Talkin’ ’bout Gerb

I’m doing routine maintenance here and I’ve closed the previous general thread about Steve and opened this new one. If you have things to say about Steve’s work on Doctor Fate for DC’s Countdown to Mystery comic, post them as comments to the previous message here, the one below this one.

If you have general remarks about Steve — his life, his other work, his glasses, his table manners, whatever — post them as comments to this message.

Also, I wanted to announce that there will be a public, “everyone’s invited” memorial for Steve at the New York Comic-Con, which is at the Jacob Javits Center in that city from April 18-20. I will be the moderator and we’ll have a dais of folks who knew and worked with the guy, plus we’ll let anyone in the audience who has something to add add it.

The exact time has not been determined yet but it’ll probably be either Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon, more likely the former. I will post that info here as soon as it’s firm.

42 Responses to Talkin’ ’bout Gerb

  • Walt says:

    Steve Gerber is one of my biggest heroes. Most notably, his workings on Foolkiller filled me with inspiration to learn about truth and philosophy when I as younger.

    Now that I am older, wiser from life over my years. I can not agree more with the morality expressed in his Foolkiller mini-series of the 90’s. Steve Gerber, you were one of humanities greatest minds.

    “Thinking demands effort. Principle presupposes thinking. Conscience presupposes principle. Restraint presupposes conscience. Ordinary civility presupposes restraint. Recognition of a ‘common good’ presupposes at least a minimal level of civility. Without belief in the ‘common good,’ the link between actions and all but their immediate personal consequences is severed. Devalue effort and it all collapses.”

    Anyone know where I can get a gun that silently frees pure white light? Haha.

  • ron bernardez says:

    I watched Howard the Duck the movie about a week ago with my 7 year old son ondemand and he loved it. Too bad people back in the 80`s panned it. My son even asked if thier was a animated series about Howard the Duck. thanks Steve for creating a memorable character in Howard the Duck

  • RAB says:

    I’m looking forward to that NYCC panel…and in another way, I’m kind of not, if you know what I mean.

  • Charles Bryan says:

    I’m glad that such a panel will be held in his honor, even though I won’t be able to make it. Mark, thanks again for looking after this site, and keeping it running.

  • Judy Ginsberg says:

    Mark, just wanted to say thank you for keeping this site open and keeping Steve’s memory alive and allowing his fans a way to connect.

  • Can’t make the New York show… Any chance we could get a group together for a beer or something at San Diego?

  • Philip Shallcrass says:

    Wow. I just checked in and discovered that Steve has moved on to the next stage in his journey. What a guy. Being an oddball outsider, it meant a great deal to me to share this life with an out-there talent like Steve, who brought weird to something like mass acceptibility with the help of a feisty little duck with a cigar. His satirical humour, honesty and goodness shone brightly through the darkest of times. Ye Gods, I’ll miss him. So, Steve, all being well, I’ll see you in the great beyond… Meanwhile, can somebody PLEASE get a HOWARD FOR PRESIDENT campaign underway before it’s too late!!!

  • Jennifer Meyer says:

    Mark: Like Judy, I want to thank you for keeping the blog. I just returned from a 30 day alcohol/drug rehab. I couldn’t take my laptop with me. The last time I spoke with Steve on the phone, I was pretty drunk. I wish I hadn’t been; in any event, while in rehab I called his apartment, just to hear his voice one last time before I deleted his number. I’m so grateful that his memory can live on — not only through this site but through his work as well.

    I miss him.

  • Jennifer Meyer says:

    Mark: do you know if anyone took Steve’s cats?

  • Scott Andrew Hutchins says:

    Please let us know ASAP if you need to pay the ComicCon admission to attend the memorial.

  • Mark Evanier says:

    I am told that Steve’s cats are safe in other homes now.

    I believe you have to be a member of the Comic-Con in order to attend the memorial. If you’re thinking of going there only for the memorial, drop me an e-mail and I’ll see what I can do. (You can get my e-mail over at my website, http://www.povonline.com.)

  • Jennifer Meyer says:

    I’m running through my old e-mails and deleting those that need to be removed (for m.any reasons!) I ran across one that I sent to Steve, dated 1/16/08, stating that pneumonia was “icky” and that I hoped he’d get home soon. How little did I know then.

    Mary: Steve and I talked about you frequently. Although I only physically met him once in St. Louis (in 1974,) I know that you knew him much longer. I want to thank you for being such a good friend, and for taking care of him when I wanted to. I was divorcing my husband in 2005. It was September of that year, and I offered to come to Vegas and help him clean his apartment, take care of the cats (I’m a licensed veterinary technician, a/k/a an “animal RN.”) He told me at that time that I needed to live my life and not spend the money. Several weeks later he phoned me on my cell and stated he was in the hospital with pneumonia, and he wanted to talk with a friend. I felt privileged that he called me.

