Tuesday Evening

I am still Mark Evanier and I am still both staggered and pleased by how many writings I’m spotting on the Internet, on blogs and message boards, about what Steve’s work meant to people.  That would have meant a lot to him and it certainly means a lot to his friends.

I can’t begin to link to them all but I have to link to the one by Heidi MacDonald.  Make sure you read that one, as well as this one by Jim McLauchlin. In the meantime, Tom Spurgeon is compiling a list of links to Gerber recollections and tributes all across the Internet.

I am again closing off comments on the previous message because the string has gotten long enough. Please continue to post your thoughts as a comment to this message. And make sure you read the comments posted to the two previous messages I’ve posted here.

Lastly: There is no truth to the rumor that all this stuff about pulmonary fibrosis is just a cover story, and Steve was actually offed by an elf with a gun.

36 Responses to Tuesday Evening

  • I keep thinking about “The Kid’s Night Out” when I try to think of what it meant to be reading Steve’s stuff as a kid. But it’s more than that and it’s part of my life. What a great gift those comics were. I remember being bugged by my hebrew school teacher b/c I was reading a copy of Man-Thing instead of studying my Bar-Mitzvah material. HA! That mediocre teacher didn’t impart a fraction of the morality, humor, meaning and even, yes, Jewish values that Gerber’s comics did in those days.

    “They dig a hole. And they put you in it.” Ah, we will miss you, Steve.

    Rest in peace.

  • McDonald says:

    Since it seems to me that Steve was especially good at being truthful in his writings about certain goddamn emotions that everyone feels, but almost everyone goes out of their way to deny they feel – I’m gonna be completely truthful.

    Right now I am drunk as goddamn monkey, and I’m listening to “The Body of an American” by the Pogues (fans of “The Wire” know the scene). I’m crying like a kid (34 and crying like a boy… christ). And I’m just so goddamn happy this man lived 60 years and faced all the crap he faced, and spoke what he goddamn felt (and more often than not, managing to make you laugh, even if it had made him cry).

    Steve Gerber stomped Terra. And the only thing that makes me happy about his passing is knowing that right now he’s cracking up Voltaire.

    Thank you for everything you’ve done, Steve, and may your family and friends be blessed. I wish I’d had a chance to meet you, but I’ll always know your writing.

    OH!, and since Steve left us something funny to say when we felt sad about him – WAUGH!

    “I’m a free-born man of the USA”

  • Thanks, Mark Evanier, for doing all this.

    I never met Steve Gerber, but he was instrumental in my first date with the man I married nearly 28 years ago. John and I met at the Clarion Writer’s Workshop in 1977. That date consisted of walking into East Lansing together to buy Howard the Duck>/i> #16, “Zen and the Art of Comic Book Writing: A Communique from Colorado.” I had discovered Gerber’s works the summer before in Florida, and nearly gave myself heat stroke trying to walk from Cocoa to Cocoa Beach because I’d spent park of the bus fare on Giant Size Man Thing #5. When I married John in 1979, I told people I was marrying into a better comic book collection, mostly on the strength of John’s Gerber titles.

    I’ve written about all this in my blog, linked above, but that’s not really the point. I came home today and found John all depressed over the news, and I must say I’m rather depressed myself. I had no idea Steve Gerber was blogging, or that he was seriously ill, or that he was working on a Doctor Fate story. But now it all matters to me, very much.

    Thanks, Steve Gerber, for doing astounding work at exactly the right time for me to appreciate it. Godspeed.

  • geoff says:

    thanks for the laff mark….that line still cracks me up….even 30 years later

  • Bjorn Wallin says:

    Steve’s work was a big reason for me starting and, more importantly, continuing reading comics. He will be sorely missed.

  • Patrick Bainee says:

    Maybe somewhere Steve feels better now that in “this world that he never made”.
    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading Howard the duck all along the 70-80’s.
    RIP
    Patrick/France

  • Tom Walker says:

    Only found about Steve’s passing today. What a great shame.

    The little boy in me always regrets future decades of extra play with beloved mentors. I’ve lost too many mentors like that..

    The adult in me accepts the inevitability of change, and how this is often connected to loss, or illness.

