Gerber was an odd-man out at Marvel and comics in general in the 70's, working on oddball titles, or turning same-old series into oddball titles. He created Howard the Duck and Omega The Unknown, and wrote a wonky, eye-opening run of The Defenders. As a kid, I was aware that Gerber's work was different from anyone else's at Marvel, I guess everyone had to be aware of that, as he satirized superheroes, religion, rock music, cults, game shows, space opera, comics, etc, while writing about such things as Kyle Richmond carrying his brain around in a bedpan, a scientist with an ape's body, the Soofi soap cult, the Badoon aliens and their game shows, The kidney-obsessed Kidney Lady, The Celestial Man who was actually a Cthulhian nightmare, the Elf that murdered folks and never actually encountered the Defenders, giant attacking salt shakers, Space Turnips, a duck running for President, etc. You never knew what the hell was coming up next in those titles, and I was crazy about those books. Omega was so weird I couldn't even read it. Even his straightforward super-heroics contained odd touches, The Plant Man talking to a leaf while plotting revenge against superheroes is a small scene I've always remembered from the Defenders (I certainly hope that was written by Gerber). Howard was a small explosion in Comicland, and the legal mess resulting in Gerber's treatment at the hands of Marvel was a series of explosions of another kind, still being felt in some ways to this day. Gerber's Defenders predated a lot of the self-reflective meta hoo-ha being done in tights-land these days, done with humor, and done without the crippling continuity acrobatics and sense of self-satisfaction riddling the work of today's deep thinking long underwear scribes.
I didn't stay in touch with Gerber's output after the 70's, never read his early graphic novels or his sporadic returns to Howard or his later Marvel and DC work, but I have always felt fortunate that I caught his act while growing up. I've forgotten several hundred comic books I've read during my formative years, but there are solid memories remaining of many Steve Gerber stories.
I'd been aware through the internet that Gerber was suffering long-term health problems, and that the situation was dire. I'm sorry to hear he's gone. Waugh.
Tom Spurgeon has a nice appreciation here at The Comics Reporter.
Feel Down, America.