LEE SWITZLER

Real Name: Beverly "Lee" Switzler

Identity/Class: Human civilian

Occupation: To Hack and Back taxi company
    former owner of Coffee Shop (uncertain whether this is the actual name of the restaurant or not)

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Dino Digitalis, Howard the Duck, Iris Raritan, Paul Same, Carol Starkowski, Claude Starkowski, Winda Wester
    possibly Louise;
    formerly Sudd

EnemiesDoctor Bong (Lester Verde), Dr. Odd, Dracula, Mr. Chicken, Hank Skidoo, Sudd, unidentified comedian

Known Relatives: Unidentified parents, brother, unidentified sister-in-law, Beverly Switzler & Harriet Switzler (nieces), Lily (probable aunt, presumed deceased) - see comments;
    it is debatable whether Dr. Bong was his temporary nephew-by-marriage (see comments for Beverly Switzler's profile); figurative grand uncle to the Bong Quintuplets (Lester Jr., Chester, Nestor, Fester & Howie Verde; genetically created by Beverly using Bong's DNA)

Aliases: None; "Greased Lightnin'" (insult  used by Howard the Duck when Lee was sleeping behind the register)

Base of Operations: Cleveland, Ohio;
    formerly a burlesque house in an unidentified alien "Odd" dimension;
    formerly New York City, New York

First Appearance: Howard the Duck I#20 (January, 1978); (identified) Howard the Duck I#21 (February, 1978)

Powers/Abilities: Lee has no superhuman powers. He had some experience running at least two businesses. He is generally an optimist, trying to see the best in people and situations, though he is also pragmatic. Good natured and good humored, Lee is willing to help out or even sacrifice himself for a loved one, though he was also willing to leave and go get help if help was needed to get out of a bad situation.

    Lee drove a 1957 Plymouth Valiant. For a while he drove on some Firestone 500 tires, though he replaced them following a blowout. While he owned at least a couple cabs at one point, he generally had Claude Starkowski drive him everywhere.

Height: Unrevealed; approximately 5'6" based on estimation of Bev's height
Weight: Unrevealed; approximately 195 lbs. based on above height
Eyes: Blue (eyes showed up poorly, but looked too light to be brown)
Hair: Gray; formerly brown (see comments)

History:
(Howard the Duck I#21 (fb) - BTS) - Having wanted a daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Switzler named their son "Beverly," though they called him Lee for short.

(Howard the Duck I#21 (fb) - BTS) - Lee was a free spirit and always took matters into his own hands.

(Howard the Duck I#21 (fb) - BTS) - Lee's brother named his daughter after him: Beverly.

(Howard the Duck I#21 (fb) - BTS) - The young Beverly took after her uncle; she was a free spirit, always taking matters into her own hands.

(Howard the Duck I#20 (fb) - BTS) - When Lee's current dishwasher, Sudd, announced his plans to quit, Lee put an add for a new dishwasher wanted on his coffee shop's window.

(Howard the Duck I#20) - Lee was sleeping behind the cash register, dreaming/talking about a girl named Louise -- "I do love ya >z-z-z< I'm just not ready >z-z-z< toenails -- " -- when he was awakened by a shout and a slap on the counter by Howard the Duck, who was seeking the dishwasher job. Believing this to be a man in a costume, Lee burst into laughter. Howard explained that he was applying for a job, and the still laughing Lee noted that he could put up a new sign, "Our dishes untouched by human hands!" Regardless, Lee -- who had not actually introduced himself nor asked Howard's name -- showed Howard to the kitchen. When Sudd indignantly wondered if this was the guy who was going to replace him, Lee assured Sudd that no one could replace him, but the new guy would have to do; he further asked Sudd to show him the ropes.
    After 10 years of training, Sudd unwittingly turned on the microwave after having left an aerosol cleanser can inside; the resultant explosion mutated Sudd into "the Scrubbing Bubble that Walks Like A Man." Lee rushed in at the the sound of the explosion and swiftly realized how dangerous Sudd could be. As Sudd fatally scoured customers and destroyed property, Lee tried to rinse him clean with warm water, which only expanded the concentrated cleanser. When Howard tried to run away, Lee grabbed Howard, asking is this was the sort of employee he was, "the kind who deserted at the first sign of an emergency my insurance doesn't cover." Lee lamented that no one sympathized with the small businessman today, but Howard spotted another can of the cleanser and noted the antidote listed on its label. Howard and Lee feverishly combined the listed ingredients, and they tracked the rampaging Sudd to 8th Avenue. There they debated whether Sudd's anti-indecency mission should be stopped, and ultimately Lee's questioning whether they should spare Sudd as an intelligent being led Howard -- who considered Sudd a moron -- to throw the antidote, destroying  Sudd. While the local degenerates appreciated their protection, Howard and Lee were then beset by local block association, who had felt Sudd was the first effective clean-up campaign in the neighborhood's history.

