Thursday, February 14, 2008

STEVE GERBER R.I.P. I've only just learned of the death of comic book writer Steve Gerber on February 10th. He is probably most known as the creator/writer of Marvel Comics Howard the Duck and (despite the movie version) the comic book Gerber created in the 70's was groundbreaking and a fantastic run. Gerber was probably known for his extremely bizarre characters and situations which, as some of you might know, is right up my street! Gerber's original Howard the Duck run was terrific (and yes, believe it or don't, much more "adult" in its surrealism than most other comic books of the time);but my favourite work by the writer has got to be his extremely odd run on Marvel's THE DEFENDERS also in the 70's. This run I wrote about a couple years ago on this blog and you can click here to see the archived post I wrote at the time. Steve Gerber was one of those 70's bunch of new writers including Steve Englehart (whose JLA run I remember very fondly) and Doug Moench (one of my favourite writers) who took peripheral, oddball and seldom-used comics characters and breathed new life into them while still injecting a rather oddball sensability (similar to what Alan Moore did with Swamp Thing in the 80's). Steve Gerber's Defenders remains one of my all-time favourite runs on a comic book. The book started out with slightly oddball but heavy-hitter characters like Dr. Strange, The Hulk, The Sub-Mariner and the Silver Surfer but soon included in its core cast such extremely minor but now interesting characters as Nighthawk, the Valkyrie and Power Man. Gerber introduced such wildly bizarre villains as Nebulon (the sparkly one) and the Headmen (who all had -- well, um -- interesting heads . . . such as the guy there who grafted his noggin on a gorilla's body or the woman who had a sorta red crystal ball from which emerged tentacles). Typical Gerber plots for his run on The Defenders included the transformation of the entire population of earth into Bozos (literally with Bozo the Clown masks pulled down over the top half of their faces) or superhero Nighthawk carrying around his own brain in a bowl -- slosh slosh. Seriously. This is the kind of thing that happened in Steve Gerber's comic books: stuff you NEVER saw before in your life in any other comic book -- or any other medium in fact. Steve Gerber wrote INTERESTING stories -- and that's something which is EXTREMELY rare. And what's more, no mattter how surreal or amazing, Gerber would make everything work within the story's internal logic. In the years since, comic book stories have become INCREDIBLY bland by comparison. Steve Gerber was a one-of-a-kind writer and it's a real shame he's left us. For yet another nice little post discussing Steve Gerber's work on The Defenders and other comix click here.

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