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R.I.P. Steve Gerber 1947-2008


Aug 16, 2003
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Goodbye, Steve :(

by CBR News Team, Editor
Posted: February 11, 2008 — More From This Author

Legendary comics writer Steve Gerber passed away on Sunday, February 10, 2008, due to complications from pulmonary fibrosis. He was 60-years-old.

Best known for his creation Howard the Duck, Gerber was responsible for many of the memorable characters of the 1970s including Omega the Unknown, Man-Thing and Shanna the She-Devil. In the last two decades, Gerber authored celebrated Marvel Comics stories including runs on “Sub-Mariner,” “Daredevil” and “Defenders.” DC Comics published Gerber’s creator-owned works “Nevada” and “Hard Time,” both of which were met with considerable critical acclaim.

In television, Gerber was a writer and story editor on such lauded series as “The Transformers” and “G.I. Joe.” He created “Thundarr the Barbarian,” and in 1998 shared a Daytime Emmy Award for his work on “The New Batman/Superman Adventures.”

Prior to his death, Gerber was writing “Countdown to Mystery: Doctor Fate” for DC Comics.

For a more in-depth tribute to Steve Gerber and his rich body of work, CBR News encourages fans and readers to visit Mark Evanier’s blog.
Steve Gerber, R.I.P.

You know, some of these are easy to write and some of them are excrutiating. Welcome to the excrutiating kind.

Steve Gerber died last night in Las Vegas after a long, painful illness. For the last year or so, he was in and out of hospitals there and had just become a "candidate" for a lung transplant. He had pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that literally turns the lungs to scar tissue and steadily reduces their ability to function. Steve insisted that his affliction had nothing to do with his lifelong, incessant consumption of tobacco — an addiction he only recently quit for reasons of medical necessity. None of his friends believed that but Steve did.

I mention that because in the thirty or so years I knew him, that was the only time I ever saw Steve perhaps divorced from reality. He was a sharp, brilliant human being with a keen understanding of people. In much that he wrote, he chose to depart from reality or (more often) to warp it in those extreme ways that make us understand it better. But he always did so from his underlying premise as a smart, decent guy. I like almost everyone I've ever met in the comic book industry but I really liked Steve.

Stephen Ross Gerber was born in St. Louis on September 20, 1947. A longtime fan of comic books, he was involved in the ditto/mimeo days of fanzine publishing in the sixties, publishing one called Headline at age 14. He had a by-mail friendship with Roy Thomas, who was responsible for the most noteworthy fanzine of that era, Alter Ego. Years later when Roy was the editor at Marvel Comics, he rescued Steve from a crippling career writing advertising copy, bringing him into Marvel as a writer and assistant editor. Steve soon distinguished himself as one of the firm's best writers, handling many of their major titles at one time or another but especially shining on The Defenders, Man-Thing, Omega the Unknown, Morbius the Living Vampire, a special publication about the rock group Kiss...and of course, Howard the Duck.

Howard, born in Steve's amazing mind and obviously autobiographical to a large degree, took the industry by storm. The creation was in many ways a mixed blessing to his creator. It led to an ugly and costly legal battle over ownership, which Steve settled out of court. It led to the occasional pains when he occasionally returned to the character and, due to reasons external and internal, found that he could not go home again. It also led to the sheer annoyance of watching the 1986 motion picture of Howard (produced with minimal involvement on Steve's part) open to withering reviews and dreadful business. Still, the issues he did are widely regarded as classics...and Howard is often cited as a character who only Steve could make work.

After he left Marvel under unpleasant circumstances in the mid-seventies, Steve worked with me for a time at Hanna-Barbera writing comic books, many of which were published by Marvel. An editor at the company had loudly vowed that the work of Steve Gerber would never again appear in anything published by Marvel. Just to be ornery, we immediately had Steve write a story for one of the H-B comics I was editing and it was published by Marvel with a writer credit for "Reg Everbest," which was Steve's name spelled inside-out.

About this time, Steve began to get work in the animation field, starting with a script for the Plastic Man cartoon series produced by Ruby-Spears. This led to a brief but mutually beneficial association with the studio, especially when Steve launched and story-edited one of the best adventure cartoons done for Saturday morning TV, Thundarr the Barbarian. Later, he worked for other houses on other shows, including G.I. Joe and Dungeons & Dragons.

