Sunday, 21 July 2019

Duckworld!



Here's another flawed masterpiece from the Howard The Duck magazine, that comes with incredible Michael Golden art, but a central premise that you can't help feeling didn't need exploring.
In this one, Howard & Bev finally manage to get back to the Duck's home dimension, and I'm never sure if this is a wise decision.
Steve Gerber wasn't unsure at all. He hated this story, complaining that it negated the entire premise of the strip to send Howard home, deleting his individuality and his power as sharp-toothed satire.
There's also foul / fowl puns and Howard is simply one character among many who look and act just like him, and Bill Mantlo doesn't really seem to know what to do once Howard touches down in New Stork.
At times it's almost like reading an issue of What If? done by Carl Barks, which when you put it like that sounds quite cool.
I dunno, if this strip was drawn by Don Heck or Frank Springer, would we like it as much?



















































37 comments:

  1. GAAAAAAAH!!! DUCKWORLD!!!!

    I don't care if this had been drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith & P Craig Russell in glorious 3-D - it was pure, undistilled shit. The kind that is squeezed forth from a stench-ridden hell-dimension of unspeakable vileness. It is an object lesson in BAD writing. Not bad... but BAD... as in 'a 4th grader high on Gin who had just fallen out of a 87th floor window could've written a better script' BAD.

    As you may have gathered by now, I really hated this.

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  2. Which is the question I was asking. That's that settled then! :)

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  3. Beautifully drawn, but I didn't read it.

    This is one of many stories that should be restricted by an ingenious writer & reprinted. Both Wally Wood and Bruce Jones rescripted "Savage World," an unpublished Williamson/Frazetta/Krenkel-drawn story from the 1950s with interesting results (in Witzend in the 1960s, Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction in the 1970s, & Alien Worlds in the 1980s).

    Regards,
    Chris A.

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  4. Rewritten, not restricted. Autocorrect is such a bother!

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  5. Savage World is on here too, Chris, by the way.

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  6. Yeah, this is worth it for Mike Golden. And, lets not forget, Bob McLeod who did a pretty good job too.

    But then, I reckon it was Gene Colan and - early on - Frank Brunner that really made the original Howard the Duck comic.
    Sorry, but while Gerber was probably the best writer Marvel had in the 70s - a lot better than Mantlo, thats for sure - Howard wasn't his best work and it hasn't dated well.

    I'll get my coat...

    -sean

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  7. I'll confess to not liking Howard as much as Defenders or Man-Thing at the time, Sean, but as I've got older ( and kind of become Howard, as Steve was ) I've enjoyed it's nuances more. I'd agree some of the Americo-centric stuff hasn't aged well, but I can see much more to it now, for sure.

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    1. I liked Howard more at the time Pete, when it was something different from Marvel.
      But even then Gerber didn't seem funny - not like, say, Dave Sim a little later, who could really get a laugh out of the reader in Cerebus - and in retrospect his worldview seems quite conventional.
      So for me it doesn't really work as satire.

      -sean

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    2. PS To be fair to Gerber, he did have to write Howard under comic code restrictions.
      Maybe if he'd worked on the black & white mag he could have written a much better Howard?

      -sean

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  8. The first 24 issues of Cerebus are the funniest comics ever. Fact. They kill me.

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  9. It's hard to go back & read the early CEREBUS - seeing how enjoyable & funny they actually were - knowing now that by/before #200, Sim had totally lost his marbles. It's like looking at old photographs of a good friend who would later go on to become a serial pyromaniac & had to put away somewhere quiet.

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  10. Yeah, but those are the ones I keep coming back to then I stop. I know some fans love the later stuff but not for me, thanks.

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    1. People used to complain in the letters page that Cerebus had gone off the boil even during High Society.
      One of the things I admire about Sim's achievement was his willingness to go in new directions rather than stick to the tried and tested.

      Its not hard to see why someone might have a problem with pages of text about voids and lights or whatever (errr, ok Dave...) but I still found it fascinating.

      -sean

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  11. Long-winded screed time - but trust me, there is a valid point here to be made.

    Back in 70's, I really did not like Marv Wolfman's writing. It was clumsy, cliche-ridden & predictable to a fault. All the more obvious, as Wolfman & Wein entered the industry at roughly the same time - but where Wein had talent that grew as he went on (Phantom Stranger, Swamp Thing, Justice League), Wolfman seemed stuck in permanent fan-mode. I avoided books he worked on - especially when came over to Marvel. And I really disliked Nova - 2/3rds Green Lantern Corps, 1/3 Stan Lee-inspired Spidey drama, shake well, bake until burnt - and the more I found out about him personally, how he was insanely jealous of Gerber & McGregor {"Why don't I get fan letters like Don does!?"), of how he routinely screwed over artists under his editorial reign (Craig Russell has a great story about that), the more I disliked both the work and the man.

