RIP Steve Gerber

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sg4newblog RIP Steve GerberWriter Steve Gerber passed away on February 10th. He was 60 and had been hospitalized for the past few weeks due to pulmonary fibrosis. He was on the list for a lung transplant, but had developed an infection which greatly weakened his condition. Gerber had been blogging from his hospital bed about his illness.

Gerber was one of a handful of writers who significantly expanded the comics medium. He created or co-created Omega the Unknown and his best known creation, Howard the Duck and made Man-Thing the character that he is best known as. During his 70s marvel run he was also well known for a long-run on the Defenders, and wrote the first appearance of KISS in comics form.

Howard The Duck, introduced as a throwaway character in an issue of Man-Thing, was perhaps the first mainstream Marvel character to introduce the anti-establishment humor of the underground comics of the time. Howard, a sarcastic duck from Cleveland, battled such satirical foes as the Kidney Lady and Doctor Bong, romanced the beautiful human Beverly Switzer, and even ran for President.

Howard would later become one of the symbols of the failings of mainstream comics: Gerber unsuccessfully sued for ownership of the character, a benefit book, Destroyer Duck was created, and Gerber created a follow-up, Stewart the Rat, also for Eclipse.

Gerber went on to work on various projects in animation, TV and comics. His mini-series HARD TIMES for DC was one of his most recent writing highlights. At the time of his death he was working on a Dr. Fate mini-series for DC. His recent

Mark Evanier has more:


What I feel the need to tell you is just what a great guy he was. In the seventies, when New York comic professionals were banding together to find ways to elevate the stature of the field and the living standards of its practitioners, Steve was at the nexus of so many of those efforts. When Steve was involved in his lawsuit with Marvel, many fellow professionals rallied around him with loans and gifts of cash and some of us put together a benefit comic book, Destroyer Duck, to raise money. People did that because they knew, first of all, that Steve was fighting not just for his own financial reasons but for matters of principle relating to how the comic book industry treated its creators. That some of the more pernicious business practices soon went away had a lot to do with Steve taking the stand he did. Also, those who knew Steve knew that when you were in need, he would do anything to help. He was, in every sense of the word, a friend.

I’ll have a longer memorial to Gerber in a bit. Right now I am in serious mourning – it’s no exaggeration to say that no writer has had a greater influence on my life and I would not be the same person without the work of Steve Gerber. My condolences to his friends and family.

Gerber’s wikipedia page lists the characters he created or co-created.

• A. Bizarro
• All-Night Party
• Angar the Screamer
• Princess Ariel
• Baphomet (comics)
• Cybernary
• Death-Stalker
• Destiny
• Destroyer Duck
• Doctor Bong
• Doctor Fate (Kent V. Nelson) (Replacement version)
• Exiles (Malibu Comics)
• Foolkiller
• Hard Time
• Headmen
• Howard the Duck
• Amber Hunt
• Hydro-Base
• Hydro-Men
• Ikthalon
• Jennifer Kale
• Kamuu
• KISS (Marvel Universe versions)
• Korrek
• Korvac
• Lord Pumpkin
• Mandrill
• Montesi
• N’Kantu, the Living Mummy
• Nekra
• Nevada
• Nikki
• Aleta Ogord
• Omega the Unknown
• Ookla the Mok
• Phantom Blonde
• Poison
• Red Guardian (later known as Starlight)
• Ruby Thursday
• Richard Rory
• Shanna the She-Devil
• Silver Samurai
• Sludge
• Starhawk
• Stewart the Rat
• Therea
• Thog
• Thundarr the Barbarian
• Void Indigo
• Wundarr the Aquarian

UPDATE: Tom has a much better obit than anything I’ll ever write here.

Comments

  1. I am so bummed. I’m gonna pull out my old Howard comics to re-read.

  2. Edward Ward says:

    That’s awful.

    As a fan I am particularly saddened by the fact that he seemed to be slowly working his way back into the mainstream.
    I don’t think that he’s as visible on the map of ‘important creators who pushed the medium forward’ as he deserves to be.

