Hulu announced a new animated series based on Marvel’s Howard the Duck that will be written by filmmaker Kevin Smith and Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s Dave Willis.
Steve Gerber created the character in 1973, and Howard’s screwball adventures were absolutely bizarre and comedic, yet at its core, existential. Gerber says its main joke is that there is no joke: “that life’s most serious moments and most incredibly dumb moments are often distinguishable only by a momentary point of view.”
The Howard I expect we’ll see in Smith’s Hulu incarnation can be summed up best by the first page of the Chip Zdarsky-written Howard the Duck comic series from 2015: “Brought here through the Nexus of All Realities several years ago, Howard has struggled to find a place for himself in this world of hairless apes. He’s been a rent-a-ninja, a presidential candidate, even a George Lucas movie subject, but no matter where life takes him, he’s still just trapped in a world he never made.”
Kevin Smith got involved in cartoons in 1999 with Clerks the Animated Series, a show that tragically only lasted 6 episodes because ABC didn’t understand what the show was or what it needed to thrive—imagine that…’looks at Twin Peaks’. Dante and Randall from the original Clerks movie are the stars and they unwittingly undermine goofball billionaire Leonardo Leonardo (voiced by Alec Baldwin) while going through any number of movie parody situations. It was plenty absurd and funny, and I still quote Leonardo’s “….or some third thing” any time there are only two options to mention. While the experience wasn’t the best for Smith and his team, he got a taste for the process and made a fondly-remembered episodic experience for fans who got a chance to watch it. If it rides the same balance of absurd and grounded, Howard the Duck will be able to be happily grounded and absurd at once.
Dave Willis is also signed on to be a writer for this show. Aqua Teen Hunger Force is about three sentient fast food items that appear to be superheroes sometimes, but their show is all about how they screw around when they’re not working, and the antics of their white trash neighbor Carl. Again, goofball absurdist material coupled with slice of life matches up almost point for point with Howard the Duck.
This is going to be good, and will match well with Hulu’s new partnership with Marvel. Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum are heading up a MODOK series, and Chelsea Handler is working on Tigra & Dazzler. And like the Netflix Marvel characters before them, the three series will team up as well, in a tentatively titled The Offenders. Except unlike Netflix’s grim and gritty approach to Marvel, this one’s going to succeed by tickling our funny bones. Using duck feathers.