Today's the birthday of the late, great Steve Gerber, one of the best—and, for me, most influential—writers to ever work in comics. I could go on and on about the unique power of Gerber's work, but, instead, I'll point you to this post I wrote a few years back.
His voice is missed now more than ever.
Don't forget, the is partially responsible for the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.ReplyDelete
The team started as a one ff that didn't take very well. Gerber resurrected the title int eh pages of Defenders and penned some stories starring them as well.
I know the characters are different then the future ones he wrote about, but without him, who would remember the Guardians of the Galaxy?
Marvel's surprise hit is all traced back to Gerber. Now, lets get a Man-Thing backdoor anthology show on the schedule quick.
I remember Gerber's Guardian stories fondly. So credit where it's due. But I believe it was a writer named Keith Giffen (I've never read his work, but I hear he's very talented) who threw together the odd grouping that eventually made its way into the movies. So credit to him, too!Delete
That Guardians team was assembled in Annihilation: Conquest, which was written by Dan Abbnett and Andy Lanning. Both of which went on to write the GoG comic that followed.
However, that team included Adam Warlock, Moon Dragon, and Quasar (Phyla-Vell).
However, in Annihilation, written by Giffen, did include Drax and Gamora, and plucked Star-Lord from obscurity. Though the real focus in that story was Nova, Super-Skrull, Ronan, and Silver Surfer.
So... it is a little complicated to say where it began. Drax and Gamora had been hanging around each other since Infinity Watch. The actual team was not formed until later. IT IS TRUE that the bare bones of the team was assembled in the Annihilation Conquest Star-Lord mini series, which was written by Giffen.
However, that team may have had Rocket and Groot, but no Gamora or Drax (or Adam Warlock or Phyla for that matter). It also had Mantis, Deathcry, Captain Universe and Bug.
Not to mention, since it was part of the bigger Abnett and Lanning event, it is hard to know what characters were part of their idea for However, you might know something I do not.the end story, and what were put in by Giffen.
However, my point was that if not for Gerber the very name Guardians of the Galaxy probably would have been lost to time.
I suspect that SOMEONE would have revived the Guardian, even if Gerber hadn't. I mean, it's comics. EVERYTHING gets revived! Which in no way takes away from Gerber's achievement.Delete
I actually pitched a Guardians revival in the 80s, but the Powers That Be said no. (Although I'm definitely in the Gerber Guardians camp, so, if it would have been approved, it would have been because of Steve's stories.)
I'm not sure everything gets revived. How about Monarch Starstalker and Straw-Man, two Marvel characters you probably didn't even remember existed. I for some reason did.Delete
Remember, that is what GoG was originally, just a one off story that never really went anywhere. At first.
Just out of curiosity, when did you pitch the story? I am just curious how close it was to the actual relaunch they did.
Bas to Gerber..
There is one thing no one can ever take away from him, his creation (H. the Duck) was referenced in a PKD novel.
Not even Jack Kirby scored that honor. His precious Challengers of the Unknown were only mentioned in a New Pornographers song. Yes, it is a good song, by a good band, but still
I don't remember when I pitched it. Mid-80s is my best guess.Delete
I vaguely remember the PDK HOWARD THE DUCK reference and I think PKD got something wrong about it. Maybe the timing was wrong? I read it years ago so I don't recall...
The funny thing about Gerber and the Guardians, is that is probably the Defenders story of his I most remember, along with the ones with the Sons of the Serpent.Delete
Those are both pretty heavy stories at times, which is why, despite reading all of Gerber's run, I don;t associate it with goofiness like so many do. Perhaps even one who took the idea and used it as a model for a Justice League incarnation. Don't know who would have done that though.
Also, I thin with Richard Rory, and his relationship with Citrusville, and the Laughing Dead story, Gerber was knowing on the true origins of fear... contextualized in 70s neurosis. How all fears and horror writing have the same origin.
