The bill is back.
Ty Templeton, a creator known for his delivery of pin-point comic dialogue, is living the dream as he brings "Howard the Duck" back to the mainstream Marvel Universe for a four-part miniseries, kicking off this week, October 3, 2007.
Templeton teams with his "She-Hulk" co-conspirator, artist Juan Bobillo on the new "Howard" series. "I giggle when I read them and I wrote them," Templeton told CBR News. "And the art made it so much funnier than I scripted. Juan Bobillo… brings the funny. He really brings the funny."
Howard the Duck, for those living with head below water for the past three decades, was originally created by Steve Gerber ("Omega: The Unknown," "Shanna the She-Devil") in 1973 and became a pop culture icon in late 1970s/early1980s when he not only received thousands of write-in votes in the 1976 presidential election but starred in his own feature film produced by George Lucas.
Appearing for first time in "Adventure in Fear" #19, the anthropomorphic quacker was transported to Earth by Thog the Overmaster in a Man-Thing feature and ever since, the hilarity of Howard has ensued
Templeton's take on Howard is said to be a return to the character's glory years. "I think when people write Howard, the people who aren't Steve Gerber, they tend to approach the character with the idea that he is funny, automatically. They make him say funny things and have him fall down the stairs," explained Templeton. "But when Howard works best, is as a vice, a vice that makes fun of society. [Classic Howard villain] the Kidney Lady is much funnier than Howard. [Classic villain] Dr. Bong is much funnier than Howard. I have a new idea for Dr. Bong, by the way. He doesn't have a bell on his head anymore. It's a large glass bowl."
Templeton brings Howard up-to-date right away in his miniseries by dropping the duck and his lady friend, Beverly Switzler, right smack in the middle of a society obsessed with instant celebrity and the surreal life. "The story is all about how somebody shoots Howard for the internet and he becomes the world's most famous internet video," teased Templeton. "You know the Coke and Mentos thing? He's the next Coke and Mentos thing. Everybody starts emailing it to each other and he becomes so famous, that he and Beverly become internet and media darlings.
"There is a actually a great scene in #3," continued Templeton, "where Beverly is on the Larry King show and her phone rings and she has to take it because she is really busy and she does an interview, on the phone, with Jon Stewart while talking to Larry King on the air, and she has to keep putting the phone down, and Larry King finally turns to the camera and says, "That's an exclusive. We found out where she is going to be booked next!""
Larry King and Jon Stewart aren't the only two heavyweights making cameos in the series, as just from the solicitations alone, it is revealed that both M.O.D.O.K. and the sensational She-Hulk will be playing in the pond with Howard, as well.
Templeton is thrilled to be working on the character again after writing the Howard the Duck feature in the "Civil War: Choosing Sides" one-shot. "The word 'excited' literally does not cover it," Templeton said. "If I had to pick, three Marvel comic book characters, who are my favorite, it would probably be Spider-Man, the Vision and Howard the Duck. I am so incredibly lucky that I was able to work on a Spider-Man project last year, and I was able to work with the Vision when I worked on the animated Avengers, and I have already done a Howard the Duck Civil-War tie-in, but it literally is a dream come true. I know there are some people who wait, literally, there whole life to work on Batman or Daredevil but I swear to God, I have been waiting for Howard the Duck since I was a kid.
"Honest to God, if they gave me a choice between Fantastic Four and Howard, I would probably pick Howard. That's who I am. I relate to him more than anyone else. I have every single appearance that he has had in Marvel. I used to cut the newspaper strips out and collect them in the late '70s. I am a sick man."
With Howard, Captain Carrot and Groo the Wanderer all enjoying comebacks this month in new miniseries, Templeton says it's great to see some people actually still want to have a laugh while reading a comic book. "I think the reason – hopefully, the reason -- is that comic books like 'Punisher,' and raping the Elongated Man's wife and killing Captain America and the fact that every crossover requires a body count are not so fun," said Templeton. "Literally, on some level, these are still comics, they should be fun. When you pick up 'Howard the Duck' or 'Groo' and then put it down, your day just got a little lighter. You are all of a sudden having a slightly better afternoon.
"I didn't have a better afternoon after 'Identity Crisis.' I just wanted to punch a car. Or after 'Civil War' or 'Avengers Disassembled' when they ripped the Vision apart or killed Hawkeye, I wasn't happy after that. Last year, in 'The Ultimates,' when they killed Hawkeye's kids in front of him, I threw the comic across the room. Why would you do that to me? So I think 'Howard the Duck' and 'Groo' and 'She-Hulk,' another comedy comic book I work on, is a lovely antidote to that."
When asked how many Howard stories he has ready to go in anticipation of a follow up miniseries, Templeton quoted the man who has battled the Romans, the Egyptians and a planet of apes. "For me personally, because I love him so much, I would write him until they pull him out of my cold, dead hands," Templeton declared. "But I said that about ['Gotham Adventures'] and I stopped after 53 issues, so I obviously do have a quotient. But honestly, I would write 53 issues of Howard in a heartbeat. He's an inexhaustible character. What he is, really, is a social satire.
"And this is the part where I hold you up for ransom," teased Templeton. "If the first mini-series does well and they let us do a second, I promise, that we are bringing back the all-new Dr. Bong, who has a lighter for a hand instead of a ball."
Templeton is such a fan of Steve Gerber's creation that he is willing to beg the prolific writer for forgiveness if Gerber feels he is not up to the task. "Somebody actually told me that Steve Gerber wasn't really happy that I was doing this. I want to get on my knees and beg him to forgive me, he is why I love Howard the Duck and all I can say is that I am doing everything in my power to respect his Howard and make the Howard that I recognize to be his," said Templeton. "I want him to like it. It matters to me that he goes, 'Okay, you aren't trying to screw my creation up.'
"There was a run in 'Howard,' a couple of years ago in a weird little miniseries where he was hanging out with Generation X and the art was gorgeous, but the Howard was mean and he punched people and threw cigars at them. He was a jerk. Every issue, I was like, 'When is Howard going to rape the Elongated Man?' It was the wrong Howard. And I really hope I brought back the funny to Howard."
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