Gerber Gets the Finger!

May 17th, 2013 by Mark Evanier

SAN DIEGO – Steve Gerber and Don Rosa have been selected to receive the 2013 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. The selection, made by a blue-ribbon committee chaired by writer-historian Mark Evanier, was unanimous.

The Bill Finger Award was instituted in 2005 at the instigation of comic book legend Jerry Robinson. Each year, the awards committee selects two recipients, one living and one deceased.

“The premise of this award is to recognize writers for a body of work that has not received its rightful reward and/or recognition,” Evanier explains. “That was what Jerry Robinson intended as his way of remembering his friend, Bill Finger. Bill is still kind of the industry poster boy for writers not receiving proper reward or recognition.” Evanier also notes the appropriateness of this year’s selections: “Steve Gerber was one of the most influential writers of his day, and his work has stood the rest of time. Don Rosa is now retired from producing his acclaimed work with Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge. He also drew the comics, but we honor him for the excellence of his stories, which will forever be reprinted around the world. Also, we liked the idea of having an ‘all-duck’ Finger ceremony.”

Steve Gerber got his start in fanzines, worked in advertising, and then found his way to comics in 1972 when he was hired by Roy Thomas for a staff job at Marvel. Gerber wasn’t suited for staff work, but by the time Marvel realized that, they’d discovered the value of his quirky imagination as a writer. Before long, he was distinguishing himself with scripts for, among others, Daredevil, The Defenders, Sub-Mariner, and Man-Thing. It was in the Man-Thing feature that he developed his most popular, lasting character, Howard the Duck. Somewhat autobiographical and wildly popular when written by Gerber, Howard was a unique presence in the Marvel Universe that is fondly remembered by many fans of the era. They also hailed Omega the Unknown, which Gerber co-wrote and co-created with Mary Skrenes. He parted ways with Marvel over a contract dispute in 1978, though he would return later. Thereafter, he worked for DC and Eclipse and in TV animation, story-editing and writing shows including Thundarr the Barbarian, G.I. Joe, and The Transformers. Gerber died in 2008 from pulmonary fibrosis.

Don Rosa also got his start in fanzines, with “The Pertwillaby Papers,” a comic strip for his college newspaper in Kentucky. An avid collector of comics, he chose for a time to write and draw as a hobby and to make his livelihood in his family’s tile business. In 1986, though, he had the opportunity to write and draw stories of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, his favorite characters when in the hands of the legendary Carl Barks. His meticulous, carefully researched work caught on big, at first in America and then overseas, where he was hailed for expanding on the foundation laid by Barks. Particularly popular was a 12-part series he began in 1991, The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, which filled in many details of the character’s past. That series, along with Rosa’s other tales, has been reprinted around the world as much as any comic book of the last quarter-century. Rosa has now retired from creating new stories, due to failing eyesight and disputes with his publisher over compensation.

The Bill Finger Award honors the memory of William Finger (1914-1974), who was the first and, some say, most important writer of Batman. Many have called him the “unsung hero” of the character and have hailed his work not only on that iconic figure but on dozens of others, primarily for DC Comics.

In addition to Evanier, the selection committee consists of Charles Kochman (executive editor at Harry N. Abrams, book publisher), comic book writer Kurt Busiek, artist/historian Jim Amash, and writer/editor Marv Wolfman.

The 2013 awards are being underwritten by DC Comics (the major sponsor), along with supporting sponsors Heritage Auctions and Maggie Thompson.

The Finger Award falls under the auspices of Comic-Con International: San Diego and is administered by Jackie Estrada. The awards will be presented during the Eisner Awards ceremony at this summer’s Comic-Con on July 19.

Additional information on the Finger Award can be found on this page.

11/12/12

November 12th, 2012 by Mark Evanier

It’s been over a year since I updated this board. I find myself talking about Steve often and thinking about him but there hasn’t been anything that has prompted me to post here. Maybe we can change that. I’ll start a new thread and ask that folks post about the Gerber work that has been reprinted lately…and what hasn’t been but should be.

Gene Colan, R.I.P.

June 24th, 2011 by Mark Evanier

Steve’s longtime collaborator Gene Colan passed away yesterday.  Words about him can be found on my site and every other one that cares about great comic artists.

There will be a tribute panel for Gene at the Comic-Con International in San Diego this year.  It will be on Friday, July 24 at Noon.  I’ll be moderating and we’ll have many of Gene’s collaborators there.  Wish we could have Gerber among them as I know how much he enjoyed their creative partnership.

Comments are enabled for this message.

Steve in Hall of Fame

July 26th, 2010 by Mark Evanier

Last Friday evening at the Comic-Con International in San Diego, our friend Steve was formally inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Burne Hogarth, Mort Weisinger, Dick Giordano, Bob Montana and Mike Kaluta.  Accepting on Steve’s behalf were his daughter Samantha and his longtime friend/collaborator, Mary Skrenes.  A lot of us were pleased not just at the award but at the audience reaction.  And of course it goes without saying that the only negative is that it didn’t happen years ago when Gerber could have been around to enjoy it.

