|Howard The Duck|
Art by Dave Sim
from Marvel Fanare #25 (Marvel Comics, March 1986)
(from Andrew Rilstone's blog, undated)
The influence of Howard the Duck on Cerebus the Aardvark is quite staggering.
I knew, of course, that the title of Cerebus was partly a joke at the expense of 'silly animal' comics, and that Cerebus the Aardvark as a title was almost an attempt to trump Howard the Duck and [Steve] Gerber's subsequent Stewart the Rat. (Trumped a few years later with a Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, or course.) I believe that when Gerber lost control of Howard, Dave Sim was considered as a possible replacement on the book.
But almost everything about Cerebus seems to have its origin in Howard the Duck: the cynical, world-weary persona, of course, and the central gag about funny animals in a world of humans. Howard runs for president; Cerebus spends 25 issues running for prime minister. The Howard-goes-mad issues and the dream sequences become the 'mind games' motif which gradually became the dominant trope in Cerebus. (Right down to the disembodied speech bubbles.) Gerber uses blocks of 'screenplay' to reproduce Howard's election press conferences, just as Sim does for Cerebus. Howard and Cerebus both end up in dialogues with their creators. Both do the unthinkable and have issues which consist of nothing but blocks of text. And Howard is always respectful and tolerant towards his female supporting cast.
Well, okay, the exception proves the rule.