    The mystic in me reckons he’ll soon be hard at work somewhere else doing precisely what he does the best!

    I truly hope the next phase of his existence will prove happy and fulfilling for him. He was a great and important inspiration to later generations.

    However, WAAAUUUGGHHHH!!! is the only genuinely sad sounding word I can think of at present..

  • I wrote about Steve for Wednesday’s column:

    http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/back20080213.shtml

  • Doc Nebula says:

    Just hit ME’s blog and found out about Mr. Gerber.

    My response is here:

    The Miserable Annals of the Earth: Oh, fuck.

    In addition, let me say this: I cannot conceive of any sort of loving god who allows Steve Gerber’s lungs to turn into scabs while Joe Quesada yukks it up on Colbert’s show about Bucky (who shouldn’t be alive) taking over for Captain America (who shouldn’t be dead).

  • Wayne says:

    Thank you, Mark. That is my first real laugh in days.

    Incidentally, does anybody know what kind of music Steve liked? Beside Mildred Horowitz, I mean? Somehow the image of Steve as a metalhead in repose doesn’t seem quite accurate.

  • As I noted in an email thank-you to Mark Evanier Tuesday, I revered Steve Gerber’s work, especially on his seminal ’70s runs on The Defenders, Man-Thing, and (of course) Howard the Duck; he ranked as one of my three favorite writers from my formative years as a comic book aficionado, and of his later work, I held in high regard the (sadly foreshortened) DC series Hard Time. His work customarily exhibited both an outrageous acerbity and a deep-felt empathy, a rare combination of head and heart. I can state with no irony whatsoever that he influenced both my writing in specific and my thinking in general: Gerber always–always!–fought the good fight. Indeed, I had hoped to interview him (as a “hometown boy”) for St. Louis Magazine, the monthly metro mag on which I serve as managing editor. From periodic visits to his blog, I knew Gerber had been suffering dire medical difficulties, but his passing still came as a horribly saddening event. The medium has indeed lost a giant.

  • Micah says:

    This is extremely sad news. Like so many others, I got great enjoyment out of comics like Man-Thing, Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown, stories I have re-read and enjoyed about a million times as an kid and an adult. There was something absolutely real, and at the same time, absolutely fantastic about all his writing. I sent Steve a fairly fawning email years ago but I’m not sure if he got it. I hope so.

    Thank you Mr. Gerber!

  • Justin says:

    You’ll be sorely missed, Steve. Here’s what I had to say.

    And thanks Mark for taking up this task with expedience and levity. You’re tops! Steve is lucky to have a friend like you.

  • Some of the things you pour yourself into the most are the ones you least ever wanted to have to write:

    http://www.comiccritique.com/columns/gcolSt499.html

  • Brendan Totten says:

    After spending much of the last 2 days feeling quite depressed at the news, I find myself now feeling quite uplifted largely because of the heartwarming tributes left by Steve’s friends. I never met him myself but I have been given a wonderful picture of a very warm generous and thoughtful human being who must have been a treasure to those who were fortunate to know him well.

    I am pleased he did the blog for so long as it enabled us fans who didn’t know him personally to get to know him much better. As so many of his fans have said already, we started to feel like we knew him, as if he was a friend– one reason why the sense of loss is so great. I know my growing up would have been more difficult without his works.

    Adam McGovern’s piece was great to read, especially that last line–so much to the point!

    Oh and, before I forget…

    Thanks Steve.

  • Donna Daves Kent says:

    -I met Steve when I met Gordon when we were all at Ruby-Spears in 1983. Steve was so much a part of our lives and he was even, unknowingly, along via telephone on our first date. I had tickets to Gordon Lightfoot and we went back to Gordon’s apartment so I could meet his cat, Max, afterward.

    Not long after we came in the door, the phone rang and it was Steve. I will always, always, be grateful to Steve for what happened next. While Steve engaged Gordon in a nice long chat, I got that rare opportunity, totally uninterrupted, and free as a bird to paw through Gordon’s books and records and beta tapes and cassettes to find out what he liked.

