2002-02-12

Howard in better daysI read and loved Howard the Duck back in the 1970s. He was a bundle of contradictions: an anthropomorphic duck along the lines of Disney’s Donald but without any of the cuteness of a comic book “funny animal.” Howard was bitter, greedy, lustful (he dated a bodacious human gal), and self-absorbed. His very presence in the Marvel universe seemed an affront to regular superheroes, yet he managed to hold his own when the shit went down. Howard’s adventures served as both satire of mainstream comics and commentary on real-world events. (They were also the basis for a really bad movie, but let’s not dwell on that.)

So, I was pretty excited when I heard Marvel was bringing Howard back–that is, until I heard the details. Howard the Duck is coming back as a mouse. As Howard would say: Waugh!

The reason for the change, apparently, is that Howard looks a little too much like Donald Duck–at least in the eyes of Disney’s legal department. This interview with Howard’s creator lays it out.

This presents me with a quandary: Towards whom should I direct my surliness? Disney for being a lawsuit-happy, copyright-overprotecting, deep-pockets bully? Or Marvel for compromising Howard just so they can pocket a few more golden eggs?

I know the answer to this puzzle, and I bet you do too!

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