Manny's Reviews > Essential Howard the Duck, Vol. 1

Essential Howard the Duck, Vol. 1 by Steve Gerber
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's review
Feb 18, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, well-i-think-its-funny
Read in January, 2005

Howard and Bverley

If you've never met cigar-chomping, wise-cracking, sex-appeal-oozing, three-foot-two-high Howard and his beautiful rock singer/artist's model girlfriend Beverley, then you need to buy this book. Of course, if you have met them, then you need to buy it even more. And, if there's anyone I've left out, they're still more in need of it than the first two groups. Most comic-book heroes wouldn't even begin to know what to do about a breakdown of the Law of the Excluded Middle, but Howard deals with metaphysical emergencies so often that he's started to find them a little boring.

Leafing through this masterpiece the other day, I wondered if anyone's yet written a doctoral thesis describing Howard's influence on late 20th and early 21st century pop culture. For example, the sequence which crosses the plots of Jane Eyre and Frankenstein and culminates with the awakening of the nightmarish Cookie Creature immediately reminded me of the giant Gingerbread Man from Shrek 2. And, as a long-time Doonesbury fan, I couldn't help wondering if Howard's run for President in 1976 inspired the Duke 2000 campaign.

But, if this thesis does exist and I manage to get my hands on a copy, the first thing I'm looking up in the index is Infinite Jest. Surely the crazed French-Canadian patriot in the wheelchair is the spiritual ancestor of the A.F.R.? How could David Foster Wallace not have been inspired by his scheme to airlift a million beavers to the Niagara Falls and reverse the course of the river, bringing the US to its knees and awakening Canadians to their destiny as the continent's true masters? By now, a competent literary researcher must have given these vital questions the attention they so obviously deserve?

A quick (quack?) Google search threw up tantalizing hints that the book I'm looking for is out there. I can already see Howard and Beverley, no strangers to self-reference, setting off to find DISSERTATION OF DOOM. What a shame Steve Gerber didn't get around to writing that episode...
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01/06/2017 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Printable Tire (new)

Printable Tire This is indeed a great collection- and his "origin" is so bizarre. I always felt Howard the Duck was like Woody Allen in a lot of ways. I never finished this and should read it again.

Manny Patrick wrote: "I always felt Howard the Duck was like Woody Allen in a lot of ways."

Hey, you're right! I'm amazed I never thought of that before. Superficially small and ugly but in fact irresistible babe-magnets, whiny, neurotic, always ready with a quip in the face of Death... it's astonishing.

So are we to conclude that Howard is also Jewish? That would explain a lot...


Brilliant. I've never heard of Howard. But I see you can find lots of the strip cartoons from the first days here:

First observation: what an illtempered son-of-a-duck he is.

Manny notgettingenough wrote: "First observation: what an illtempered son-of-a-duck he is."

Look... he's trapped on a world of hairless apes, banished forever from his beloved Duck Planet. He's constantly pursued by evil supervillains like Pro-Rata, Doctor Bong and Garko the Man-Frog, and even his girlfriend, the lovely Beverley, is always telling him that she can't take any more and is leaving... they must have broken up at least three times. Wouldn't you be a little ill-tempered?

message 5: by David (new)

David Katzman i caught a few issues of this when i was a wee lad and recall it being twisted and ridiculous. sounds perfect. i'll have to look for this collection.

message 6: by Petergiaquinta (last edited Jun 14, 2013 07:03PM) (new)

Petergiaquinta Whoa, Manny! This is just more proof of what an exemplary example of a hairless ape you are. My first introduction to Howard was his cosmic encounter with the deadly Space Turnip in Howard the Duck #2. It transformed my puny grade-school mind forever. I made an oblique reference to this key moment in my young life in a review a while ago:

Garko the Man-Frog and Doctor Bong? I still lolz long and hard just thinking about those comics.

Steve Gerber is a genius. I'd put his face on Mount Rushmore.

message 7: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Where do you find these bizarre gems?
(Or maybe it's better not to know.)

Manny My older son is a die-hard Howard fan...

message 9: by Cecily (new)

Cecily And I daresay that if asked a similar question, he'd say his father was the fan. ;)

Manny Well, I am a fan. But not as much as he is!

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