    And yet. And yet....

    Tomb of Dracula was one of the best damn comics that Marvel ever published. The Wolfman/Colan and soon joined by Palmer team just got better & better & better with each & every issue. It was clear that they all cared about what they were doing & the three of them were in such perfect sync - TOD was, and still is, Wolfman's magnum opus, his one true contribution to comics history - and proof positive that even the laziest of talent, given the right circumstances, can transcend mediocrity and achieve actual art.

    Which brings me to Bill Mantlo.

    If I disliked Wolfman, I actually hated Mantlo. There was nothing more anger-inducing than picking up a new comic & seeing that it was a lame-ass fill-in by 'guest writer Bill Mantlo'. The fill-in king. The plagiarist. The worst writer in the bullpen - and make no mistake, it was not by accident that Shooter replaced Gerber with Mantlo on the duck. That was done on purpose and with malice. From the man who brought you Mr. Fish and Tapping Tommy - say goodbye to The Kidney Lady and Dr. Bong & say hello to Jackpot and Duckworld.

    And yet. And yet...

    The last year-plus of ROM: Spaceknight, with Mantlo & Ditko (and later joined by Craig Russell) were actually quite good. They all seemed to bring out the best in each other, for whatever weird reason, and while the tail-end of ROM is not exactly what you'd call a masterpiece, it was, by Mantlo's previous standards, a worthy stab at actual quality.

    In short, these were good comics & it would be wrong not to say so just because of personal prejudice.

    My point being (I told you there would be one) is that if someone like Mantlo can find himself in the right place & circumstances to produce something of merit (and from a comic about a toy, no less), if someone like Wolfman can do the same & grow from the experience into someone worth reading, then one has to come to the inescapable conclusion that there really is good in everyone - and sometimes, it just takes the right set of events to show that to the rest of the world.

    Having said all that; Mantlo's HTD is still a goddamn abomination & among the worst writing ever printed by anyone, anywhere. Nyaaah.

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    1. One slight correction - Shooter did not take Gerber off Howard (magazine or comic). Gerber quit in protest over Marvel letting Disney screw them over Howards look. Disney said it was too much like Donald Duck and they were going to shut Howard down. Since it was the 70s Marvel was not in a position to fight so Marvel rolled over and too it. Gerber was not having any of it and quit in protest. He later said he should have brought Howard from Marvel and continued him independently. He returned to Marvel in the 90s and wrote Howard in a mini-series for Marvel's new Max line. He was still unable to have Howard drawn correctly so he decided to stick it to Disney by having Howard being turned into Mickey. At the end of the mini series Howard was back to a duck but still could not be drawn like he was suppose to because of the drawing demands set by Disney. That is why Howard looks the way he does today and like he did in the magazine.

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    2. Scott, what's your source re: the reason for Gerber's quitting?

      Even if it's from Gerber, I tend to doubt it. Gerber was intelligent enough to know that Seventies Marvel didn't have pockets deep enough to fight Disney, and quitting for that reason would not change the inevitable, even though to fans it's indisputable that Disney was in the wrong.

      (Side-note: I had the pleasure of seeing Stan Lee at a local con circa 1979-1980, where Stan tried to put a positive, pro-Marvel spin on the capitulation: "Disney, quaking in their boots at the power of Mighty Marvel!" Or something like that...)

      A couple of different sources claim that Gerber was fired for being late with scripts, and he was certainly known for that tendency during his career. Back in the day I and other fans had the strong impression that Shooter was firming up his control on Marvel by pushing out the more volatile talents in favor of the people he preferred, which of course most editors tend to do. I have seen Gerber make some general anti-Marvel statements, though I'm not sure he specifically went after Jim Shooter. He was dismissed in early 1978, which is before Marvel finally agreed to Disney's terms in 1980 according to this Tripod essay:

      http://members.tripod.com/howard_the_duck/Howtheduckgothispants.htm

      I tend to believe this scenario in part because Howard still isn't wearing pants on the cover of the first magazine issue, and a few pages online testify that he still isn't wearing them inside, but he is in some of the interior panels for #2.

