Thursday, April 26, 2012

"C" Is For Creeper!

As comic book fans we often celebrate the accomplishments of Steve Ditko. As one of the original architects of the Marvel Universe, alongside Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Ditko gets high praise indeed, adulation in fact. He is the co-creator at least of Marvel's most successful property The Amazing Spider-Man and he also developed Dr.Strange.

But Ditko is a guy dedicated to his own philosophy, an objectivist view of the world which makes each man or woman the hero of their own story and which rejects the judgment of others. Ditko has long held himself aloof adding to his mystique and I think its that personal decision which has created mystery which has added to Ditko's appraisal in the larger scheme.

He did leave Marvel of his own choosing and go to lowly Charlton where he labored and revised a number of heroes, most notably Blue Beetle, who was transformed into a high-tech version of Spidey. He also created The Question, a pure Ditko hero who drove home his Randian philosophy more directly and loquaciously.

Then Ditko went to DC, and while his stay was not long he did create Hawk and Dove and most famously The Creeper. The Creeper is a blend of Spider-Man, Blue Beetle, and The Question, a reporter who is super-humanly agile and who by dint of high technology can change his identity quickly and dramatically. Of all Ditko's creations for DC only The Creeper remains really recognizably the hero Ditko conceived.

Thanks to Joe Bloke, here is a link to The Creeper's debut story from Showcase.

Steve Ditko currently produces the comics he wants to make and distributes them through is friend and agent Robin Snyder. He though has had a long career filled with some nifty heroes, and some well-drawn comics, and like any professional some misses and near-misses. It's the nature of the beast. Ditko we can be sure always gave his all though, and perhaps that is what we celebrate about him most, his dedication to craft.

Below is a Creeper cover gallery. The Creeper was drawn by Ditko exclusively until the sixth issue when Gil Kane had to step into finish the story. For whatever reason, Ditko stepped away from DC at this time and left his creations behind. He was though instrumental in getting Dick Giordano, the former Charlton editor to come over to DC and bring with him talents such as Jim Aparo, Steve Skeates, and Pat Boyette.

Gil Kane

Neal Adams

Neal Adams - My first Creeper story!

Here's the cover of the 70's revival of The Creeper by Ditko.

Rip Off


  1. In a curious blip in my fairly extensive comic reading habit, I've never read any of those Ditko Creepers. I'd seen the Showcase cover as a kid but my introduction to the character was in a mid-70s issue of Detective ( the Bat-Murderer storyline IIRC)

  2. As can be seen by the Neal Adams covers above, Ditko is the only artist I think who can actually draw The Creeper convincingly. Those Dikto angles are necessary to make the elements of the design hang together, and frankly other artists just don't get that right most the time. Trying to draw The Creeper more realistically just makes him look foolish.

    I hope you enjoy the link.

    Rip Off

  3. I personally think the top covers (Ditko, Kane, Adams) are so much more interesting than the last one. Gil Kane was definitely buzzing at that time! I trip over his work occasionally on the net and still get an almighty buzz from the non-static compositions!

  4. I agree with Norman. It's positively tragic to see the raw power and dynamic layout of those late Sixties covers and then come to a dead stop with the weakness of a mid Seventies cover. DC's covers used to say "We're desperate for you to buy this comic! We'll do anything it takes to grab you! Thrills are inside, buy me and find out!" That last one says "Eh, buy this comic or not, we don't really care or know how to make you care."

    (And today's covers say "Covers sell comic books? How do you figure that? Surely what sells comics is having the logo of the latest company-wide event above the title of the comic?")

  5. You guys make a great point. That 70's cover is a fall off from the dynamic designs of earlier DC efforts. It's a cover that doesn't fundamentally function as an ad, but merely an overlay to the artwork inside. It's obligatory.

    Rip Off

  6. One can't but feel, with the great sucess that marvel has had to this day, with spidy and doc strange, that if Ditko had brought the creeper,and hawk and dove, maybe even BB under a different name,to marvel, they would have lasted more then 5 or 6 issues.

    1. Damn right I think Steve was so much the driving force behind his heroes and if he thought the commitment wasn't there from the publishers he would walk, one final thing did the original Shade story line ever get resolved?


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