    The results of my search, plus gazing at his framed movie posters and stills, (“A Thousand Clowns” and “Annie Hall”,) told me a whole lot right off the bat. So, when the phone call came to an end, I smiled at Gordon and said I thought it would be a good idea if I went home then. Steve, in his inimitable way, had, even unknowingly been what he was exceptional at — being a good friend.

    I found out what I’d suspected: that I wanted to get to know Gordon q whole lot better. I’m still doing that, almost 23 years of marriage later.

    Steve not only was wise in the way of knowing people and caring about them (and animals,) but he had a sense of wonderment in the way he talked about what he observed of life that I just loved. I can hear his voice and I hope I always will, in that slightly bemused, wondering tone he had of speaking.

    The morning after the day I heard, I meditated and all I can say is, I heard Steve saying, in that wonderful tone of wonderment, “It’s nothing like what you’d expect.”

    Donna Daves Kent

  • My predilection for lightheartedness refuses to let this one go:

    “Lastly: There is no truth to the rumor that all this stuff about pulmonary fibrosis is just a cover story, and Steve was actually offed by an elf with a gun.”

    So, it was Pro-Rata then?

  • cat yronwode says:

    Alas. Alas.

    Steve Gerber has always had a special place in my life. I first knew him through his comic book scripts (of which “Kid’s Night Out” will always remain my favourite), was delighted when he wrote to me in response to a fan letter, and when i became a pro, i found him to be a charming procrastinator with a million amusing excuses for being late on deadline. I loved reading and editing his scripts, which were so clean that the only significant change i ever made to them was to substitute the word “cocobolo” for “oak” in one issue of Destroyer Duck.

    (Why cocobolo? Because in one panel an attacking policeman wielding a wooden truncheon yelled something like “Eat hot oak, Duck!” but i knew from my days as a war protester that the cops used beautifully polished billy clubs, made of much finer-grained wood than oak, so i called the Los Angeles Police Department and asked what the clubs were made of and was told, “Well, actually, we use cocobolo.” When i gave Steve the news, he thought that was the weirdest thing in the world. He had never heard of cocobolo wood and kept saying “cocobolo” “cocobolo?” cocoBOlo?!” over and over again, until i couldn’t stop laughing — and “Eat hot cocobolo, Duck!” became a private running joke between the two of us for years.) See
    http://tinyurl.com/2owhtj

    I loved Steve Gerber’s sense of humour, his sharp mind, and his consistent sweetness to my daughter Althaea, who adored him. One of my favourite photos of the two of them was taken by Alan Light at the 1982 San Diego Comic-Con banquet. You can see it here:
    http://tinyurl.com/2pgdzh

    Bye-bye, Steve.

    And thank you, Mark, for being the wonderfully connective and social person that you are.

  • Wayne says:

    Thanks for clearing that up about the cocobolo. Seriously. I read that issue of Destroyer Duck for the first time a couple months back and wondered why in the world Steve would put that word in a policeman’s mouth. I put it down as an obscure reference of one kind or another, but now the truth is out.

  • Frank 3.0 says:

    Dang. . .

    Steve’s run on Man-Thing was a huge reason I got into comic-book buying in the first place. It was so totally unlike anything I’d read before, after having found my Dad’s box of 50’s DC titles. I got hooked on Steve’s style immediately and sought out other things he’d written. I was never as big a fan of Howard as most people here obviously are, but maybe it’s time for me to give it another go.

    I hadn’t come to this site in years, had never met the man, and wasn’t aware he’d been so ill. It was incredibly odd to read his last few postings, then read Mark Evanier’s words.

    Thanks, Steve, for doing it right.

  • RAB says:

    Wayne: other people will be more knowledgeable about the breadth of Steve’s musical tastes, but I know he was always on the lookout for Beatles demos and bootlegs and obscure tracks.

    Actually, he mentioned favorite music pretty often here on this very blog; if I felt up to looking through the archives right now I’d find you more examples…

  • Bruce says:

    My thoughts tonight in Spain are with Steve and his fabulous work. I really loved those Defenders…

  • Scratchie says:

    Just have to big-up Steve as a long-time fan from the 70s. There was a point when I felt I had “matured” (sic) enough to sell most of my comic books in the late 80s, after I graduated college. But of the few I kept, the vast majority were by Steve. Defenders, Omega, Howard, Guardians of the Galaxy: these I re-read, year after year, and found them more rewarding as I got older.

