Monday, February 11, 2008

FanBoyWonder Mourns Steve Gerber—R.I.P.

FanBoyWonder was shocked but unfortunately not terribly surprised to hear just a couple hours ago of the passing of veteran comics scribe Steve Gerber.

As reported in, Gerber passed way yesterday (Sunday) from complications due to a battle with pulmonary fibrosis while he was awaiting a lung transplant. He was 60 years old.

Given his lengthy and varied career in the comics industry, we are honestly surprised that we had only just “discovered” him during his recent run creating the new Dr. Fate in DC Comics’ Countdown to Mystery.

As long time fans of Dr. Fate—including the most recent wearer of the golden helmet Hector Hall—we resented the change to another new Fate seemingly just for the sake of change. Yet Gerber quickly won us over with his rendition a Dr. Fate who was also named Kent Nelson, grand-nephew of the original Kent Nelson/Dr. Fate.

Gerber’s Dr. Kent V. Nelson was a flawed and broken man. He is the physician who could not heal thyself from clinical depression and acute alcoholism and it caused him to lose everything—his wife and child, his professional reputation and his will to live when he first encountered the Helmet of Fate.

One of Gerber’s last entries on his blog he had been working on the script for Countdown to Mystery #7 of the eight-part mini-series.

We can’t but help but be a little selfish when we hope that Mr. Gerber was able to finish at least the plot outline of his eight-part Dr. Fate story given what an impressive job he has done to date.

Yet if he did leave before his story was finished then perhaps that’s a metaphor for life—we all live our own story and even when we think we write our own script, the final edit is ultimately out of our hands.

FanBoyWonder would like to express our condolences to Mr. Gerber’s family and friends. Rest In Peace Steve Gerber.

Below is Steve Gerber’s obituary by Matt Brady at



After a battle with pulmonary fibrosis, acclaimed and beloved writer Steve Gerber died on Sunday from complications due to his condition. The news was confirmed by a close acquaintance.
He was 60 years old. Gerber was a comics fan all his life, having started the fanzine Headline in his early teens, and eventually finding work as a writer at Marvel in the early ‘70s, working under Roy Thomas. Amid the work that was coming out of Marvel at the time, Gerber found his own, unique voice which often mixed the usual superhero tropes with satire, commentary and an absurdist sense of humor.

During his early days at Marvel, Gerber is best remembered for writing The Defenders and Man-Thing, and of course, creating Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown and having notable runs with many Marvel characters, from Shanna the She-Devil to the Guardians of the Galaxy, Son of Satan, and Tales of the Zombie.

In many ways, Gerber was 1970s Marvel. It was his unpredictable, groundbreaking work and strong desire to stray from the beaten path throughout the ‘70s that made Gerber a role model for the next two-plus generations of comic book and other writers, including Michael Chabon and Glen David Gold.
After leaving Marvel in 1979, Gerber became something of a journeyman in comics, putting in time with some of DC Comics heroes, but most notably, being present at the forefront of the “independent revolution” of the 1980s.
When it came to “mainstream” superhero comics of the time, Gerber was as loud a voice (or louder) advocating change and modernization as the legends of the day such as his friend and colleague, Frank Miller.
Many of Gerber’s larger plans did not come to fruition and, like many creators at the time who found that comics had seemingly passed them by, Gerber turned his attention to animation and television in the ‘80s, writing for Dungeons and Dragons, Transformers, Star Trek: The Next Generation (“Contagion”), G.I. Joe and Thundarr the Barbarian, which he created.
Following up on his independent work from the ‘80s, Gerber was one of the founders of Malibu’s Ultraverse, and for a period, found a home writing a handful of Image Comics titles. Gerber’s work throughout the ‘90s was an eclectic mix, always quirky and always very personal.
More recently, Gerber returned to Marvel to write a Howard the Duck miniseries for its MAX imprint. He had also recently returned to DC, where he had created the acclaimed series Hard Time for the publisher’s failed DC Focus line.
Since that time, Gerber had largely taken up residence in the DC Universe’s more “mystical” side, writing the Dr. Fate story which was contained in the Countdown to Mystery miniseries. Recently on his blog Gerber had been keeping his friends and fans appraised of his condition.
In an interview about Dr. Fate here at Newsarama in September, Gerber discussed his health with characteristic frankness and humor, saying:
“It’s just a fact of life, it’s something I have to deal with. Naturally, I’d be very happy if there were, you know, a ‘cure’ for this, but there isn’t. I’ve got fibrosis of the lungs, and it’s a…so far slow-but-progressive disease that, if not treated, will ultimately off me.
“I’m moving toward getting on the lung transplant list at UCLA. And, hopefully, I will have a newly-refurbished pair of lungs (laughs) to breathe with in a little while. We’ll see what happens.
“It’s almost funny…I really do have a sick sense of humor about some of this stuff. (laughs) Part of me wants to go for the sympathy ploy. Put a picture of me on the cover of Countdown to Mystery with a gun to my head, or a plastic bag over it, and the caption, ‘Buy this magazine or this writer will never breathe again!’ The old National Lampoon gag.”
Gerber’s last post on his blog was from a week ago, noting that he was working through the night on a Dr. Fate script. Newsarama extends its deepest condolences to Gerber’s friends and family. He will be missed.


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