    I’m so delighted that you’ll be in NYC for his memorial. Perhaps one day we can meet and share Steveisms.

    Bless you —

    Jennifer (a/k/a Jennifer Kale)

  • Pinkhamster says:

    Anyone who read Steve’s “Foolkiller” miniseries will get a chuckle of recognition from this instance of life reflecting art:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/03/29/ontheroadlookingfor_typos/

    The issue of “Foolkiller” where the lead schmoe, who’s been sinking under the pressure of accruing misfortunes, snaps and becomes a murderous vigilante due to a traumatic philosophical epiphany regarding the banality of evil as represented by a misspelled advertisement painted on a wall was one of my favorite comic books ever. It truly had something original to say, which is rare in any medium.

  • JeffZ says:

    Will it be possible to post a transcript of the Gerber panel on this board? Those of us who can’t attend would love to know what took (will take) place.

  • haven o'terrorism says:

    Yes, second JeffZ, there: I’d love to read along. Although I suppose it might be quite a lot of trouble to go to, in which case…

    Like, it might go on for some time, I imagine, so maybe this would be asking too much.

    Can’t get there, myself. Have as good a time as possible, everybody, and I’ll content myself with trying to imagine what Steve’s table manners might have been like.

    I’m going to go with “expressive”.

  • Cory Strode says:

    I won’t be there either, so a transcript or even a video of the panel would be nice.

    It’s been a while and I still can’t believe Steve won’t have new stories coming out, filling us with his view of the world. Thanks for maintaining this blog and letting us post our rememberances here.

  • Scott Andrew Hutchins says:

    I couldn’t get the Foolkiller link to work. I’ve decided I am going to go to the ComicCon after all, though I’m on unemployment and i’m used to convenitons costing a tenth of what the New york con costs (but then, those were lucky to have one semi-notable person).

  • Stefan Immel says:

    I can only second the notion of many here. If we fans in the wide world cannot be there it really would be nice if somebody who IS there could post a transcript here.

    It would also be nice if somebody could tell the audience that Steve was not only an american icon he also was known and loved in the whole world. His approach to writing and his thinking made him very unamerican even to some of the more biased people.

    I also hope that somebody can say thanks to Dan Didio who made a very bad business decission in giving Steve the chance to write Dr. Fate. From all I have read anywhere DC and Dan did everything in their power to help Steve write something he wanted to write for a very long time and which now is the last thing we can remeber him by.

  • Charles Bryan says:

    While I’d like to be able to attend, or read a transcript, I’m sure that the online news sites (Newsarama and others) will carry fairly descriptive accounts of the memorial.

    ‘Course, what I’d really like is for SG to show up here and say that this has all been a huge misunderstanding.

  • JeffZ says:

    Will the Elf with the Gun be on the panel?

  • Stefan Immel says:

    Here is the first report of the panel:
    http://www.wizarduniverse.com/041908nyccgerber.html

  • Charles Bryan says:

    For some other links to reports from NYCC, Mark Evanier has a post at this link –http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/20080420.html#015101

    There’s also one at Comic Mix

    http://www.comicmix.com/news/2008/04/19/nycc-steve-gerber-memorial/

  • uncle joe mccarthy says:

    thx for the links guys…hope they have a memorial at comic con, cuz ill be there….

  • Xander Grave says:

    As a long time (23 years and counting) comic collector and aspiring comic creator, Steve Gerber has been a tremendous influence to my own work as well as my own life. Living in the armpit of Missouri, the closest convention to me is an infrequent one in Kansas City, KS, which I’m usually unable to attend due to my real job. But a couple years ago, I actually did get to go. I was stoked to find out my idol was going to be there. So, I brought along my copy of “Adventure into Fear #19”. I had never met a comic professional before, but had heard many horror stories. Knowing Gerber’s pension for sarcasm, I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how nice and genuine this man really was. Between my few minutes talking to him and the fact that I got to take my oldest son with me, my first convention became one of my favorite memories.

  • JeffZ says:
  • Alex says:

    Despite only really getting into his work in the last couple of years, Steve Gerber has made an immeasurable impression on me. The depth and creativity in his work is beyond anything I’ve ever encountered, and many of his stories have effected me deeply, and changed me in ways I can’t describe. As an aspiring writer, he’s left me a body of work that will inspire me for the rest of my life; and as a reader, he’s left me wonderful memories that I’ll be revisiting again and again.

  • Charles Bryan says:

    I’ve been rereading many of the comics written by SG that I have in my collection — particularly Omega, Man-Thing, Howard, and the Defenders, but also Phantom Zone, Hard Time, and Dr. Fate. He is one of the few comic writers that has recurring themes in his work — the absurdity of everyday life is one, recognition of the dehumanizing forces in modern life is another, but most interesting to me is the exploration of the individual psyche through some sort of mental crisis.