Also, since you probably didn't get a vacation or get to do much sight-seeing this year here are some images of Detroit to make up for that:
https://thefisherbuilding.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/news_BLOG016_150729856_AR_-1_CYVLKKTQUDMC-1.jpg (That is REAL gold on top)
There you go. A super cheap vacation.
A vacation? For me? How generous!Delete
Interesting Gerber sidenote: I posted the above tribute on Facebook and received a comment from Gerber's sometime-collaborator Mary Skrenes. Nice to know she's still out there, holding the Gerber flame high.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the vacation... for what it was.Delete
Since so many seem to be talking about it so much, if you have any questions about Michigan feel free to ask. You would be surprised how many commentators are talking out of their ass.
Also, most remembered Gerber stories:
-A book Burns in Citrusville
-His Defenders GoG story
-Defenders Sons of Serpent Story.
-Omega The uKnown
-Kids Night Out
-Howard the- Duck #19
-The Pahntom Zone
"Night of the Laughing Dead," "A Book Burns in Citrusville" and "The Kid's Night Out" were absolutely my favorite MT stories. HOWARD #12 sticks with me as a favorite. "Nighthawk's Brain" in DEFENDERS. Those are the ones that stand out in my memory, but it's been years since I read any of them. (I know, I know, I need to correct that!)Delete
I forgot to mention the Man-Thing story "A Candle for St. Cloud." A true classic. HOW COULD I FORGET THAT?!Delete
Also the one with the chick pirate.
At least you realize the folly of not reading them recently, and the need to correct.
Is Howard the Duck #12 in your mind because it was the first appearance of KISS in a comic? What a strange reason to remember.
"A Candle for St. Cloud." Yes! That was another classic.Delete
Kiss? No. I just remember that story being a surreal, deep dive into Howard's consciousness and unlike any comic I'd read.
I've really got to reread this stuff!
Like all great Gerber stories, there are layers of fear and existential dread in St. Cloud.Delete
The first and most obvious, the man who is trying to use the candle against her. Then the sight of the monster. Followed by the realization of not knowing fully who you can trust. Then, that she never would realize in a way Ted Sallis, the man who she so fondly remembered in a way did save her. Eventually it dawn that maybe she could have saved him from ever becoming the Monster. Then you remember Ted was married in his origin, what if he drove Ellen to AIM, would he have done the same to St. Cloud? Finally, Was Ted just a poisonous person, are some people unable to steer away from disaster?
The important thing is that you realized you need to re-read the stories. That is the first step. Though I am not sure when you would find the time these days.
I have long said that Silver Surfer was Vertigo before Vertigo, and that Swamp Thing int he 70s was a sort of spiritual successor. However, I believe Man-Thing laid much of the groundwork for Sandman. Both take place across dimensions, are backdoor anthologies, use fantasy to comment on the real world, and are deeply connected to the author's P.O.V.
I am glad it wasn't KISS that stood out. That would be weird.
But I did buy the Kiss comic that Gerber wrote...because, well, it was Gerber!Delete
MAN-THING laying the groundwork for SANDMAN is a fascinating point, Jack. I wonder what Neil Gaiman would say?
Does that mean that you also bough the "Nightmare on Elm Street" Marvel comic Mag because it was written by Gerber?Delete
Obviously his "Tales of the Zombie" waaaaaaaaay back in the 70s... or I would assume.
As for Gaiman... even stranger is that in the 90s he wrote Marvels "Last Temptation of Alice Cooper" mini series.
You probably are more likely to get info on the Sandman/Man-Thing relationship than I. Don't even have Twitter to ask him.
However, The Endless do bare a resemblance to the Elders of the Universe, and cosmic conceptual beings that popped in the 70s. Both even have Death as an attractive woman... albeit with very different temperaments.
Even Morpheus, down to his look, is sort of like an altruistic form of Nightmare. Not that Gaiman dissent VERY much make them all unique.