    I’ve posted elsewhere, and I’ll mention here, that it would be nice (sic) if Marvel were to honor Steve’s memory by devoting a “Marvel Visionaries” volume to him. Actually, what would have really been nice would be if they had published one while he was still alive, but we’ll take what we can get.

    If they ever do so, two issues that I really hope they include are Marvel Presents #6-7, “The Topographical Man”, starring the Guardians of the Galaxy. If you haven’t read it in a while, dig it out and give it another read.

  • Wayne says:

    Scratchie, I read those exact issues of Marvel Presents last night!

    I think a Marvel Visionaries volume devoted to Steve is waaaay overdue. We should work on a list of suggested stories…

  • Surtac says:

    Steve Gerber was the main reason I came back to comics in the mid-70s as a newly-employed ex-student. I had money again and could afford to buy a couple of newish titles I hadn’t heard of before. I remember they included the Defenders and the Guardians Of The Galaxy. They grabbed me immediately and I then devoured anything written by Steve. Howard The Duck just blew me away – that character felt like it was written from what was inside my head at the time.

    He was a formative influence on an otherwise outcast young adult and helped me to find my place in the world.

    I hadn’t kept up with his more recent activities or works (having kids ended my comics collecting again some years back), but I still remember what an impact Steve’s writings had on me thirty years ago and for that will always be grateful.

    Steve thanks again for all the words and stories. You are and will be sadly missed. I’m sure that wherever you are now, you won’t be taking any cr*p from the management.

  • Scott Martin says:

    I wanted to write this message last week. I knew Steve was in poor health. I wanted him to read it. Instead, life got in the way (or, more accurately, I let life get in the way) and now… shit, now it’s too late.

    Hell with it. I’m gonna post it anyway.

    When I was around eight or nine, my father started buying copies of “The Amazing Spider-Man” and a then-brand-new comic called “Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man” for me to read. (I was a voracious reader even at that young age.)

    He bought Spider-Man for me, but kept “Howard the Duck” for himself.

    Eventually, I started reading Howard as well. My first HtD story was “Star Waaugh”, issue #23; my dad bought it for me because I was a big fan of Star Wars, which had just been released. I read it, and was hooked. I kept reading.

    Granted, I didn’t get half the references in the books. I didn’t even understand some of the words — “colloquialism,” “mezzanine,” “juxtapose” and “temporal” spring to mind (and it terrifies me that I can still remember which “Howard” issues those came from). But the ideas were fascinating, and I loved the humor. As I grew up, I went back and reread many of the older issues. My appreciation for the series knew no bounds when I was a teenager, even though many of the cultural references were pretty dated by then.

    To this day, all you have to do is put the words “Written by Steve Gerber” in a comic to guarantee that I will buy it.

    So I just wanted to say thanks, Steve, for improving my vocabulary, for making me laugh, for forcing me to reexamine everything, for proving that comics aren’t just cheap, brainless entertainment (and fostering a lifelong addiction to same). You’re one of a kind.

    (On a side note, my first impulse upon reading the news of Steve’s death was to tell my father. But he passed away four years ago, of emphysema. I still have little moments of shock when I re-realize that my father is no longer with me. On some level, I am still mourning his death.)

  • Neil Jackson says:

    At my workplace when we have a team meeting, we have a check -in where we can, if we wish, mention how we are feeling and any reasons why we feel that way. We express joys, excitement, and disappointments. Yesterday I felt I needed to share my sadness at Steve’s death. I wondered how I might explain why a writer my colleagues who would probably never have heard of was important to me.

    I think the reason was that Steve was the first writer that I felt I discovered for myself as a teenager. Stan Lee and Roy Thomas were givens and book authors had been handed down to me by relations and teachers.

    I can’t think of the reason why I bought that copy of Man-Thing, it wasn’t a particularly well known title, the character hadn’t appeared in the UK Marvel reprints I was buying at the time. Adventure into Fear hadn’t even been distributed in England. And I didn’t like Mike Ploog’s art.

