Not ever Marvel hero spends their days doing glorious activities like saving the world from all-powerful villains. The day-to-day is often a much weirder and even comical experience involving surreal situations that must be investigated and offbeat malefactors that must be stopped. Two heroes who specialize in such scenarios are the cranky alien detective Howard the Duck — star of his own self-titled series by writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones — and Doreen Green, the happy go-lucky super heroic star of “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” from writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson).
â€¨While fall marks the launch of new volumes for each series, as part of All-New, All-Different Marvel, this spring Howard, his shapeshifting friend Tara, Doreen, and her college roommate Nancy Whitehead will all come face to face in a two-part crossover tale that begins in “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #6 and continues in “Howard the Duck” #6. The story was announced yesterday by Marvel at their “Women of Marvel” panel during New York Comic Con, and CBR News spoke with North and Zdarsky about their protagonists; their story involving a missing cat, a truck, and a van; and the joy of working with each other’s artistic collaborators.
CBR News: “Howard the Duck” and “The Unbeatable Squirrel” are crossing over this spring starting with Issue #6 for each series, which will allow each of you to have fun playing in the other writer’s sandbox. Ryan, what do you enjoy most about writing Howard and Tara? And Chip, what do you enjoy most about writing Doreen Green and Nancy Whitehead?
Chip Zdarsky: For me, it’s exciting being able to write non-duck characters! What are their goals? Desires? Do they both enjoy bread?
Ryan North: I’m mostly thrilled to gain access not only to Howard and Tara, but also Howard’s vehicle, Howard the Truck, which Chip keeps forgetting to put in his comic even though I’ve mentioned it several times. I expect Howard the Truck will get into some “wheely” big trouble…!
[Laughs] What can you tell us about the initial dynamic between your characters? Will they get along from the get go or is there some tension early on?
North: It’s weird that someone as likable and friendly as Howard would get into conflict with anyone, but I feel like I did find a way to have a misanthropic angry duck to come into conflict with a squirrel lady.
Zdarsky: They both love parks so it was really difficult to come up with a situation where they have conflict. But the “which park is better” plot line really seems to work.
I will say that what brings them together is the search for a missing cat. Because our editor was like, “We need big stakes for this to be a Marvel Comics crossover! Excelsior!” And, frankly, I can’t think of anything worse than for my precious cat, Monster Truck, to go missing.
I know we’re a ways out, but what can you offer up about the antagonists that Howard, Doreen, and their allies are up against in the crossover?
North: Chip already mentioned at a convention that we would see the return of Kraven (driving his new Kra-Van), which I think says all you need to know about this crossover: it features both trucks AND vans. But to sweeten the pot a little, this story doesn’t just feature vans and trucks. It also features cosplay.
Zdarsky: Yeah, this has it all. Vans, trucks, cosplay, a big new squirrel player in the Marvel Universe, trees, jokes, etc.
And maybe our characters learn a little about themselves in the process?
Returning to an earlier topic of conversation, I imagine another fun aspect of a crossover is seeing your characters brought to life by a different artist in a story you helped shape. Ryan, how does it feel to be working with Joe Quinones? And Chip, how does it feel to be working with Erica Henderson? What do you enjoy most about their styles?
Zdarsky: I knew this crossover was coming up so I decided to work with Erica on “Jughead” in order to get a better feel for the process, all in aid of these two issues. I can say that she is a tyrant, but a benevolent one. She knows how to draw hamburgers and teens really well, but has, to this point, refused to draw ducks in “Jughead.” So, we’ll see how this goes.
North: I’ve secretly already gotten to work with Joe on a SECRET PROJECT, NOT YET ANNOUNCED, but it was great to work with him on a not-so-secret project already announced. Joe’s got a great look to his illustrations, and tons of detail, so I’m excited to see what he comes up with. Squirrel Girl has shown up a few times in his “Howard” comics already, and she always looks terrific. I haven’t seen how Joe draws burgers though, and that feels a little lopsided compared to the Erica / Chip burger situation, so I’m gonna write some burgers into the script. There is no downside to this.
Zdarsky: I wanted to say that “Squirrel Girl” is amazing and everyone involved are all good pals and we’re going to make this really good. The fact that Marvel lets all four of us do what we’re doing month after month in-between “Secret Wars” is pretty great, and this crossover is just an extension of that.
North: Aw, that’s a sincere sentiment that I echo as well! Joking aside, this feels like fun, not work, and the fact that the four of us get to make this crazy comic and nobody at Marvel says “no” is really great. I’m excited for it!
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