When I spoke with iconic comic book artist and Hamptons resident Stan Goldberg, he had just come back from the Southampton Cultural Center, where he had been practicing his model-drawing skills. At first, I was surprised—why would a legendary artist like Goldberg need practice? After all, the 81-year-old Goldberg has been in the business since he was 17 and working at Marvel Comics under the equally iconic writer Stan Lee. But Goldberg has a different philosophy; although he hasn’t worked for Archie Comics in several years, he has worked consistently and believes that it’s always good to practice. Goldberg hasn’t slowed down yet, and his life after Archie is brimming with activity.
“I started with Marvel when I was 17,” Goldberg marvels. “I joke with Stan [Lee] that I was 17 and he was 27 back then, and we laugh.” Lee, who is credited with co-creating characters like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk and more, worked with Goldberg for many years and helped him get his start in the comic book world. “Stan tried different ways [of creating comics]; he used the ‘Marvel Method’ with me, which had no dialogue,” Goldberg explains. The Marvel Method, which is still used today by several creators, involves the artist working from a detailed outline developed by the writer, with the writer writing in the dialogue afterward. Goldberg was responsible for a ton of heavy lifting in his early years at Marvel. “I did the coloring for Fantastic Four for the first six years,” he says, noting that it was time-consuming but immensely rewarding to bring that world to life. Fun fact: Goldberg did a Marvel/Archie crossover called Archie Meets the Punisher!
Goldberg worked on Archie for 40 years, drawing the adventures and love triangle of Archie, Betty and Veronica. His final project for Archie turned out to be a six-issue special series, Archie Marries…in which Archie marries Betty in one story and Veronica in another. “Those six issues became my swan song at Archie,” Goldberg sighs. The circumstances surrounding Goldberg’s exit from the company are a bit murky; Goldberg cites behind-the-scenes changes as what ultimately ended his time there, and he admits to being upset that 40 years of work ended in such an unceremonious way, but doesn’t let it get him too down. “Look, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster created Superman in 1938, got 130 bucks and that was it. The comic book industry is hit and run.” Goldberg prefers to keep hitting.
In fact, Goldberg’s been working consistently. In addition to one-shot projects like The Simpsons Comics #183 (which casts the characters in a parody of Archie) and cover art for Marvel, Goldberg has been working on projects that are very important to him. One such project is Rise Above, a comic book about bullying that’s being used to teach kids in schools. “I always make sure something like that has a lot of entertainment, but has a good, important message,” he says, noting that he considers books like these books the most important he’s ever worked on. Goldberg’s worked on educational books throughout his career. “I did books that the FBI gave out that dealt with drugs, alcohol and another subject that should be talked about more, which is what happens when there’s a sudden death in a young boy or girl’s family,” he explains, noting that he’s also had a lot of support from organizations like the Elks Club and Kiwanis. Goldberg is also working on comics based on The Three Stooges and illustrating several hardcover Nancy Drew books.
When asked about the workshop he attended at Southampton Cultural Center, Goldberg explained that it’s not just about drawing the model. “It’s the blanket, the chair she’s sitting on…I like to make little stories as I draw. You see, people don’t just stand there with nothing going on. I drew the people who were behind the model on the other end of the room.” Goldberg believes that world-building and continuity in art is very important and something that many aspiring comic book artists forget.
The Hamptons have many living legends, but it’s great to meet one as down-to-earth as Stan Goldberg. “I’ve achieved my goals,” he reflects toward the end of the conversation, “and I can’t imagine slowing down.”