(Howard the Duck I#21) - Lee and Howard fled from the irate crowd, eventually hiding out beneath the muumuu of a thin woman who had bought it in a thrift store. When the coast was clear, Lee thanked the woman and headed towards the uptown subway; en route, Lee told Howard to survive in the world, you either had to be insane, or know someone who is.

(Howard the Duck I#21 - BTS) - At some point, Lee decided he was not cut out for the restaurant business in New York.

(Howard the Duck I#21) - As he packed, Lee explained that once he reached a decision, he acted on it: He would call the bank from the bus station, tell them to re-possess the fixtures, and he would head back to Ohio. This sparked some discussion of their common history and Ohio, during which Lee told Howard to help himself to his food, "What's mine is yours!" They soon realized they had never introduced each other; after apologizing and blaming New York's dehumanizing effect, Lee introduced himself as Beverly Switzler. When Howard was surprised by the name, Lee explained how he had come by it, and Howard told Lee how he knew someone else by that name. Lee quickly asked how Bev was doing, and was sad to hear Bev had gotten married as he had never figured her the type to settle down. When he commented that always being on the move beat waiting forever for something to happen, Howard countered that if you were always moving, you might be missing that "something" in transit. Agreeing that made sense, Lee prepared to head out; he asked if Howard wanted to come with, but Howard was waiting for the ship with his friends Winda and Paul to come in. Lee then offered to let Howard stay in his apartment as it was paid up for another month; Howard accepted, but then somewhat sheepishly asked about his pay from the day's work at the diner. Telling Howard not to be embarrassed to ask for what's fair, Lee gave Howard a fifty dollar bill and told Howard to look him up when he got to Ohio.

(Howard the Duck II#1 (fb) - BTS) - Lee purchased the "To Hack and Back" taxi garage with the money he made from selling his New York diner.

(Howard the Duck II#1 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, Lee bought four Firestone 500 tires, which he got cheap as they had been recalled.

(Howard the Duck II#1 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, Lee phoned Howard about his new deal (though he didn't reveal it to be the taxi company).

(Howard the Duck I#26) - Howard called Lee from Skudge, informing him of the recent misfortunes of himself an his friends. Lee told Howard to stay put and he would drive up to Cleveland to fetch them all, explaining to Howard he was doing this because they were friends.

(Howard the Duck I#27) - Lee arrived while Howard slept, and he met Iris Raritan. The doctors reported that there had been no change in Paul Same or Winda Wester's conditions: It was a waiting game.

(Howard the Duck I#27) - While Howard struggled with an emotional/angry dream, Lee asked Iris for a hand as he woke up Howard; when Howard woke up confused, Lee told him it must have been a hell of a nightmare, as "no one forgets my ugly mug." He then informed Howard of Paul and Winda's unchanged status. Howard took Iris to help take down the Circus of Crime, and Lee agreed to maintain the vigil on Howard's injured friends. He told Howard to keep in touch.