If their is one thing Gaiman's brain is, it is a sponge for stories. k If there is one thing he is good at it is taking a known ideas and making them completely unique.
Just a thought, and I am afraid that is all I can do. Contrary to popular belief, Mr. Gaiman and I are not best friends. WE just equally know of and re repeated each other.
Also, I always thought getting Stephen King to write a Man-Thing mini or maxi series would be a great idea.
Stephen King on MAN-THING? Great idea!ReplyDelete
Neil Gaiman speaks of you constantly...and with profound respect!
I read once that Stan Lee actually approached King about adapting The Shinning to a comic at one point. King then became interested in working in a new medium he was going to do a line like the E.C. Comics he read as a kid. Other obligations prevented it from coming to pass.ReplyDelete
The guy has a history taking up comics, including when Marvel put out that Dark Tower prequel (written by Peter David, I believe). I don't know why there hasn't been another attempt to actually write, it would sell like gangbusters. Maybe there is some answer that I don't know.
But Citrusville is already a pretty Stephen King location (admittedly with the handicap of not being in Maine), and there isn't that much to his lore they would have to protect.
Maybe one day.
As for Gaiman, I assume you are always telling comic creators of my glory, why are you surprised?
I don't just tell them, Jack, I take out my guitar and SING it.Delete
As it should be.Delete
I can't help but wonder, since we have talked about this connection between Gerber and Gaiman...
Sandman is often called... I am sure not to Gaiman's enjoyment... the come for people who don't like comics. I would say it is more accurate to say a gateway for those who don;t read them
Either way, Sandman was read by a lot of people who don't usually read comics. I wonder if Man-Thing could have a similar reaction to those who are enamored with fantasy, social commentary horror, or Stephen King like ideas (in a broad sense).
If you ever DO get around to rereading them, it might be interesting to try and test that theory. I'm sure none of your work friends have EVER read a comic in their lives.
I'm not even sure what a comic book IS!Delete
But, seriously, I've got the Gerber collections (for MT, HTD and DEFENDERS) queued up in my Amazon list. Not sure whether to start with HOWARD or MT.
Well, Howard the Duck did not start until after Man-Thing concluded. After all, Howard the Duck IS a spinoff.Delete
By the way, I also assume that every holiday you regale your family with tales of me, acting out parts. The women swoon, the men curse themselves for not being me... such things are bound to happen.
You're the Frank Sinatra of your generation.Delete
I would argue I am better than Sinatra, seeing as how those swooning and self-loathing have not even seen or heard me.Delete
Also, if I had his mob connections, I probably wouldn't have to freelance.
Speaking of music, Kurt Busiek did something I thought you would have. ASM #850 came out yesterday, and he wrote a back-up story (not that) where Spider-man is listening to, and defeats a monster withe the power of... the Beatles. Yeah... I had to double check the byline.
also speaking of music... I have found Miles Davis' The Birth of the Cool to be good at relaxing during the pandemic.
The Spidey-Beatles story sounds great. I assume it was better than when the Thing wore a Beatle wig!Delete
Since I have read all the solo Human Torch stories in an Essential volume, but can remember almost none of them (I can see the cover, but the pages elude me)... I would say, probably.Delete
That having been said, the back up story about the Vulture's granddaughter just realizing that maybe he was the villain also felt a bit Dematteis.
Been reading Gerber's entire MAN-THING run lately. "A Candle for St. Cloud" strikes me as one of the clearest influences on your work, given how the candle is implied to carry something of the real Ted Sallis but filtered through someone else's memories of him.ReplyDelete
I've REALLY got to go back and reread those stories!Delete
I'm in agreement with all the MT stories mentioned so far. I also really like the one where the old woman has a heart attack which unleashes her malice against her husband"s dog. A very poignant bittersweet take of love and forgiveness brought to life beautifully by Mike Ploog.ReplyDelete
Also want to point out that Gerber wrote a story where Howard the Duck teamed up with Ben Reilly, which should be collected in the same omnibus as REDEMPTION. It's an unofficial crossover with a SAVAGE DRAGON/DESTROYER DUCK one-shot that implies the Marvel universe's Howard got switched out with a clone at the end.
