The Twelve Tasks Of Petmezas
♦ 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 New Adventures of Heracles …
Eraklis Petmezas’ The New Adventures of Heracles
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 behind Marvel Comics’ massive X-Men relaunch– also featured his Mr. Lune strip as a back-up in Hickman’s Transhuman book. But now Petmezas has pulled off a Herculean feat by publishing what could have been a “Lost Tale” with Mad Tiki Productions’ The New Adventures of Heracles.
Let’s begin at the beginning. How did Petmezas’ start out in comics?
“I have always been drawing comics,” said Petmezas. “Even when I was a child, I would draw and create my own stories with my best friend, Wayne. After graduating college in the ‘90s I started working on them in a much more professional aspect. I created many comics for various anthologies and self-published many as well. I took a small break and concentrated on my illustration career, but came back to sequentials in the early 2000s.”
How many years has Petmezas been a sequential storyteller?
“I’ve been telling stories ever since I can remember,” the acclaimed artist said. “The comics bug bit me as soon as I was able to read.”
What is Petmezas’ background in art and storytelling: “I graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art & Design and have been an illustrator ever since.”
Who inspired Petmezas as an artist?
“Wow,” said Petmezas. “There are literally too many to name. Most of my fellow SCAD grads Anthony Hightower, Andrew Robinson, Greg Digenti, Mark Jackson, Zak Plucinski, and Doug Alexander Gregory had a large influence on me early on. I was fortunate to be in school with so many great artists that pushed me forward. Moebius, Mike Mignola, Roger Langridge, D’Isreali, Philip Bond, Jamie Hewlett Matt Wagner, and Kyle Baker to name a very few. I haven’t even touched on all the Europeans. I literally could go on forever.”
There is a romantic side to every comic or piece of comic book Petmezas makes. Does he consider himself having a romantic soul when it comes to storytelling – and perhaps life in general?
“I think I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve for sure,” Petmezas admitted. “I’ve tried to create stories that have heart to them. I think many of today’s comics lack that to some degree – although, there is a fine line between (having) heart and (suffering from) sappiness. I’ll let the readers decide where I fall.
How did he come up with The New Adventures of Heracles: “I’ve always wanted to tell stories with my namesake. Growing up I read many accounts of his adventures, which I have always found interesting.”
What’s the secret origin behind Petmezas’ “Mad Tiki” publishing house?
“I love Polynesian Tiki’s and masks in general,” he said. “Many years ago when I started self-publishing I decided to use the name ‘Mad Tiki’ for my efforts.”
Why did Petmezas’ choose to make The New Adventures of Heracles your first color book?
“I work in color for most of my illustration work,” said the creator-extraordinaire, “but hadn’t tried it for sequentials. I had been hesitant, mostly because of the cost of printing, which has thankfully become more affordable. Also, working on the iPad has made it much easier to color digitally. I’ve gotten some great response and look forward to continuing to create color comics.”
While most creators revisit the legend of Hercules and his many labors, Petmezas took the mythical hero in new directions. Why did he choose to tell new adventures of Zeus’s arguably most famous son?
“He has a pretty rich history,” explained Petmezas, “but I found most creators concentrated on doing adaptations of his 13 labors. I really wanted to try a new spin on Heracles with his exploits in a more modern world and build on the myths with stories that are my own.”
Zeus makes a special guest appearance in the book, but not one fans would generally recognize. Why did Petmezas decide to portray the King of the Gods with that particular approach?
“I don’t want to give away too much,” Petmezas insisted. “There is definitely a reason for his portrayal in my comic and we’ll get to the reason why as the story moves forward. We will also see what the rest of the gods are up to.”
What makes Petmezas’ Heracles different from his other popular comic book iterations – especially those at DC and Marvel?
“I’m a fan of their versions,” Petmezas revealed. “For my stories, I really wanted to shy away from your quintessential super hero and focus more an adventure stories. I want Greece to be as much a character in the book as Heracles himself. All the different mythological characters and creatures from all over will populate this world and eventually have interactions in my comic.”
There are a lot of colourful characters and creatures in your masterwork. Did you take them out of myth – or out of your imagination?
“Many of the characters are uniquely my own,” said the comic book author. “Even when I do use characters or creatures from myths I always want to put my spin on their looks and stories.”
What makes your Heracles a true blue hero?
“I’m not sure he is a hero,” revealed Petmezas. “The main focus of my stories is that he is trying to be. If you know anything about the Heracles myth you know that he wasn’t always the best at being a hero. Many times he was arrogant and headstrong. Hera also had a mad hate for him, which I’ll be touching on in future stories. My story will focus on a man that is seeking redemption for many of his past acts. He is trying to figure out what makes a person good? I will also delve into different times in history and weave Heracles’ story within that. He has seen a lot on his travels. He has been walking the earth for centuries and I can’t wait to show the readers tales of his exploits during those times.”
When can we expect the next chapter in the adventures of Heracles – if there is one?
“I’m hoping to premiere the next comic by springtime next year,” said Petmezas.
What projects of yours are coming up in the near and not-so-near future?
“Besides my impending nuptials,” Petmezas added, “I’m currently working with my friend, Henry Eudy, on a comic called Rufus the Spy Gnome. I’m also remastering my Mr. Lune comic. I’ll be adding color and expanding on the original book with some new stories. This will also be my final year contributing to Inktober. I think five years is a good place to end the Inktober adventures of Mr. Munchie and the Greek.
“You can keep current on what I’m working on by following me on Instagram/Twitter: @epetmezas or Tumblr: epetmezas.tumblr.com. If you would like correspond or to purchase any of my comics, please feel free to reach out to me: [email protected]”
Lost Tales©2019 Scott Braden. All Rights Reserved