Gerber circa 1979
|Born||Stephen Ross Gerber
September 20, 1947
St. Louis, Missouri
|Died||February 10, 2008
Las Vegas, Nevada
|Notable works||Howard the Duck, Man-Thing, Omega the Unknown, Tales of the Zombie, Defenders, Nevada, Hard Time, Doctor Fate, Sludge, Foolkiller|
|Awards||Eagle Award, 1977
Inkpot Award, 1978
Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame, 2010
Stephen Ross "Steve" Gerber (September 20, 1947 – February 10, 2008) was an American comic book writer best known as co-creator of the satiric Marvel Comics character Howard the Duck. Other notable works include Man-Thing, Omega the Unknown, Marvel Spotlight: Son of Satan, The Defenders, Marvel Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy, and Daredevil. Gerber was known for including lengthy text pages in the midst of comic book stories, such as in Man-Thing, Howard the Duck, Son of Satan, Defenders, Nevada, and his graphic novel, Stewart the Rat. Gerber was posthumously inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2010.
Early life 
Steve Gerber was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Bernice Gerber, and one of four children, with siblings Jon, Michael, and Lisa. A letter from Steve Gerber of "7014 Roberts Court, University City 30, Mo." was published in Fantastic Four #19 (Oct. 1963). After corresponding with fellow youthful comics fans Roy Thomas and Jerry Bails, and starting one of the first comics fanzines, Headline, at age 13 or 14, Gerber attended college at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, and St. Louis University, where he finished his communications degree.
Gerber began work as a copywriter for a St. Louis advertising agency. During this time he wrote short stories, some of which, such as "And the Birds Hummed Dirges," later appeared in Crazy Magazine during his stint as editor.
In early 1972, Gerber asked Thomas, by this time Marvel editor-in-chief, about writing comics; Thomas sent him a writer's test — six pages of a Daredevil car-chase scene drawn by Gene Colan — which Gerber passed. He accepted a position as an associate editor and writer at Marvel Comics. Thomas said in 2007,
Steve and I had been in touch, off and on....I [eventually] got a letter from Steve saying, in essence, 'Help! I'm going crazy in this advertising job'....So I thought, 'Gee, he'd be a good person to get up here, so if he wants to make a change, let's give it a try'. He was brought in to be an assistant editor on staff. That didn't work our so well, because for whatever reason ... he had trouble staying awake. At the time, he wasn't a staff kind of person, at least in terms of what Marvel needed, but he was a real good writer and did some interesting things... "
Marvel Comics 
Gerber initially penned superhero stories for titles such as Daredevil (20 issues), Iron Man (three issues), and Sub-Mariner (11 issues). Gerber also penned anthological horror-fantasy stories for Creatures on the Loose (adaptations of Lin Carter's Thongor), Monsters Unleashed, Chamber of Chills, and Journey into Mystery, and humor pieces for Crazy, becoming editor of that satirical magazine for issues #8-14.
Howard the Duck 
Besides a lengthy run on The Defenders (which included the introduction of Korvac), Gerber scripted Man-Thing, about a swamp-monster empath; Omega The Unknown, which explored the strange link between a cosmic superhero and a boy; and Howard the Duck, created with penciler Val Mayerik as a secondary character in a Man-Thing story in Adventure into Fear #19 (Dec. 1973). Howard graduated to his own backup feature in Giant-Size Man-Thing, confronting such bizarre horror-parody characters as the Hellcow and the Man-Frog, before acquiring his own comic-book title with Howard the Duck #1 in 1976. Gerber wrote 27 issues of the series, penciled initially by Frank Brunner and shortly afterward by Gene Colan. The series gradually developed a substantial cult following, which Marvel helped to promote by Howard's satiric entry into the 1976 U.S. presidential campaign under the auspices of the All-Night Party.
