Howard the Duck is a comic book character in the Marvel Comics universe created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik. The character first appeared in Adventure into Fear #19 (Dec. 1973) and several subsequent series have chronicled the misadventures of the ill-tempered, anthropomorphic, "funny animal" trapped on human-dominated Earth. Howard's adventures are generally social satire, while a few are parodies of genre fiction with a metafiction awareness of the medium. The book is existentialist, and its main joke, according to Gerber, is that there is no joke: "that life's most serious moments and most incredibly dumb moments are often distinguishable only by a momentary point of view."
Howard the Duck was created in 1973 by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik in Adventure into Fear as a secondary character in that comic's Man-Thing feature. He graduated to his own backup feature in Giant-Size Man-Thing, confronting such bizarre horror-parody characters as the Hellcow and the Man-Frog, before acquiring his own comic book title with Howard the Duck #1 in 1976.
Gerber wrote 27 issues of the series (for the most part ditching the horror parodies), illustrated by a variety of artists, beginning with Frank Brunner. Brunner left the series because he considered Howard a cartoon in the real world, whereas for Gerber, Howard was a flesh and blood duck. According to Gerber, "if Wile E. Coyote gets run over by a steamroller, the result is a pancake-flat coyote who can be expected to snap back to three dimensions within moments; if Howard gets run over by a steamroller, the result is blood on asphalt." Gene Colan eventually became the regular penciller.
Sporting the slogan, "Get Down, America!", the All-Night Party was a fictional political party that appeared in Gerber's Howard the Duck series during the U.S. Presidential campaign of 1976, and led to Howard the Duck receiving thousands of write-in votes in the actual election. Gerber addressed questions about the campaign in the letters column of the comic book and, as Mad Genius Associates, sold merchandise publicizing the campaign.
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