STAN GOLDBERG: SHABBILY SHUT OUT AT ARCHIE
Archie Comics, which has lately astonished the comics world with spectacular publicity stunts (Archie marrying, a gay student at Riverdale) and innovative plans (new superhero comic books with Stan Lee), seems bent on perpetuating its reputation as a callous abuser of talent that has been a touchstone of its operation since one of the company’s founders, John Goldwater, claimed to have invented Archie, a grab at fame equaled only by its disregard of Dan DeCarlo, who established the Archie house style of drawing. After DeCarlo, Stan Goldberg’s pencil has done the most to preserve the way Archie and Jughead and Betty and Veronica look.
Most recently, Goldberg penciled the watershed marriage series in which Archie marries, first, Veronica, then Betty, an ingenuous contrivance by Michael Uslan that has virtually revived Archie Comics and is now being perpetuated in Archie’s marital magazine, Life with Archie: The Married Life. Providing the stamp of artworld approval, Abrams ComicArts reprinted the marriage epic in slipcased hardcover last year, Archie Marries.
Since the mid-1960s, Goldberg has drawn the pictures in virtually every Archie title, including 250 consecutive issues of the flagship title, Archie Comics. As a signal of Goldberg’s place in the Archie firmament, IDW just published The Best of Stan Goldberg, a 15-story compilation of three decades’ work, including specialty art, pin-ups and penciled pages.
While all these laurels were heaping up, the suits at Archie were quietly nudging Goldberg out of the house—without actually telling him what they were doing. Goldberg told Frank Pauer, editor of the National Cartoonists Society’s bi-monthly magazine, The Cartoonist!, who interviewed Goldberg in the recent January-February issue, that he suddenly stopped getting assignments last year. No one notified him officially that he was being “retired” after 41 years with the company, but he began to get the message when, after doing five or six covers a month, he was all at once doing none. And when he inquired about work, he was grudgingly given a couple stories a week to do; then just one story a week; then one a month.
“It’s the name of the game,” Goldberg ruefully told Pauer. “It’s the business [the same kind of insensitive and grasping treatment] that existed with Siegel and Shuster; it existed with Dan DeCarlo.” And now it’s knocked on Stan Goldberg’s door. Shabby.
Goldberg, however, continues to find work at other publishing houses. He’s working with Bongo Comics, and back at Marvel, where he worked as color designer in the watershed 1960s, he did a cover for The Fantastic Four. You can’t keep a good man down.
For more about Archie’s high-handed treatment of talent, visit the Usual Place to see Harv’s Hindsight for summer 2001, wherein John Goldwater’s version of how he created the teenage character and the rest of the Archie ensemble is retailed, plus Rants & Raves, Opus 249 for a quick run-down of the company’s reaction to Harvey Kurtzman’s parody of Archie, concocted as a lampoon of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy but interpreted at Archie as an attack on their iconic character. Sad.