Marvel attempted a spin-off with a short-lived Howard the Duck syndicated comic strip from 1977 to 1978, at first written by Gerber and drawn by Colan and Mayerik, and later written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Alan Kupperberg. Gerber had been replaced on the strip in mid-1978, creating acrimony and a lawsuit. Marvel's then editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter, blamed Gerber's chronic tardiness, saying the creative team was "producing strips within six days of their publication dates," which he said caused several newspapers to drop the strip. Shooter added that while the syndicate threatened to drop the strip if a new writer were not brought in, "Steve can tell you a good number of horror stories — and they're all true — about the trouble we had getting artists."
Gerber recalled, in the 2000s, that:
We had some problems with the Howard newspaper strip, which led to problems with the Howard book, which ultimately led to the lawsuit. Marvel wouldn't pay the artist to draw it. Gene Colan and I were supposed to get a percentage of the syndicate's take for the strip. The problem was, the money came in 90 days, 120 days, six months — I don't remember how long exactly — after the strips were published. So, essentially, the artist was working for nothing up until that time, and no artist can afford to do that. [In comparison with Stan Lee and John Romita's Spider-Man comic strip,] Stan, as publisher of Marvel, had a regular salary coming in, and John Romita, I believe, was also on staff at the time. They didn't have quite the same problem.
Other series 
During this period Gerber often worked with writer Mary Skrenes, with whom he would reunite in 2004 for the short-lived Hard Time. Gerber collaborated with writer Carole Seuling on Shanna the She-Devil.
Among other Marvel projects, Gerber wrote the first issue of Marvel Comics Super Special featuring the band KISS, in which he also introduced Dr. Doom's tutor, Dizzie the Hun. Another important part of Gerber's oeuvre was reviving forgotten characters such as in Tales of the Zombie based on a one-shot character, Simon Garth, created in the 1950s by Bill Everett, who died shortly after the series began. In Defenders he brought back three pre-superhero characters, the Headmen. He also reintroduced the 1969 one-time feature Guardians of the Galaxy, first as guest stars in Marvel Two-in-One (he wrote the first nine issues of that series, the first seven tying directly with his other storylines) and Defenders, then as a feature in Marvel Presents. He created the characters of Starhawk, Aleta Ogord, and Nikki. He also wrote stories of Son of Satan, Morbius the Living Vampire and Lilith, Daughter of Dracula. He created the monk Montesi in Dracula Lives! #5, whose formula would later temporarily destroy all of the vampires in the world.
Gerber was noted for memorable supporting or guest characters who would become cult favorites in their own right. Among his best known are Everyman Richard Rory, who has appeared off and on in most of the Gerber books, and the Foolkiller, a psychopathic vigilante who inspired several different individuals to adopt his identity over the years and acquired his own 10-issue limited series by Gerber and J. J. Birch in 1990. Gerber was also responsible for the creation of the Silver Samurai during his Daredevil run, and the female Red Guardian when writing Defenders. He also created N'Kantu, the Living Mummy, but wrote only two stories with the character.
Toward the end of his work at Marvel, he wrote Hanna-Barbera stories for Mark Evanier under the anagrammatic name Reg Everbest. Only two of these, featuring Magilla Gorilla and Clue Club, were published in their English-language originals.
Battle for Howard the Duck 
Gerber was fired by Marvel in 1978, with then editor-in-chief Jim Shooter saying Gerber was "over two months late" on the titles he was writing, and "late on his contractual obligations; he was contracted to do so many pages [per month] and was not doing them." Shooter added, "I would not say there was nothing else to it; I would just say that we found it advantageous to get out of the contract we were in," while at the same time calling Gerber "one of the best writers in the business," whom he would welcome as a freelancer. Gerber, in an open letter to The Comics Journal editor Gary Groth, referred to his "parting of the ways with Marvel", and said, "I was dismissed from the Howard the Duck newspaper strip in a manner which violated the terms of my written agreement with Marvel. Marvel was advised that I would contemplating legal action.... As a consequence of the notice given Marvel by my lawyers, the company chose to terminate my contract on the comic books as well." Gerber subsequently launched a lengthy legal battle for control of Howard the Duck, culminating in a lawsuit filed August 29, 1980.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, Gerber did some work for DC Comics, including a 1982 Superman miniseries, The Phantom Zone; the last three issues of Mr. Miracle and a run of backup stories in The Flash starring Doctor Fate and co-written with Martin Pasko. He also wrote for independent comic companies. One of Gerber's first major works away from Marvel was the original graphic novel Stewart the Rat for Eclipse Comics, with art by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer. Also for Eclipse Magazine Gerber and Mayerik created the anti-censorship horror story, "Role Model/Caring, Sharing, and Helping Others".
