#1. Grady Hendrix talks about Gerber changed comics :
But Gerber himself was trapped in a vulturelike publishing industry. A dispute with Marvel over payment terms for the artist on the Howard the Duck newspaper strip led to Gerber leaving the book, only to realize too late that his creations were all work-for-hire, property of Marvel Inc. He engaged in a protracted legal battle that was eventually settled, but the comics industry broke his spirit. When novelist Jonathan Lethem was hired by Marvel last year to revive Omega the Unknown, a series created by Gerber and collaborator Mary Skrenes, Gerber blasted the younger writer for validating the theft of his creation. Even after meeting with Lethem, he said, “I still believe that writers and artists who claim to respect the work of creators past should demonstrate that respect by leaving the work alone.”
But for a brief moment, Steve’s desire to do one more Howard series coincided with Bill Jemas’s own particular form of madness. Faced with the problem of the duck’s design — a legal settlement with Disney had left us with a very specific, not terribly attractive look that had to be adhered to — Bill embraced the idea of transforming Howard into a variety of other animals. (I don’t remember now whether this was originally Bill’s or Steve’s idea.) It was Bill who suggested the first issue’s cover, depicting a pissed-off mouse under a large Howard The Duck logo, and Bill who came up with the tagline: DON’T ASK. And Steve didn’t just go along with it; he ran with it, gleefully.
#3. Last week’s remembrance by Steven Grant:
Howard’s also of the most important characters in the history of comics because Steve became the first major figure in modern comics to sue a comics company over who really owned the character. It was eventually settled without trial, leaving Marvel in control of Howard and Steve scrounging to pay off massive legal fees, and by that point Howard’s value had been gutted by its notorious movie version, which, in Hollywoodizing the Duck, missed his appeal completely. Which isn’t surprising, since Marvel, despite several attempts to revive the property, missed it as well. Howard easily survived artist changes, but if there was ever a character who functioned almost purely as an expression of his creator, it was Howard the Duck.
One for the road: Mark Evanier talks about a Burbank gathering to remember Gerber:
Not much I can say about it other than a great time was had in spite of the reason for the gathering, and I think it brought a little sense of closure to some of us. One hopes some of the anecdotes that were told will find their way to the Comments sections of this blog, hint hint.
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