    But I bought it and something obviously stuck because I bought every subsequent issue and had also enjoyed Steve’s run on Defenders and of course the Duck. I followed Steve’s subsequent career and, over the last six months the increasing sadness of his blog.

    As for yesterday’s team meeting, I was right. Nobody had heard of Steve Gerber, but I am gratified that one of my colleagues expressed an interest in reading some of his stuff.

    I think I have a spare copy of the Howard the Duck Treasury edition which may be a good start.

  • Thanks, Mr. Gerber, for all the great stories over the last three decades.

    Here’s my tribute, such as it is:

    http://fortressofortitude.wordpress.com/2008/02/11/gone-but-never-forgotten/

    My deepest sympathies to his friends, family and fans. He is already sorely missed.

  • Steve Gerber put one word after another better than any other comic book writer I’ve seen in the last 40+ years.

    He had the best ear for dialogue I’ve ever encountered between the pages of a comic book. Not clever and snappy and showy, but just the way people actually talk. He was also the best at putting a full page of straight prose into the middle of a comic book story. He did it quite often, and it always worked.

    He was also great at writing about regular people (you know, with no super powers, like you and me) and making you care about them so much that sometimes the appearance of the super-powered characters was a bit of a distraction.

    These qualities were not always prized by the comic book fans I knew in the 1970s, many of whom preferred the books with the snappier art, or the more cosmic storylines (or both). And then he became most famous for “Howard the Duck,” which was not his best work (though it did have its moments, of course).

    He was not a great plotter in the 1970s, in fact his books often didn’t seem to be plotted at all. But he acquired those skills (or decided to start using them) later on. The recent series “Hard Time” was wonderfully written, the whole story of a person’s life — beginning, middle and end. Completely satisfying.

    I was going to say that he will be missed, but actually he’s missed already.

    (Mark, thank you for maintaining this site so there’s a place for people to say what Steve meant to them.)

  • I’ve written a longer piece here on my blog for anyone interested. I just want to add my voice to the chorus here: steve, you will be missed. I’ll pull out my howards and man-things and give them a good reading over. Your work was funny, acerbic, and entertaining, many times all three. Comics are poorer for your absence.

    charles

    http://inkdestroyedmybrush.blogspot.com/2008/02/steve-gerber-in-memoriam.html

  • David Allen says:

    I own precisely one page of original art: The splash page to “The Kid’s Night Out.” I bought it a dozen years ago and after that, I figured my original-art collection was pretty much complete.

    I discovered Steve’s work in 1974, the same time I discovered comics, and although some of his nuance was over my 10-year-old head, I understood enough to know he was awesome. DD, Howard, Omega, Defenders, even the Living Mummy and Zombie, I loved it all.

    (OK, I didn’t stick with Guardians of the Galaxy. Sorry, Steve. I read it a few years ago and it was actually quite good.)

    His recent stuff was sharp, just as you’d hope. Wonder if he managed to wrap up Dr. Fate, or close enough to be publishable. It was vintage Gerber.
    And if Kevin Nowlan finishes drawing Song-Cry of the Living Dead Man II, scripted some 20 years ago, maybe we’ll get one last Steve Gerber masterpiece. In the meantime, there’s plenty of Steve Gerber masterpieces to reacquaint ourselves with.

    I never met Steve, which is just as well, as meeting people whose work I admire turns me to jelly. But in my brief stint in the Eclipse office, in 1986, I was thrilled to answer the phone one day when he called.

    Steve introduced himself and then asked my name, since my voice was unfamiliar. “David who?” he persisted. So I said my full name. “Nice to meet you, David,” he said.

    Who knew Steve Gerber — the neurotic, biting wit, creator of the Kidney Lady and Dr. Bong, chronicler of existential despair and absurdity — would have such polite manners?

  • Don McGregor says:

    AHHHHH, STEVE….STEVE GERBER COULD TEAR YOUR DEMONS, MY DEMONS, AND HIS OUT WITH HIS WORDS..

    Don McGregor

    February 13, 2008

    I came out of February Brooklyn cold night to learn Steve Gerber was dead.