In 1982 he teamed with Jack Kirby at Eclipse to create Destroyer Duck, a satirical comic that raised funds for his court case against Marvel. Eclipse publisher Dean Mullaney states, "Everyone involved with the 'Special Lawsuit Benefit Issue' donated their time and talents, including Eclipse as the publisher. The full and total proceeds went to pay Steve's legal bills. Among the back-up stories was the first appearance of "Groo" by Sergio Aragones." Gerber and Marvel reached a settlement in the case.
Later career 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2010)|
After that time, Gerber worked sporadically in comics, writing several miniseries for Marvel (including Void Indigo for the Epic Comics imprint in 1984 and The Legion of Night and Suburban She-Devils in 1991) and DC (including A. Bizarro and Nevada for the Vertigo imprint in 1998). In the early 1980s, Gerber and Frank Miller made a proposal to revamp DC's three biggest characters: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. However, this proposal was not accepted. Returning briefly to Marvel, he had a 12-issue run on The Sensational She-Hulk, a three-issue run on Cloak and Dagger, had Hawkeye get shot and wear a new armored costume designed by Tony Stark in Avengers Spotlight, and wrote two issues of Toxic Crusaders, all for Marvel. During this time he also did a serial in Marvel Comics Presents featuring Poison, a character he created in The Evolutionary War crossover. He also wrote the two-issue Freddy Krueger's A Nightmare on Elm Street which delved into the backstory of the character.
He worked in television animation, working as story editor on the animated TV series The Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Dungeons & Dragons; created Thundarr the Barbarian; and shared a 1998 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class — Animated Program, for the WB program The New Batman/Superman Adventures.
He was one of the founders of the Malibu Comics Ultraverse, co-creating Exiles. For Image, he co-created The Cybernary with Nick Manabat and disbanded Codename: Strykeforce (in their crossover with Cyberforce, in which Gerber showed the impossibility of one leader leading two teams with any effectiveness), in addition to guest-writing Pitt. In 2002 he created a new Howard the Duck miniseries for Marvel's MAX line. For DC he then created Hard Time (along with long-time collaborator Mary Skrenes), which outlasted the short-lived imprint DC Focus, but slow sales led Hard Time: Season Two to be cancelled after only seven issues.
Later, Gerber wrote the Helmet of Fate: Zauriel one-shot and continued writing the Doctor Fate serial in the Countdown to Mystery limited series for DC Comics up to the time of his death, working on stories in the hospital. Gerber died before being able to write the concluding chapter of the serial; in his honor, four separate writers (Adam Beechen, Mark Evanier, Gail Simone, and Mark Waid) provided their own conclusions to the story.
In 2007, Gerber was diagnosed with an early stage of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and was eventually hospitalized while continuing to work. He had gotten onto the waiting list for a transplant at UCLA Medical Center. On February 10, 2008, Gerber died in a Las Vegas hospital from complications stemming from his condition. At the time of his death, he was writing Countdown to Mystery: Doctor Fate for DC Comics, having briefly worked with a version of the character in 1983.
