Hallowe’en Countdown VI, Day 24

« I love the scents of winter! For me, it’s all about the feeling you get when you smell pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and spruce. » — Taylor Swift

It occurred to me, just the other day that I’d failed to feature, over the course of five and three-quarters countdowns, anything by Gene Colan. And this despite the fact that I’ve always enjoyed his work and his undeniable adroitness within the horror genre.

Still, I decided to sidestep the obvious touchstone, his monumental run on The Tomb of Dracula, and opted instead for another of his big series at Marvel: Howard the Duck.

I was a fervent fan of the series as a kid, but I honestly haven’t returned to it in decades. Which is not to say that I’ve forgotten it. There’s no doubt that I should give it a fresh look — I’d probably get more of Steve Gerber‘s jokes than I did as a twelve-year-old — but in the interim, let’s focus on a couple of pertinent issues.

This is Howard the Duck no. 6 (Nov. 1976, Marvel); cover pencils by Gene Colan, inks by the recently departed Tom Palmer (1941-2022).
Colan’s style meshes surprisingly well with Mr. Gerber‘s madcap comedy… he plays it straight, and that’s why it clicks. Savvy move.
I wasn’t sure about Steve Leialoha‘s appropriateness as a Colan inker at the time, but I really don’t see what I could have objected to.
Let’s see, what have we here? The Addams Family, Shelley’s Frankenstein, gothic romances, Nathaniel Hawthorne, religious sects… in this case the reverend Sun Myung Moon‘s Unification Church, better known as The Moonies

I won’t leave you in suspense! On to the following issue…

This is Howard the Duck no. 7 (Dec. 1976, Marvel); pencils by Colan, inks by Palmer.

And that’s it! Steve Gerber had a refreshing knack for subverting and upending the Marvel formula: instead of some drawn-out, epic standoff, Howard disposes of the threat — a threat worth two cover features! — in a couple of panels, then the story moves on… to another range of targets.

– RG

Where everybody knows your name, like it or not.

« I’m usedta dealin’ with stiffs! I spotted the maggots crawlin’ outta yer mouth the minute you opened it! »

Just another Friday night happy hour at Ginger’s Joint, watering hole of Duke “Destroyer” Duck and his put-upon pal, the Little Guy.

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Written by Steve Gerber, pencilled by Jack Kirby, inked by Alfredo Alcala, coloured by Steve Leialoha, lettered by Tom Orzechowski. An eye-popping feast!

The local fauna is gathered in this splash from Destroyer Duck no. 1 (Eclipse, 1982). In case you didn’t know, “the book was published as a way to help [Steve] Gerber raise funds for a lawsuit he was embroiled in at the time, in which he was battling industry giant Marvel Comics over the ownership of the character Howard the Duckwhich Gerber created for the company in 1973.” It was an alarming account of the (not-fictional-enough) Godcorp conglomerate’s incalculable greed, its unchecked power, and how « It’s Got the Whole World… in Its Hand! », which, as true as it was then, is discouragingly even truer now.

FrozenWalt
« You all right in there, Walt? … say, what happened to all my beer? »

– RG