Category Archives: Steve Gerber

The Year In Review: Mixed Media

As pop culture goes, my participation in same was pretty dismal. But I’m going to plod on and describe the highlights.

COMICS
Last month, the Comic Reporter asked its readers to “Name Five Memorable Comics-Related Things About 2008 (A Book You Read, An Experience You Had, An Event That Made You Take Notice — Anything That Would Help You In The Future Recall This Year.” I failed to participate there, but I will here.

1a. Fred Hembeck’s book came out, and I’m mentioned in the thank yous; I like seeing my name in print, what can I say? This also meant that I actually went to more comic-related shows (three) than I have in a while. At two of them, I saw Fred.
1b. At one of those shows, someone actually asked ME to sign some FantaCo Chronicles I worked on 25 years ago. What an ego boost!
1c. I also saw my friend Rocco Nigro, and re-met the inestimable Alan David Doane, who was probably an annoying teenager last I had seen him, rather than the charmer he is now.

2. Someone put out a Wikipedia page for FantaCo, a place I worked for 8.5 years, this summer. Frankly, the page was awful, riddled with errors and omissions. Fortunately, the guy contacted me, and it became the mission of mine and of my old buddy Steve Bissette to rectify the record; the thing is not perfect, but it’s a WHOLE lot better. The incident also gave me a chance to get in contact with former FantaCo owner Tom Skulan for the first time in nearly a decade.

3. Reading Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier. It explained a lot about Jack’s motivation the times I dealt with him on the phone in the early 1980s.

4. The deaths of Steve Gerber in 2008, who unbeknowst to him helped inspire this blog, and of Raoul Vezina, 25 years ago.

5. Freddie and Me by Mike Dawson, which, among other things, made me want to listen to more of the music of the group Queen.

MUSIC
I got maybe a dozen 2008 albums all year, by Lindsay Buckingham, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, REM, She and Him, Brian Wilson, Lizz Wright, a couple others plus the MOJO take on the Beatles’ white album. I liked them all at some level, but the even snarlkier than usual Newman album “stuck” the most. More old fogey music I received for Christmas and haven’t heard enough to judge: Paul McCartney, James Taylor and Johhny Cash. The latter is a 40th anniversary double CD/DVD box set of his Folsom Prison concerts; just on a quick listen, I’m happy to hear the Carl Perkins and Statler Brothers tunes for the first time.

MOVIES
A paltry number of 2008 pics so far: Iron Man (my favorite), Young@Heart, Man on Wire, Vicki Cristina Barcelona, and Synecdoche, New York. Three of them, IM, MoW and VCB made the Top 10 list at the WSJ along with WALL-E, Slumdog Millionaire and a bunch of other films I will try to see.
Yes, I did see some 2007 films in 2008 and I will undoubtedly see some 2008 films in 2009. Still, five is worse than the seven I saw last year, and catching up on video just doesn’t seem to happen, not that it’s entirely comparable anyway.

TELEVISION

Oh, heck, TV deserves its own posting. Thanks to technology, it’s about the only thing I have even a modicum of a chance to (barely) keep up with.

ROG

Steve Gerber

Back on May 19, 2005, I wrote:

Steve Gerber, writer of fine comic books such as Man-Thing and Howard the Duck (but don’t blame the movie on him!), wrote in his inaugural blog on April 4, 2005:

“I make my living as a writer. There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an “aspiring writer.” A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write.) Anyway, writing for a living requires writing every day. Writing every day requires discipline. Discipline requires enforcement.
“I’ve lost the habit of writing every day. I need discipline. I need enforcement. You’re looking at it.
“I intend to post something on this blog every day. If I fail to do so, that failure will be very public, and I’ll be embarrassed by it. I don’t enjoy being embarrassed. So maybe, just maybe, making this obligation will help transform me into a habitual writer again.”

Of course, he was not able to hold to this schedule because of various ailments. Still he continued to inspire me. From July 18, 2007 re: Bill Moyers’ piece on the impeachment of George W. Bush:

Interestingly, I read about it first, not in the Huffington Post or even the knowledgeable Mark Evanier. Rather, I saw it first in Steve Gerber’s blog. Gerber is a comic book writer of some note, probably best known by the general public for Howard the Duck, and he wrote the second blog I ever read, after Fred Hembeck’s, and was the final inspiration for me starting my blog less than a month after he started his.

I never met the man. I never knew the man, except through his words. I followed his blog regularly, but didn’t write to him often.