In fiction 
||This section may contain original research. (November 2012)|
One of Gerber's working pen-names, Reg Everbest, was the inspiration behind the first Foolkiller's real name which was revealed as Ross G. Everbest. Gerber used the anagrammatic Reg Everbest pseudonym for Marvel-published Hanna-Barbera stories after he was banned from Marvel by Jim Shooter. Roger Stern named the original, deceased Foolkiller "Ross G. Everbest" in The Amazing Spider-Man #225, in homage to Gerber, using Gerber's middle name as the character's first name, the middle initial restoring the anagram save for a silent e. The character's real name never appeared in the two Gerber stories, but is seen on a computer screen in the second Foolkiller's van, next to the face of the original user of that identity.
Awards and nominations 
- 1977: Eagle Award for Favourite Single Comicbook Story for Howard the Duck #3: "Four Feathers of Death", with artist John Buscema
- 1977: Also nominated for same award for Howard the Duck #1: "Howard the Barbarian", with artist Frank Brunner
- 1977: Nominated for Eagle Award for Favourite Comicbook Writer
- 1977 Nominated for Eagle Award for Favourite Continued Comicbook Story for The Defenders #31-40 + The Defenders Annual #1, with artist Sal Buscema
- 1977: Eagle Award for Howard the Duck as Favourite Comicbook - Humour
- 1977 Eagle Award for Howard the Duck as Favourite New Comic Title
- 1977 Howard the Duck nominated for Eagle Award for Favourite Comicbook Character
- 1978: Inkpot Award
- 1978: Nominated for Eagle Award for Favourite Comicbook Writer
- 1978: Nominated for Eagle Award for Favourite Single Comicbook Story for Howard the Duck #16: "The Zen and Art of Comic Book Writing"
- 1978: Beverly Switzler nominated for Eagle Award for Favourite Supporting Character
- 1978: Howard the Duck nominated for Eagle Award Roll of Honour
- 1979: Nominated for Eagle Award for Best Comicbook Writer (US)
- 1979: Howard the Duck nominated for Eagle Award Favourite Character (US)
- 1979: Doctor Bong nominated for Eagle Award for Favourite Villain
- 1979: Beverly Switzler nominated for Eagle Award for Favourite Supporting Character
- 1979: Nominated for Eagle Award for Favourite Single Story for The Avengers #178: "The Martyr Perplex", with artist Carmine Infantino
- 1979: Nominated for Eagle Award Roll of Honour
- 1980: Nominated for Eagle Award Roll of Honour
- 2002: Nominated for Bram Stoker Award for Best Illustrated Narrative for Howard the Duck vol. 2, #1-6
- 2010: Inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame
DC Comics 
- A. Bizarro #1-4 (1999)
- Countdown to Mystery #1-7 (Doctor Fate) (2007–2008)
- DC Comics Presents #97 (1986)
- The Flash #310-313 (Doctor Fate backup stories, reprinted in The Immortal Doctor Fate #3) (1982)
- Hard Time #1-12 (2004–2005)
- Hard Time: Season Two #1-7 (with Mary Skrenes, first issue noted that she was denied credit on the first series) (2006)
- Heartthrobs #4 (1999)
- Helmet of Fate: Zauriel #1 (2007)
- Metal Men #45 (1976)
- Mister Miracle #23-25 (1978)
- Nevada #1-6 (1998)
- Phantom Zone #1-4 (1982)
- Superman: Last Son of Earth #1-2 (2000)
