A widely panned “Howard the Duck” movie in 1986 was all many people knew of this weird character, created in 1973 largely so writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik could comment on society and make fun of superheroes. But last year’s popular “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie ended with a short scene with a surprise appearance by Howard, proving he was part of Marvel’s plans for its gigantic and growing connected universe of movies, television shows and comic books – if only because director James Gunn loved the original comics so much. In November, it was reported that Howard would indeed be back in comics, this time by writer Chip Zdarsky and Somerville artist Joe Quinones. Their plan: Make Howard a private detective in New York.
With the comic due to debut March 4 and Quinones’ cover for issue No. 2 revealed Friday – with a sour Howard joined by the Guardians, all doing their best to make classic selfie duck faces – Quinones answered a few questions about the upcoming series:
What’s the connection between the series and Howard’s appearance at the end of “Guardians of the Galaxy”?
There’s no direct continuity per se, but certainly that appearance is a huge reason why Howard is coming back to Marvel. I really don’t know if the decision to put Howard in “Guardians” came down from Marvel or Gunn. Probably a little of both. Regardless, we are, I think, taking some cues from the movie, including the notion of this shared, vast universe. It’s an idea that has been around in (mainstream superhero) comics forever, particularly at Marvel, but the Marvel movies have really eloquently showcased that, threading all the pieces together. It’s a big part of why they’re so much fun.
How much input do you get on the direction of the series and individual issues, and how much of a role does Chip Zdarsky play in your art?
So far we email back and forth about ideas for the book. Possible characters, plots, gags, etc. It’s been really nice to have a back-and-forth and to feel like an integral part of the process. It’s a similar dynamic with our editor, Wil Moss.
How much does the original series and Howard’s long and confusing history affect what you’re working on?
Our series is a bit of a soft reboot for Howard. We’re not disregarding any of his past (in the comics), but we’re building off a new status quo; his now being centered in Manhattan, his working as a private eye, even his overall look all amount to a fresh, if soft, new start.
Howard is trapped in a place where he is unique and feels alone. Do the themes of inclusivity and alienation play much of a role here – or is just a funny comic book?
Sure. As artists and freelancers, we know a lot about feeling alone. This won’t be just a surface story about a DUCK. IN. SPACE. No, we’ve got some real things to talk about, or at least snicker about.
Mmm. I could go for a Snickers.