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I've just returned from the mid-'70s after accomplishing something I should've done forty years ago. I finally read all 31 issues of HOWARD The DUCK's monthly full-colour comicbook, something I never managed to do at the time. You see, back then, I purchased the first five issues (which I still have), and for some reason, never got the rest. In the late '80s or early '90s, I acquired #s 6-12 from a back issue dealer, but I can't recall whether I actually ever read them or not. Well, I have now!
When I obtained the two volume set of The COMPLETE COLLECTION of the famous fowl's '70s adventures, I sat down and read them all in their entirety, several issues at a time. There's something so quintessentially '70s about these stories, and so strongly do I associate Howard with that particular era, that it was almost as if I'd returned to the period to complete a task I'd begun back then. It was like long-gone neighbours still inhabited their former homes, long-vanished shops still thrived, and the long-shrivelled sense of optimism and eternity still inhabited my once-youthful soul. I felt as if I was only 16 or 17 again.
That feeling all-too-quickly passed when I finished the last story and reluctantly returned to the here-and-now. The illusion was nice while it lasted, but reality always stalks such brief excursions into the past, waiting to reclaim you for its own once again. However, don't let that deter you. If you'd like to feel young and vital once more, I suggest you revisit a comicbook series that you associate with a dearly missed time in your life and plunge straight in. The water's lovely, so make the most of it before it evaporates and you find yourself beached on the dry sands of the present. It's a bitter-sweet experience to be sure, but no less worth it for all that. What more can I say? See you in yesterday.
Howard was one of my regular US Marvels back in the day (by that I mean I read about 15 of them at the time including the issue of Man Thing he first appeared in) as it was one of the more regularly stocked US comics where I used to live. Gene Colan's work was always excellent but for me Frank Brunner's first few issues were the best - the writing was always good although I didn't always get some of the jokes / references ( as they were US related) but it was a pretty unique comic. I get that "back to the 60's or 70's feeling when I see and open a comic that meant a lot to me for the first time in an age but sadly its only one of those passing flashbacks, nice when it happens though (I try to block out 80s flashbacks ooooh that mullet what was I thinking!) . I wonder if they will reprint any of the black and white magazine versions?
The 2nd volume reprints the first issue of the B&W monthly, McS, but I don't know whether there'll be a 3rd volume reprinting the rest of them. I think I'm happy with the colour issues. As well as the original first five issues of HTD I bought in the '70s, I also still have my original HTD Treasury Edition. When did comics that were only a few years old suddenly turn into ones that are over 40 years old? I must've blinked.
I'm starting to realise that 1970s comics, music, football. TV. Films etc were a very loooong time ago (with a lot of my heroes David Bowie, John Lennon, Gene Colan, Alex Toth, some Scottish / UK footballers etc all having passed away or the ones still here looking like grandparents) and for me they are starting to feel and look like they are from a different time. Still we've lived through a pretty amazing time 60s - 70s especially for these types of thing and I wouldn't change it for the world (still, I miss my 28 inch waist).
I haven't seen my waist in a long time, McS - my stomach keeps getting in the way. And as for what's below my waist - well, I've forgotten what it even looks like (as well as what it's for). The '60s & '70s have to be the best decades ever.
I certainly think the 60/70s were the start of the "modern " world but it had enough of the "old" world in it to keep it rooted - a lot has changed for the better today, but yeah for these type of things (comics, music, footy, toys, sweeties etc) they were pretty great weren't they.
Howard was one of those titles with an appeal for those who might not generally be comic readers. You'd hear Howard the Duck, dropped into conversations and even see references appearing in the broader media, the music press etcetera. I never really got passed the first issue myself though, the humour went straight over my head: what it's about chartered accountants, revenue inspectors or something? So Howard, remains something of a mystery to me, although I did see the film. George Lucas trying to wriggle out of contractual obligations, a recipe for sterile cinema you'd think, but it did have a few moments that made me nearly choke on my popcorn.
They were magic, McS. there was enough of the '50s in the '60s to enable us to feel we'd experienced it, and enough of the '60s in the '70s so that it didn't feel so very far away. (Why, that's almost profound.)
DSE, run out and buy the books - you'll love 'em. Or at least buy Volume one for issue #3 - it's a classic. Or see if your local library will order them.
That world's always existed, CJ - you give MT too much credit. Howard also had his beak bobbed, but I prefer the original version.
I love those early Howard issues so much. Does that book have the Hellcow story in it, Kid? If I remember rightly, the Master of Quack-Fu issue was drawn by John Buscema, maybe Gene Colan was busy with Tomb of Dracula that month.
Steve Gerber done some of his best work on Howard, IMO, have you ever read the Foolkiller series Gerber wrote for Marvel in the early 90s, Kid? Really impressive story, at time thought-provoking, at others unsettling, and possibly (unless anyone knows better) the first comic to have internet communication as part of the plot. Not sure if it has been collected, but if so I'd recommend it to anyone.
The 1st volume contains all the Man-Thing tales where Howard appeared, plus the Hell-Cow story, DD. (And HTD #1-15, as well as the Treasury Edition.) Yup, JB drew the Master Of Quack-Fu ish, a true classic. I seem to remember Foolkiller in Spider-Man, but if there was a series of the character in his own comic, I didn't see it.
When I was about 13, I adapted a couple of the Howard stories as audio plays, starring my school friends. I chose the Beaver and Dr. Bong issues, added sound effects to the dialogue and narration, writing it all out in longhand. We then recorded them reel-to-reel in my friend's bedroom in Strathaven. I don't think we understood them at all, really, and it was all very homespun but it made me interested in performance and writing.
Have you still got the tapes, Dougie? I remember the first time I heard my voice played back to me on my father's old reel-to-reel tape recorder - I cringed. Okay, I was only about 5 or 6, but it still didn't sound like me (to my ears anyway). Bet you'd cringe if you heard your tapes now, eh?
It would be very strange to hear my friends, not least the ones I'm still in touch with. I think the owner of that reel-to-reel might still have them. Of course, as a teen auteur, I cast myself as Howard and my voice was speeded up to give it a Disney duck quality. So, I wouldn't be cringing for quite the same reasons.
You should try and get a copy if it still exists - a little slice of the past that you can listen to whenever the fancy takes you.
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