- Superman: Last Stand On Krypton #1 (sequel to Last Son of Earth) (2003)
- Vertigo: Winter's Edge #1-2 (Nevada stories; Leonard the Duck cameo) (1998–1999)
- Weird War Tales #80 (1979)
Eclipse Comics 
- Destroyer Duck #1-5 (1982–1983) (also editor #6-7)
- Eclipse, The Magazine #2-3 (1981) "Role Model: Caring, Sharing, and Helping Others" (horror story)
- Miracleman Book One (introduction only) (1988)
- Stewart the Rat graphic novel (1980)
- Total Eclipse #3 (1988) (Tachyon backup; first appearance)
Image Comics 
- Codename: Strykeforce #10-14 (1995)
- Cyberforce, Strykeforce; Opposing Forces #1-2 (1995)
- Cybernary #1-5 (1995–1996)
- Deathblow #1-4 (Cybernary backup stories) (1993–1994)
- Pitt #9-10 (1995)
- Savage Dragon / Destroyer Duck #1 (1996)
Malibu Comics 
Marvel Comics 
- Adventure into Fear #11-19 (Man-Thing), #21-25 (Morbius) (1972–1974)
- Avengers Spotlight #30-34, 36 (Hawkeye) (1990)
- Avengers #178 (Beast) (1978)
- Captain America #157, 221-223, 225 (1973–1978)
- Chamber of Chills #2 (1973) "Thirst"
- Cloak and Dagger #14-16 (1990–1991)
- Crazy Magazine #2-14 (1974–1975)
- Creatures on the Loose #28-29 (Thongor, Lin Carter adaptation) (1974)
- Daredevil #97-101, 103-117 (1973–1975)
- Defenders #20-29, 31-41, Annual #1 (1975–1976)
- Dracula Lives #1-2, 6, 10-11 (1973–1975)
- Foolkiller #1-10
- Freddy Krueger's A Nightmare on Elm Street #1-2 (1989)
- Giant-Size Defenders #3-5 (1975)
- Giant-Size Man-Thing #1-5 (1974–1975)
- Haunt of Horror #1-3 (1974)
- Howard the Duck #1-27, 29, Annual #1 (1976–1979)
- Howard the Duck vol. 2, #1-6 (2002)
- Incredible Hulk #158 (1972)
- Iron Man #56-58, Annual #3 (1973–1976)
- Journey into Mystery vol. 2 #4 (1973)
- The Legion of Night #1-2 (1991)
- Man-Thing #1-22 (1974–1975)
- Man-Thing: Screenplay of the Living Dead Man (original graphic novel) (posthumous; October 17, 2012)
- Marvel Comics Presents #1-12 (Man-Thing serial), #60-67 (Poison serial) (1988–1990)
- Marvel Comics Super Special #1 (KISS) (1977)
- Marvel Fanfare #56-59 (Shanna the She-Devil) (1991)
- Marvel Graphic Novel #11 (Void Indigo) (1984)
- Marvel Presents #3-7, 9 (Guardians of the Galaxy) (with Mary Skrenes) (1976–1977)
- Marvel Preview #12, 16 (Lilith, Daughter of Dracula) (1977–1978)
- Marvel Spotlight #14-23 (Son of Satan) (1974–1975)
- Marvel Treasury Edition #12 (Howard the Duck) (1976)
- Marvel Two-in-One #1-9 (1974–1975) (tying in with his Man-Thing, Sub-Mariner, Daredevil/Shanna the She-Devil, and Guardians of the Galaxy/Defenders storylines)
- Midnight Sons Unlimited #9 (1995) (The Legion of Night)
- Monsters Unleashed #4, 8-9 (1974) (golem story; Man-Thing prose story, "Several Meaningless Deaths")
- Omega the Unknown #1-6, 9-10 (with Mary Skrenes) (1976–1977)
- The Original Ghost Rider #19 (1994) (reprint of Marvel Two-in-One # 8)
- Rampaging Hulk #7-9 (1978) (backups starring Man-Thing, Ulysses Bloodstone (dies), and Shanna the She-Devil, respectively)
- Sensational She-Hulk #10-11, 13-23 (1990–1991)
- Shanna the She-Devil #1, 4-5 (1972–1973)
- Spider-Man Team-Up #5 (1996)
- Spoof #3-4 (1973) ("The Part-Rich Family" and "What If Famous People Were Santa Claus?")