    I’ve been enjoying every page of his Doctor Fate book and have been trying for months to get the couple of issues of Hard Time I’m missing. I’m thrilled that there is an omnibus of his Howard the Duck coming out and I hope that there his original Omega: The Unknown will come back into print sometime soon. That and his Defenders run.

    Those of you who have never read any of his work should go to your local comic shop or local library and give yourself a treat by picking up something from this talented creator.

  3. Edward Ward says:

    BTW – the reason for sadness re: him working his way back into mainstream is not anything like me wishing he had dedicated more time to company properties or anything like that. I meant the comment simply in a sales/visibility/audience-level way. Someone as good as Gerber should have had a constant and steady readership, and it seemed as though people have been talking about him for the last couple years to a degree that I hadn’t seen in at least a decade.

  4. This is a very sad day for me.
    The most memorable comicbook reads in my life came courtesy of Steve Gerber’s special brand of “mad genius.” Through his writing I saw that mainstream comics could be thought-provoking, ground-breaking and even moving. He broke molds at a time they desperately needed breaking.

    I will never forget “The Kid’s Night Out” (G-S Man-Thing #4) for as long as I live. I’ve never read a less-flinching study of low self-esteem and bullying. And I’ll always remember “”A Book Burns in Citrusville” (Man-Thing#17) which opened my eyes to censorship and mob mentality.

    I remember these stories and many more, over three decades after reading them. They’re that good.

    Rest in peace, Steve Gerber.
    You were truly one of a kind.

  5. Brian Spence says:

    I’ve followed his blog nearly every day, and I was really pulling for him through these rough times (almost as much emotionally as physically). He truly was one of the best talents this industry had ever seen, and his stands on creators rights changed comics forever. He was a free thinker, unafraid to say what he felt, or admit he was wrong. I admired him greatly, and I’m sad to say I’d never met him. He will be missed.

  6. jimmy palmiotti says:

    one of the first things I ever ghost inked was when I was in high school in the 70’s and it was howard the duck magazine. I remember reading these books and couldnt believe i was actually caring for a friggin duck and his featherless girlfriend!

    They were awesome comics . I had them all.

    its a shame there isnt a creator today that can deal out the madness and antics even close to what steve was able to do each and every month.

    rest in peace Steve.

    JIMMY PALMIOTTI

  7. Brian Spence says:

    What’s also sad is that Marvel most likely won’t let Howard die with Steve. Howard has NEVER been written as well as when Steve did it, so why ruin his memory with bad Howard comics in the future? I hope, although I’m sure it’s hopeless, that Marvel will retire the character. They’ve killed off so many other characters I liked, why not this one? Please?????

  8. what a bummer. I was the perfect age to latch onto the Defenders with Englehart, read through Gerber, and give it up immediately upon his leaving because just about everyone else sucked compared to them in those days I felt. That was probably my favorite comic as a kid for a few years there. RIP

  9. David Miller says:

    Yes, Howard the Duck was ambitious and ground-breaking, but man! Those Defenders comics he wrote were so multi-layered. I remember readign them as a kid and thinking “why do they talk so much? Can’t they get to the punching and kicking?”
    And now when I read them I get so much out of them. The satire. The humour, the wry commentary and the love of the characters. I don’t think there will ever be a comic saga that had the heart of the Headmen-Nebulon-Bambi story. Who else would combine self-help pop psychology with brain transplantation?

  10. I was just finishing rereading Howard the Duck #8, the issue where Howard ran for president when I received the news that Steve Gerber had died. Fresh in my mind was his brilliance.

    That single issue alone was so amazing and unlike anything that was available on a comic spinner rack in 1976, when I was a kid and soaking up each issue of HTD as it spilled out of Marvel who had no idea it was publishing the seed of alternative comics of the 80’s.

    That same issue stands as great a work today as it was then and is equally, if not more, relevant during this election year. Forget Hilary, Obama and McKean…give me Howard for President!

    Give me Steve.