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  12. I'm sure this won't go well for me but...I liked it. I feel with so many things (comics, movies, music, etc.) people expect the subject to change their lives and enlighten them with great wisdom and deep truths of life, the universe, everything. The deep truth though is sometimes...actually, most times..things just are. It's not high-literature. It's also not filth worthy of such ire. It's a comic. A collection of images and words designed to entertain. I liked the story and loved the numerous duck and fowl related puns that were often incredibly creative! Connections I would never have imagined. I see this all the time. I cosplay and see people who have taken something they love so seriously I feel they've forgotten the entire reason they got into whatever they were into for in the first place was it was fun. I've read tens of thousands of comics in my life and some I treasured others I didn't care for but, I never had any reason or desire to spew such vitriol towards any of them. I see it as no different than sports fans who hate a particular team. I don't understand it. Every team is doing what it's supposed to do. Beat the other team. Yes, I'm aware of the dirty dealings within the comic industry and I can understand the anger directed at particular people for what they did to others but, there was nothing in this particular comic that made me hate it or anyone involved. It did what it was supposed to do. It occupied, entertained and intrigued me for the few minutes it took to read it. I do hope I never find myself losing the joy that comics have brought me for the majority of my life. There is so little joy in my life anymore I'd hate to think I lost what little joy I have. I'm sorry if I've offended anyone as it was never my intention. It just hurts me to see such hate and anger towards something so simple as a comic book. I come to this blog to see pieces of my youth and moments of joy that I remember so vividly but, often I don't know the names of the particular comics (I've commented before on torn-cover comics and my personal connection to them) and it lights up my day when I see one and can finally make the connection between the story I remember and the title I couldn't. I love seeing other people's connections and memories of these comics and it creates a connection with people I don't know and will probably never meet but, it's still nice. Unfortunately, it seems there is more and more anger than joy these days. Perhaps it's just a reflection of the world and events in general that everyone is angry about something and this is just the place they feel they can vent it. Anyway, I've gone on too long and probably should have just kept my keyboard quiet but, it's what I felt and I needed to get it out. God bless and try to remember the joy of those first comics and the worlds they took you to no matter how bad your own world may have been. They were joyous journeys...

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  13. I know what you're trying to say, Turbo - and it's a valid point. If it's any consolation to you whatsoever, I do still find joy in comics, both past & present - otherwise I wouldn't be here - however, after reading so many comics (and other things, too) over a span of decades, one can't help sometimes but adopt the persona of the highly-opinionated critic. It's either that, or literally become The Flaming Carrot.

    I've noticed lately that a lot of folks (like yourself) have put forth the concept that 'there's so much anger out there lately' and 'I don't know if its the political climate or what, but why is everybody so gosh-darn negative these days?'

    Well, if there IS a uptick in overall doom & gloom out there (and I'm not so sure that there is, but I've been wrong before) it might be that society as a whole is leaning more towards fascism than it has in recent memory. Nobody sane likes fascism. Our fathers & grandfathers fought & died to save the entire planet from it. And with that shadow looming - and the constant reinforcement that it is there and thumbing it's nose at the rest of us - you may be right. It might be affecting the overall populace in ways that we are just too close to see.

    Food for thought.

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  14. As usual, I agree with both of you, and you're not that far apart anyway. I absolutely do this blog to make you all go 'I remember that!' or to point out great stuff we all might've missed, so that joy we all felt every month back then is very much what I'm going for.
    But you only hate what you love, and when something in the the genre disappoints, I can understand venting spleen.The only thing that does irk me is when someone says this writer or artist couldn't write or draw. If course they could, it's just that you don't like their style. That's very different.
    But if you hate a particular story, it's OK to say that.
    As I've said before, I look at it like we're all in the pub or at a con somewhere, going 'cough splutter how can SAY that?! Jack Sparling was awful!! ' but always good naturedly and with respect for the other person's opinion. That's always the way it's gone on both blogs luckily.
    I genuinely believe that, as Harlan Ellison said, everyone's entitled to their INFORMED opinion, and everyone who drops in here and at Rec. Road mostly know what they're talking about. And if you DON'T, for example, like Frank Robbins, you can say that. You'll be wrong, but you can still say it...!
    As for the way the world is going, get me another pint of Straw Dog and we'll tackle that one next...

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  15. I don't know why the word 'dont' appeared in caps. Hey ho

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  16. As you may or may not know, I was weaned on Unca Harlan (remind me to tell you what happened when we first met sometime) - and his quote about informed opinion oughta be branded on the forehead of every loud-mouthed racist/sexist scuttlefish in both of our still-great-no-matter-what-some-dipshit-says nations. But... I digress....

