Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So Long, Steve

By now, many of you have heard that the comics industry lost Steve Gerber this week. Steve was the noted co-creator of Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown, among many other weird and wonderful characters. He was also my friend.

I first met Steve during those halcyon days of the early '70s Marvel Bullpen. He was sharp, funny, acerbic, and always had a cigarette in his hand. That irreverence and wit made him the astonishing writer so many of us came to envy and admire. Those cigarettes ultimately killed him.

We had an odd bond, Steve and I, since we had both built our reputations somewhat by chronicling the adventures of iconic marsh monsters, me by creating and writing Swamp Thing, Steve by turning Man-Thing into one of the most offbeat books in Marvel history. One day, over lunch, we realized each of us had grown tired of a particular Marvel title we were writing. We went back to the office and asked then-Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas if we could swap books. Roy quickly agreed. Thus, I managed to write all of one-half issue of Daredevil before some now-long-forgotten scheduling conflict forced me to turn the title over to my old buddy Marv Wolfman. Steve, on the other hand, went on to turn The Defenders into one of the single most surreal super-team series ever.

I didn't see Steve much after I moved out here to LA, aside from the occasional encounter at some convention or another. I always regretted that. The last time I ran into him was about a year or so ago here in town. I was in the company of fellow blogger Mark Evanier when Mark picked Steve up to join a small group of fellow writers for dinner. I, unfortunately, had other commitments that evening and had to beg off. But I promised Steve we'd get together the next time he was in town. That next time now, sadly, will never occur.

Mark has a much more detailed and articulate obit for Steve over on his blog, which you can link to over on the right, so might I direct your attention there. I have to go say a final farewell to an old friend.


Roger Owen Green said...

Did you see what Neil Gaiman said about YOU in his Gerber piece? http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/02/steve-gerber.html

Anonymous said...

Excellent reminiscence. Thanks a lot for sharing it.

--Gene Phillips

Anonymous said...

Steve Gerber's MAN-THING blew my mind back in the day. I'm re-reading it in the Essential format but I'd love to see a MAN-THING Omnibus.

BTW, the HOWARD THE DUCK Omnibus will be out this summer. Hopefully it will include a tribute to this wonderful, offbeat writer.