In the February 2000 issue of Cincinnati Magazine, Steve Kissing detailed a youth spent possessed by evil (later diagnosed as epilepsy) in his essay “Running from the Devil.” Three years later he published a memoir by the same name, and now he’s getting graphic with the tale: the graphic-novel version is due out early this year.
What inspired the notion of reworking your book into a graphic novel? The inspiration wasn’t mine but someone else’s: Charles Santino, a producer of comics and graphic novels. Charles stumbled upon my book on Amazon, read it, and immediately felt it would translate to a graphic format given the wild things I was imagining. He pitched me the idea and together we sold the concept to Markosia, a publisher in the U.K. The illustrator was a super-talented guy named Jim Jimenez who is based in the Philippines and whose creative credits include The X-Men, The Mask, and Grand Theft Galaxy.
The original book felt like a love letter to the west side. Will we see familiar landmarks in the graphic novel? Absolutely. For those familiar with Price Hill, especially in the 1970s, most every page will have something familiar. Of course, one doesn’t have to be a Price Hillian, an Ohioan, or even an American to appreciate the story. Though having done some dumb or silly things in one’s youth sure helps.
Did you intend the graphic novel to reach younger audiences who might be dealing with a misunderstood condition? I was definitely not a role model in high school and some of my naughty behavior is captured in this book, so it’s not intended for young kids. I would give the book a rating somewhere between PG-13 and R. While the book wasn’t written with a specific audience in mind, my hope is that some young adults who may be harboring a secret about, say, their health or sexuality will find some comfort, or at least some pleasant diversion, in my story.
Do you have any other projects brewing that we can look forward to after the graphic novel’s released? I’ve been on a poetry and flash fiction kick of late. I’m also developing a concept for another graphic novel, a post-apocalyptic, hell-on-earth tale. Perhaps the devil’s still on my mind.