If you were a nerdy teenage comic book collector with intellectual aspirations in 1976 (as I was) you no doubt remember Howard the Duck. Howard, a cigar-chomping duck from another dimension “trapped in a world he never made” was THE hot comic book of 1976. The duck’s creator, Steve Gerber, wrote intelligent stories that reveled in turning super-hero comic book conventions on their ears.
I didn’t catch on to the duck’s saga until about issue #4, and I still recall saving up my paper route money for months to buy copies of the first three issues at the local comic book store. Issue #1 was scarce due to low distribution and went for a king’s ransom (about $20 as I recall). Heck, I was so enamored of Howard that I even went to the movie. I think I was the only one in the theatre…
Speaking of low distribution, the Howard the Duck newspaper strip certainly fits that description. Although Howard was a cause celebre among comic book fans, you can imagine what newspaper editors thought when the salesman from Register & Tribune Syndicate showed them this supremely odd strip. You can be sure that any editor who actually took the strip did so only because they had teenage boys at home who threatened to make his life hell otherwise.
The newspaper strip version began on June 6 1977 at the height of Howard-mania. At first Steve Gerber and Gene Colan, the creative team on the comic book, handled the strip as well. Colan, however, dropped out after just five months, and his job was taken over by Val Mayerik, who was also occasionally spelling Colan on the comic book.
In 1978 Steve Gerber abruptly left both the comic book and comic strip due to creative control issues with Marvel Comics. Gerber was last credited on the strip in April, and Marv Wolfman took over the writing duties. Shortly before, Mayerik bailed out and was replaced by Alan Kupperberg on art. The strip soldiered on until October of that year before being replaced by a strip about a different Marvel property, The Incredible Hulk.
Here are specific creator dates on the series, most of which come from John Wells with a few edits by me. Undoubtedly, as with all Marvel newspaper strips, there’s more to the creative story than is told by the official credits…
Steve Gerber / Gene Colan: 6/12/77 – 11/6/77
Steve Gerber / Val Mayerik: 11/13/77 – 3/26/78 *
Steve Gerber / Alan Kupperberg: 4/2/78 – 4/16/78 *
Marv Wolfman / Alan Kupperberg: 4/23/78 – 10/29/78
* art 1/29 – 4/16 unsigned, looks like Mayerik to 3/19, 3/26 – 4/9 may be by others (4/2/78 sample shown above)
Steve Gerber / Gene Colan: 6/6/77 – 10/8/77
Steve Gerber / Val Mayerik: 10/10/77 – 2/25/78
Steve Gerber / Alan Kupperberg: 2/27/78 – 4/22/78
Marv Wolfman / Alan Kupperberg: 4/24/78 – 10/28/78
Joe Brusky compiled the story info (some titles are his invention — most stories were untitled in the actual strip), with additions and corrections from Mark Nems:
Pop Syke – The Consciousness of Success: 6/6/77 – 7/31/77 (daily/Sunday)
The Cult of Entropy: 8/1/77 – 10/2/77 (daily/Sunday)
Fred Feenix the Self-Made Man: 10/3/77 – 12/11/77 (daily/Sunday)
The Sleigh-Jacking: 12/12/77 – 1/1/78 (daily/Sunday)
In Search of the Good Life: 1/2/78 – 2/26/78 (daily/Sunday)
Sleep of the Just: 2/27/78 – 4/22/78 (daily/Sunday)
Close Encounters of the Fowl Kind: 4/23/78 – 6/13/78 (daily/Sunday)
The Tuesday Ruby: 6/14/78 – 9/2/78 (daily only)
The Clone Ranger: 9/4/78 – 9/30/78 (daily only)
Howard Heads Home (aka Bye Bye Beverly): 10/2/78 – 10/28/78 (daily only)
Mystery of the Maltese Human: 8/27/78 – 10/29/78 (Sundays)