Can Love Save The Creeper?
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his latest in his series of features on comic stories or series that never happened. This week it’s the turn of Eraklis Petmezas’ The Creeper: The Kiss…
Eraklis Petmezas’s The Creeper: The Kiss
No stranger to sequential storytelling, the incredibly talented Eraklis Petmezas has worked as an illustrator for decades. Comic book fans have seen the eye-catching pin-ups he’s crafted for various Image Comics’ releases. Petmezas’ buddy, Jonathan Hickman – the acclaimed comics scribe – also featured his Mr. Lune strip as a back-up in Hickman’s Transhuman book. Other work of his has also been featured in various small press anthologies throughout the years. But, in the early 1990s, Petmezas conjured a “Lost Tale” for Vertigo featuring a favourite of comic book fans everywhere with The Creeper: The Kiss.
As far as the story itself, Petmezas offered this: “When Jack Ryder hears about a new drug called Euphoria killing its users and turning their hair green and skin yellow, he sends The Creeper to investigate. After getting injected by the same drug, he’s now trapped in the form of The Creeper. Can he get the drug off the street before he truly succumbs to the monster he’s becoming or can Vera Sweet’s love bring him back from the brink of madness?”
First off, what inspired Petmezas to come up with his story?
“I’ve always loved The Creeper and wanted to do something with him,” explained Petmezas. “During the time I proposed the story, he had mostly been a background character in different books. I wanted to do something that would be a bit more of a showcase for him. So, I pitched a mini-series.”
It appears that Jack Ryder takes a backseat to the Creeper in Petmezas’ tale. Within his “Lost Tale,” would the Creeper have been a hero . . . or a monster?
“Probably a little of both,” said Petmezas. “I’ve always seen The Creeper as a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde type character – which is something I definitely played up in this story. In the beginning of the mini, he’s more of the hero you know, but as the story progresses, he becomes more monstrous in body and mind.”
What is it about the legendary Steve Ditko hero that appealed to Petmezas as a storyteller?
“Ditko has a wild imagination,” Petmezas said, “and his characters all had such movement to them. I’m a big fan of most of the characters he’s created, but I especially love The Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and The Question.”
The mini-series was supposed to be painted by Scott Fischer. How did the two creators meet up – and what made them both decide to propose this “Lost Tale” to Vertigo?
“It was pitched in the early ‘90s when painted comics were the craze,” Petmezas said. “Scott was my good friend and roommate while we were attending The Savannah College of Art & Design. He was an amazing painter so we decided to team up and pitch the mini to DC’s Vertigo imprint, which had just really started gaining traction. He’s since gone on to be quite the sought after illustrator and cover artist.”
Petmezas also remembers the editor who approached him to tell The Creeper: The Kiss.
“If memory serves,” said Petmezas, “it was Julie Rottenberg. I believe she left comics shortly afterward to work in TV and Film.”
Readers would have found that love saves the day in Petmezas’ story. Is that a popular theme in his work?
“I try to write stories with heart when I can,” said Petmezas. “Sadly, I think that’s missing in a lot of today’s comics. Whether intentional or not, love does tend to be a theme in a lot of my work.”
Why didn’t the mini-series come out when it was proposed in the ‘90s?
“Keith Giffen had killed off The Creeper in his Eclipso book,” said Petmezas, “and they felt like they should wait a bit before launching a book with him as the lead. Much to our disappointment.”
What projects is Petmezas currently working on?
“I’ve been self-publishing my own books on and off since the early 2000s,” said Petmezas. “My latest being the Further Adventures of Heracles. I intend on doing a lot more sequential work this year and next with the hope that I’ll finish my graphic novel, Koukla, which follows the story of my retired Greek cop character, Kostas.”
Lost Tales©2019 Scott Braden. All Rights Reserved