(Howard the Duck I#30) - At the hospital in Skudge, Lee tried to calm the anxious Howard, noting how Winda had recovered from her trauma and that Paul had also stabilized; Howard explained he was instead upset by a chilling premonition, which proved to be real as Dr. Bong teleported in front of them. Howard tried to flee, but a confused Lee held onto his shirt and asked who this guy was. Bong paralyzed the pair with a peal of his bell, explained that Howard was interfering with undivided attention from Beverly and instructed Howard to prepare for a public combat (and humiliation) or he would destroy the hospital, killing Winda and Paul. Surprised that Bev had married this guy, Lee wondered by Howard hadn't told him, as he "coulda done something!" (see comments). After Bong teleported away via another clang of his bell, Lee noted that they cold move again, and he urged Howard to do something about Beverly being held by Bong. At the nurse's instruction that their yelling was not healthy for the patients, Lee and Howard left the room, after which Lee insisted Howard give him the scoop on Bong. Lee informed Howard that he could help him stand up to Bong and live.

(Howard the Duck I#30 (fb) - BTS) - Lee informed Howard how he knew a guy that could help him defeat Bong, convincing him to take a car ride back to Cleveland.

(Howard the Duck I#30) - As they approached Cleveland in Lee's car, Lee encouraged Howard to give Bong a fight for his money. They soon arrived at Iron Man Auto Wreckers, where he introduced Howard to the owner, Claude Starkowski (see comments), the alleged uncle of Tony Stark and alleged designer of the Iron Man armor (Claude started creating such armor after receiving a piece of shrapnel in his head in a military action in Southeast Asia (see comments)). Realizing Claude was demented, Howard initially tried to run out, preferring death to humiliation. Lee assured Howard that while Claude was a little off, he could build a weapon and armor that would allow Howard to survive long enough to use the weapon.
    After Claude finished his product that afternoon and apologized for budget restrictions, Lee told him not to apologize, claiming the armor to be a masterpiece. After Claude explained the true weapon, sonar dishes to nullify Bong's sonic vibrations, Lee helped Howard test out the armor, holding a trash can lid for Howard to dent with his armored fist and assuring Howard he had nothing to fear if it came to hand-to-hand combat. Given the time limit, Lee soon drove Howard back to the hospital in Skudge. As Lee was setting up the sonar dishes and gave Howard a pep talk about how this was where Howard could show what he was made of and how they would catch Bong by surprise, Bong suddenly appeared, announcing an early confrontation because he couldn't wait.

(Howard the Duck I#31) - Lee watched in shock as Bong engaged Howard, but completed assembly of the sonar dishes. Howard soon activated the Claude's weapon, to Bong's agony, but as Claude had forgotten to install a battery in one of the dishes, the device swiftly deactivated. When Howard used an emergency "break glass" hammer on Bong's bell and the two of them vanished in tintinnabulation, Lee voiced his belief that Howard had sacrificed himself to save Skudge, though no one present could hear anything. After Beverly and Howard transported via Bong's power after defeating Bong at his Himalayan fortress (where Howard and Bong had been transported), Lee was excited to to see them both safe and sound, and was happy that the crisis was over.

(Howard the Duck II#1 (fb) - BTS) - At some point (maybe shortly after he bought the taxi garage), Lee hired Claude Starkowski to help get the To Hack and Back taxi garage back into shape.

(Howard the Duck II#1 (fb) - BTS) - Via his 1957 Plymouth Reliant, Lee took Howard and Beverly out of Skudge, and they headed back towards Ohio.

(Howard the Duck II#1 (fb) - BTS) - Lee stopped at Speed and Briscos for dinner.

(Howard the Duck II#1) - As they came to a toll plaza at the Ohio state border amidst a downpour, Lee tried in vain to convince Howard that the restaurant wasn't that bad. When Bev commented that she hadn't thought a duck could make her feel this way, Lee voiced his old adage, "Ya live and ya learn!" further noting that they would have a chance to do both once they reached Cleveland. No one in the car realized the man in the toll booth had been Pro-Rata, who plotted vengeance, and they drove on.

