Howard the Duck Creator – Steve Gerber

Ok- So I am in my forties and I still read comic books. Look how many of them are being turned into movies. Even one is listed on Time Magazine’s list of “the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. ( Alan Moore’s Watchmen)

Being a comic fan I was shock to see that one of my favorite writers, Steve Gerber has taken his Final Taxi at the early age of 60.

I was introduced to Geber’s writing in a book called Man-Thing. It was about a large, slow-moving, vaguely humanoid creature living in the Florida Everglades near the Seminole reservation. (Not to be confused with Swamp Thing or your mother-in-law) By helping people around him he runs into a duck from another planet called Howard. Howard the Duck by Steve Gerber

Howard graduated to his own backup feature in Giant-Size Man-Thing, confronting such bizarre horror-parody characters as the Hellcow and the Man-Frog, before acquiring his own comic book title with Howard the Duck #1 in 1976. Howard’s adventures were generally social satires and often parodies of other fiction.  Gerber wrote the first 27 issues of the series. It gradually developed a substantial cult following, possibly amplified by Howard’s entry into the 1976 U.S. presidential campaign under the auspices of the All-Night Party (an event later immortalized in a brief reference in Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers). Marvel attempted a spin-off with a short-lived Howard the Duck newspaper strip from 1977 to 1978 written by Gerber. ( Gerber had nothing to do with the George Lucas’ movie Howard the Duck.)

He was born Stephen Ross Gerber in St. Louis, Missouri on September 20, 1947. During the 1960s, he was a fanzine publisher in the days of dittos and mimeographs, publishing Headline at age 14.

Gerber became friends with comic book writer Roy Thomas. Years later, Gerber was hired by Thomas, then the editor at Marvel Comics, and made a writer and assistant editor. (Gerber had been writing advertising copy until then.)

Gerber’s many titles at Marvel included Morbius the Living Vampire, Guardians of the Galaxy, Son of Satan, Dracula Lives, Daughter of Dracula, and one of my favorite super-teams- The Defenders. The Defenders are Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Silver Surfer and a few other heroes.

His other comics creations include Nevada (Vertigo Press); Void Indigo (Epic Comics); Sludge (Malibu Comics); Destroyer Duck (Eclipse Comics and Image Comics); Stewart the Rat (Eclipse Comics); A. Bizarro (DC Comics); and Foolkiller, Suburban Jersey Ninja She-Devils and Omega the Unknown (co-created with Mary Skrenes), all published by Marvel Comics. Gerber also wrote, edited and supervised the production of Marvel’s celebrated KISS comic book, based on the goth-glam rock band.

Besides comics he also wrote scripts for animated series. In 1998, Toons magazine asked its readers to vote for the Top 25 animated series of all time. Gerber served as chief story editor on two of those series — G.I. Joe (Sunbow Productions) and Dungeons & Dragons (Marvel Productions) — and won an Emmy for his work as staff writer on a third, The Batman/Superman Adventures (WB Animation).

Gerber was a writer for the short-lived 1981 Ruby-Spears Productions series Goldie Gold and Action Jack, as well as Ruby-Spears’ Mr. T (1983) and 4Kids Entertainment’s Yu-Gi-Oh! He also co-created and story edited the animated cult favorite Thundarr the Barbarian for Ruby-Spears. His first work in animation was for a script for Ruby-Spears’ Plastic Man series.

He was also a story editor for Marvel Productions’ Transformers (1984).

During a career spanning over 30 years, Gerber put words in the mouths of virtually every major character in the comic book world — from Superman to Scooby-Doo — and his work appeared under the imprint of almost every major publisher in the field.

I will miss his writing. While in the hospital struggling with pulmonary fibrosis, Steve Geber was working on one of my favorite comic book character, Dr. Fate. I can’t wait to read those last stories of his.

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Aquaman Creator – Paul Norris

 

Name just a few super-heroes that you know and one character may pop up in that list.

Aquaman.

He has never got the popularity of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman or Spider-man, but he is a hero that many of us grew up to. Either in comic books or on Saturday morning cartoons, Aquaman was a part of that trivia of our youth.

Aquaman is a superhero in DC Comics that was created by Paul Norris ( and Mort Weisinger,) for More Fun Comics # 73 (Nov. 1941). Initially a backup feature for the main attraction of Superboy, Aquaman was later featured in his own title multiple times. Nearly two decades later, during the superhero-revival period known as the Silver Age of Comic Books, he was a founding member of the Justice League of America. Aquaman is king of Atlantis and has the power to communicate with sea creatures.
Aquaman has also appeared in animated and live-action television programs. Most will remember him from the Super Friends or the long running Aquaman cartoon show in the 60’s.

The man who help create Aquaman, Paul Norris, has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 93.

Born on April 26, 1914 in Greenville, Ohio, Norris studied at Midland Lutheran College and at the Dayton Art Institute before being hired for the Dayton Daily News as an illustrator and cartoonist. In 1939, he headed to New York to seek a better job. By 1940, he was drawing comics for Prize Publications, where he created such “star strips” as Yank and Doodle, Power Nelson and Futureman.

Norris was at DC Comics in 1941. There, he and editor-writer Weisinger created Aquaman.

His first credit with DC is a revamp of the Sandman. Sandman has always been my favorite super hero. The simple green three-piece suit with purple cape and a gas mask was something I could see someone wearing instead of the tights and cape. Norris thought otherwise and followed what was popular for the time giving Sandman yellow and purple tights and a boy sidekick. It worked for the time period but I was glad he turned back to the gas masked hero many years later.

During WW II Norris illustrated propaganda leaflets to be dropped from aircraft over Okinawa, urging Japanese soldiers to surrender. After the war he worked with the King Features Syndicate as a “troubleshooter” with such adventure strips as Flash Gordon and Secret Agent X-9.

I the 1950s, Norris drew issues of Dell Comics’ Tom Corbett, Space Cadet and Jungle Jim, the latter of which he had previously drawn as a newspaper comic strip. The following decade, he drew stories of jungle adventurer Tarzan and science-fiction hero Magnus, Robot Fighter in comic books for Gold Key Comics. He also drew one of my favorite DC speedsters Johnny Quick.

Later he drew comics for Marvel of Hanna-Barbera characters including Yogi Bear, Scooby Doo, and Dyno-mutt.

Noted as one of the last of the great creators of Golden Age DC superheroes, Aquaman stories still get a “Created by Paul Norris” credit on them.