Earlier today I took a jaunt to Frank & Sons, a well known destination to lots and lots of people. It's literally an indoor swap meet, filled with 100s of dealers selling action figures, Japanese manga/anime/toys, movie posters, sports memorabilia, collector supplies, junk food, and comics, the new ones as well as a real large selection of back issues (the reasons I been showing up there for over 15 years!).
Well, I was visiting my friend Alan Rutledge, who is one of the best back issue dealers I've ever had the pleasure to know. Alan carries books from the 1940s all the way to the more recent tradepaperbacks. But his bread and butter is his huge selection of reasonably priced back issues from the 60s-90s. My favs are the 70s Bronze Age books he carries. Today I had picked up a half dozen issues or so of the early 70s JUNGLE ACTION Featuring THE BLACK PANTHER. Here's one of the them:
I'd love to tell you more about the Panther, but as this post's title promises to spill the dirt on my meeting with Howard, I better get to it!
So as I'm visiting with Alan, over the PA system I hear the announcement that there are 7 celebrities from Sci-Fi movies and tv shows signing up front. Alan comments that they didn't even mention the actual actors, and that maybe the actor who played Howard the Duck might be signing. "I'd like to meet him!" I said, realizing that was probably just wishful thinking. The actor had already been signing at Franks a few months ago, and I had missed him then.
Well, as I made my way to the exits, I pass by the signing area and there he was! Ed Gale, the actor from HOWARD THE DUCK! I hadn't seen the film but once, back when it was released in 1986. The film was finally released on DVD a few months ago, complete with special features, which included Mr. Gale talking about working in the Howard suit. As long-time readers of this blog know, I'm a real big fan of the Steve Gerber's Howard the Duck comic. Upon watching the DVD, I actually liked it more than I did back in 1986. I think now I looked at it more as an appreciation for the film as it's own entity, rather than a (back in the 80s) misfired attempt at adapting the comic. It's a silly, irreverant flick with a talking duck, the cute rock-n-roll chick he's in love with, and the evil Overlord threatening to destroy the world....What's not to like about that?!
Yep, he signed it to "To Javier, Let's rock it! Howard T. Duck"!!
Ed was the actor hired to physically play Howard (voiced by Chip Zien), performing in what looked like a cumbersome suit, but deftly giving Howard his physical characteristics. Like many, I get off on my own 80s nostalgia kicks, and the film, with big haired Lea Thompson, FERRIS BUELLER'S Jeffrey Jones and music by Thomas Dolby, certainly screams 80s! What's cool about having an actual person performing in a duck suit is that it gives the character a real sense of being in the film, as opposed to one actor reacting to a CGI creation. Not that CGI technology was available back then, but nowadays Howard would be a high tech animated figure in the film.
I chatted with Ed briefly. He shared stories about working on the film, and how the slightest damage to the Howard heads would cause it to be ruined! We talked about the cost of indie films and the wasteful spending on the huge Hollwood movies, among other things. He's a nice guy, and very enthusiastic, and I'm glad I got a chance to meet him. It was real trippy, talking to Howard the Duck!