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THE UNTOLD STORY

Go ahead, ask a question.   Images are an online-only supplement to the book MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY (plus occasional unrelated arcana )
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"A WILD-RIDE ACCOUNT" —The Hollywood Reporter
"EPIC" —The New York Times
"INDISPENSABLE" —Los Angeles Times
"DEFINITIVE" —The Wall Street Journal
"SCINTILLATING" —Publishers Weekly
"AUTHORITATIVE" —Kirkus Reviews
"GRIPPING" —Rolling Stone
"PRICELESS" —Booklist
"ESSENTIAL" —The Daily Beast
"REVELATORY" —The Miami Herald
"AS FULL OF COLORFUL CHARACTERS, TRAGIC REVERSALS AND UNLIKELY PLOT TWISTS AS ANY BOOK IN THE MARVEL CANON" —Newsday

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    Stan Winston models for the Howard the Duck movie.

    Stan Winston models for the Howard the Duck movie.

    — 1 week ago with 227 notes
    #stan winston  #howard the duck  #steve gerber 
    Full-page ad in The Comic Reader, 1978.

    Full-page ad in The Comic Reader, 1978.

    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 3 weeks ago with 541 notes
    #steve gerber  #howard the duck 
    Steve Gerber, a quick-witted, chain-smoking Camus obsessive, had worked as a salesman for his uncle’s used-car lot in St. Louis—but his compulsive honesty, he claimed, got him fired. He and his young family lived on food stamps until he got a job as DJ, and then at an ad agency, where he toiled under fluorescent lights writing copy for savings-and- loan commercials. “You must help me. I am dying,” he wrote to Marvel editor Roy Thomas. Six months later he was in New York, and on the Marvel staff for $125 a month. He supplemented this salary by writing Adventure into Fear, which starred a swamp monster called “Man-Thing.”(Text from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story)(Image: Steve Gerber addresses the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, late 1970s; from the collection of Bill Warren.)

    Steve Gerber, a quick-witted, chain-smoking Camus obsessive, had worked as a salesman for his uncle’s used-car lot in St. Louis—but his compulsive honesty, he claimed, got him fired. He and his young family lived on food stamps until he got a job as DJ, and then at an ad agency, where he toiled under fluorescent lights writing copy for savings-and- loan commercials. “You must help me. I am dying,” he wrote to Marvel editor Roy Thomas. Six months later he was in New York, and on the Marvel staff for $125 a month. He supplemented this salary by writing Adventure into Fear, which starred a swamp monster called “Man-Thing.”

    (Text from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story)
    (Image: Steve Gerber addresses the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, late 1970s; from the collection of Bill Warren.)

    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 3 weeks ago with 131 notes
    #steve gerber  #howard the duck 
    Howard the Duck by Val Mayerik, 1976. From Marvel Treasury Edition #12.

    Howard the Duck by Val Mayerik, 1976. From Marvel Treasury Edition #12.

    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 3 weeks ago with 111 notes
    #howard the duck  #val mayerik  #steve gerber 
    Howard the Duck by Berni Wrightson, 1976.

    Howard the Duck by Berni Wrightson, 1976.

    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 3 weeks ago with 246 notes
    #howard the duck  #berni wrightson 

    Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) are both confirmed Howard the Duck fans.


    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 3 weeks ago with 888 notes
    #howard the duck 

    Howard the Duck artist Frank Brunner was tired of having to follow fully scripted stories by Steve Gerber—and tired of Marvel’s refusal to raise his page rate. He left the book, and through a small mail-order company began selling poster prints of a mobster duck, titled “Scarface Duck.” It looked a lot like Howard … but then, hadn’t Howard already looked a lot like Donald Duck anyway? “I was filling a void left by slow-moving Marvel,” Brunner reasoned, “which did not immediately see the potential of the fan market—or of the duck.”

    The print sold quickly. Gerber wasn’t pleased. He told Brunner he wanted some of the profits from his co-creation.

    “Which part of the print,” Brunner asked Gerber, “did you write or draw? What part of the deal did you arrange?”


    (Text from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.)

    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 3 weeks ago with 131 notes
    #howard the duck 
    Jim Belushi as the voice of Howard the Duck, 1980. Photo by Alan Penchansky.

    Jim Belushi as the voice of Howard the Duck, 1980. Photo by Alan Penchansky.

    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 3 weeks ago with 174 notes
    #howard the duck 

    In 1977, The New Yorker's “Talk of the Town” covered the mad rush to collect Howard the Duck #1.

    Here’s that article, along with a photo of Gerber I found here.

    — 3 months ago with 45 notes
    #steve gerber  #new yorker  #howard the duck 

    Mark Nems recently posted this article—from the Bucks County Courier Times, November 18, 1977—to the Howard the Duck Yahoo Group. 

    Interesting that there’s a panel on “copyrights and lawsuits in the comic business,” a sign of things to come for Steve Gerber and Howard the Duck.