Howard the Duck and Ben Reilly? WHAT?! Where? When?ReplyDelete
It was in SPIDER-MAN TEAM-UP #5.I looked up the BEN REILLY OMNIBUS VOL 2 and it is listed as part of the collection. It was toward the end of the Clone Saga when Ben was still Spidey but Peter's powers were returning.Delete
And Gerber's MAN-THING run would fit the streaming format so perfectly. Season 1 would cover the connection with Jennifer Kale and the threat to the Nexus of all Realities. S2 could feature F.A. Schist and his airport project as well as the Foolkiller. And then you roll into the more loosely connected one-shots and two-parters....Delete
Spider-man Team Up #5, the very next issue Larry Hama actually wrote a comic where Spidey encountered another Gerber creation (from Man0Thing, actually)... The Aquarian.Delete
Also some guy named G.N. Demarcus... or something like that... wrote a story where Peter Parker teamed up with Dr. Strange to fight Dracula.
I think that last guy also wrote some Spider-man story called "Fearful Siamese" and killed Larry Osgood... something to that effect. Also Bronx Naps and some comic Salvatore 38, based on a Captain...Atom script he wrote in the 80s? Yeah, this is... this is sounding right.
I just got a copy of that Omnibus last week. I'll check it out! Thanks, David!Delete
It would make for a fascinating television series.Delete
BRONX NAPS?! I love it!Delete
You want a crazy nap sorry?Delete
I took a nap today, woke up 20 minutes late and found out there was a plot to kidnap my governor.
Can 2020 get any weirder? (Don't answer that!)Delete
Well, in fairness, they seem to have been from Grand Rapids and surrounding King County... or theres abouts. Once we found out it was the west side of the state (and not Kalamazoo or Battle Creek), it all made a lot more sense.Delete
Though, I will admit, I did for a second wonder if I was dreaming when I heard the news.
The real disturbing thing to ponder is... everyone keeps saying they can't wait for this year to end. No one saw this year coming, are we so sure the next one will be better?
Now, an entertaining thought for the day:
Subways, the El, metro... whatever you call them... have made countless people's lives easier.
Think how insane it must have sounded when the idea was pitched.
"I want to put trains, those things that are the only real way to get across the country at a decent speed, and one of the greatest, most costly, and dangerous engineering feats our country has ever done outside of a war... under the streets. We will keep all the buildings above them too, and indeed build more at the same time.Don't worry, there will not be enough seats for everyone to sit."
Having grown up in New York, the subways were a hugely important part of my life. We didn't even own a car till I was twelve or thirteen, so it was either walk places or take the train. And, as a teenager, the subway was freedom.Delete
Yep they have made a lot of people's lives easier. Even in cities with larger car ownership like Chicago, underground train systems have made a huge difference... even to those who own cars.Delete
That does not take away from how insane putting one under a city in 1860(When the London Underground began construction), keep in mind most homes in that city wouldn't even have indoor plumbing for 30+ years. Hell, Chicago wouldn't even complete developing the modern sewer system for another 12.
By the way, it was Kent county, not king, There isn't even a King county in Michigan. Just a slip of the fingers (or auto-correct). My apologies.Delete
And now, this...
There might be something to be said for skipping ahead a bit to read about Howard's presidential run...Delete
Isn't an anthropomorphic Duck form another world, brought to ours to aid a swamp monster, beating Jimmy Carter for the presidency of the United States because of the interference of a Canadian man who was turned into a beaver seem a bit odd to read?Delete
What are the odds something that mundane will happen in 2020?
You might as well read a comic where Batman just eats breakfast alone for 22 pages.