Jim Shooter Reveals How Disney Meddled With Howard the Duck

We should probably be paying closer attention to Jim Shooter's blog than we do. Since March, he has been regaling the assembled interweb with his tales of Marvel in the seventies and eighties, when he was their Editor in Chief. Honestly, I tend not to keep up with those tales because of how often other people online dispute them. I get enough of that kind of thing elsewhere. Everywhere elsewhere.

You can't argue with primary source documents, though, and this week Shooter posted one I (and maybe only I) have always wondered about.

For years, legend had it that Disney had a problem with Howard the Duck. They literally didn't like the look of him. He was way too Donaldy for their liking, with his penchant for hats and pantlessness. The story went that Disney threatened legal action, Marvel folded like a wet paper airplane, and that led to a redesign of the cranky quacker that continues to disfigure him to this day. (The fact that Disney now owns Howard and he is more unrecognizable than ever is not lost on the conspiracy theorist in me.)

After hearing this anecdotally for years, this week we got proof in Shooter's ongoing account of his relationship with Howard creator Steve Gerber. Not only did he post the documents he had relating to Gerber's lawsuit against Marvel (Gerber sued for ownership of Howard in 1981) but he also showed the world the character's post-lawyer model sheet. Shockingly, one rumor I always heard turns out to be true: Marvel capitulated so completely that they didn't even do the redesign themselves. Disney artists dictated everything that needed to change and sent their version to Marvel, and Marvel just went with it. (Shooter says John Romita "handled" the redesign, but I have no idea what that means.) The new Howard had a more oval head, smaller eyes, a bill that looked like a collagen accident, and pants, pants, pants.

With that, something that has always been mysterious to me is settled once and for all. Now, I can eagerly anticipate Shooter's post on Why ROM Can Never Be Published Again.

Check out Jim Shooter's post for more images.


  1. this is just gold, shooter should write a book

  2. I will, of course, take this to mean that every other conspiracy theory I’ve ever hear is true. Even the ons that contradict each other.

  3. my own personal golden age! Shooter as EIC and those crazy(awesome) storyline!
    Biggest difference btween the two ducks?
    Howard smokes a cigar! Donald can barely talk

  4. I now it’s doubtful, but I would really like to see a Howard/Donald crossover now that they’re both owned by Disney.

  5. I’m always a bit wary of Jim Shooter’s blog. A lot of it (or rather, the posts I’ve read) tend to be attempts at passing the buck on certain things people blame Jim for.

  6. I never got why people were so upset about Howard’s redesign. So he had to wear pants. Big deal. Was going pants-less a major character point with him? No. He was the same sarcastic duck who gave us scathing social satire of 70s pop culture. Wearing pants while he did it isn’t really that big of a deal to me.

  7. I don’t know whether anyone is actually all that upset. In my case, I just know that “pants” is a hook you can hang a lot of jokes on.