Isn't it incredible that, following Spidey's inauguration into the world of Newspaper strips, of all of Marvel's characters that could've followed him onto the breakfast tables of Middle America, they chose a battling barbarian and a talking duck? Only in the Bronze Age.The Howard The Duck newspaper strip was completely wonderful, and as great as the regular comic, being as it was by the same team of Steve Gerber & Gene Colan.
Genial Gene lasted a while on the strip, before realizing that as well as working all the hours godsend, he might need to sleep and eat occasionally, so original Duck artist Val Mayerik came on board, and was equally superb. Then it all went a bit pear-shaped.
Howard, unfortunately, wasn't picked up by as many papers as had picked up the wall-crawler, and neither Gerber or Colan were getting paid regularly, plus Steve was heading into his lawsuit with Marvel to get back the rights to Howard, so it all went a bit belly-up.
Marv Wolfman and Alan Kupperberg were brought in to tone down the strip, neutering it into a toothless parody piece that Gerber loathed. To be fair to Marv & Alan, they inherited a poisoned chalice, but those strips are forgettable at best.
Back at the start of it all though, here's Steve & Gene on fire with the first story, Pop Syke. There's a million cherishable, classicely Howard moments here that I won't spoil, except to say to any poor souls still unconvinced about what a great writer Steve was, check the the two panels on one of the colour pages with Howard & Bev on the park bench.
As always with Gerber, it's sad, funny and true, all at the same time.