    And the night was suddenly bleak, and filled with memories I hadn’t thought about much in recent time.

    Steve Gerber could tear your demons, my demons, and his out with his words.

    With his stories.

    With his unique, individual identity as a man, and as a story-teller.

    And he often did this incredible thing in a medium we both loved: Comics.

    When I first worked on staff at Marvel Comics, I proof-read many of the issues that went through the Hallowed Halls. When you proof a book, you read from the original art. You do not read for pleasure. You do not read for illumination. You do not read for emotional truth.

    You read to catch pointers going to the wrong characters. You read to hopefully spot whatever error might be there, in words, in art.

    There were few time I felt compelled to stop proof-reading a book.

    The few times I put the pages down, and told myself I have to read this book as a book, I have to go somewhere else and away from the craziness within the office, the few times that ever happened was when I was reading a Steve Gerber book.

    I had to experience it just as a reader. As an individual. I had to respond to the power of his story-telling.

    There were times I was so profoundly moved by what Steve had accomplished in a story that I had to tell him what it meant to me.

    And the great thing was that he had managed to accomplish this miracle in comics, this strong, individual voice in a medium we both cared passionately about.

    In the time-span of HOWARD, THE DUCK and MAN-THING, Steve and I were often thrown together.

    Dean Mullaney called me yesterday to talk about Steve, and that time period, and said how it seemed Steve and I were written about in comic magazines, at that time, often in a single sentence.

    I told Dean that both Steve and I were somewhat bemused by that. We were dissimilar in many ways as individuals and as writers.

    And yet, in comics discussions, our names were linked, many times.

    I told Dean I thought I’d finally figured out why.

    We had one thing in common, the thing that linked us in comics analyses.

    We told our own stories.

    You never mistook a Steve Gerber story, wherever Steve might go as a writer, as anything but a Steve Gerber story. You could love it. You could hate it. But to deny it was Steve’s, and his alone, would be a lie.

    One article comes to mind that wrote that Steve was the “Jewish Intellectual,” and I was the “Anglo Saxon Bard” of comics. I think we both just looked at each other in the Mad Genius offices, and shrugged. Who would have thunk?

    All the letters we received at times alienated us with some other writers, as if we knew what the hell other people would write about what we did.

    The following are a few anecdotes with Steve, ones that come immediately to mind, and the ones that I feel I can tell.

                       HUMOR IN ONE WORD:  POOJ
    

    I can forget why I walked in a room, and yet walking up 57th Street in Mid-Town Manhattan with Steve on a sunny afternoon, decades ago, stays with me.

    Steve told me he had this really “funny” word, and asked me if I was ready for it.

    The word was “Pooj.” And every time Steve said, “Pooj,” he cracked himself up, he’d laugh out loud, and he’d ask me if I thought “Pooj” was funny.

    I told him I didn’t know if the word “Pooj” was funny, but it made me laugh each time he said it, because he got such delight from just letting the word pass his lips.

    Steve wouldn’t let the word go. He kept insisting, for blocks, for much of that afternoon, that “Pooj” was funny, and laughed every time.

    Pooj, Steve.

                             WEEPING WITH STEVE
    

    Both Steve and I went through divorces. Both of us had daughters approximately the same age.

    Steve had gone through his separation maybe a year or a little more before mine happened. Whatever Steve felt about it, when he talked, it was considered, it was mostly calm. He may have been in turmoil inside, but he seldom showed it when I was with him.

    I was entering a comic writer and artist’s reception at a Phil Sueling comic convention. I was recently separated from my ex-wife, and I was in visitation rights courts to get to see my daughter, Lauren.

    When I entered, the ballroom was filled with comics people. I didn’t expect to see my ex-wife there. She knew how to dress for comic conventions, and I spotted her immediately. I’m not sure how I looked. Stricken, I guess. I just stopped motionless.

    Archie Goodwin came up to me, took me by the shoulders and guided me toward Steve.

    “Steve, get Don out of there. He doesn’t need to be here.”

    Steve took me down to the hotel bar. I sat at a table across from him. I couldn’t stop weeping. The tears were streaming down my face.

