Howard the Duck

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Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck comic

Howard the Duck is a cult classic Marvel Comics comic book character created by Steve Gerber in 1973 and star of several comic book series of the same name about the misadventures of an ill-tempered anthropomorphic duck from a funny animal version of Earth now trapped on Earth. Howard generally wears a tie and shirt, and is almost always found smoking a cigar. Like many cartoon ducks, he originally wore no pants until Disney threatened legal action due to Howard's resemblance to Donald Duck. While the comic book depicts anthropomorphism, it is not a furry comic. He is a Duckworldian, a species of anthropomorphic ducks from Duckworld.

The Comics[edit]

Howard's adventures are generally parodies of science fiction and fantasy, written in a tongue-in-cheek style and combined with a degree of metafictional awareness of the limitations of the medium, often very experimental for a non-underground comic.

Howard was Howard the Duck was created by writer Steve Gerber and penciler Val Mayerik in and his first appearance was in the comic book Adventure into Fear #19, as a secondary character to the Man-Thing story. He would return in Giant-Size Man-Thing and eventually earn his own comic book title in 1976. A newspaper strip was attempted from 1977 to 1978, but failed to gain any popularity.

Howard's plug was pulled in 1978 when Gerber, who had gained a degree of creative autonomy, clashed over issues of creative control, and Gerber was abruptly removed from the series. Howard would return briefly in 1979 and 2001 in short-lived runs that lasted only a few issues each and was last seen in Civil War: Choosing Sides #1 (Feb. 2006). In 2007, he returned in Howard the Duck vol. 4 #1-4, a miniseries by writer Ty Templeton and artist Juan Bobillo. This series was rated for ages 9 and up, though one issue was published with a Marvel Zombies tie-in cover with a parental advisory claim.

In November 2014, Marvel announced an ongoing series starting in March 2015 featuring Howard as a private investigator on Earth. The creative team consisted of writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones. Howard the Duck (vol. 5) ran for 5 issues before Marvel relaunched many of their existing titles with the All-New, All-Different Marvel line of comics. This led to a reboot produced by the same creative team starting with Howard the Duck (vol. 6) #1 in November 2015. This series included a two-part crossover with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. The 11th and last issue was released in October 2016.

The Movie[edit]

In 1986, a feature film was created, produced by George Lucas and starring Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins, and Chip Zien as the voice of Howard. Howard himself was portrayed by an assortment of stunt actors in a duck suit. The only characters brought over from the comics were Howard and his sidekick/girlfriend Beverly Switzler, played by Lea Thompson. The film was widely panned and was a box office bomb, winning the 1987 Razzie Awards for Worst New Star, Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay and Worst Visual Effects. This caused George Lucas who was heavily in debt at the time to sell to Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer, Lucasfilm's newly-launched CGI animation division for a price well above market value. That division eventually become Pixar Animation Studios.

In other media[edit]


  • Howard the Duck makes a cameo appearance in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Awesome", voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. This version is contained in a lab on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier.
  • Howard the Duck makes a cameo appearance in the episode "Carnage", as a fantasy where Spider-Man gets turned into by the Green Goblin.
    • Additionally, an alternate reality pirate version of Howard appears in the episode "Return to the Spider-Verse" Pt. 2, voiced by Seth Green. This version is a member of Captain Web Beard's crew.
  • Howard the Duck makes a non-speaking cameo appearance in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "The Collector", as one of the eponymous character's prisoners.
  • Howard the Duck appears in Guardians of the Galaxy, voiced again by Seth Green. This version is an old acquaintance of Rocket Raccoon.
  • Hulu intended to air a Howard the Duck animated series, written and executive produced by Kevin Smith and Dave Willis, that would have led up to a crossover special involving MODOK, Hit-Monkey, Tigra, and Dazzler called The Offenders. However, in January 2020, it was announced that the Howard the Duck series was cancelled.


  • Howard the Duck appears in a self-titled film of the same name, voiced by Chip Zien and performed by stunt actors Peter Baird, Ed Gale, Jordan Prentice, Tim Rose, Steve Sleap, Lisa Sturz, and Mary Wells. This version was transported to Earth by a laser spectroscope experiment gone awry.
  • Howard the Duck makes cameo appearances in media set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, voiced by Seth Green.
    • Howard first appears in the live-action film Guardians of the Galaxy, as a living exhibit in the Collector's museum on Knowhere. When the Guardians of the Galaxy visit the Collector and attempt to sell him the Power Stone, his slave Carina attempts to use it, only to cause an explosion that kills her and frees all of the Collector's imprisoned creatures. In a post-credits scene, Howard has a drink with the Collector and Cosmo amidst the wreckage. In August 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn said, "It's possible Howard could reappear as more of a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But if people think that's going to lead to a Howard the Duck movie, that's probably not going to happen in the next four years. Who knows after that?".
    • Howard makes subsequent appearances in the live-action films Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Endgame, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He was also meant to make a cameo appearance in the live-action film Avengers: Infinity War. While the scene was cut, Howard was confirmed to have survived the Blip.
    • Alternate timeline versions of Howard appear in the Disney+ animated series What If...?, voiced again by Green. In the episode "What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?", a variant of Howard is kept in the Collector's museum until Star-Lord T'Challa frees him to help the latter find an artifact called the Embers of Genesis. Howard initially agrees, but stops to get a drink, forcing T'Challa to continue alone. In the episode "What If... Thor Were an Only Child?", another variant of Howard attends Thor's party on Earth and ends up marrying Darcy Lewis.
    • Plans have also occurred for Howard to star in his own film. In 2016, Rob Zombie claimed that he had pitched a Howard the Duck film to Marvel, but was turned down. After a rumor in June 2017 incorrectly stated that Marvel Studios was developing a film based Howard that would involve Gunn as a producer, Gunn himself confirmed later that September that a film for the character was not being made, saying that while there were several comics characters he loved, he was "not making films of them all". In June 2018, Lea Thompson revealed that she was preparing to meet with Marvel Studios about her pitch for a new Howard the Duck film she wanted to direct after previously starring in the 1986 film as Beverly Switzler. Thompson had developed the pitch to be set in the MCU and worked on it "for a really long time" with modern Howard the Duck comic book writers Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones, who had included her as a character in one of their comic runs. That September, Thompson said Marvel Studios loved her pitch but told her they had no plans for a Howard the Duck film and that they would contact her again following the development of their MCU television series on Disney+. Thompson expressed further interest in directing an MCU reboot for the character following his appearance in What If...?.

