After doing someone shorts and covers for Marvel in recent months, the Canadian cartoonist is stepping up with Howard The Duck to showcase an “everyman” weirdo in a world “plenty full of weirdos.” Although the series isn’t planned to debut until March 2015, Zdarsky says fans can look forward to appearances by She-Hulk and Aunt May, as well as the Black Cat playing a major role in the first arc. The cartoonist says Howard’s long-time friend Bev won’t be forgotten, revealing a decades old connection he’s had with her that we’ll let you read in Chip’s own words.
Although Zdarsky is an artist himself, for Marvel’s Howard the Duck series he’ll be working with Black Canary/Zatanna: Bloodspell artist Joe Quinones, whom Zdarsky seems excited and almost nervous to work with given Quinones’ abilities.
Newsarama talked with Zdarsky about this upcoming series, his surprise return to comics, as well as the connections Howard the Duck has back to the original Steve Gerber comics as well as the 1980s movie and his appearance in the end-credits of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Newsarama: Chip, what is your vision of Howard the Duck?
Chip Zdarsky: First off, I'm going to keep him as a duck. I think that's something the fans expect and I don't want to disappoint them.
Really, I just want to have fun exploring the Marvel Universe, and Howard's such a great character to do that with. He's an everyman, which is weird to say about a talking duck, but it's true. He's a creature out of place on this world, but you kind of suspect he'd be the same way back on Duckworld. [laughs] “Duckworld.” I’m writing Howard the Duck! [laughs]
Having him in New York just highlights that it’s his crusty demeanor that makes him "trapped in a world he never made," and less so being a duck. A Marvel Comics' New York is plenty full of weirdoes. Howard’s just one more.
Nrama: Marvel tells me this’ll focus on Howard as a private investigator. What’s he investigating, and what P.I.s from history would you compare and contrast him with?
Zdarsky: He'd like to think he's a Mike Hammer or Philip Marlowe, but he may end up being more like the classic detective Norville Rogers.
Nrama: Can you tell us what Howard’s first case will be?
Zdarsky: Howard will be investigating whatever blackmail material I had on Marvel to get them to hire me. Here's a hint: Sexcelsior.
Nrama: I’m not touching that.
Zdarsky: He'll also be going head-to-head with the notorious Black Cat to recover stolen jewelry. But... you will surprised to learn that not is all as it seems! Or were you expecting that? If so, then things ARE as they seem! Double-Switch.
Nrama: Howard, Black Cat -- who else will be in this book alongside – and against – Howard?
Zdarsky: I've got five words for you: Aunt May: friend or foe?
Besides that wheatcake temptress, I'm a huge fan of the She-Hulk relaunch, so I'm going to have Howard interacting with Jen pretty regularly. Really, there will be special guests as often as I'm allowed because Howard interacting with Marvel characters is pretty fun to write.
There’s a friend for Howard (aw!) named Tara, a local tattoo artist who's a bit of a thrill-seeker because it wouldn't be a true relaunch without giving people the ability to call me a hipster. There's also a gruff police detective named Mike Corson who acts as Howard's perpetual nemesis; a public detective to counter Howard’s private detective.
Um, what else can I tell you without spoiling things? Bev! Where is she? Why is Howard so sad? I don't know, maybe you should keep reading!
Nrama: You answered some of my next questions.
Moving on, Howard the Duck has a multi-faceted history, from the writings of Steve Gerber on to the movie and most recently the cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy. What is informing your take on the duck-billed detective?
Zdarsky: One hundred percent the movie. [laughs] Can you imagine?
I joke, but when I was a kid I took a tape recorder so I could record the song that ran over the final credits. There is a truly soft spot in my heart or that piece of terrible.
I love Howard. Back in the day I had a weird Uncle Fred who collected the issues and the black and white magazines, which I would always sneak away to read when we were at his house. I sexually imprinted on Bev and maybe Howard a bit as a result. So, yeah, all of it, really. And the cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy has kind of given us license to get a bit more cosmic! And, guess what? We exercise that license!
Nrama: Howard the Duck once ran for president, you once ran for mayor of Toronto. Will there be politics in this story?
Zdarsky: All stories are political when you think about it, man. Oh, I'm sorry, did I blow your mind?
I need to make the readers comfortable with things before I reveal Howard’s socialist agenda.
Nrama: This new gig comes as part of a whirlwind return to comic books for you after you took a long hiatus from 2006 to 2013. What’s it like to be back in the mix here, and riding on the success of Sex Criminals?
Zdarsky: It's okay, I guess.
Nrama: ‘Nuff said. Working with you on this is Joe Quinones. As one artist now writing for another, what are your impressions of his work and how you’ll capitalize on it for creating this comic?
Zdarsky: Ugh. I hate him. He's so good! And funny! I'm overjoyed seeing his work come in but also hate myself more and more each day for being so below him artistically.
In comics I've only ever worked with one other person before and that's Matt Fraction and he's just a terrible artist, so this is a welcome change for sure.