- Spotlight #4 (Magilla Gorilla) (1979)
- Sub-Mariner #58-69 (1973–1974)
- Suburban Jersey Ninja She-Devils #1 (1991)
- Supernatural Thrillers #5, 7 (N'Kantu, the Living Mummy) (1974)
- Tales of the Zombie #1-8, Annual #1 [all reprint] (1973–1975); also letter response in #10
- Toxic Crusaders #3, 5 (1992)
- TV Stars #4 (Clue Club) (1979)
- Vampire Tales #1, 6 (Morbius, Lilith, respectively) (1973–1974)
- Void Indigo #1-2 (1984–1985)
- Web of Spider-Man Annual #4 (1988) (featuring Man-Thing and introducing Poison)
- Quack #2 (1977) (assistance with Alan Kupperberg story)
- Batman The Animated Series: Volume 4
- Dungeons & Dragons: The Complete Animated Series
- Superman The Animated Series: Volume 2
- The Batman/Superman Movie
- "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JGL8-R3L : accessed 11 Mar 2013), Stephen R Gerber, 10 February 2008.
- Social Security Death Index details
- Fox, Margalit. "Steve Gerber, Creator of Howard the Duck, Dies at 60". The New York Times, February 14, 2008, with correction appended. WebCitation archive.
- Roy Thomas interview, Alter Ego #70 (July 2007), p. 55
- "Marvel Fires Gerber", The Comics Journal #41 (August 1978), p. 7
- Comic Book Artist #7 (reprinted in Comic Book Artist Collection Volume 3 (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2005)): "Steve Gerber's Crazy Days", p. 66
- May 26, 1978, letter from Steve Gerber to Gary Groth, in "An Interview with Steve Gerber", The Comics Journal #41 (August 1978), p. 29
- "Duck Squawk: Gerber vs. Marvel" Amazing Heroes #1 (June 1981) p. 18
- "Gerber Sues Marvel over Rights to Duck," The Comics Journal #62 (March 1981), pp. 11–13
- "Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby Collaborate on the 'Manslaying Mallard of Vengeance'" Comics Feature #12/13 (September/October 1981) p. 14
- Suburban She-Devils at the Grand Comics Database
- Cronin, Brian (April 1, 2010). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #254". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved November 6, 2011. "Gerber and Frank Miller pitched DC on revamps of the “Trinity.” The three titles would be called by the “line name” of METROPOLIS, with each character being defined by one word/phrase… AMAZON (written by Gerber); DARK KNIGHT (written by Miller); and Something for Superman – I believe either MAN OF STEEL or THE MAN OF STEEL, but I’m not sure about that (written by both men)." WebCitation archive
- Evanier, Mark. "Steve Gerber, R.I.P.", P.O.V. Online (column), February 11, 2008. WebCitation archive.
- Brady, Matt. "Steve Gerber Passes Away". Newsarama, February 11, 2008. WebCitation archive.
Further reading 
- "Steve Gerber's Crazy Days" (in Comic Book Artist #7, February 2000, reprinted in Comic Book Artist Collection Volume 3, TwoMorrows Publishing, 2005)
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Steve Gerber|
- Steve Gerber at the Grand Comics Database
- Steve Gerber at the Comic Book DB
- Steve Gerber at the Internet Movie Database
- Steve Gerber at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Steve Gerber at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Daytime Emmy Awards
- Official website WebCitation archive.
- Hatcher, Greg. "Trapped in a Friday He Never Made", Comic Book Resources, August 5, 2006. WebCitation archive.
- McLellan, Dennis. "Steve Gerber, 1947–2008: Comic-book writer created Howard the Duck and worked on TV series", Los Angeles Times, February 15, 2008. WebCitation archive.
- Archive of page 1 only, "The Steve Gerber Interview", The Comics Journal, 12 February 2008
|Iron Man writer
(#102 and #118 by Chris Claremont)
|The Defenders writer
Donald F. Glut
|Captain America writer
J. M. DeMatteis