    Dream sequences, hallucinations, nervous breakdowns, and disembodied brains in a bowl are all used to explore backstories and idiosyncracies. I can think of very few writers in mainstream comics who worked in those veins.

    And what probably helped make those sequences work most of the time was the artists that Steve worked with. People like Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney had very grounded styles, which lended a solidity and realism to the concepts.

  • Adrian Shelley says:

    Shamefully I have only just been informed of Steve’s death. I am no longer reading comics, I stopped years ago, but in the 1970s Steve was my greatest hero, a life inspiration. I am filled with a terrible sense of loss that I’ve only ever experienced before when close friends died.
    In the mid 1970s I was beginning to tire of comics, having been a great Marvel fan. I came across a 1975 issue of The Defenders and was blown away by it. Suddenly, superheroes were real again, characterisation was taken to a whole new level of subtlety, and I searched out every Defenders back issue I could find. I found Man-thing, which quickly became my best ever comic-book, then sought out and got practically every comic Steve wrote for Marvel.
    Thanks to Steve, I carried on collecting comics into the late 1990s, expanding out into undergrounds, Love and Rockets, and endless wonders.
    Now, even at the old age of 46, Steve has a special place in my heart.
    He spoke to me at a difficult time in my mid-teens when life seemed tragic-comic and I felt it all so deeply.
    Steve made me shriek hysterical laugher with comics like “Decay Meets the Mad Viking”[MT 16}, cry tears of sympathy (The Kid’s Night Out [GSMT 4], Darrell the clown [MT 5,6] and wonder that stories could be so good.
    I shamelessly ripped off his Scavenger of Atlanta story for an English Lit. fiction story (about a kid who couldn’t feel) and his work inspired my final art exam painting collage.
    However good Alan Moore’s Swamp-thing was – it was damn good – Steve’s Man-thing will always be, for me, the absolute peak in inventiveness, freshness, and godamnit pure pleasure.

    I feel bereft, a part of me has died, I feel wounded at the core.
    I had not even thought of Steve in years, comics are just a distant memory now, yet the world is now a colder, harsher place for his loss.

    R.I.P. Mr Steven Gerber.
    You gave so much.
    Thank you.

    Adrian Shelley ( a nobody).

  • Jack Holt (Bgztl) says:

    I feel kind of weird posting this on a web-site a of a guy who posited so much about a universe of frailty and ironic humor, and despair.

    But I’m encouraged by the fact that this very sane guy could craft stories about hope and hmor (dry or wry as it may be) in the midst of cynicism.

    But,. . . Steve Gerber made comics WORTH reading.

  • JB says:

    The final “Gerber Tribute” issue of Countdown to Mystery is finally out and while I would have preferred a full half-issue of actual Gerber Material, the attempts to finish things off by people who really cared about Steve were nice. Gail’s stood out as the best, but all were good, though short, reads.

    I’d like to thank Adam Beechen for that damn Elf.

  • Charles Bryan says:

    Just a big thank you to Adam Beechen, Mark Evanier, Mark Waid and Gail Simone. Thanks Adam, for the elf and message to the elf from old friends. Thanks Mark Evanier, for the inclusion of hope and persistence — it reminded me of the ending to the Nebulon story in the Defenders. Thanks Mark Waid, for Mr. Madillo ( I presume his first initial is ‘R’), the inclusion of a big block of text, and ‘Your hour is up’. And thanks Gail, for the ‘murder blurder herder’ wordplay, for including some of Stefe’s own words and for that last caption block — that got me welling up.

    I couldn’t help thinking that this was the final memorial service.

  • Steve was one of the last of the truly imaginitive Marvel writers. The fact that Marvel would not stand by Gerber and stand up to Disney (by negotiating, without a lawsuit) was just a symptom of Marvel’s downward spiral. (The betrayal of Kack Kirby by Marvel being the biggest touchstone). There are too many touch bland letdowns by Marvel to recount; but Gerber stands out because of his imagination and writing style that lifted a comicbook about a duck into literature. Thank you Steve, for making me a better writer. Your creation was stolen from you and us, your readers; we are all the poorer for it. I had never given up on the idea of Howard’s true return, and occasionally would write Steve and ask if there were any developments. Once, he even responded, saying he wasn’t optimistic about such a possibility. Now that possibility is gone. Gerber was Howard – and there is no substitute. Are there bigger tragedies? Of course; but for Gerber’s fans, it will always remain an unfulfilled regret.

