♦ 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 Nicola Cuti’s The Creeps: The Man In The Yellow Shirt…
Nicola Cuti’s The Creeps: The Man In The Yellow Shirt
Legendary comic book creator Nicola “Nick” Cuti, whose career in the four-color medium spanned over five decades, died in his home in Tampa, FL, on 21 February 2020. But not without crafting previously unreleased stories originally destined for the popular horror comics magazine, The Creeps.
As both a contributor to The Creeps and its associate editor, Cuti wrote stories of dark humour for the magazine, which is a true tribute to the late, great Warren horror magazines of yesteryear. He also dreamed up many memorable characters, including his and artist Joe Staton’s popular E-Man and the hero’s super-powered Girl Friday, Nova Kane.
During his storied career, Cuti worked alongside legends such as Stan Lee and Wally Wood, among others. His work was also published in titles produced by Charlton, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and Warren. At the fan-favorite magazine publisher, his scary stories could be found inside issues of Creepy and Vampirella.
Although Cuti considered my “Lost Tales” column as “a strange concept for an interview . . . but I like it because such stories exist,” he granted me the privilege of reading a couple of his chilling tales, including “The Man in the Yellow Shirt.” In this tale, Cuti introduced readers to the fictitious mob enforcer Kyle Kopolis, who is in Tarpon Springs, FL, stalking a man with a cast who – although some Goodfellas had already broken his arm for a debt he had yet to pay – has been targeted to be whacked for past discretions.
When Kopolis is about to make the hit, a man in a yellow shirt walks up to the man with the cast and begins to have a conversation. Suddenly, the man in the yellow shirt turns into a ferocious werewolf and strikes the man in the cast down. Although the monster was doing his job for him, Kopolis surprises himself and tells the fiend to step away from his target. With his dying breath, the man in the cast tells Kopolis that the werewolf is an enforcer of The Clan, and that he himself used to be a member but was cured of his lycanthropy and ran off. But, as the man in the cast discovered, no one leaves The Clan alive. The man in the cast then informed his would-be slayer that The Clan will be after him next, and to watch out for a man in a yellow shirt.
Taking credit for the hit, Kopolis gets paid – and paid well – by Rocco Hellas, and wanders out of the gangster’s club and into the street. There, he sees a woman named Ruby donned in seductive crimson, as well as a man in a yellow shirt on the corner. After a series of misadventures, and mistaking a tourist with a yellow Hawaiian shirt as one of his pursuers, Kopolis finds himself back at Hellas’ club. He then hooks up with Ruby, for whom he confesses that the men in yellow shirts are indeed after him and want to take his life. Ruby stops Kopolis, tells him that she knows of The Clan he speaks of – and informs him that his pursuers are not all men . . . and they all don’t wear yellow shirts. She then transforms into a werewolf, raises a huge claw, and readies to tear Kopolis apart.
For readers who enjoyed this nightmare noir, they might also be interested in discovering Cuti’s last published work: his “Captain Cosmos” novels (including Spin a Web of Death and Halloween Hollow) and his many “Starflake” novels (including Starflake Rides with the Galactic Bikers and Dark Constellation). These gems can be found online via Amazon.com.
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