Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Creeping, the Graphic Novel

Petro could always get serious about studying, raise his grades, and hopefully land a good job after college. However, he thinks the payoff will be better if he becomes internet-famous live-streaming his urban explorations of supposedly haunted places, while dragging along his reluctant friends. In hopes of finally scoring his big viral moment, Petro convinces his fellow-Creepers to attempt the Mount Everest of Creeps. Of course, it is in Romania. Horror fans know this trip is a bad idea and so do most of his friends, but they go anyway in Zack Keller’s graphic novel Creeping, with story by Mike Richardson and art by Doug Wheatley, which goes on-sale today.

Kiara is serious about her medical studies, because that is what her parents want. In contrast, JJ failed out of school, but he has not bothered to tell his wealthy ever-absent father. Izzy is really just going to be with JJ, even though they haven’t revealed their relationship to their friends yet. The attraction between Petro and Kiara is somewhat out and open, but neither is really sure where it is headed. Unfortunately, this will not be a trip for romance.

With the help of JJ’s private jet (technically, his father’s), the Creeping gang plan to live-stream their trek through the ruins of Draghici Asylum. It was once a hospital for the criminal insane, but it was reportedly shutdown because of the unspeakable experiments conducted there. They cover story claimed natural gas deposits drove everyone nuts, so it definitely sounds like a fun spot. At least, they will have the aloof and disdainful Mihaela to guide them to the crumbling castle.

There have been a lot of films about would-be live-streamers or reality TV camera crews meeting their horrific doom in haunted houses. However,
Creeping is a little different than the likes of The Deep House, because it has actual cool-looking “somethings” that would be difficult to do justice in a low-budget horror movie. Wheatley’s designs for the whatever-they-might-be (we can’t say because it would be spoilery) are definitely one of the highlights of the graphic novel.

Keller also nicely humanizes the characters and gives a bit more complexity to their relationships than we usually get in horror films. They are mostly dumb kids, but they are believably human dumb kids.

Frustratingly, though, Keller does not fully capitalize on the significance of the Romanian setting. This is the land of Vlad the Impaler and Nicolae Ceausescu, after all. The latter probably could have been worked into the backstory to give it greater resonance, but Romania’s history is almost entirely glossed over.

Creeping is a lot more fun than thematically-related horror movies. The grand, sprawling ruins of Draghici look spooky and ominous, in ways that film still struggles to match. Recommended for horror fans in the mood to see aspiring YouTubers get the EC Comics treatment, Creeping is now on-sale, wherever graphic novels are sold.