Howard The Duck is a tough nut to quack (no more duck puns, promise).
While the character made a name for himself as a hard-hitting loudhorn for topical issues , he was still, um, a talking duck in a three-piece suit. Throughout his forty-plus year history, Howard's soul has always been a tug of war between affable goofball and social crusader, never truly knowing where his identity lie.
But Marvel seems to have ">found the perfect balance in creators Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones, who will tackle Howard's first solo series in more than 10 years. In the March-launching Howard The Duck, Zdarsky and Quinones will deliver an unbridled comedy title that wears its heart on its sleeve, while also honoring Howard's legacy as a socially conscious comic character. After all, Zdarskly made a name for himself as the industry's top humorist with "Sex Criminals," while Quinones has a lush cartoon style that deserves its own trademark. It's like that Marvel-inspired Adult Swim cartoon that we never received.
Below, the creators discuss how their series will embrace the character's satirical history, what makes Howard such a special character in the Marvel Universe, and rewrite a favorite scene from 1986 Howard The Duck film.
So how did you both become involved in this project? What was Marvel's pitch that made you want to take this project?
Chip: Um, I legitimately don't think Marvel knows I'm doing this. I think they think I'm Chip Kidd or CM Punk or something.
What makes Howard The Duck a character that you wanted to tackle? What attracted you the most to the character?
Chip: He’s a surly, average guy who happens to be a duck! I love the contrast of this guy against the weirdness of the Marvel Universe. It's like, sure, he's a talking duck, but he doesn't put on tight clothing and fight or commit crime. He's more normal than most of the characters out there. Which makes him a good foil for all manner of situations.
Wait, unless, were you asking me if I'm attracted to Howard? Because the answer is “yes.”
Joe: Howard is a dapper gentleman. At first glance, working with Chip and Wil (Moss, our editor) was what drew me in the most. I honestly didn’t have a lot of association with the character, outside of the movie, but I love the idea of a light, fun and funny, satirical comic book. And coming out of Marvel, no less. There really isn’t much else out there like it.
"Howard The Duck" distinguished itself as a comic that wasn't afraid to push boundaries and address the social and political problems of its times. With its commentary, it certainly set a new standard for comics and pop culture relevancy. With that in mind, what forms of commentary will your series provide for the 21st century, and how do you plan to challenge modern comic readers with your Howard comics?
Chip: It’s a gradual process, I think. It's tricky, cause I don't want to broadcast "I'm going to tackle illegal immigration" and then give you the story. I want readers to enjoy the story and then go, "Oh! This is about illegal immigration!" Anyhoo, the first story is about illegal immigration.
The only challenge here is for me to make smart, funny comics by pretending to be smart and funny and ripping off others who are smart and funny.
How much of Howard's history do you plan to address for the new series? Will this series reflect his forty-plus years of history at Marvel, or are you giving him a fresh start? If so, how?
Chip: It’s a fresh start in the sense that I'm giving Howard a new setting and circumstances with New York and his private eye business, but I'm definitely going to retain his history. That's part of the fun of these kinds of books! Getting to continue a story! Like the General Hospitals of my youth!
The concept of Howard the Duck series almost sells itself for Marvel diehards, but how do you plan on winning new readers over?
Chip: Howard was a really popular character because the comics were really good. It sounds simplistic, but I think that's key. He's a great character! If Joe and I have fun doing this and we can make the book fun and funny, I think people will join us. I want a Carol Corps for Howard, dammit. A Howard Flock!. Marvelflockers!
Chip, could you give your favorite, context-free piece of dialogue from issue #1, and Joe, could you describe your favorite, context-free panel from issue #1? Why are they your favorites?
Chip: Heh. Um, there's still time for editorial to cut most of my lines, so I'll put "It’s my face! My face is on your body!" here, so it'll live forever.
Chip, if you could re-write one scene from the Howard The Duck movie, which one would be it be, and why?
Chip: I would rewrite the final concert scene so it went on for at least a full hour. I love that song way too much.
Joe, are you planning on bringing any changes to your art style for the series? What type of tone are you hoping to set with your art?
Joe: Not particularly. The book still takes place in the Marvel Universe. It’s not like we’re putting on beer goggles and running around naked. I think the way I draw characters and faces generally can lend itself well to humor, and I really dig visual gags anyhow. I’ll often “Easter Egg” things in to my comics and covers, so I could see that applying here too. I feel like most of the comedy will come from Chip’s writing and the ‘acting’ of the characters I draw through the book. Not stylistic changes per se, just context.
If Howard The Duck, Donald Duck, and Daffy Duck entered an area, who would leave alive? Why?
Chip: For legal reasons I'm not allowed to answer this. Carton duck matters are no joke, buddy.
Joe: Whoever wins, we lose.
Fair enough. I think that about covers, unless there’s anything else that you guys wanted to mention.
Chip: "All I want to do is have some fun/ I’ve got a feeling/ I’m not the only one."
Joe: And now that song is in all of our heads. Send your hate mail to Chip Zdarsky, folks.