The F.O.O.G (Friends of Old Gerber) Portfolio was a benefit collection released in 1982 to help offset writer Steve Gerber’s legal battle with Marvel Comics.
In the early ’80s Gerber was involved in a legal wrangle with the comics giant over ownership of his most famous creation, Howard The Duck. The writer had created the satirical Howard in 1973 under Marvel’s work-to-hire agreement but believed he was due royalties from the popular character.
To help raise funds for Gerber’s legal fund artist Dave Sim contacted comic book artists and asked them to contribute to a benefit portfolio. Ten answered the call – Jack Kirby (who was also involved in a legal battle with Marvel over royalties and unreturned artwork) contributed artwork for the cover envelope, while Barry Windsor Smith, Berni Wrightson, Wendy Pini, Charles Vess, Frank Thorne, William Marshall Rogers, Michael William Kaluta, Gene Colan, Jeff Jones and Sim’s donated artwork to the collection.
The F.O.O.G (Friends of Old Gerber) Portfolio – a pun on Marvel’s fan club F.O.O.M (Friends of Ol’ Marvel) – contained ten 11.5 x 14 inch black and white plates printed on watercolour stock, and the collection shipped in a white envelope.
There’s some nice artwork in this collection. Kirby’s cover (inked by Alfreda Alcala) depicts Destroyer Duck, a parody of Howard created by Gerber and Kirby to also help raise legal funds. Kalauta, Colan (whose contribution featured another Gerber creation, Stewart The Rat) and Pini all donated strong artwork, as did the other artists. The only disappointment was Jeff Jones donation, which was clearly just a page torn from one of his sketch books.
My favourite of the collection though is Frank Thorne’s contribution. I’m a great fan of Thorne’s (click here for my look at his Wizards and Warrior Women portfolio) and his drawing of Red Sonja analogue Ghita is terrific. (Please note: Thorne’s artwork depicts female nudity).
Gerber and Marvel settled their differences in late 1982 and by all accounts funds raised by the F.O.O.G (Friends of Old Gerber) Portfolio did indeed help the writer offset some of his legal costs. It also left us with a collection of artwork from some of the comic industry’s biggest talents, so winners all round!