    Later, somewhere on Interstate 80, one of Lee's tires blew out, and they ran off the road into a ditch. With no spare, Lee and Bev rushed through the rain to a house on the hill, Fairer Fowls Farms, and Howard followed shortly thereafter. They were met at the door by Hank Skidoo, who was wielding a pitchfork, and they convinced him to let them in out of the rain. When Skidoo's boss, Mr. Chicken, appeared and ordered Hank to take them to the henhouse, Bev told Lee to turn and get help. With the front door shut, Lee leapt through a glass window, promising he wouldn't leave her in the lurch.

(Howard the Duck II#1 (fb) - BTS) - Lee flagged down a farmer with a spare tire a couple miles up the interstate and headed back to help Bev and Howard.

(Howard the Duck II#1) - Lee crashed his car through the wall of Mr. Chicken's coop, striking Mr. Chicken in the process. Lee then urged Howard and Bev to get in before Mr. Chicken could get back up; Lee took off as soon as Bev was in her seat, leaving Howard hanging on the door, but Bev pulled him in. Lee told them how he'd gotten tires but preferred to save the details until they had put some distance between themselves and Fairer Farms.

    Lee crossed the Cuyahoga river and brought the group back to Cleveland.

(Howard the Duck II#1) - Lee brought Howard and Bev to the To Hack and Back taxi garage, which he noted to be the deal he had called Howard about. He further offered Howard a job, though Howard was unimpressed with the place; Bev considered one of the old cabs to be quaint, and Lee noted he wasn't sure if it worked, because it belonged to the last owner. Lee acknowledged Howard's skepticism and that the place was somewhat antiquated, but then revealed he had hired a first-rate mechanic to help get it back in shape: Claude Starkowski. When Howard denounced Starkowski as insane and stupid, Lee told Howard Claude was the best grease monkey in Cleveland...at least at a price he could afford. Reminding them all of the "Iron Duck" debacle, Howard refused to have to anything to do with something with which Starkowski was involved. Lee toward Howard he thought he was being unreasonable, but Howard claimed he was heeding his survival instincts and departed with Bev in hand. Claude was frustrated for being labeled for "one little slip," but Lee told him not to worry, as Howard would be back; sighing, Lee, was unsure, however, how to explain the truth about Howard to Claude (who thought Howard was a midget).
    After Bev explained how they needed money to eat and pay for a place to live (and after seeing an article about duck hunting season opening), Howard rushed back.

(Howard the Duck II#1/2 (fb) - BTS) - Howard returned to Lee's garage and signed on to the job, after which he had to get a license to drive a taxi.

(Howard the Duck II#1/2) - After Howard obtained the license, Lee welcomed him on as a partner in the company, though Howard cut Lee off before he could make any sort of speech. Lee then showed Howard a special cab Claude had modified to allow Howard to drive at his short height. Lee then showed Howard the meter, the dispatch radio through which he would be in constant contact with the garage, and his change belt, instructing him to guard the latter with his life. Lee then told Howard he just needed to familiarize himself with Cleveland and waved goodbye as Howard drove off with Bev to do just that.

(Howard the Duck II#1/3 - BTS) - Beverly apparently told Lee over the phone that she hadn't heard from Howard since Claude had fixed the radio-transmitter, which was now no longer working.

(Howard the Duck II#1/3) - Back at the To Hack and Back garage, Lee witnessed as Dino Digitalis tried to convince Howard to star in one of his movies. After Bev took an interest and convinced Howard to accept the offer, Lee agreed to give Howard a few days off, figuring he was sure he could find another driver.