     

    — 6 months ago with 15 notes
    #steve gerber  #howard the duck  #conventions 
    Steve Gerber at the San Diego Comic-Con, 1978, holding a copy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Silver Surfer graphic novel. (Photograph by Jackie Estrada)





In February 1978, Steve Gerber, the last to sign a writer-editor contract, and falling behind on deadlines once again, was relieved of his duties as the writer of the Howard the Duck newspaper strip. Gerber’s lawyer informed Marvel that this was a violation of his contract, and that he was considering legal action regarding the ownership of the Howard the Duck character; shortly thereafter Marvel terminated Gerber’s contract altogether. Asked by the Comics Journal if chronic lateness was the reason for the company’s decision, Shooter replied, “I would just say that we found it advantageous to get out of the contract we were in.” Gerber maintained that he and Gene Colan were not getting advance payments on time. 
Stewardship of Howard was split up: Marv Wolfman took over the newspaper strip, and Bill Mantlo took over the comic book. When the strip was canceled later in the year, Gerber complained publicly about the “downright horrible” quality of Wolfman’s work. “Once I was gone,” he told the Village Voice, “Howard was lobotomized, devoid of substance, and turned into a simple-minded parody. So, they’re putting him out of his misery.” 



An ending to Gerber and Skrenes’s Omega the Unknown saga, repeatedly promised in letters columns and repeatedly rescheduled, was finally written without its creators’ input. “It just got to the point where we couldn’t work with Shooter anymore,” Skrenes said. “He was screwing with us and punishing us and trying to have somebody else write it, like they always did with Howard.” Omega was killed off in an issue of The Defenders. Gerber and Skrenes swore to each other that they’d take their original plans for the character’s ending to their graves. 




Jack Kirby’s contract was up for renewal in April 1978. At a convention in West Virginia, Stan Lee announced that Kirby had signed a long-term contract as an artist only; he said Kirby’s scripting was “imaginative but undisciplined,” but Lee was confident that the artwork would return to form once Kirby was paired with other writers. (Lee also characterized Kirby’s work on their just-completed Silver Surfer graphic novel, two years in the making, as “better than recent stuff, but not his best.”) 
But there was no new contract. Kirby’s tour of duty was, in fact, coming to an end. His latest return had been a major disappointment, to him and to Marvel. None of his books had sold as well as hoped, the reaction from readers was less than enthusiastic, and even his supposed autonomy had been undermined. “The editorial staff up at Marvel had no respect for what he was doing,” said Jim Starlin. “All these editors had things on their walls making fun of Jack’s books. They’d cut out things saying ‘Stupidest Comic of the Year’… . [T]his entire editorial office was just littered with stuff disparaging the guy who founded the company these guys were working for. He created all the characters these guys were editing.” 
Tensions were now worse than they’d ever been in the sixties. Kirby reportedly received hate mail on Marvel letterhead, and crank phone calls from the office. When Roy Thomas persuaded him to draw an issue of the imaginary-tale series What If? (it was a self-reflective story called “What if … The Fantastic Four were the Marvel Bullpen?” starring Lee, Kirby, Thomas, and Flo Steinberg), Kirby refused to allow Thomas to script it, and replaced the Thomas character with a Sol Brodsky one. Once the pages arrived at Marvel, an editor went through and changed all of Kirby’s references to “Stanley” to “Stan” and corrected all the grammar in the dialogue—except for that of the Jack Kirby character. 



“I didn’t really get a shot,” Kirby later said of his 1970s work at Marvel, pointing to professional jealousy. “A guy will create a book, another will fill his book up with knock letters—he’s off in five months, or three months, and the other guy’s got his shot… . I see it as a serpent’s nest. And in a serpent’s nest, nothing can survive. Eventually all the snakes kill each other. Eventually they’ll also kill whatever generated them.” 
In the end, Kirby’s exit plan from the frustrations and limitations of the comic-book industry was the same that Stan Lee’s had been: Hollywood. Kirby was invited by Hanna-Barbera to produce storyboards for NBC’s new Fantastic Four cartoon—for which both Lee and Thomas were writing. Kirby still wasn’t calling the shots—because the Human Torch had already been optioned by Universal, Kirby had to create a cute robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. to be the Fantastic Four’s fourth member—but the pay was better, and the treatment was more respectful. 
Jack Kirby would never work for Marvel Comics again. The above text is excerpted from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.[Note: Jackie Estrada is raising funds to publish a book featuring hundreds of the photographs of comics giants she’s taken over the years. Check it out!]

    Steve Gerber at the San Diego Comic-Con, 1978, holding a copy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Silver Surfer graphic novel. (Photograph by Jackie Estrada)

    In February 1978, Steve Gerber, the last to sign a writer-editor contract, and falling behind on deadlines once again, was relieved of his duties as the writer of the Howard the Duck newspaper strip. Gerber’s lawyer informed Marvel that this was a violation of his contract, and that he was considering legal action regarding the ownership of the Howard the Duck character; shortly thereafter Marvel terminated Gerber’s contract altogether. Asked by the Comics Journal if chronic lateness was the reason for the company’s decision, Shooter replied, “I would just say that we found it advantageous to get out of the contract we were in.” Gerber maintained that he and Gene Colan were not getting advance payments on time.