    I kept thinking, I can’t cry this way in front of Steve. He isn’t going to understand it.

    I couldn’t stop. The more I tried, it just caught in my throat, and swelled in my temples, as if they would burst.

    We sat there for a long damn time.

    And whatever he felt, he sat there until I could stop sobbing.

      JANEY ARUNS HAD THE GUTS OF A WILD CAT
    

    Steve and Mary Skrenes introduced me to Janey Aruns when I needed a place to live.

    Steve and Janey had known each other in Missouri, and had come to the Big Apple.

    Janey had the guts of wild-cat. She would chase people shot full with drugs out of abandoned buildings at 1 in the am. She could build a damn bathtub in a sweat shop building. She took this city on with a fierce intensity.

    Steve would not mind my writing about Janey. The last conversation we ever had was about Jane.

    I should write about her. In detail. Janey and I became fast friends, forever.

    The last call we had was Steve was phoning me about Janey’s death.

    Jane’s death shook us both.

    Steve asked me what I thought about it all.

    I told him I could not imagine a world that did not have Jane Aruns in it; I could not and would not imagine I would never see her again.

    Once again, Steve and I were connected. To someone special I would never have met if Steve hadn’t gone out his way, along with Mary Skrenes, to find me someone to stay with in this city.

               PERCY GENTLE AND STAN LEE MEDIA
    

    Few people know that in later years, Steve and I worked together, when he was story supervisor/editor/whatever the title was at Stan Lee Media.

    I had a great time working with him.

    And probably we both laughed more during that time, before he exited the company, much to my dismay, than at any other time we had been together.

          JUMPING OUT OF THE COMPACTOR ROOM
    

    One night, I’m not exactly sure when this was, Dean Mullaney called to tell me he was coming over.

    It was nearing midnight. I thought Dean was coming alone.

    When Dean rang the apartment doorbell downstairs, I rang him in. And then I rushed out of the apartment and hid inside the compactor chute room.

    I often played around with Dean. I thought I was being pretty slick. Dean wouldn’t expect this. We were always playing gags like this with each other. I was really going to get him this time.

    I heard the elevator door open. I gave Dean a few seconds to get out of the elevator to head toward the apartment.

    I leaped out the compactor room, yelling at the top of my lungs, doing my best Bruce Lee impression, and leaping up onto Dean’s back and taking him down onto the carpeted hallway.

    As we fell, I saw there was someone else with him, someone startled, someone who slammed up against the hallway wall, hands spread.

    It was Steve. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, and Dean figured he would surprise me by bringing him over.

    It was kind of like the crying episode. I would never have done such a thing with Steve.

    I gently helped Dean up, brushed him off, let Steve close his mouth, and then, unable to look him in the eye said, “Hi, Steve. How you doing?”

    And later whispered to Dean I would really get him for this.

                                      AHHH, STEVE….
    

    So, I went up onto the Internet two nights ago, and saw a title on Tony Isabella’s post, Steve Gerber, RIP.

    I didn’t know how it could be true.

    I didn’t want it to be true.

    I’ve told just a few stories about being with Steve.

    Here’s the thing for all of you out there: We lost a helluva human being, one of a kind.

    And we lost a helluva writer.

    Ahhhh, Steve….

    Don

  • Before I even understood the idea that comic books were created by individuals, I had a favorite comics writer.

    When I was much older than that, I met Steve a few times online–through Usenet, which is what we geezers used before all this fancy-schmancy “blog” stuff came along–and was delighted to find him, well, delightful.

    Thanks, Steve. I wish you had a hundred more years.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m not posting my name because I’m not important, Steve is.