  • Jeff Z says:

    While re-reading/buying as much old Gerber material as I can find, it suddenly dawned on me that the Howard newspaper strip is pretty impossible to come by! Would’ve been nice if they could include it in the forthcoming Omnibus, but I guess it’s too late for that to happen. Does anyone know of an online archive of this rarity? It would be great to read it again- the Gerber ones, anyway…

  • Micah says:

    Steve put the newspaper strips online for download in PDF format. But I don’t remember where. Maybe someone else knows the link.

    I found the link, which Steve provided, about three years ago on a Howard the Duck online community (I forget which one). A fan went to the trouble of collecting them, and even creating some very nice covers by using the interior art. Since Steve freely made them available for download, I helped myself. In fact, the link is from the stevegerber website, but there is no link to the page except from that online community (so he was only sharing it with the die-hard duck fans I guess).

    If you can find it based on these clues, I recommend it, because the stories are vintage. Collected together, they are the equivalent of 5 or 6 more issues of the regular series, and are every bit as good as any issue of the regular book, maybe among the best. The stories are funny and the social commentary is still amazingly timely. They were a treat to discover.

    They were obviously written so that they would work if reprinted in a normal comic book format, not just as short gags (although they also work on that level too). They are basically 5 (or 6, can’t remember) unpublished issues of the regular series.

    Again, can’t recommend them enough, they will leave you wanting more.

  • Jeff Z says:

    Again, it’s a damn shame this can’t make it into the Omnibus. $100 is a lot to pay for something that’s missing this great material!

  • Brendan Totten says:

    The Howard newspaper strips ( or 5 out of 6 of them, anyway) can be found at:–

    http://www.nemsworld.com/howard/

  • Jeff Z says:

    Awesome! That link is a true public service! Waughhs happily

  • Gordon Kent says:

    I bought the last two issues of Countdown to Mystery… I can’t bring myself to read them…

  • Stefan Immel says:

    Open letter to Dan Didio regarding Gerbers Fate

    Steve Gerber was a very special man, I guess we all can agree on that. His views and oppinions, which he expressed on his blog, where strange, enlightening, funny and showed that he allways wanted to look “behind” things. This habit made was one of the things that drove him to create some of the most influencial comics since Lee and Kirby introduced us to Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. He paved the road that creators like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison walk on. His absurd creations that where real at the same time, like a talking Duck that didn’t sit well with Disney or a showgirl with an ostrich, brought joy and tears at the same time and mde you think about more then just the obvious story.

    I would hate to see his last great work be just another footnote in the endless cycle of reimaginations of the character Dr. Fate. I loved the classic 1943 version of Kent Nelson, alsolut adore what Steve and Martin Pasko did with him in the Flash Backups and even grew acustomed to Hector Hall as a replacement. But Kent V. Nelson in Countdown to Mystery was something entierly else. It was a character that you could relate to, even if you didn’t have issues with alcohol or a magical helmet. Steves interpretation was such a hugh step towards a belivable magical character AND an interesting person that it would be a crime to waste that idea alone. Even more so since it was the last work by Steve and I really hope that some time in the future we can look at Dr. Fate and say: “This character was build on the groundwork Steve did” much like Swamp Thing will allways be somehow connected to Alan Moore.

    So here’s my plea: Get somebody on Dr. Fate (either a monthly book or as part of something like CtM) who will take what Steve build and continue from there. I know that nobody really can replace Steve and nobody should try, but that are some basics that Steve found important in his interpretation (clear cut rules for the used magic, believable character progression, development includes setbacks) and I think somebody should take Kent V. Nelson, this basics and at least try to build a memorial will make Steve Gerbers last work a bit more meaningfull.

  • kelly borkert says:

    There’s a reason I havent read these posts. There’s a reason I’m here now. Please don’t ask what it is, I don’t know. The reason I’m clacking this out now is to thank Mr. Evanier for stepping in, and hoping he can keep some candles lit. Steve Gerber’s death was a bigger loss than Stan Lee’s ever could be, in my opinion. Mr Gerber contributed to my childhood and adulthood, with undiluted efforts that went far beyond the expected contributions made so wonderfully by the best in the field. I look forward to enjoying so much of his canon that I have yet unmet, in a way that I used to look forward to meeting Frank Zappa’s catalogue when I had not.
    Steve Gerber was a phenomenal contribution to a culture that wanted none of it. I’m only sorry I couldn’t pay the man for what he gave me.
    Thank you Mr Evanier. You, I expect to repay in person. KEEP IT UP!

  • kelly borkert says:

    http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryRoom.asp?Page=1&Order=Title&GSub=45999

    bordering on vanity, I just want to share with those interested. Mr. Gerber holds my highest regard. These keepsakes are both a reminder and a depressing thing, when considering what was lost and what was abused.
    Thanks Mr Gerber, you made the madness bearable. Thank you all for joining me in the celebration of pleasure.

  • Beth says:

    Thanks for keeping this site going, Mark E. — I like to know I can come and visit.