are being added to Morpheus. It’s all on Milo, folks. This is where that future truly starts.

PAGE 11
Look at Sam in panel one. There’s that acting Eman is so good at again; you just wanna slap the taste out of Sam’s mouth, don’t you?

Even moreso when he says that Milo’s near-death experience was a “message sent by a friend.” Sam really believes it.

PAGES 12-13
GIANT KISS-BOTS FOR THE WIN.

Here’s the funny thing — I don’t know if Amy had the inspiration or if it was Eman, but on the first draft I wrote, I was thinking of smaller KISS bots. Maybe 10 feet tall — plenty big enough to cover Kimi & Milo’s escape.

That said, giant is better. …Though I want to see these guys fighting Kaiju now.

PAGE 14
Kimi’s conflicted. Again, all credit to Eman for the acting.

PAGE 15
The dramatic hamster music should be playing during panel four for maximum effect.

PAGES 16-20
It’s the last scene.

Sam Blackwell, at the end of his life.

Initially, I know I had scripted in that the employees actually try to push his (super fancy) wheelchair out under protest, but that part got written out… the stuff with the old man pulling a gun on the loyal employees who were trying to save him stayed, though.

Is this a captain going down with his ship? A man who aims to go out in a blaze of glory (and commit suicide by mob?) Will Sam turn the gun on himself now that he knows the world is done and it’s all on him? Or just slip away before he has to face any consequences?

That’s up to you, dear reader… but that foreboding zoom into the portrait of the Demon before we cut to black… no matter how Sam goes, it’s going to be a heavy exit, I think.

THE DEMON was an interesting project to work on — a prequel to hard sci-fi, and a character drama, it was certainly a different kind of thing than I’m used to working on — but that also made it fun. And it was neat to see Amy’s approach while she continued to build the world she’s exploring in KISS.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.

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