On October 12, 1918, Baron Eric Von Emmelmann, a German pilot, was shot down over Wausau swamp, near the small town of Rodz in Poland. Lying lifeless as his body slowly merged with the morass, he had nothing left but his will to live, to rise, to return to the world of humans. Over next 24 years, Von Emmelmann's will to live, coupled with vegetation of swamp covering his body and replacing the flesh, allowed him to arise again, now formed from the muck and vegetation of the swamp. Eric's body merged with the "dreary vegetation" of Wausau to make him a massive humanoid plant that was forced to drain animals of blood in order to get oxygen.
The Heap was created Hillman by writer Harry Stein and artist Mort Leav, and revived in the 1980s by Eclipse Comics. He first appeared in Hillman's Air Fighters Comics #3 (Dec. 1942).
Intially appearing in Air Fighters Comics #3 as an opponent of Airboy's ally Skywolf, the Heap continued to sporadically reappear as a guest character in that title. The Heap eventually starred in his own strip, and became Hillman's recurring monster character during the 1950's horror fad. His series began in Airboy Comics vol.3 #9, October, 1946 and lasted as long as Hillman itself did, ending in the final issue of Airboy Comics vol.10 #4, May, 1953.
In 1986, Eclipse Comics acquired rights to some of Hillman's properties and began publishing a new Airboy comic with the Heap as a supporting character. He also appeared in Eclipse's other titles such as The New Wave and Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters.
The Heap served as inspiration for the creation of other swamp-like creatures like Marvel's Man-Thing and DC Comics' Swamp Thing in the Bronze Age of Comic Books.
The Heap was later recreated by Todd McFarlane in Image Comics' Spawn. He recreated the character, who was once Eddie Beckett, as a being made from the garbage in the alleys of Rat City who first appeared in Spawn #72.