    Stewardship of Howard was split up: Marv Wolfman took over the newspaper strip, and Bill Mantlo took over the comic book. When the strip was canceled later in the year, Gerber complained publicly about the “downright horrible” quality of Wolfman’s work. “Once I was gone,” he told the Village Voice, “Howard was lobotomized, devoid of substance, and turned into a simple-minded parody. So, they’re putting him out of his misery.”

    An ending to Gerber and Skrenes’s Omega the Unknown saga, repeatedly promised in letters columns and repeatedly rescheduled, was finally written without its creators’ input. “It just got to the point where we couldn’t work with Shooter anymore,” Skrenes said. “He was screwing with us and punishing us and trying to have somebody else write it, like they always did with Howard.” Omega was killed off in an issue of The Defenders. Gerber and Skrenes swore to each other that they’d take their original plans for the character’s ending to their graves.

    Jack Kirby’s contract was up for renewal in April 1978. At a convention in West Virginia, Stan Lee announced that Kirby had signed a long-term contract as an artist only; he said Kirby’s scripting was “imaginative but undisciplined,” but Lee was confident that the artwork would return to form once Kirby was paired with other writers. (Lee also characterized Kirby’s work on their just-completed Silver Surfer graphic novel, two years in the making, as “better than recent stuff, but not his best.”)

    But there was no new contract. Kirby’s tour of duty was, in fact, coming to an end. His latest return had been a major disappointment, to him and to Marvel. None of his books had sold as well as hoped, the reaction from readers was less than enthusiastic, and even his supposed autonomy had been undermined. “The editorial staff up at Marvel had no respect for what he was doing,” said Jim Starlin. “All these editors had things on their walls making fun of Jack’s books. They’d cut out things saying ‘Stupidest Comic of the Year’… . [T]his entire editorial office was just littered with stuff disparaging the guy who founded the company these guys were working for. He created all the characters these guys were editing.”

    Tensions were now worse than they’d ever been in the sixties. Kirby reportedly received hate mail on Marvel letterhead, and crank phone calls from the office. When Roy Thomas persuaded him to draw an issue of the imaginary-tale series What If? (it was a self-reflective story called “What if … The Fantastic Four were the Marvel Bullpen?” starring Lee, Kirby, Thomas, and Flo Steinberg), Kirby refused to allow Thomas to script it, and replaced the Thomas character with a Sol Brodsky one. Once the pages arrived at Marvel, an editor went through and changed all of Kirby’s references to “Stanley” to “Stan” and corrected all the grammar in the dialogue—except for that of the Jack Kirby character.

    “I didn’t really get a shot,” Kirby later said of his 1970s work at Marvel, pointing to professional jealousy. “A guy will create a book, another will fill his book up with knock letters—he’s off in five months, or three months, and the other guy’s got his shot… . I see it as a serpent’s nest. And in a serpent’s nest, nothing can survive. Eventually all the snakes kill each other. Eventually they’ll also kill whatever generated them.”

    In the end, Kirby’s exit plan from the frustrations and limitations of the comic-book industry was the same that Stan Lee’s had been: Hollywood. Kirby was invited by Hanna-Barbera to produce storyboards for NBC’s new Fantastic Four cartoon—for which both Lee and Thomas were writing. Kirby still wasn’t calling the shots—because the Human Torch had already been optioned by Universal, Kirby had to create a cute robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. to be the Fantastic Four’s fourth member—but the pay was better, and the treatment was more respectful.

    Jack Kirby would never work for Marvel Comics again.

    The above text is excerpted from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.

    [Note: Jackie Estrada is raising funds to publish a book featuring hundreds of the photographs of comics giants she’s taken over the years. Check it out!]

    — 6 months ago with 107 notes
    #steve gerber  #howard the duck  #jack kirby  #silver surfer  #omega  #photos  #jim shooter  #mary skrenes  #roy thomas  #H.E.R.B.I.E.  #jackie estrada 

    Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) are both confirmed Howard the Duck fans.

    (Hamill image via http://collectemall.tumblr.com/post/58012074326/mark-hamill-rockin-a-howard-the-duck-t-shirt)

    — 7 months ago with 888 notes
    #howard the duck  #steve gerber  #luke skywalker  #mark hamill  #andrew garfield  #spider-man 
    Howard the Duck by Frank Brunner, 1976.

    Howard the Duck by Frank Brunner, 1976.

    — 1 year ago with 94 notes
    #howard the duck  #frank brunner 
    Howard the Duck movie update, featuring a photo of the unused Stan Winston model.

    Howard the Duck movie update, featuring a photo of the unused Stan Winston model.

    — 1 year ago with 57 notes
    #howard the duck  #stan winston