Trick or Treat…
…Or, further vacation ruminations, this time as I pissed away a day aboard ship—staring at the azure skies between Corfu and Taormina.
Thomas K., my estimable editor, has only recently ceased to hock me about doing a BLACK KISS HALLOWE’EN SPECIAL. We’ve got the concept, in broad strokes, and I definitely want to do it, but I’ve been fuzzy on proceeding, for a number of reasons.
One, I’m deeply into and committed to finishing the first arc of HEY KIDS! COMICS!—with a prayer that I’ll be allowed to do a second, and potentially a third.
Two, I have the script ready to go for the third and final volume of TIME(SQUARED), entitled HALLOWED GROUND(ZERO)—which will be my next mission—look for it in late Spring, 2019.
And three, I have the script ready for OLIGARCHS, the sequel to THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA, which is about the collapse of civilization as we know it, and I’d like to get that out there before the actual and imminent collapse of civilization as we know it.
That said, after receiving an email in my spam folder, presumably a phishing expedition, threatening to send my porn records to everyone on my contacts list, which used a phrase in regard to porn, something like, “…and you know what I’m talking about…” unless I come across with a couple grand in bitcoins, as I recall, I began to consider that Black Kiss Hallowe’en special again, from a potentially brand new perspective.
Those who actually know me, as opposed to people who call me “Howie” and the like, know that although I’m a vulgarian in my language, I’m a pretty vanilla guy in every other aspect. Never been to a strip/gentleman’s club, for example. I don’t drink alcohol, or use drugs and haven’t for many years. I don’t smoke anymore, either.
Well married…and already committed to a Smart Cremation, arranged by that wife to whom I’m well married.
My actual life is pretty straightforward and boring. Up before dawn, in bed before ten—then repeat.
Once again, that said, this is in direct contrast to my professional life as, as the equally estimable Matt Fraction has called me, “Howard Chaykin—International Pornographer.”
So yes, there’s “porn records…” and I know what I’m talking about, but I’m not sure this hardworking Phisherman does, or I have to assume he’d be more specific.
This may come as a shock to you (not you, specifically, but the general “you,” and maybe like the Phisherman, you know who you are) but I don’t make shit up.
As far back as AMERICAN FLAGG!, having made what now seems like a pretty big decision to move from cheesecake/pinup stuff into at least the suggestion of actual human sexual contact in what was after all, a mainstream comic book, I recall fondly sitting with my first VCR…
…A Betamax, designed, for all the world, to look like a Wollensak reel to reel tape recorder, with a wire remote(!!), in my Manhattan apartment, watching that first swathe of early ‘80s video store rentable porn with a notebook, stopping frequently for language and crops that I could get away with in Flagg! in those weird, post disco days of the first Reagan administration.
The most specific example of what came out of this is that page where Reuben and Mandy get it on for the first time in the front seat of that assault vehicle. That nine panel grid is made up of images profoundly inspired by those early features, thanks to that wire remote(!!) enabling me to stop for an image, rough sketch and move on.
And for the record, all the female characters in AMERICAN FLAGG! are based on those porn actresses. Hey, forgive an old man—I was young. It should be noted that the one and only time I actually encountered porn performers back then, at a party no less, I was less than thrilled by the experience. They seemed simultaneously fatuous and condescending, with that same sort of “I know a secret” attitude shared by too many science fiction fans and, of course, Evangelical Christians.
Trust me on this. Really. They were insufferable.
And of course, this same stuff that made up the backbone of Flagg! also informed TIME(SQUARED), with the added lagniappe of incorporating elements of vintage mid 50s erotica into the mix, to give it a specific and curiously out of time flavor.
And when I got to BLACK KISS some years later in California, I was inspired by a curious and real life encounter on Madison Ave a year or so before I left New York behind. I’d stepped up to say hi to what I thought for all the world was a woman I’d dated some eight or so years earlier, only to realize this was her transgender doppelganger. I recorded this event in a notebook with no particular intention and for no reason that I can recall, as I still do today.
When I set out to do Black Kiss, I realized I had only the most superficial fucking idea exactly what that which I was writing and drawing was supposed to look like, or even, to a certain extent, sound like—so back to porn, this time on the net.
And none of that free shit. I don’t illegally download movies, or books, or television shows, or music, or anything. People deserve to be paid, no matter what they do—and that includes smut. There’s no such thing as a free lunch—or free anything, either.
Needless to say, this same material informs both Black Kiss sequels, and will certainly underpin the Black Kiss Hallowe’en Special. And by this, I’m obviously (it is to be hoped, at the very least) not talking about narrative, most of which, in the context of porn is either execrable or nonexistent…but about character moments, reactions, ambiance—the kind of occasionally unintentionally revelatory details that show up in art and life that many ignore, but which, for me, are the very core of the matter.
All of which, as indicated above, ends up in my notebook. I may not be the late Stan Mack, but I got the picture.
And, in a sidebar, when I set out to create Chrissie Silver, the heroine of THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA, and incidentally, a transgender woman, I consulted with Sabrina Pandora, a long-time friend, herself (spoiler alert!) a transgender woman, in order to create a fully rounded, three-dimensional character who was sexual and sensual, but in no way anything like the erotic characters of Black Kiss.
I was, to put it very firmly, seeking to create a character who was the very antithesis of Dagmar Laine. Chrissie Silver is heroic, feminine, neurotic, funny, and deeply honorable—and I owe a lot of that to Sabrina.
As noted, Sabrina was enormously helpful in that character’s creation…and significantly, her input on Chrissie after the fact, once she’d read what I’d done with her in the course of the six issues that made up the first arc, conversationally suggested to me, unintentionally I rather suspect, an element of action and character for the sequel in what turned out, for me, to be a surprising and ultimately satisfying direction. She’s hip to this, and has been deeply thanked.
You read it next year, and you can then decide.
According to the song from the brilliant Broadway musical AVENUE Q, “THE INTERNET IS FOR PORN!” So, consider with me, at least for the moment, the potential for Tricks and/or Treats when some unsuspecting Phisherman drops his hook into the world of Beverly Grove and Dagmar Laine…merriment ensues.
You heard it here first—BLACK KISS: THE HALLOWE’EN SPECIAL—coming your way in the Fall of 2019—assuming of course that the aforementioned Smart Cremation kit isn’t called into play before then.
As ever, I remain,
Howard Victor Chaykin – a prince, and of course, an International Pornographer (Emeritus).