'They're creepy and they're kookey...' Tom Mandrake surrounds himself with 'Creeps'

Tue, August 28th, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

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[Creeps #1]
Cover to Issue #1

Recently it was Tom Mandrake the Martian Manhunter artist. Before that it was Tom Mandrake the Spectre artist. Even before that it was Tom Mandrake the Firestorm artist. This October fans will come to know Tom Mandrake as the "Creeps" artist.

Yesterday CBR News brought you an interview with "Creeps" creator/writer Dan Mishkin. In that interview Mishkin detailed what fans can expect from the new Image Comics series, "Creeps." Set to debut this October, "Creeps" is a 4 issue series inhabited by bizarre looking creatures confronting the evil affecting their world. For series artist Tom Mandrake, "Creeps" is an exciting project that's a blast to be a part of.

"The whole project has been a labor of love," Mandrake told CBR News, "a chance for us to do what we love without trying to fit into anyone else's universe or try to meet anyone else's expectations. The characters are so different than anything else I've ever done. Dan and I have both are having too much fun doing this project.

Mandrake is well known for his many collaborations with writer John Ostrander, working together for long runs on DC Comics titles "Martian Manhunter," "The Spectre," and "Firestorm." While he may be accustomed with the working style of Ostrander, collaborating with Mishkin on "Creeps" has proven just as much fun.

[Creeps #2]
Cover to Issue #2

"John and Dan are both very easy to work with. We work plot style with the understanding that if I need to change the flow, even add or subtract a scene, it's ok as long as we end up with the same basic story line. They're both great dialogue writers who take care to give each character their own voice...did I mention the part where I get to change stuff?"

As Mandrake jumps into each new series fans have noticed subtle changes in his artwork to suit the feel of each book. That remains true for his approach on "Creeps," bringing a dark, moody, energetic feel to the series.

"I try to make relatively subtle art changes for each project, more brush here, different paper stock there. I'm trying to give 'Creeps' a sense of claustrophobia...urban, gritty, dark. I'm not using full bleeds on this book as I did in Spectre or the Manhunter. The art is trapped inside the page as the 'Creeps' are trapped in their world. I'm also doing less and less pencil work first, doing most of the drawing when I ink. I feel this adds to the visual energy," said Mandrake.

While the design of the book is as intricate as anything Mandrake has done before, he's found working on "Creeps" is easier than working on characters such as DC Comics' Spectre or Martian Manhunter.

"These characters are less of a challenge for me than working on characters other people have already designed. I almost hate to admit it, but the Creeps are part of me. They came out with very little...maybe no...coaxing. I am a Creep."

[Creeps #4]
Cover to Issue #4

Some of the influences Mandrake pulls from for his work on "Creeps" may be obvious, but others might surprise a few readers.

"Art influences are difficult to pin down. Stylistically you can see Gene Colan, Bernie Wrightson, Tom Palmer and a few others on the surface. Joe Kubert had a big influence on my storytelling. Artists are influenced by everything they see. Outside of comics some influences like one of my favorite pen and ink artists, Gordon Grant, won't be noticed because only a few people seem to know his work. I should also mention influences from James Whale and anyone else ever involved in a Universal horror movie. The movies 'Freaks' and 'Island of Lost Souls' (the one with Bela in it) come to mind...and 'Bladerunner'," said Mandrake.

For those considering picking up "Creeps" when it hits the stands in October, Mandrake feels it has broad appeal that comes across on a number of levels.

"Readers should pick this book up because it's unique," said Mandrake. "This is a book that doesn't fit into one genre -- it's superheroes, horror, adventure with a bit of black humor. I'd like readers to enter the 'Creeps' world and experience life from their point of view. It's a world that isn't pretty. If you saw the Creeps on the street you would turn away. This is like a window to their world where you can watch unseen and I think you can't help but look."

"Creeps" hits the stand this October from Image Comics.

 
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