Gene Simmons: 60’s Fanzine PublisherOctober 25, 2008
Back in the 1960’s before KISS Gene Simmons was (and still is) a comic book and science fiction fan. In fact, he was so into the comic book and SF fandoms that as a young teenager he worked to earn money to purchase his own used mimeograph machine in order to begin producing his own fanzines. Not only did Simmons, who went by the name of Gene Klein after he and his mother emigrated to the USA in June 1958 at age eight (he was born Chaim Witz), produce his own amateur publications he also contributed to many others published by other enthusiasts.
Born in 1949, Simmons got into comic books and monster and science fiction magazines upon arriving in the USA as it helped him learn the language. Among some of the fanzines Klein (Simmons) edited and published during the 1960’s were Sirruish, Id, Sci-Fi Showcase, Cosmos, Tinderbox, Adventure, Mantis, Faun and others. His most successful was Cosmos. Cosmos eventually merged with Stilletto fanzine becoming Cosmos-Stilletto with issue #7 and then with issue #13 he changed the title to Faun.
In addition to writing and drawing for his own fanzines, Klein (Simmons) also contributed articles and artwork for a variety of other fanzines including such titles as Bombshell (he had a regular column called ‘Hokum’), Comic Comments, Gore Creature, Dynatron, Ecco, Comic Feature, Splash Page, Men of Mystery, Spectre, Fantasy News, Exile, Iscariot, Ragnarok (I used to order that one!), Ray Gun, RBCC (another favorite of mine), Sanctum, Pulp Era, Web Spinner, One Step Beyond and a number of others.
Klein (Simmons) was most prolific with fanzines, his and others, primarily from 1966-1969.
Simmons commented a couple of times about his days of fanzine publishing on his website:
“Yes, these are fanzines (fan-magazines) I published and edited when I was around 14 years old out of my mom’s house. The content was sci-fi/comics — reviews, articles and so on. I published/edited a number of titles: COSMOS, COSMOSTILETTO (a merger with Stiletto fanzine), FAUN, TINDERBOX, ADVENTURE, MANTIS and a few others.”
“I also edited a fanzine called MANTIS. Only about 100 were printed. I also had a column in a New Jersey fanzine called RAY GUN. There are more, but offhand, I can’t recall all of them (Note: See the list compiled above). I do have a box full of my old fanzines.”
“Nothing’s changed much. Back in my school days (around 7th grade through the 12th), I played in a rock band (Long Island Sounds, Lynx, and others). I was in the school choir. I acted in school plays. I published my own fanzines. And still had time for the girls.”
So I guess ‘The Demon’ and I had something in common, we both published fanzines in junior high school (and I owned some that he published and contributed to) and we both played bass guitar (although I gave that up a year or two after starting high school – the only thing I can play now with any ability is a jukebox). I guess that’s where the similarities end although I did dress up like him for Halloween 1976 with interesting results but that’s another story for another time (if the statue of limitations has expired!).