Video games[edit]


  • In 1980, a pilot for a Howard the Duck radio show was recorded, with James Belushi in the title role, though the program was never aired.
  • Howard the Duck, based on the MCU incarnation, makes a vocal cameo in the Disney California Adventure attraction Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!, voiced again by Seth Green. He mocks the Collector's situation over an intercom following the latter's creatures and the Guardians of the Galaxy escaping his collection. In addition, Howard can briefly be seen in the background of the Collector's welcome video in the attraction's queue.

Other comics[edit]

  • In Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck #1 (Nov. 1996), Gerber claims that Howard and Beverly Switzler changed their names to Leonard the Duck and Rhonda Martini, remained in the Image Comics Universe, and "were last sighted in Chicago boarding the Amtrak for Buffalo" while the duck who returned to Marvel is "only an empty trademark, a clone whose soul departed him at the corner of Floss and Regret." This was done because Tom Brevoort invited Gerber to write the comic, claiming he was the only one to write Howard, then Gerber noticed the Howard guest appearances in Ghost Rider and Generation X and felt as though he had been tricked.
  • In the Don Simpson's Megaton Man feature, a comedy relief character is Gower Goose, an intended parody of Howard.
  • In the Claypool Comics series Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Gordon the Goose (clearly modelled on Howard) appears, together with Dorkheem the Sorcerer and the Heap-Thing, in issues #49, 58, and 59.
  • In America's Best Comics' Top 10 #8 a duck appearing to be Howard (with his distinctive blue hat & jacket) can be seen at the Transworld Transport Terminus.
  • In several issues of The Maxx, Howard appears, along with many other characters, seemingly cut and pasted into the story.
  • In Adam Beechen's ending of Doctor Fate: More Pain Comics, which Gerber left unfinished when he died, Howard, who is heard but unseen (his speech balloon ends with "waaugh"), dispatched the Elf with a Gun to destroy Negal and Ymp, then invited for one last drink with Yah, Bev, Thunny, and Megs before Yah goes back "upstairs".
  • He is also seen being roasted in one of the Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe issues, where the reporter states that Deadpool has gone into a killing spree, looking for heroes and villains alike, and also some characters that were never too special to begin with.

Newspaper comic strip[edit]

Between June 6, 1977 and October 29, 1978, Howard the Duck appeared in a syndicated daily comic strip that comic strip historian Allan Holtz has described as having low distribution and that was eventually replaced by the Incredible Hulk comic strip. The strip was syndicated in almost 70 newspapers (by the Register and Tribune Syndicate), including the Toronto Star and Spokane Daily Chronicle. When the strip was dropped by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a Cleveland TV station began televising the strip for two minutes each night.

A total of eleven story arcs, as well as a number of single-joke strips, constitute the 511 individual strips that were printed.

The strip started with original stories written by Steve Gerber and illustrated by Gene Colan: "Pop Syke -- The Consciousness of Success", "The Cult of Entropy" and "Fred Feenix the Self-Made Man". The latter was started by Colan and completed by Val Mayerik, who stayed on to do two additional Gerber-scripted stories: "The Sleigh Jacking" and "In Search of the Good Life".

These were followed by an adaptation of the "Sleep of the Just" story from issue #4 of the Marvel comic, scripted by Gerber and illustrated by Alan Kupperberg. Gerber was fired from the strip in early 1978 over chronic problems with deadlines. He was replaced by Marv Wolfman as writer, while Alan Kupperberg continued as artist. The remaining stories were: "Close Encounters of the Fowl Kind", "The Tuesday Ruby", "The Clone Ranger", "Bye Bye, Beverly" and "The Mystery of the Maltese Human". As the series drew to an end, its already meager list of client papers shrank, making copies of these last post-Gerber stories particularly hard to find.

In November 1978, the first of a projected eight-issue series reprinting the entire strip was published by John Zawadzki. Titled It's Adventure Time With...Howard the Duck, only the initial issue was published.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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