Sunday, 12 April 2009

Master Of Quack Fu!

I'm a charitable sort of comic fan. No, really. I accept that companies have to make money, that new creative teams will take over beloved characters, that nothing ever stands still. I don't waste my time writing snidey posts on comics forums about how my favourites are being desecrated.
I understand. It's just comics, when all's said and done.

But there's one thing I won't bend on. The only Howard The Duck stories that count.
Are the ones written by Steve Gerber.
I hear that Howard is still being published by Marvel, which is nice for them. I'm sure they're good stories, and I appreciate the effort they took to make Howard look not remotely like the Gene Colan version, and I'm not saying for a minute that you shouldn't buy it.
Just don't expect me to.

It's like Bill Hicks would say: This is not a matter of opinion, I can prove this on an etch-a-sketch. The only Howard The Duck stories that count are the ones written by Steve Gerber.

This is one of my favourites. Kung Fu, of course, was huge in the '70's, and Marvel produced classic material like Shang-Chi, Master Of Kung Fu, Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu & Iron Fist. Gerber, natch, had his own take on it all. Here's Steve in an interview with Gary Groth from 1978: " There was a real life incident that stimulated ( that story ). I'd planned to do a parody of the Master Of Kung Fu book, with Howard doing the first person narration, and so on. Then, Mary Skrenes and I were sitting in the market diner at 44th Street and 11th Avenue, trying to work out that plot and a couple of others, when some sort of incident took place out on the sidewalk. We couldn't even see clearly what was happening, but by the time we got up and left our seats to see what sort of insanity was going on out there, a kid came staggering into the diner, his face bloodied, stab wounds all over his body, and collapsed on the floor. We were told by one of the waitresses the next day that he had died. It was at that point, after that incident, after walking up and down 8th & 9th Avenue and Times Square and seeing the kids play with their nunchaku sticks as if they were squirt guns, that I decided a story like " Four Feathers Of Death " had to be done. It meant something to me....The idea of using the Duck in that fashion, of making him the target of that kind of brutality, was a valid and important one. No one expects to see a ' funny animal " bleed. It was a very graphic way of making a point about what those films were saying, how easy it is to become inured to violence when it's presented in that fashion. "

And you can, of course, read more Gerber greatness in the Essential Howard The Duck. So do already!


  1. I'm with you on this, although I like a couple of the Bill Mantlo stories. The Maltese Cockroach was good. I might have to post that one, meself.

    the last Howard the Duck series was awful, the new look doesn't work at all. I know they don't have much of a choice, what with the Disney suit, but it doesn't work. they should've just left well enough alone. mind you, they made a %&@$-ing mess of Omega the Unknown, too, didn't they?

  2. Joe, don't even start me on Omega. Gerber was, quite rightly, furious about it.