    Steve wrote honestly. The words that spilled from his pen were always witty, sharp and direct to the point. He never wrote down to the reader as I remember. I’d always find myself running to a dictionary to understand a new word discovered in his work. When someone criticized the writing in comics I always waved HTD as evidence to the contrary.

    Steve was a true inspiration. His impact on comics cannot be overplayed. His genius will be missed.

  11. Upon my discoverring Steve Gerber through Howard The Duck, I came to appreciate that comic books could be more than just super hero / villain power plays. I especially loved his Howard the Duck, Omega the Unknown, and his very short stint on Mr. Miracle (Destroyer Duck was all that too).

    Those of us who read The Defenders when Gerber wrote that title will fondly remember his long running subplot with the elf that would pop up every once in a while and just kill people seamingly without rhyme or reason. Thinking about the elf subplot now, I’m wondering if he meant that a reflection of life itself (Gerber seemed very in tune with what he called the cosmic absurdity of everything). Steve Gerber’s life though was not like the elf or the elf’s victims, in that his stories, creations, and characters have meaning and have provided many of us with over thirty years of great thought provoking stories that will stand the test of time. I, for one, have Steve Gerber to thank for helping shape my world view.

    Another story that I’m just now remebering is a story he did in Eclipse magazine (in several issues) with Val Mayrick about his experiences with the censorship boards of Saturday morning programming (Gerber wrote and created Thundarr The Barbarian with Jack Kirby). I wish some company would collect those stories.

  12. Steve Gerber was one of the very few comics writers who I could identify by his writing style alone. There was a turn of phrase, a freaky wonderful idea, a unique authorial voice that was always clear. He was wickedly, smartly funny too.
    I love his work and had always in the back of my head nursed a faint little hope that one day I might draw one of his scripts.
    Nope.

    Damn.

    Rest in Peace Steve Gerber, you made a difference and you will be missed.

  13. Wraith says:

    This is very sad news. Mr. Gerber will be missed.

    I have a question for all of the Steve Gerber fans. Looking over the list of characters that were created by Steve Gerber, I couldn’t help notice that Korrek and Thundarr, as well as Jennifer Kale and Ariel, are very similar. My question to you guys is has Steve ever said that both Thundarr and Ariel were reworked versions of Korrek and Jennifer Kale? I wish Marvel would put out a Korrek the Barbarian special or mini series as a tribute to Steve Gerber.

  14. The great irony is that three separate titles he created (HOWARD, OMEGA and FOOLKILLER) are in revival and probably three of the more respected titles Marvel’s putting out lately. Naturally he’d not be seeing much if any residuals from those, but it testifies to the lasting impact he had in the field.

    I must disagree with Briance Spence, though: Gerber’s passing is no good reason to kill off his creations. If anything, it’s all the better reason to keep them around. Would we be honoring the memory of Jack Kirby if we killed off Captain America or the New Gods?

    What? Oh fuck ME.

    A good sense of humor, especially about the things we hold dear, is the best way to honor those who lived to make us laugh while making us think. We might feel a loss, but we’re gonna be just fine.

  15. McDonald says:

    In my pre-adolescence, I picked up Howard the Duck #5 in a quarter box. That thing really sold me on the idea of being a writer. It felt so revolutionary and full of righteous glee – and most of all, funny and weird. I was already a Python fan by then, and it was the first thing since them that hit me in the same kind of exciting way.

    Aside from being one of the best anthropomorphic characters ever (Pogo is his only equal, imho), Howard the Duck celebrates the ideal of the individual better than any comic hero. Post-Gerber Howard writers have always portrayed the Duck as largely an apathetic misanthrope, but Gerber’s Howard was a bit of a populist crusader… He would run from danger more often than not, but he always had a point where he would revert to full-throated act of defiance, like some mutant John Brown. I always thought Steve was probably like that, too. I also thought Steve (and the Duck, for that matter) would probably be disagree like hell with that characterization.

    Steve also wrote about loneliness better than any writer I can think of, with the exception of maybe Paul Shrader.

