200 Words with Paul Dini #4 – A Tale From The Duckside

March 6, 2008

Steve Gerber was the Phantom Story Editor of the Batman/Superman crew. A night worker and chain-smoker, Steve had little reason to visit the nine to five, smoke-free environs of Warner Bros. Animation, preferring to send in his scripts via e-mail. Even on Emmy night he begged off, asking us to send him his statuette if our World’s Finest movie won. It did, and the other writers wondered why Steve had opted out on the event. Having known Steve longer, I supposed the iconoclast who regularly mocked modern society in his brilliant Howard The Duck had little interest in attending a TV award ceremony.

It wasn’t until Steve died last month that his friend Harris Miller told me Steve was very proud of the award, but could not attend the show as he was due to be evicted that same night. Like Li’l Abner’s Joe Btfsplik, Steve also lived his life under a cloud, his triumphs often running a distant second to his disasters. Later, after a last minute payment saved his apartment, Gerber defiantly put his Emmy in his window next to his landlord’s eviction notice. I like to think that helped dispel the cloud, at least for a while.


Paul Dini is the Emmy and Eisner Award winning writer of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Detective Comics, Countdown among many, many other things. You can find him online at either kingofbreakfast.livejournal.com or http://www.jinglebelle.com/.


  1. He was a true original and I was saddened to hear of his passing last month.  He will be missed.

  2. Is this an example of how writer unions should benefit people? I know it helps the slow or out of work writers, but it sounded like Gerber was an actively working writer. I wonder why he was in dire straits, but I love that he had an Emmy to vindicate himself.

  3. Gerber was so ahead of his time. It’s a shame so many brilliant comic creators can’t pay the bills or haven’t gotten their due. The man left behind a great body of work in comics.

    Coincidentally, I been watching the Superman Animated Series DVDs lately and couldn’t help but smile when Gerber’s name popped up in a couple of episodes.

  4. I loved Hard Times.  I hope the rest of the trades get put out.  If they do, expect to hear more about it in a podcast sometime soon.

  5. Awesome story – wouldn’t expect anything less from the man who had a duck run for president against Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. He was an incredible talent and he will truly be missed.

  6. i was introduced to Howard the Duck by a friend of my fathers who had read them back in the U.k. and gave me the essential Howard the duck. the comic community has lost a great writer but we can all take solace that Steve lives on in his work that he was so dedicated to. This year vote Howard for President.

  7. Please Rest in Peace.

  8. Man, what a sad story. You never imagine the people you admire having to go through this kind of situations. At least this one had a happy ending.

    Like a lot of people I came in contact with Howard the duck through the movie, but only later realized it was a Marvel comic book character when I read… Lobo the duck (that amalgam comic).  

    Rest in peace Mr.Gerber 

  9. the whole stever gerber thing just makes me so sad. the guy was working nights at my local grocery store. my lcs owner would pull out back issues of stuff he wrote and he would tell us how he had never been paid for writing it. the whole thing really sucks.

    things like this are exactly why you should support the hero initiative.