Then there were other comic books, including occasional returns to Marvel and even to Howard. For DC, he did The Phantom Zone and later, A. Bizarro, Nevada and Hard Time. Last week in the hospital, he was working on a new Doctor Fate series for them. His other many credits in comics — which include Foolkiller for Marvel and books for Malibu and Image — are well known to readers of the last few decades.

What I feel the need to tell you is just what a great guy he was. In the seventies, when New York comic professionals were banding together to find ways to elevate the stature of the field and the living standards of its practitioners, Steve was at the nexus of so many of those efforts. When Steve was involved in his lawsuit with Marvel, many fellow professionals rallied around him with loans and gifts of cash and some of us put together a benefit comic book, Destroyer Duck, to raise money. People did that because they knew, first of all, that Steve was fighting not just for his own financial reasons but for matters of principle relating to how the comic book industry treated its creators. That some of the more pernicious business practices soon went away had a lot to do with Steve taking the stand he did. Also, those who knew Steve knew that when you were in need, he would do anything to help. He was, in every sense of the word, a friend.

He was one of my best friends and even though I knew this was coming — and even though part of me thinks it may be for the better, given what he stood to go through just to keep on breathing a few more years — it's a real blow. If you knew Steve Gerber, no further explanation is necessary. If you didn't, no further explanation can ever quite explain why.

Details of memorials and such will be forthcoming. I am now about to attempt a hostile takeover of Steve's weblog. I've been given permission to see if I can get in and take care of it but I won't delete anything, at least not for a long time. You might want to trundle over there and read some of this recent postings and especially some of the love and respect shown by his commenters.
Posted at 3:37 PM

Wow... I don't know what to say...

Steve wrote some of the BEST stuff from Marvel that has always struck a chord with me, even in those younger and very influencial years.

RIP Steve...

DAPPS and Props to another creator of something I loved.

RIP Sir.
Man, First Ringo, now this. Comic guys have been dropping like flys lately.
thats really sad,wow,what a month for talent huh?
I just had a rough day in Manhattan, and this is the first topic I read.

To be honest, I haven't read all of the man's work, but I don't need to to know that he was a legend in this field, that he contributed countless hours and pages of talent and that our biz is a bit weaker with him gone, at only 60 to boot.

Considering Marvel is trying relaunches (and hardly top selling ones) of some of his characters without him makes it seem all the more bitter. I haven't read much Howard the Duck, but what I do know, and tend to believe, is that no one did it better than the creator himself. When you thought 70's Marvel, Gerber was one of those names who'd pop up.

RIP, Gerber.
goodbye mr gerber, rest in peace
I have to admit two things:

1) I never read much Howard the Duck.

2) I was one of the few to see it in the theater.

You'd have to be seriously asleep to not recognize Mr. Gerber's place in comics. Sounds like a guy I would have loved to have met.
awwwwwwwww! RIP Mr Gerber :(
Stunning talent that will be really missed. I knew he was ill and have been regulary checking his blog to catch up on him - hoping that he would get better and his Dr. Fate could run to an ongoing.

Recently been through a kind of Gerber phase reading Hard Time, Omega the Unknown (plus the new series of it) and obviously his newest creation in Countdown to Mystery. Plus reading his blog he seems like a genuinly great person. Truley sad.

Hits even harder due to him actually working at the moment on a current series - which is an awesome book.

RIP Steve Gerber.
When you thought 70's Marvel, Gerber was one of those names who'd pop up.

While I read a LOT of Marvel stuff in the 70's as a younger pup (I was 10 in 1977), the guy just wrote stuff that I liked a lot; ie Man-Thing, Howard the Duck, etc...

And as an adult, I realize that most of that stuff was probaby "over my head", it was (and still is) really good reading material in my world.

I have to admit two things:

1) I never read much Howard the Duck.

2) I was one of the few to see it in the theater.

You'd have to be seriously asleep to not recognize Mr. Gerber's place in comics. Sounds like a guy I would have loved to have met.

That's Okay,.. I remember him More for the Defenders and key issues of Man-thing,

And ................................... "Elf with a gun".
"There are two types of people in this world, my friend. Those who dig Clint Eastwood movies....and dweebs. "


I'm hoping a chuck Norris fan who isn't into Clint Eastwood doesn't see this,...........
He deserved to see good movies based on the characters he wrote.

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