    I just wanted to say that I’m glad the world wide web came along for Steve because it really seemed to put him in contact with the people to whom his work meant so much. I met him at a convention in the early ’90s, and it seemed like a very dark time for him. He was sweaty and tired from the thankless job of signing tons of free SLUDGE #1 promo comics for young kids who didn’t know who he was and were snapping them up because they were giveaways advertised as collector’s items. He actually bought me a drink at the convention bar even though I was a complete stranger who only had one thing going for him: I was enthusiastic about his work and wanted to hear what he had been up to. He told me about a bunch of comics which had been overlooked in the Image Comics hype storm of the time: SUBURBAN NINJA SHE DEVILS, FOOLKILLER, etc. I promised to find them and read them and I did and thought FOOLKILLER was incredible, especially the issue which showed the psychological process by which this normal guy snapped and became the Foolkiller, over a grammar mistake on a faded sign on a wall which to him symbolized how evil is a result of laziness that turns the world to crap. When I left him, this one and only time I met him, he seemed overworked and unappreciated. But over the years it seems like things came around and even if certain magazines he respected and wanted the approval of like the stick-up-their-posterior Comics Journal ignored him, he did finally get shown some of the love and respect that his fans and colleagues in the industries he worked for felt for him, in large part due to the connectivity between strangers that the internet allowed. I’m glad it happened, because he deserved all the love he got and a lot more.

  • Rachel Gluckstern says:

    I’ve been trying for a couple of days to express exactly how hard it is to know that Steve has passed away. But I think everyone knows how hard it’s been to accept, and most who have written so beautifully about their memories of him and his work knew him far longer and far better than I. So in short, I’d just like to say I’m grateful his work lives on, and I’m grateful he wrote and lived as hard as he could. I’m grateful he was such an inspiration to his peers and such an influence on the creators and comics that came after his first big splash on the industry. For most of my life, he was a constant influence on me, whether I knew it or not. So thank you, Steve, for everything you wrote and worked for. I know you still had more stories to share, and I’m sad we won’t get to read them. But your goals and your camaraderie clearly still live on.

    See ya.

  • cat yronwode says:

    Hello to David Allen, above. That’s a great art collection you have. Truly.

    Tonight i am really, really sad. I started reading back through Steve’s blog, in a morbid mood, and found this page

    http://stevegerber.wpengine.com/?p=325

    where he remembered my daughter Althaea’s childhood affection for him. You know, there’s so much more i could say… and i shall, a little.

    When Althaea and i were living in Columbia Missouri, Steve came out to visit. He was ostensibly making a business trip to the Eclipse offices (such as they were), combined with a family trip to Saint Louis, but he also wanted to show us his old stomping grounds at the University of Missouri. We walked by Switzler Hall, where the School of Journalism was located, and he explained that this was the origin of the name Beverly Switzler, in Howard the Duck.

    http://www.missouri.edu/images/mythsLegends/switzlerHall.jpg

    And then he got all strange and funny (you who knew him know what i mean), and as we strolled down the grass, he began talking a blue streak about Janey Aruns, whom he had known since his university days. He regaled us with a long, wise-cracking, furiously funny story about his intense love for her, and how their doomed young romance had imploded one night in the drizzling rain out at the rock quarry, when she had called him “insipid.”

    By this time we were driving around town in his rrental car. He was a terrible driver, waving one hand in the air, smoking a cigarette with the other, completely worked up, and yelling, “She called me ‘insipid’! Janey Aruns called ME ‘insipid’! Can you believe that? Me! Insipid!” Then he turned to Althaea, who was 10 years old, about the age of his own daughter Samantha, and asked, with that cracked, crazy, and complete sincerity of which he was the universal master, “Tell me, Althaea, tell me the truth … Am i insipid?”

    “No,” said Althaea, “You’re not insipid.” And she put her hand on his arm and patted it to reassure him.

    “There!” he crowed, mashing on the brakes and bringing the car to a screeching halt in mid-traffic. “So much for that! Althaea Yronwode says i am NOT insipid! Vapid, maybe, vacuous, perhaps, but never insipid! Never insipid!”

    At first i thought he was just kidding around, making a little girl laugh, but when i looked at his face, i could tell that he was serious, or three-quarters serious, or half-serious, at least. It’s hard to tell, with a comedian like Steve; the heartbreak is always so near the surface. Then he gunned the motor and we roared ahead, with him still cackling, “You see? Althaea Yronwode says i’m NOT insipid!” .

    How time does pass. Althaea is a surgeon and married, with a child of her own, Jane Aruns died in 2005, and now poor Steve is dead.

    Gone but not insipid.