(Howard the Duck II#2/2) - Lee had Claude drive him in one of his cabs to Howard and Beverly's new apartment to pick them up to take them downtown for the movie they were shooting with Digitalis. When Bev thanked him, Lee said he couldn't hesitate to help when his favorite niece was about to become a star; plus, taking a company cab was tax deductible. When Claude told Bev that she and Howard were going to be the stars that put Cleveland on the map, Lee pointed out that Cleveland was already on the map: "Stick to auto-mechanics and leave cartography to the experts, Claude!"
    Lee and Claude subsequently dropped them off at Union Terminal and headed back to the garage.

(Howard the Duck II#3) - Invited to Howard and Bev's place for Christmas Eve, Lee had Claude drive one of his cabs to bring they and Claude's daughter, Carol. As they arrived, Lee instructed Claude to just park out front. Bev thanked Lee for coming, and Lee assured her he wouldn't miss it for the world, as she was the only family he had left. After helping to serve hors d'oeuvres, Lee made a toast to the future and to all those present, as their experiences had made them more than friends, but rather a family. Lee stood quietly when Carol had an outburst about hating Christmas and then ran out, after which Howard went after her.

                Later, just after Lee advised everyone to make sure to save some egg nog for Howard and Carol, the two rejoined the party, having just returned from a North Pole adventure. Lee was pleased to hear that both Howard and Carol had a much improved outlook on Christmas.

(Howard the Duck II#5) - Lee had Claude drive one of his cabs, taking themselves, as well as Bev and Harold H. Harold in search of Howard, who believed himself a vampire and was stalking prey following being bitten by Dracula. Following a radio report of strange nocturnal attacks at the Cleveland zoo, Lee told Claude drive them there. After Harold took himself out of the struggle, Dracula assaulted Lee and Claude, and Lee told her to run and get help. Bev instead found Howard and brought him to his senses, after which Dracula relinquished Lee and Claude and instead mesmerized Bev. Lee watched is surprise as Howard staked Dracula, who then duped Harold into removing the stake and being vampirized in return.

(Crazy#63) - Lee observed as Howard lectured on stage to a crowd; assuring Bev that Howard was a natural-born showman. The crowd cheered and applauded when Bev came on stage dressed in a skimpy costume to hold up Howard's evolutionary-comparison chart. Afterward, Lee tried to convince Howard that the crowd loved him.

(Crazy#65 - mislabeled as #66 - BTS) - Howard ran a number of auditions at Bev's burlesque theater, which culminated in the entire theater (including Lee), as well as Joe's Diner, being transported to the "Odd Dimension" by Dr. Odd.

(Crazy#69) - From his seat on stage at the burlesque theater, Lee laughed at a comic's joke, but the comic punched him in the face and told him, "How dare you laugh at me, you creep!" Bev related the man's history of being the butt of jokes his whole life, and that the man had chosen the career of a burlesque house's comedian, figuring nobody would ever laugh at him again.

(Crazy#71) - As a Viking-dressed baritone warmed up, singing "Mi-mi-mi-mi-mi!" Lee commented that the guy was conceited, only singing about himself. Lee and Howard then listened as a janitor related a story of being blown to pieces, and then wrapping up the story by answering Howard's question, "How can you possibly still be alive?" with "I'm a crummy janitor at a lousy burlesque house...you call this living?"

(Howard the Duck II#5/2) - After Howard's cab - To Hack and Back's only working car - was dismantled by baseball fans seeking the winning fly ball, hit out of Municipal Park, Lee told Howard he had to let Claude and Howard go until the insurance company paid for the demolished cab.

                Later, Lee came to Howard and Bev's place to witness Winda using her psychic powers to send Howard and Bev to Duckworld.

(Howard the Duck II#6) - Lee hugged Bev goodbye, telling her they were all going to miss her.

Comments: Created by Steve Gerber, Gene Colan, and Klaus Janson.

    When Lee -- immobilized by Bong's powers -- says he could have done something about Bev's marriage, the narrative says, "just what the paralyzed Lee might have done goes unvoiced..." And I don't think it was ever mentioned again. Maybe Lee has friends in low places? Or knows a good lawyer? The world may never know...

