Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Pulp Culture
Howard the Duck returns
for more punishment


March 21, 2002
By Franklin Harris

Howard the Duck was a fixture at Marvel Comics during the mid '70s, starring in his own comic book and a mature-readers magazine. But the miserable mallard never adjusted to the roaring '80s, and, after a disastrous movie in 1986, it looked like his goose was cooked.

Now, however, Howard is back, starring in a new, six-issue miniseries for Marvel's mature-readers imprint, Marvel MAX.

Pulp Culture caught up with the festering fowl at his home in a trailer park outside Cleveland.

Pulp Culture: If you don't mind my saying so, you don't quite look yourself, Mr. Duck.

Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck and...
Howard the Duck???
Howard the... Duck???
Howard the Duck: You don't say? My first brand new comic book in over 15 years, and they turned me into a mouse!

PC: But the title of the comic is still "Howard the Duck," right?

HTD: Yeah. And this isn't the first time something like this has happened. In issue No. 18 of my first series, I got turned into one of you hairless apes! At least being a mouse isn't as bad as that. And it's probably just temporary. I hope.

PC: Speaking of your first series, maybe you should fill people in on the premise of your adventures?

HTD: I was minding my own business one day, when suddenly I fell though a rip in the fabric of space and time. The next thing I knew, the whole world had turned upside down! Instead of everyone looking normal — that is, like ducks — I was surrounded by you hairless apes. I've been looking for a way to get back to my world ever since, but no luck. So, as long as I'm stuck here, I amuse myself by pointing out how stupid all of you humans are. It's called satire, if you're into highfalutin stuff like that.

PC: Your first appearance was in "Fear" No. 19 in 1973, right?

HTD: Yeah. I started out as a second banana to a shambling swamp creature named Man-Thing. Little did I know things could actually go downhill from there.

PC: What do you mean? You had a pretty good career. You spent the '70s poking fun at the absurdities of modern life. You hooked up with attractive human girlfriend named Beverly Switzler, and you even ran for president.

HTD: Yeah, things were pretty good when Steve Gerber was writing my adventures, but after he left everything went into the toilet. My comic book got cancelled shortly after that.

PC: And then came the movie.

HTD: I'd rather not talk about that, OK?

PC: It's universally regarded as one of the biggest box-office turkeys in history.

HTD: Could we not go there?

PC: Even though George Lucas was its executive producer!

HTD: You think Lucas is so perfect? I've got three words for you: Jar Jar Binks.

PC: Do you think Tim Robbins even puts "Howard the Duck" on his resume?

HTD: Waugh!!! Enough already, or this interview is over!

PC: Let's talk about the new series. How does it feel to be reunited with Gerber?

HTD: It's great. Well, actually it's not great. All Steve does is torment me. But if anyone has to make my life miserable, at least it should be someone who makes it funny at the same time, right? And Steve is as good at skewering the '00s as he was satirizing the '70s. Boy bands, rigged presidential elections, infomercials — what isn't there to make fun of?

And it's nice to have an artist like Phil Winslade drawing me, even if he has turned me into a rodent. He recaptures the gritty feel of how Gene Colan drew me in the '70s. And he did a great job with Beverly's gratuitous shower scene.

''He did a great job with Beverly's gratuitous shower scene.''
Art by Phil Winslade
"He did a great job with Beverly's gratuitous shower scene."
PC: Gratuitous shower scene?

HTD: Hey! It's tasteful! Well, actually, no it isn't. But me and Bev needed the money. Not that they paid her anything like what Halle Berry got for about two seconds of toplessness in "Swordfish," mind you. Anyway, my comic isn't for the kiddies. That's why it has the big parental advisory on the cover.

PC: Any parting shots, Howard?

HTD: Yes. Buy my new comic. Who knows when anyone at Marvel will be crazy enough to give me a third chance? And look for the new trade paperback "The Essential Howard the Duck" Vol. 1. It retails for only $14.95, and it reprints all of my best stories from the '70s.

It's all good stuff, and I could really use the royalty checks.

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