Q: Archie Goodwin is a guy who permeates comics history, but isn't much talked about. Can you talk a bit about his impact/career? -- @EvrLvnBluIdThng
A: When you get right down to it, the fact that we're not talking about Goodwin literally all the time is pretty surprising. He is, without question, one of the most influential people in the history of comics, especially the ones I tend to obsess over in this very column, and one of the things that makes him so notable is that his career wasn't limited to one thing. He had influential work at Marvel, DC, even "independent" publishers like Warren, and newspaper strips, and it wasn't limited to a single role. He was a writer, editor, and artist, and more than that, he's regarded as one of the most genuinely kind people that the industry has ever seen.
But all of those accomplishments pale in comparison to his greatest achievement: Being the inspiration for one of the all-time greatest obscure Batman villains ever.
We’re more than three years into the Disney era of Star Wars. Since 2012, when Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion and change, we’ve seen a new canon take the place of the old Expanded Universe, with two seasons of the animated Star Wars: Rebels; the release of the most successful movie in the franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens; multiple new novels and short stories; and the launch of a new line of Star Wars comics from Marvel. But Jedi and Sith have tangled in the Mighty Marvel Manner before. Marvel was the original publisher of Star Wars comics.
Starting in April 1977 --- a month before the original film’s release --- and running until June 1986 for 107 issues and three annuals, the original Star Wars comic book was many things: zany comedy, thrilling adventure and, in its final years, a meditation on soldiers in peace time, all written and drawn by some of the greatest writers and artists in the industry. But before all that, it was a logistical problem.
Archie Goodwin, born this day in 1937, had a career in comics that's staggeringly impressive by virtually any standard, but that's never really the first thing anyone talks about when his name comes up. Mention him, and the response you get won't be about the writing and editing that he did in thirty years working on superheroes, or his collaborations with artists like Walt Simonson, Howard Chaykin and Alex Toth, or how he was at the forefront of revitalizing the industry through licensed comics, or how he helped to shape an entire generation of creators, or even his long tenure working on newspaper strips. At least, not at first.
No, the first thing that anyone will tell you about Archie Goodwin is that he was, in the words of Tim Plcher and Brad Brooks, "the best-loved comic book editor, ever."
There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? Across toy and bookstore shelves, Disney is gearing up for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Marvel's doing their part to make sure there's a good amount of Star Wars comics in preparation for the blockbuster. Part of their initiative involves the release of "remastered" hardcover versions of Marvel's original comics adaptations with updated coloring by SotoColor.
The first volume, an updating of the 1977 Roy Thomas/Howard Chaykin adaptation of A New Hope, came out in April, and this week sees the debut of the adaptation of 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, written by Archie Goodwin and penciled by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzón.
While his name isn't hugely well-known outside fan circles, the late Archie Goodwin played a huge role in the world of comics for over four decades. Born on September 8th, 1937, he started out writing stories for Warren Publishing in the early '60s before moving on to key editorial roles first at Marvel and then at DC.
His good humor and kindness provided an inspiration to generations of fans and creators, and his influence is felt to this day – and in that spirit, a trio of our favorite creators reached out to offer tributes to the man and his legacy:
Back before the VHS tape made it possible to watch the movies you wanted when you wanted (as long as Blockbuster had a copy in stock), movie novelizations and comic book adaptations of films were some of the only options fans had when it came to reliving a movie they wanted on-demand. While the majority of these were rightly viewed as cash-ins that let comics companies float on someone else's success, there were the occasional pieces of work that proved to be something more. For example, Marvel's off-model, six-part Star Wars adaptation proved to be so popular in the summer of 1977 that many credit it for helping the company pull out of a fiscal free-fall, even as it acted as a bog-standard 1970s Marvel book in a lot of ways.
Now that we can watch Magic Mike on our phones any time we want, comic adaptations can seem like a quaint throwback. However, some of them are legitimate pieces of comic history in their own right, providing an alternate look at our favorite films even as they gave a few comic creators the chance to play with the medium in a new way. In this piece, we take a look at five of them, including long lost work by Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Walt Simonson, Kyle Baker and Bill Sienkiewicz and more.
A new volume of Batman: Black and White kicked off last week, continuing the DC Comics anthology's tradition of high quality. Debuting in 1996, the original Batman: Black and White series quickly set the comics world ablaze with a collection of short, powerful tales told by some of the industry's finest. Edited by Mark Chiarello, the four issues gathered sixteen original eight-page black and white stories from a who’s who of influential creators, including Archie Goodwin, Joe Kubert, Howard Chaykin, Brian Bolland, Bill Sienkiewicz, Neil Gaiman, and several more. It won the Eisner Awards for “Best Short Story” and “Best Anthology,” inspired a ton of great statues (one of which you can win), and two follow-up volumes in 2002 and 2007, mostly made up of backup stories from the Batman: Gotham Knights series.
In celebration of the new series, I read all three volumes of Batman: Black and White (I also did other stuff, I have a life), and after poring over all 600-plus pages, I can confidently say that these are the ten best stories from the original volumes, presented here in chronological order.
In any niche interest, there is a skewed view of history, an ordering of importance based on the people or events that contributed to your cause, your hobby, your particular area of focus. A sort of subject-matter nationalism -- we all have our own George Washingtons and Abraham Lincolns, whether they be named Coco Chanel or Orson Welles...
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