    In the Howard the Duck magazine#3, Lee told Bev she was the only family he had left. Perhaps that meant he was on the outs with the rest of the family and no longer considered them family anymore...or maybe Bev and Lee are indeed the only survivors of the Switzler clan...

    Lee had dark brown hair and was balding in his early appearances in the Howard the Duck comic book, then had a bit more hair when he came back to help Howard in Skudge...then in the magazines, he seemed to have more of a full head of hair, though it looked a lot lighter (though those issues were black and white). Perhaps he started wearing a toupe, but also stopped dying his hair?

    Claude Starkowski in Howard the Duck I#30-31, Claude Starkowitz in subsequent appearances...but, since Gerber created the character, I'd go with the original spelling.

    Per Howard the Duck I#30, Claude received the shrapnel in Vietnam. That's obviously a topical reference, fine for a 1978 comic, as Claude looked to be maybe 30-40 years old...not the 60+ years old he'd need to be to have been in Nam.

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Lee Switzler
should be distinguished from:


images: (without ads)
Howard the Duck I#21, pg. 7, panel 1 (full, oblique profile);
            panel 3 (face)
    #30, pg. 4, panel 4 (coulda done something);
    #31, last page, panel 1 (full, poor angle/posture)
Howard the Duck II#1/2, pg. 6, panel 2 (full body, welcoming Howard as a cabbie);
Crazy#63, Howard the Duck story, pg. 2, panel 5 (more clear face; black & white)


Appearances:
Howard the Duck I#20 (January, 1978) - by Steve Gerber (writer/editor), Gene Colan (artist), and Klaus Janson (inker).
Howard the Duck I#21 (February, 1978) - by Steve Gerber (writer/editor), Carmine Infantino (artist), and Klaus Janson (inker).
Howard the Duck I#26 (July, 1978) - by Steve Gerber (writer/editor), Gene Colan (artist), and Klaus Janson (inker).
Howard the Duck I#27 (September, 1978) - by Steve Gerber (writer/editor), Gene Colan (artist), and Klaus Janson (inker).

Howard the Duck I#30 (March, 1979) - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), Al Milgrom (inker), and Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Howard the Duck I#31 (May, 1979) - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), Al Milgrom (inker), and Jim Shooter (editor)
Howard the Duck II#1 (October, 1979) - Rick Marschall (Editor)
    "Fowl of Fear" - by Bill Mantlo, Mike Golden, and Klaus Janson

    "The $64, 000 Desperado" - by Bill Mantlo, Gene Colan, and Bob McLeod
    "From Hell it cometh...Chair-Thing" - by Bill Mantlo, Gene Colan, and Dave Simons

Howard the Duck II#2 (December, 1979) - Rick Marschall (Editor)
    "The Crash of '79" - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), and Dave Simons (inker)
Howard the Duck II#3 (February, 1980) - Lynn Graeme (editor)
    "A Christmas for Carol" - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), and Dave Simons (inks)

Howard the Duck II#5 (May, 1980) - Lynn Graeme (editor)
    "Drakula" - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Michael Golden (pencils), and Bob McLeod (inks)
    "Captain Americana" - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), and Dave Simon (inker)

Crazy#63 (June, 1980) - by Roger Stern (writer) and Vincente Alcazar (artist)
Howard the Duck II#6 (July, 1980) - Lynn Graeme (editor)
    "Duckworld" - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Michael Golden (pencils), and Bob McLeod (inks)

Crazy#66 (August, 1980) - by Roger Stern (writer), Pat Broderick (pencils) & Armando Gil (artists), Larry Hama (editor)
Crazy#69 (December, 1980) - by Steve Skeates (writer), Pat Broderick (pencils) & Armando Gil (artists), Larry Hama (editor)
Crazy#71 (February, 1981) - by Steve Skeates (writer), Pat Broderick (pencils) & Armando Gil (artists), Larry Hama (editor)


Last updated: 02/09/15

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