R.I.P.: Steve Gerber

Steve Gerber, 1947-2008

Oh dear God.

Gerber was one of the new breed of writer who re-invigorated and re-invented comics in the 1970s.

It’s difficult to convey what that group of writers did back then. It was really revolutionary, just as the personal computer was revolutionary. I’m not certain that all of them aspired to write comics. And perhaps that’s the very reason they did and could do what they did.

The existing guard saw themselves as producing entertainment for children, with perhaps a passing nod to adolescents. They were probably ashamed, around other adults, of what they did for a living. These new guys came in and tore up the place, ripped out the very foundations, and created a brand new structure. If they had to write comics, it’d damn well be the kind they wanted to write and read. They attempted to push comics out of its insular ghetto into a wider world. They didn’t want to be ashamed of how they made their money.

They not only excited readers, they inspired other writers.

Had they not come along, I’m convinced comic books would have died out by the end of the 1970s. We’d have nothing but “classic reprints,” irregularly published to coincide with the release of a television or movie spin-off. Comic books would only be something nostalgic and permanently twee.

Gerber was also at the forefront of changing the rules of writer ownership too.

He was one of the best, one of the good guys, and he will be missed.

— from Warren Ellis

Explore posts in the same categories: Books - Graphic, Writers - Dead, Writers - Living, Writing

2 Comments on “R.I.P.: Steve Gerber”

  1. […] Mike Cane: “Gerber was one of the new breed of writer who re-invigorated and re-invented comics in the 19… […]

  2. […] Steve Gerber: 1947-2008 After a long, pitched battle, comicbook writer Steve Gerber finally succumbed to his failing lungs yesterday. Most of you out there in Jawn-land probably have no idea who the dude was… but Gerber reinvented comics writing in the early ’70s with a unique gonzo approach that prefigured the reinventions of the Vertigo generation of comics scribes (Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison all owe a debt of gratitude to Gerber.) Gerber turned the muck-drenched horror comic Man-Thing into a psychedelic postmodern romp where the backwater bayou became “the Nexus of All Realities.” In The Defenders, he transformed the standard issue superhero team into an encounter group, where superpowered misfits worked out their aggressions and “issues” in Dr. Strange’s upstate New York retreat. And with his most famous creation, Howard the Duck, he gave us a candidate for our times. The notoriously dreadful movie version has nought to do with Gerber’s sardonic, satiric and unapologetically strange work with the character. (During his brief, blistering run, Howard ran for President, battled vampiric cows, went insane, suffered from hallucinatory visions of the band KISS, endured demonic possession, fought a nine-foot-tall Frankensteinian gingerbread man, faced off with his arch-nemesis Dr. Bong and, through it all, maintained an inter-species relationship with a hot young human thang.) The wretched movie was the lowest blow in Gerber’s long, doomed battle with Marvel to retain control of the character. In addition to his brilliantly offbeat writings, Gerber’s other legacy lingers: a champion of creator’s rights, he never relented in a world dominated by media giants where every idea is just an intellectual “property” waiting to be seized, stolen and squatted upon. More here and here. […]

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