If you’re a down on your luck private detective in the Marvel Universe, you’ve got to be ready to follow a case to some pretty strange places — like into outer space, or the den of villain that hypnotically transforms senior citizens into thieves, or into a pitched street battle between an alien invader and costumed heroes. In their recently completed volume of “Howard the Duck,” writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones took their lead duck to all of those places. Fortunately for Howard, he didn’t have to go to there alone; he was accompanied on those cases by his new friend Tara Tam, a tattoo artist with no problem navigating the surreal and dangerous corners of the Marvel Universe thanks to the shape-shifting abilities she gained from eating alien-tainted food.
This November, Zdarsky and Quinones bring Howard and Tara back for a new volume of “Howard the Duck” as part of All-New, All-Different Marvel that will once again find the fledgling gumshoes embarking on a whole new batch of weird, perilous and often silly adventures. CBR News spoke with Zdarsky about the new series, the cosmic adventure that kicks off the volume, Howard’s team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and the crucial role artist Joe Quinones plays in delivering the series’ signature tone.
CBR News: This November, you and Joe are back for a new volume of “Howard the Duck” that I assume continues the first volume’s unique blend of bizarre fun, hilarious comedy and heart? Or are you and Joe doing something a little different tone-wise with this new volume?
Chip Zdarsky: You are too kind.
It pretty much just picks up with “issue six” of our first series! Apparently there was a “Secret War” where, as part of the resulting treaty, all comics must restart as number ones? I don’t really understand politics.
It’s still the same comic! There’s probably a bit more seriousness in this volume versus the last one, but it’s just stuff that works with the story Joe and I are working on. Issue #2 is so serious that Joe cried too much from reading the script so we brought in Veronica Fish as a guest artist.
How are Howard and Tara when you pick things up with them in #1, which takes place after a time jump following the end of “Secret Wars”? Have things changed much for them since we last saw them, and are they interacting with any new supporting characters?
Tara’s much more comfortable using her abilities now, which means she’s more able to be thrown into crazier circumstances and revels in it. Howard, however, is at a low point. He legitimately feels like the universe is trying to kill him and is, frankly, growing tired of it.
And Aunt May has joined the cast! Howard clearly needed an office administrator, so she’s come on to help out when she’s in town from Boston. We’re spending a fair amount of time in space for this volume, though, so we don’t get to utilize her as much as I’d hoped. We also have Joe’s cat Biggs in the office as a half-cat, half-robot, because Joe’s cat is the best and we’re drunk with low-level power.
[Laughs] What can you tell us about the story that kicks off this new volume? I understand it pairs Howard with the Guardians again?
Howard’s tired of everything and has made the decision to go back to his home planet. But things don’t go so smoothly and he soon finds himself being hunted by everyone in the universe. So, it’s pretty standard stuff for Howard.
And Tara’s totally along for the ride! Her very first outer space adventure! It’s fun putting her in new situations as she’s “the normal one,” so we get to see all of this craziness through her eyes. And yeah, we encounter the Guardians again, but they’re not quite the same since that very secret war, which means I get to write Thing! Which makes me very, very happy.
This isn’t the first time you’ve put Howard in a cosmic style adventure. Coincidence, or do you enjoy putting Howard in those types of situations?
Well, the first cosmic adventure was because we wanted to involve Rocket and the Guardians in his initial story so it just kind of naturally became cosmic as a result. This time we’re dealing with the ramifications of that first adventure, so back to cosmic. This is my first time writing a series with arcs, so it’s been fun to build situations over time, laying seeds and having them grow. Long-term planning has never been my strong suit in life, so it’s pretty rewarding to lay out a year or two of stories and have it unfold.
When I last talked with Ryan North about “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” which has a humorous tone similar to “Howard,” he mentioned how important his collaborator Erica Henderson had become in setting the tone of the book and delivering the series’ humor. I imagine that’s the case with Joe Quinones on this book as well, correct? What are some of the things that Joe has added to “Howard” that readers might not be aware of?
Joe draws what I tell him like a good artist!
This book would be garbage without Joe. His inventive layouts, his outstanding designs, his ability to be a cartoonist yet still make things feel real and grounded. He’s the best. And yeah, he’s totally added jokes which I gladly take credit for. I knew we would work well together when in our (first) issue one, he gave Howard a “no harm no fowl” muscle shirt in his workout montage.
Finally, one of the highlights of the first volume for me was all the fun villains you and Joe pitted Howard against. Can you hint or tease some of the antagonists you have lined up for your initial stories in this new volume? Will we be seeing some established Marvel foes? Some new villains? Both?
We’re finally getting to see The Collector in action, instead of just having him as an off-screen bogeyman. But besides him, Howard will be chased by a bunch of classic cosmic characters and new ones — as many as I’m allowed, really! Who’s going to stop me? Axel Alonso? Stan Lee? You?
(Series gets cancelled immediately)
“Howard the Duck” #1 arrives in stores this November.
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