Thursday, February 14, 2008

Steve Gerber

I get jealous when I read anything by Steve Gerber.

When I read Sludge #1 way back when, my awareness of who wrote and drew what hadn't quite formed. I just knew that the writers were the big deal in the Ultraverse, or so the advertisements said. So, most of those guys, I followed them elsewhere. This rarely left me disappointed. They were, and are, all great writers, but none of them took me where Gerber took me.

From Sludge's big blue chemical mess of a protagonist and pumpkin-headed scarecrow crimelord I went back in time to read a smattering of Man-Thing and Howard the Duck, finding the same sort of strange heroes and villains.

His stories always had a heart, trite as that may sound, and showed sympathy for and gave a voice to those who were truly weird, truly out of place "in a world they never made," not just those self-centered types who constantly tell people how weird they are. His stories also showed a cynicism and bitterness born out of a desire for a better world and a humor spun from frustration and disappointment. His was a unique voice in all of comics, and it spoke to me through every story.

You can't say enough good things about his Howard the Duck stories, but the story of his that affected me the most was his Foolkiller mini-series. I found it on Ebay a few years ago and after reading it I was left in about as foul, miserable and depressed a mood as I've ever felt. It's truly an amazing story, a fairly hidden gem quite likely available for far less than its true worth.

It's hard to find that type of impression, in the sense of something pressing down on you, in any story from any writer in any medium. But Steve Gerber pressed, and pressed hard.


Ken Lowery said...

Word. I remember borrowing the full Foolkiller run from a friend and thinking it would be pretty lame. Lo, it's as relevant now as I'm sure it was when it first came out. And HARD TIME... so, so good.

Jonathan Nolan said...

I nearly did some stuff with Steve Gerber a few years ago, including publishing the rest of VOID INDIGO and making it into a film.

What might have been.