Blog: unexpected creators

Unexpected Comic Strip Creators - Steve Gerber

Howard the Duck, October 12, 1977

There's a lot to this one, so buckle in.

Steve Gerber was a writer for several Marvel and DC comic books, but his best known creation is the satirical "funny animal" character Howard the Duck. Howard was originally portrayed as a Donald Duck-esque character, but with a much more abrasive personality. In fact, Howard's appearance was so similar to Donald Duck that at one point Disney contacted Marvel Comics requesting that they change the design. Marvel agreed to give Howard a pair of pants, something that Donald absolutely never wears, so as not to infringe on Disney's copyright. Gerber was none too happy about this, and wrote a story about Howard forcibly being given a pair of pants that he subsequently removes. Howard wore no pants for the remainder of the time Gerber wrote him, though the pants were added after Gerber was replaced. I'm not sure how much it matters now that Disney owns Marvel, but I digress.

Howard first appeared in the Man-Thing backup feature in Adventure Into Fear #19 in 1973. He co…


Unexpected Comic Strip Creators - Mickey Spillane

Mike Hammer

Detective stories and comics have gone hand in hand ever since the early days of the medium. One of the most famous comic heroes, Batman, first appeared in the pages of Detective Comics, which has become one of the longest running comic books in history, as well as lending its name to one of the two biggest comic companies, DC Comics. Even before Batman's debut, Dick Tracy and others were solving crimes and mysteries on the newspaper page. Those kinds of stories have always been popular with readers, but I imagine they were also popular with writers and newspapermen, given that mysteries and intrigue gave readers a big reason to pick up the next day's paper to find out what happens next. In order to create a popular detective strip, it seems logical that a newspaper syndicate would look for someone already skilled in writing that kind of narrative. In 1934, King Features had done it with Dashiell Hammett, who I've written about previously, and in 1953 a much smaller syndicate, Phoenix Features, would get t…


Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: Jack Kirby

Sometimes researching a creator is difficult, not because of the lack of information, but because of the overwhelming wealth of it. Over his lifetime, Jack Kirby produced an incredibly large body of work, which includes co-creating most of the well-known Marvel Comics characters, such as Captain America, the Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the X-Men, as well as quite a few not nearly as well known DC Comics characters, including The Guardian, the Newsboy Legion, The Demon, and all the New Gods characters of the Fourth World. Because of this, there has been quite a bit written over the years about the man and his work, and it takes quite a long time to sort through. It's especially difficult when what you're looking for is information about his lesser-known work in newspaper comic strips, and when much of that was work for an obscure syndicate called Lincoln Newspaper Features that we'd probably know absolutely nothing about had Kirby not worked for them. This information is important…


Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: Bob Kane

The Little Major by Bob Kane

For many years, I've relied on a blog called The Stripper's Guide, written by Allan Holtz, for much of my information on very obscure and unknown comic strips. Most times, when I'm researching various comic strips or creators, things that I find there can generally also be found in at least one or two other places online. Unfortunately, in the case of Bob Kane, I must rely solely on the information from The Stripper's Guide, because it seems to be the only place on the open Internet that any solid information can be found on the newspaper comic strips he created.

Bob Kane was the artist and co-creator, along with Bill Finger, of the comic book character Batman. Kane drew the Batman newspaper strip for three years, starting in 1943, and that's fairly well known. While writers and artists behind comic books didn't always work on the newspaper strips with their characters in them, it wasn't unheard of. Certainly nothing about that is obscure or unexpected. Going a bit deeper, Kane also worked on some project…


Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: Joe Kubert

Tales of the Green Beret

Fans of mainstream comic books will no doubt be familiar with the name Kubert from one place or another. Younger readers may be familiar with either Andy or Adam Kubert and their comic book work, and older readers will most likely know of Joe Kubert, their father, and his extensive contributions to the medium. It's possible, however, that they may not be aware of Kubert's history with newspaper comics, and especially how extensive it is.

Tales of the Green Beret

Joe Kubert is probably best known for his work on war comics with characters such as Sgt. Rock and The Haunted Tank, his Silver Age revival of Hawkman, or his work on various DC Comics titles over his 70 year career. He's also fairly well known for founding the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, located in Dover, New Jersey. The school boasts some fairly famous and successful alumni, and is still in operation.

Interestingly, the school's mascot, Tor, is actually a comic book character that Kubert originally created for the St. John Publishing Company, and wh…