The Top Archie in Comics
(This Stripped column originally appeared in the April 30-May 6, 1998 Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)
by Beth Hannan Rimmels
The number of comic book creators whose work has produced a lasting, tangible legacy in this notoriously transitory field can be counted on one hand. Think about how Siegel and Shuster transformed Golden Age comics by inventing Superman or how Lee and Kirby upped the ante with the Marvel revolution of the 1960s.
Now try to name someone who is more responsible for bringing the medium into modern times than writer and editor Archie Goodwin, who died this month at age 60 after a long bout with cancer.
Goodwin worked for several publishers, including Marvel, DC and Warren. While Marvel's editor in chief, he founded Epic Illustrated and the Epic imprint that followed. In my opinoin, without the late, lamented Epic, there would be no Vertigo, let alone Homage, Legend, Tapestry or any other imprint to push the envelope. Last summer, Goodwin won an Eisner award for his work in Batman: Black and White. He had also written for characters such as the Hulk, Wolverine and Spider-Man, but the one Goodwin transformed the most was my favorite female bloodsucker, Vampirella.
Seth Beiderman puts it bluntly: "All of us at Harris Comics owe Mr. Goodwin our jobs — if not for his early work on Vampirella, there is no doubt in my mind that Vampirella would never have lasted over a quarter century. Mr. Goodwin, along with the legendary artwork of Jose Gonzalez, transformed Vampirella from a novelty character into an icon."
I agree. My favorite part of the Vampirella/Dracula Centennial issue was the story that featured Goodwin and Bram Stoker meeting in a dream library. Technically Goodwin was not Vampi’s creator, but in spirit and fans’ hearts, he certainly was.
Harris Comics is planning a tribute to Goodwin in an upcoming Vampirella issue, and Goodwin’s former publishers are discussing a joint project with the proceeds benefiting an Archie Goodwin scholarship fund.
n In better news, the nominees for the Harvey Awards were announced. Unlike other awards, the Harvey nominees and winners are determined by comic book creators. This year a referendum was passed allowing voters to change several categories to recognize creators for their body of work during the previous year rather than a single work or series. The categories affected by the change were Best Writer, Artist, Cartoonist, Inker, Letterer, Colorist and Cover Artist. Personally, I think it’s a great decision that ends the problem of people competing with themselves for different titles. Click here for a complete list of nominees.
n The coolest promotional idea I’ve seen in a while is the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Munchie Bars from Kitchen Sink Press. Freewheelin’ Franklin, Phineas or Fat Freddy decorate the chocolate, chocolate nut or chocolate and crisp rice bars. It seems like a natural. People hang out in comic book stores, discussing titles and playing hands of Magic. Why not give retailers a way to feed them? Just don’t get them on the books, kids.
n Lots of people shifting around right now. Taking over for writer John Ney Reiber on Vertigo’s Books of Magic is Peter Gross, who will continue as its principal artist. Over in Hellblazer, Garth Ennis will return for a five-issue story arc, "Son of Man" (issues #129-133, on sale starting in July), with Warren Ellis taking over with #134. In DC’s main universe, Peter David’s last issue of Aquaman will be #46 with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (Resurrection Man) penning issues 47-49. Then new writer Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon) will take over as of #50 with new penciller Eric Battle.
n The increasingly busy Kevin Smith has announced plans for a four-issue miniseries, Jay & Silent Bob, that will debut in June. Smith will write it, of course, with art by Duncan Fegredo (Enigma). The miniseries will pick up the duo from their last appearance in Chasing Amy and carry them through their first screen appearance in Smith’s upcoming film Dogma. So if you know a rabid Kevin Smith fan you’ve been wanting to drag into your comic book habit, this is the perfect chance.
But Kevin, when do you get time to sleep?
Column © 1998 Long Island Voice. Artwork © 1998 Kitchen Sink Press.