    We're really gonna have to talk seriously about Frank Robbins at some point in the near-future... like civil educated grown-ups armed with broken beer bottles, of course. You know that man literally scarred the delicate psychological make-ups of a number of readers who follow this blog when he took over Captain America, right? Made them weep openly, I'm told. :)

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  17. Genuinely didn't bother me one bit. Perhaps I'm made of sterner stuff... :)

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  18. Loved Robbins' 1950s comic strips, but his '70s comic book work looks like it was beaten with an ugly stick.

    Gene Poole

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  19. Thanks for the comments guys! Along with comics, I greatly enjoy good, intelligent discussions! Unfortunately, there is none of that here. I KEED! I KEED! But, seriously folks! I was pleased with the comments following mine. Keep the comics coming and the discussions flowing and for God's sake Pete! Find that damn House of Mystery/Secrets I've been trying to find for decades!! Pretty please?!? :)

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    1. Repeat the plot again, if you will. I have read most of them.

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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    2. Obviously, multiple stories. One involved a harbor town and a lady in a wheelchair. A movie about a sea serpent and a lady came to town and the town thought the lady was responsible for the lack of good fishing they were having and it turned out she was a mermaid and then they regretted her leaving. Another was a murder in the snowy mountains and the guy who got killed rolled through the snow and looked like a snowman. A friend of the victim wore a snowman outfit and confronted the killer who heard the snowman talk in the voice of the victim and confessed to the murder. No one else heard the voice. Ring any bells?

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    3. I remember a pre-Spidey story by Lee & Ditko with a young lady in a wheelchair renting a room from Uncle Ben and Aunt May. In the end it turns out she is a mermaid.

      The only snowman stories I can think of were in the Unexpected in 1974: one was a '50s reprint called "I Fought the Abominable Snowman" drawn by Leonard Starr, and the other was drawn by Alfredo Alcala, called "Color the Snow---Red." Otherwise, Wally Wood did a snowman story for House of Mystery 199 kr thereabouts, but it doesn't fit your description.

      Were these black and white or in colour? American or British comics? Comic books or magazines?

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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    4. They were color, American comics. I'm pretty sure they were Giant-Sized. Color the snow red was a cool story! In the snowman story I'm looking for the killer shoots the snowman costume without effect and later the guy inside it said there was enough room he could move sideways to avoid the bullets. While I'm thinking of this stuff, there was a regular sized comic with Cain and there was a story about a wannabee gunfighter who bought an amulet from Cain who was a travelling salesman with a wagon of stuff and he became a famous unbeatable gunslinger until he squared-off against another guy who had the same amulet and of course, he got killed and as he was dying he blamed Cain for double-dealing him. The last panel had Cain pulling back a curtain revealing dozens of the amulets, stating something like "These amulets? I've sold hundreds of them!".

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    5. I read all of HOM from 176-229, and a few after that, so it must be from 1975 or later.

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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    6. Here's that last one, ""Lafferty's Luck" from HOM 234:

      http://diversionsofthegroovykind.blogspot.com/2013/03/random-reads-laffertys-luck-by-oleck.html?m=1

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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    7. Thank you so much for the link! I loved that story! I've always had a taste for the twist endings of such stories! The other I am still looking for probably was mid to late 70s. It'll turn up one day...

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  20. I FOUND IT!! At least I found the snowman issue. The mermaid story may have been in another issue. Here's a link to one for sale. I can't find it to read online. Only the regular-sized issues unfortunately. https://www.collectorsedgesaskatoon.com/product-page/super-dc-giant-s-20-house-of-mystery

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    1. Yes, the mermaid story is in that same issue. I never bought this one because it was all reprints (though I like Neal Adams' cover. Your snowman story was drawn by none other than Mort Drucker who went on to Mad magazine movie satires.

      https://www.comics.org/issue/75446/

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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    2. It's called "The Lady and the Serpent," originally drawn by Nick Cardy for HOM #63 in 1957.

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    3. Yes, I time-traveled via internet and have been reading the original comics each story came from. I found it interesting some of the stories weren't from HOM but, from other titles. I'd love to see some of these stories made into live-action shorts! Now, I need to think of some other comics I haven't located yet!! Side note: Do you know how frustrating it is trying to prove I'm not a robot when the pics are so small and grainy and my close-up vision isn't that great!? I had to resort to getting an audio prompt!

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    4. Here's your mermaid story in its original publication as the lead story:

      https://archive.org/details/ComicBook-HouseOfMystery063

      Regards,
      Chris A.

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