Once again, I am locking down comments on all earlier posts and ask that you post whatever you have to say about Gerber — whether it’s about this or not — in the Comments section of this post.

2 Years and Counting…

February 11th, 2010 by Mark Evanier

Yesterday marked two years since we lost our friend Gerber.  I dunno about you but his name still comes up in conversations around me and I often hear folks lament the loss of one of their favorite writers…and sometimes, he isn’t even “one of their favorites,” he’s Numero Uno.  I still miss my pal.

That’s not news.  What is news is that Steve Gerber is  a nominee for induction this year into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.  The other nominees are Carl Burgos, Dick Giordano, Mike Kaluta, Jack Kamen, Frans Masereel, George McManus, Sheldon Moldoff, Marty Nodell, Bob Oksner, Bob Powell,  Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Mort Weisinger.  Four of those folks will be inducted along with the two judges’ choice inductees for this year, who are Burne Hogarth and Bob Montana.

I suspect there’s a fair amount of likelihood that Steve will be selected, if only because his name and credits are probably better known than at least three or four of those folks.  Also, I think most people actively liked Steve’s work, as opposed to several of the other nominees, who I suspect are on the list because they simply worked on a number of significant projects.

A couple of folks are asking me how I think Steve would have reacted to this.  Well, if Steve were alive to react, it would be a little different.  He’d be taking it, as most living recipients seem to, as a collective decree that their most important work is behind them.  We can all understand why someone wouldn’t like to think that the whole industry views them that way.  As it (unfortunately) turns out, Steve’s most important work is inarguably behind him…so I guess if he’s watching from somewhere, he’s flattered but also modestly thinking others should be ahead of him in that line.

Once again, I’m going to lock down the comments on all earlier postings and invite you to post whatever you want to post about Steve — on these topics or anything else — in response to this message.

November, 2009

November 2nd, 2009 by Mark Evanier

Hello.  I haven’t posted anything here for a while because I haven’t thought of anything to post.  Nothing Gerber-wise seems to have changed.  He’s still gone and we still miss him.

Hey,  I dunno how many folks are still checking in here but I have a question for anyone who does.  There are actually folks who’ve gotten into reading comics since Steve stopped writing them…and there will be more.  What would you hand such a person to give them an idea of what was special about Gerber writing?  What comic or group of comics?

I’ve locked down all the other comments sections and opened up one for this message.  Post anything you like there, whether it addresses my question or not.  Just as long as it has something to do with Steve.

Virus Alert

April 8th, 2009 by Mark Evanier

A Spammer posted a harmless-looking message as a comment to the previous message.  It contained a link (irrelevant to Gerber) that took you to a harmless-looking website.  But that website was full of nasty stuff to infect your computer and steal your identity and make your toenails fall out.

I have deleted the message…but if you clicked on the link in it, do a virus scan, a.s.a.p.

Thanks to Stefan “Starocotes” Immel, who alerted me to the presence of an asshole in our midst.

More Tales of Steve

April 6th, 2009 by Mark Evanier

The mysterious person who’s posting a biography of Steve at this link has just added another chapter.  This one covers the years after Steve was ousted from his Duck…working for me at Hanna-Barbera, working in animation and suing Marvel.  As I kinda expected, the author got a lot of things wrong.

I’m pretty sure I know who it is.  What I don’t know is why this person is doing this anonymously or if they intend to do anything with this work apart from stick it on a website that few will see.

The latest posting also includes a scan of a comic story Steve wrote and published in his first fanzine in 1962 at the age of 14.  Not bad.  I’ve seen worse from adults working for DC or Marvel.

Duck Tale

February 17th, 2009 by Mark Evanier

If Steve were here, I’m pretty sure he’d post this link.  It’s your chance to watch the movie, Howard the Duck, for free in a little window on your computer.  Or at least, you can watch enough of it to see Steve’s credit.  We can all find things to criticize in the film but my comment was “Not enough Gerber.”

Tales of Steve

January 7th, 2009 by Mark Evanier

An anonymous person has begun posting a biography of S. Gerber over at this link.  Someone on Heidi MacDonald’s message board guessed I was the author but I assure you, I’m not.  For one thing, there are a couple of mistakes in the narrative that I would not have made.

You’ll probably want to check it out, though I’m reserving judgment until I read more of it. The whole matter of Steve’s legal problems with Marvel, which the biographer will begin addressing in the next chapter, is a very complicated situation which has never been accurately described in any past reporting. I’ll be interested to see if the anonymous author gets it right. If he/she does, then I think I know who’s behind this biography…

I’m closing down the comment thread on all messages except this one.