I’m sure you know where this is going, if you haven’t heard already: Steve Gerber died late the day before yesterday. I’ll remember seeking out those first three Howard the Duck issues that my local comic book store didn’t get because the distributor thought it was a “funny book” that the store didn’t want. I’ll remember how my old employer, FantaCo, spomsored the premiere of the HTD movie, which seemed to have departed from Gerber’s vision.

But mostly, I’ll remember Steve as this smart, occasionally acerbic guy, whose example affected me far more than he could have ever known.

The aforementioned Mark Evanier is keeping Steve’s blog alive for a while.

Goodbye, Steve, and thanks.

ROG

July Ramblin'

O.K., I’m finally convinced. I listened to a lengthy (50+ minute) segment of Bill Moyers’ Journal from July 13, with “Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who wrote the first article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, and THE NATION’s John Nichols, author of THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT.” The conservative and the liberal were practically tripping over each other making the case for impeachment of both President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. But it wasn’t to be punitive; it was so that whoever is President on January 20, 2009 won’t feel they have the “monarchist” authority this administration has. They chastise both Congress (the current one as well as the ones since 2001) and the press for not playing their proper roles in the balance of power. The thing that was most helpful for me was their counterpoint to the argument that the country can’t afford another impeachment proceeding after the Clinton one; it appears that the country cannot afford not to.

Interestingly, I read about it first, not in the Huffington Post or even the knowledgeable Mark Evanier. Rather, I saw it first in Steve Gerber’s blog. Gerber is a comic book writer of some note, probably best known by the general public for Howard the Duck, and he wrote the second blog I ever read, after Fred Hembeck’s, and was the final inspiration for me starting my blog less than a month after he started his.

Not so incidentally, Steve’s been having some medical issues; I wish him well.
***
Jay Kinney unearths a 1952 T-Man comic that explains the Bush-Cheney policy in the Middle East. (Thanks, Dan.)
***
You know how there are people around you, and you don’t even know their names, then they’re gone. Someone on the floor in which I worked died last week. I didn’t recognize the name of Jane Neale, but when I saw the pictures, I said, “Oh, her!” She was always quite pleasant to me. My condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.
***
How racism hurts — literally. This was a story in the July 15, 2007 Boston Globe by Madeline Drexler that the Wall Street Journal found important enough to excerpt this week. Essentially, the premise is that dealing with discrimination makes one physically sick.
***
Evanier wanted to know whether it was worth saving an L.A.-based Felix the Cat. I say yes; it could become iconic, like Albany’s RCA dog, Nipper.
***
Bill Geist is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year. I found that very funny because, back in January, he did a story for CBS Sunday Morning exploring what it would take to get on the Walk. He’ll be joining such pikers as actress Angela Bassett, Hemby’s friend Stan Lee[Dec. 28], and the late George Harrison.
***
Just How Long Does the Average Baseball Career Last?
***
I’m a movie star!
OK, I’m not.
***
Every month in which there is a staff birthday, our group has a little party, and this week, we had strawberry shortcake. This led to a conversation about a product called Dream Whip Whipped Topping Mix. Long before Cool Whip, or that stuff in the aerosol can, there was this powdery stuff to which you added milk and whipped. I hadn’t seen it in a while and wondered if it was still being made, and it is, at least in Canada. But what I don’t understand is why it’s available on Amazon (5.2-Ounce Boxes-Pack of 6), “Better Together” with the Pixar movie Cars (Widescreen Edition) DVD.
I also opined that, even as a kid, SpaghettiOs were vile, and this led to a discussion of people defending them. Maybe they’ve changed the formulas, but when I was (trying not to be) eating them, the sauce tasted like watery tomato soup.

ROG

Gerber, baby

Steve Gerber, writer of fine comic books such as Man-Thing and Howard the Duck (but don’t blame the movie on him!), wrote in his inaugural blog on April 4, 2005:

“I make my living as a writer. There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an “aspiring writer.” A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write.) Anyway, writing for a living requires writing every day. Writing every day requires discipline. Discipline requires enforcement.
“I’ve lost the habit of writing every day. I need discipline. I need enforcement. You’re looking at it.
“I intend to post something on this blog every day. If I fail to do so, that failure will be very public, and I’ll be embarrassed by it. I don’t enjoy being embarrassed. So maybe, just maybe, making this obligation will help transform me into a habitual writer again.”

But I’m not so disciplined.

Besides, Thursdays are LONG day during the church year:
Get up and keep Lydia company (read: distracted) until Carol showers and dresses
Get dressed and go play racquetball
Go to work
Go to Bible study
Go home and take out the garbage

It’s pretty much a 16 hour slog. But when choir’s off for the summer, I’m eager to get back into it.

Like I’ll do with this blog…tomorrow.