I was extremely saddened to hear of the demise of former Marvel writer Steve Gerber yesterday… It’s always disheartening to hear about the loss of a creator you really enjoy, but to find out about it after a really wonderful day (spent time with the daughter, went out for my wife’s birthday party, played Guitar Hero and Karaoke Revolution before reading my brand new All-Star Comics Companion until I went to bed) made it that much more unpleasant.

When I think about what made me REALLY love comics, a lot of things come to mind: Carmine Infantino’s art on “The Flash.” G.I. Joe #1. Reprints of the Legion in “Adventure Comics.” But one theme that keeps recurring is the work of Steve. The Defenders issue where Nighthawk’s brain is transplanted into the body of a deer. The quest to find all ten issues of Omega The Unknown. Every word out of the beak of Howard The Duck. And the wonder of wonders, the fact that a major comic book company actually named a comic book (with a seemingly straight face) “Giant Size Man-Thing.” Ask the next woman you see if she wants to see your giant-size man-thing, and see what you get.

Steve’s characters were the disenfranchised, the losers, the also-rans, the people like me who wondered how the heroic, square-jawed types ever pulled it together long enough to iron their capes. Gerber is the only comics professional whose autograph I sought out and value (He signed my copy of “Fear #19” with his name and a large “Waaagh!” and I treasure the damned thing to this very day.) We had a long conversation about Howard, The Defenders, Sludge, and this new comic he was working on called “Hard Time,” and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t as interesting, infuriating and brilliant as the work I’d loved years before.

I’m saddened to think that we may never see another Space Turnip, another Kidney Lady, another Ruby Thursday, or find out what Gerbs had intended the wrap-up of “Omega” to be. Marvel recently brought back no less than THREE of Steve’s signature creations (Foolkiller and the new OtU series are still running, while the latest Howard mini just wrapped up) and are preparing to revamp the Defenders one more time, which should tell you all you need to know about the workability of these concepts. Steve Gerber will be missed as an writer, as an innovator, and especially as a proponent of creator’s rights, and my thoughts go out to his friends and family for their loss.

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Sanlear
    February 15, 2008 at 7:19 am — Reply

    He also created the cartoon, Thundarr the Barbarian, which I loved watching as a kid.

  2. Robin Nowatzki
    February 13, 2011 at 8:35 pm — Reply

    I met Steve at a Christmas party of Dec. 2007 and we had long conversations. He left the party not feeling too well, so we hugged & said our goodbyes. He had with him 2 boxes of the Jan. & Feb. 2008 issues of Dr Fate Count Down Mystery comics. He personally autographed each one to me & alset to my son as well.. On his #4 issue he also wrote down his sell phone number. I called him a couple of times & we spoke briefly. There was a strong connection between us. I didn’t hear from him for a week. The I decided to call him at 7:30 pm on Jan. 10, 2008 & he answered on the 1st ring. I told him that I had something important to discuss with him. He told me that he was in the hospital & said that it wasn’t good time at that moment and that would call me back as soon as he could. My son Sean called later that night and told me that he died. I cried & cried. I fell in love with him in that short period of time. There are just some things that you just know in the knowing.

    Robin M. Nowatzki

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