There's A KISS Comic Book You Probably Didn't Know Existed

Legendary rock group KISS is famous for the larger-than-life characters depicted throughout most of the band's long career via the members' face paint and costumes. When it came to the original members, lead singer Paul Stanley was The Starchild, bassist/professional tongue-waggler Gene Simmons was The Demon, guitarist Ace Frehley was The Spaceman, and drummer Peter Criss was The Catman. In 1977, KISS was at the height of notoriety and fame, and per We Are Classic Rockers, was the most popular band in the United States, as confirmed by a Gallup poll. In May of that year, Marvel and KISS got together and put those characters into a comic book. To make it all even more rock 'n' roll, they added their own blood to the comic book's ink.

In 2016, the head of Marvel Comics Stan Lee reminisced about the stunt in an interview available on YouTube. According to Lee, "some publicity guy got the idea that they would go up to the printing plant ... and each of the four members of KISS would take a pin and prick their finger and ... drop those blobs of blood into the red ink." He thought that the idea was absurd, but he joined KISS in a chartered plane that flew to the plant in Buffalo, New York, where the members of the band did indeed bleed into a vat of red ink used to print "KISS: A Marvel Comics Super Special."

KISS members were always characters in both 3D and 2D

News outlets covered the event, and some of the coverage is available on YouTube. The reporter Mike Hegedus disdainfully announced that the "four strangely attired and hairy fellows" had flown into Buffalo with four vials of blood to add to the ink. "Isn't that wonderful," he grumbled. "It would be nice to think that people won't be sucked in my this type of thing, but then maybe KISS knows something or reflects something about us that we don't see." Per Snopes, the band members' blood had been drawn by a nurse backstage after a February 1977 KISS show with a notary public witnessing the proceedings; they didn't actually prick their fingers over the ink and drop in the blood.

Hegedus' wishes regarding fans ignoring the publicity stunt didn't come true; "A Marvel Comics Super Special #1: KISS," emblazoned with the tagline "Printed in real KISS blood," was a hit. Today, according to My Comic Shop, an original copy goes for between $475 and $849, depending on the comic book's condition. KISS has gone on to appear in several more comic books and from 2007 until 2014. The comic "KISS 4K: Legends Never Die: Destroyer Edition," measuring at 20 x 30 inches, according to WorthPoint, was one of the largest comic books ever published. In May 2021, Blabbermouth reported that KISS had returned to comics with the publication of "Kiss: Phantom Obsession" by writer Ian Edginton, who discovered the band in 1977 at the age of 14 thanks to an appearance in two issues of another Marvel comic, "Howard the Duck."