    I also have a lot of fond memories of listening to the Man-Thing Thunder Records set when I was five. My five-year-old mind thought that clown was the coolest thing imaginable.

    I hope Steve’s characters live on in stories to come (although I also hope some of them will be administered better). I actually have a feeling Gerber would want other people writing his characters. And I really hope Marvel will get off their asses and put out the unpublished Man-Thing GN he did with Grey Morrow.

  16. John Warren says:

    Hey Mr. Ward… just FYI… the original Omega series was released in TPB form in 2005. As recently as last week my local comic store was able to order a copy for me, so it seems to still be in print.

  17. As a teen in the 70s, I absolutely revered Steve Gerber’s style, envied his talent, and admired his principles. His passing is a sad loss and it makes me realize how long ago those days were.

  18. I wrote a history-oriented tribute to Gerber here:

    http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2008/0…1947-2008.html

  19. michael says:

    I admit, I did not get many comics made by him, but I did know of his influence on the biz and of his creativity, in general. He had very unique visions. For that I am grateful.

    R.I.P. Steve Gerber

  20. Laurie S. Sutton says:

    I was his editor on Void Indigo at Epic Comics and I’ll remember the fellow well.

  21. Marc Bryant says:

    One more note. I have met most of my comic book idols. Stan Lee, Len Wein, Gaiman, Eisner etc. Steve Gerber and Gene Colan are the only ones who ever reduced me to babbling like an idiot. “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”

  22. Wow, what Ralph mentioned Steve being the creator of Thundarr the Barbarian –

    It just dawned on me, that would make a great DVD set from Warner Bros.

    ~

    Coat

Trackbacks

  1. […] Steve Gerber died yesterday. I can’t say I really followed his career too closely as most of his best work came out long before I was born but I can say that the reprint collections and scans I’ve managed to devour of his classic Howard the Duck and Man-Thing are truly gems of the art form. This later-day fan is gonna miss ya Steve… […]

  2. […] – HQ: morreu Steve Gerber, roteirista, aos 75 anos de infecção por fibrose pulmonar [tava à espera de um transplante]. ele criou uma porrada de personagens nos anos 70 e 80, como Howard o Pato [esquece o filme], Thundar o Bárbaro [dos desenhos] e escreveu algumas das histórias mais legais do Homem-Coisa – o primo do Monstro do Pântano. […]

  3. […] I am sure everyone has heard the sad news by now, but comics writer Steve Gerber has passed aaway after a long illness. There’s obituaries and links to follow at The Beat. […]

  4. […] I am sure everyone has heard the sad news by now, but comics writer Steve Gerber has passed away after a long illness. There’s obituaries and links to follow at The Beat. […]

  5. […] You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your ownsite. […]

  6. […] Publishers Weekly’s Heidi MacDonald remembers: part 1, part 2 […]

  7. […]         For those of you who don’t know, Mark Evanier was a good friend to writer Steve Gerber.  The world lost Gerber recently and Mr. Evanier has taken it upon himself to continue the Gerber blogs.  If you’ve read those blogs, it is obvious that Steve Gerber’s death hit Mark pretty hard.  I thanked him for carrying on the writer’s memory and he smile and joked about hacking into another person’s web page.  I could tell that he was still having a rough time.  This really made me think about the mood at WonderCon.  If you look at comic artists (that includes writers as well) as sort of a brotherhood, these people just lost a brother.  They didn’t all know him and they probably didn’t all like him, but he was a big part of their world.  I felt bad for hitting a nerve in Mark.  There were more polite smiles and thanks and then I went off to see old school Hulk artist, Herb Trimpe. […]

  8. Yipyop says:

    […] Already this year the comic book world lost two of its legends: Steve Gerber in February (Howard the Duck, Omega the Unknown) and now Dave Stevens (The Rocketeer). Dave drew the best Bettie Page in my opinion. And where would we be without Ookla the Mok? Posted in Uncategorized at March 12th, 2008. Trackback URI: trackback […]

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