ROCK AND ROLL ALL NIGHT INTERVIEW
WITH KEVIN CONRAD


1. Psycho Circus is officially finished as of issue #31, correct?

KC - Well, I was told halfway through #31 that it was going to be the last issue.

2. Why?

KC - The bottom line was the bottom line. As someone from higher up told me,
'It was bleeding like a stuck pig'. The simple truth was that the sales were dropping with each issue and the company couldn't keep it afloat anymore. We all saw it coming, but I don't think that anyone was more bummed about it than I was when it actually went down. Clayton (the penciler) and I really had a great thing going on that book. I really felt like what I was contributing on the book was finally appreciated. We would discuss plot changes and page layouts; Clayton would actually come to me for creative input.

3. Last time we spoke, it was April of 1999. I asked you about Angel leaving the book. Now the story has more to it. I heard recently that Angel was not so nice with some things that he did and said. Can you tell us about that?

KC - I probably said too much about this in a recent interview that I did with Impure Studios at OzComics.com. I will say this; Angel has been in the business probably twice as long as I have and comes from a very different world of comics. Angel is 'old school' and I come from the 'new school'. When Angel started in comics, an inker's place was to basically ink just what was on the page and he (Angel) never grew past that school of thinking. I came into the business in the early ninety's, and an inker's responsibility was changing quite drastically by then. A close friend who was penciling for Marvel at that time basically trained me on the job. He later went on to draw Spawn for 85 issues. I also got a lot of input from Todd McFarlane when I started working for him a few years before Psycho Circus. Both basically taught me to do whatever it takes to make the page work. If that meant redrawing something, so be it.

4. Was there ever any thought given to doing just one more issue to close it out with a story line that ends the whole series. A grand finale issue so to speak?

KC - Unfortunately, no. When we discovered it was going to be cancelled with the issue we were presently working on, Clayton and I sort of re-wrote the ending (in pictures) to give it some closure. We didn't have any control of what the writer might end up saying so we made sure the visuals would give the readers a hint that it was over. The biggest clue I threw in was the Farewell Tour tickets. Also the very last page should have been the give-away for the readers. We signed the last page (which we never do) and added the word 'finis', which is Latin for 'The End'.
When Todd is forced to cancel a book, he doesn't want any fanfare abuzz around it. I guess if he has to cancel a book, he deems it a failure and he doesn't want to advertise that fact. Personally, 31 issues of any comic in this day and age is a success to me. I would have loved for it to go to 100 issues, but the readership just wasn't there

4A. Would it have been odd to do a grand finale issue? I mean, do comics usually do that or do they just stop like this? (That was great that you guys made the visuals to signal the end at least)

KC - Thanks, the fans of this book are pretty sharp, and I'm sure most of them caught the clues. I'm sure there have been finales to certain comic books in the past, but they have most likely ended with milestone issues, like 50 or 100 and above. In general comics are solicited (advertised) four months in advance, which means that the plots have been written and in a lot of cases, the art has been started a couple of months before the book hits the stands. This would make it difficult to create a grand finale when you can't predict when the 'axe' will finally come down. I think there's probably a difficult decision making process involved where the powers that be don't want to admit that they need to cut their losses and try to keep it alive as long as possible until the decision is very clear that they need to let it go. By that time, it's too late for any fanfare to end the series.

4B. Did Gene Simmons have any say in how it ended?

KC - I'm sure he had a lot to say about it and I'm sure he wasn't happy about it at all. I don't think that he was really involved with the decision to cancel the book. I've read in interviews that he said there would always be KISS comics, we'll see.

4C. Would you happen to know how Brian Holguin felt about it ending?

KC - No, I've never spoke to Brian. I know he's a fan also. I'm sure he would have liked to see it continue as well.

5. I noticed you did the pencils for the cover of #31. It is awesome. How did that come about?

KC - First off, thank you! I thought it would be cool to switch roles for just a cover, I ran it by Clayton and he thought it was a great idea. We just did it, we didn't ask for fear that the idea would be rejected. It actually wasn't supposed to appear until issue 33, but they bumped it up to 31. I never asked why, but it was a nice surprise. Incidentally, I doubt that it would have been the same outcome with Angel! I do have to give Clayton his props on that piece though. I finished penciling that on the day of my Mom's wake (one year to the day that this interview is being conducted). I sent it out to him and looked at my copy the next day and realized I could have done more with it. I told him that I wished I had put a serpent in the piece and he offered to do it, and boy, did he ever! So it actually turned out to be more of a jam piece than me alone penciling it. You can see the original pencils at my fan site - http://www.kevinconradart.com.

(Sorry to hear about the loss of your mother)

KC - Thank you. She was my strength and continues to be so.

6. Can you tell us about Impure Studios?

KC - Impure Studios was Clayton's brainchild. He wanted to establish the name for future comic endeavors and asked Jonathan and I to be a part of it. Right now it's basically a gallery of work, but we have big things in store for the future.

7. What comics are you working on right now?

KC - When Psycho Circus got canceled; they moved me right over to Spawn - The Dark Ages. I'm working with a very talented penciler named Nat Jones. He also understands the importance of having an inker contribute to the artwork creatively, instead of blindly inking what's there.

8. Of the 31 Psycho Circus books, do you have any favorites?

KC - I would have to say the very first because of what it started. But by and large, issue 24 with the gravedigger who steals from The King of Beasts. We completely rewrote the middle of that storyline. It's actually frightening and reads like a horror film. Finally, I can't forget issue 31!

9. Are there any conventions or expos coming up where our viewers can come and meet you?

KC - Sorry, but no. I haven't been invited back to the NY Expo since '99. I don't do many shows, only one or two a year at the most. Who knows, maybe you'll see me at NY Expo in '02!

10. Did you hear about Peter Criss not touring with Kiss on the last leg of the tour? Being a KISS fan I am sure you have some feelings about this.

KC - Yeah, I did. It blew me away, but it didn't surprise me either. We've all heard about the rumblings from within the ranks almost since the reunion started. You know, there are always two sides to every story. Somewhere in the middle of it all lays the truth. I think the spin control on KISS' side is pretty evident. They have to; they have a lot at stake. Unfortunately, it's a business, and business is about money.

I was a huge fan of any incarnation of the band. Musically, they were stronger without Peter and Ace, but without them, they truly were just another good rock act.
There was a magic in the band back in the 70's that no one could come close to. They probably should go out with the same members as when they came in and it's unfortunate that it probably won't happen now. If I purchased tickets to see the original line-up, I would want to get what I paid for. I saw the Reunion show and the Psycho Circus show. There are rumors that the very last show is supposed to be in NYC. I live in upstate NY, just a couple of hours drive from there and I wasn't planning on going to that show. But I have to tell you, if Eric Singer is still with them, I will try my best to get tickets. How could you not go to see a non make-up member don one of the original's make up? Now that's a historic finale!

This interview will be mentioned on the "Rock n Roll All Night" cable show during the month of April on the local Rhode Island basic cable access channel.

 
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