It is with a heavy heart that I report today the passing of a true great in the comics industry and someone I had the great privilege of calling a friend. Stan Goldberg passed away today from complications of a severe stroke he suffered in August. He was 82.
Stan Goldberg was best known for his with as the artist behind Archie for nearly 40 years. He was the kind of guy that makes you hopeful as a cartoonist; someone you could aspire to be like in your career, particularly your later years. Stan still had such great fervor for what he did in his 80's as much as he did in his heyday. At 82, he was still churning out beautiful pages of artwork from his very simple desk setup right up until his stroke. He and Pauline spent most of this last summer out at their beach house. He'd created an amazing piece of art for the upcoming Box Art Auction benefiting East End Hospice.
Tom Richmond, as ever, sums up perfectly the significance of Stan's career and personality:
Stan had the kind of career in comics that in some ways flew under the radar, but in others was one of rare influence and greatly respected by industry pros. He was best known as a principal artist for Archie Comics for over 30 years, but he also freelanced for many others. He worked for Timely Comics, which would become Atlas and then Marvel, and was the colorist for their early titles, coming up with many of the color schemes for the costumes for The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Hulk and other eventual staples of the Marvel superhero world. After a split with Archie, Stan continued to work for companies like Bongo, DC and others on a variety of titles.
The last few years at the NCS Reuben Awards were special ones for Stan and Pauline. In 2012 in Las Vegas, the NCS honored him with the “Gold Key” award, inducting him into the NCS Hall of Fame. A very humble man, Stan was really moved by the recognition, but it was undeniably well-deserved. You should know you are a big deal in the world of comics when Stan Lee sends in a long video tribute to you for your award presentation! It was wonderful to see him get that award.
This past year was another special Reubens for the Goldbergs. Back in October of last year, Stan and Pauline were involved in a terrible car accident that badly injured them both. I was told that one of the first things they said after beginning their long roads to recovery was that they were determined to get better and go to the Reubens in San Diego that following May. In fact, they had their room booked right after the accident as incentive. At the Reuben Awards dinner we recognized them and let them know how glad we were they were there and how important they are to the NCS family with a thunderous round of applause. They are such special people. Little did we know we were also saying goodbye to Stan.
Stan was one of the most generous and encouraging cartoonists I ever had the privilege to meet -not to mention one of the most impressive.
My first encounter with Stan was in 2006 when I was 21. Stan and I were guests of Bunny Hoest for her annual "Bunny Bash" in Long Island. I was a bit starstruck at first, a dorky kid who'd flown over from Perth, but Stan's softly-spoken, gentle manner soon calmed my nerves. His wife, Pauline is just as polite and warm. I had a long chat with both Stan and Pauline that afternoon and kept in touch from then on.
Eight years later I'm living in New York, thanks in no small part to Stan and his incredible generosity. Stan took the time to write to the US Department of Immigration as a reference for me becoming a US Resident.
My immigration attorney was completely taken aback by the letterhead... He said "Wait... THE Archie? This is the most impressive reference letter anyone's got!" (He was big Archie fan.)
I got to tell Stan this story when I last saw he and Pauline in San Diego at the Reubens in May. He was tickled pink, but in his trademark modesty he wouldn't accept the praise.
In 2009 on my annual trip to New York, Stan very generously took the train all the way up to the Society of Illustrators to join Adrian Sinnott and I for a very, very long lunch. It was there he finally got to talk me through his entire career from working at Marvel, right through to his work drawing Archie comics. My jaw was dropped the whole time.
After hearing Stan's story, I thought the other Aussie cartoonists would be interested in hearing it. So, in 2010, I was very lucky to organise for Stan and Pauline to visit Australia as special guests at the Stanley Awards in Melbourne. It was my first as ACA President, and the first one I'd organised so I was nervous about the whole thing. It was a great success due to Stan, who proved to be such a popular guest that by the end he became an honorary Aussie and a lifelong friend of Australian cartoonists.
He spoke at the conference of his incredible career working for Marvel and various other titles mentioned above. He always made time for anyone who wanted to meet and talk with him about anything, young and old. That night he presented the Cartoonist of the Year Award to David Pope.
Stan's encouragement and joy for the craft was infectious, and his willingness to participate in the NCS was always so well appreciated.
After months of agonising rehab, he and Pauline made it across the country to the Reubens in San Diego, where he spoke at the NCS General Meeting. After he stood up to speak, he got a round of applause from the whole room (and then again that evening!) It was a mammoth effort getting there despite their physical hurdles. He truly valued the community of cartoonists with whom he'd shared his career, and the many more who admired his work.
Stan ended his nearly 40-year relationship with Archie with two three-part, alternate-future stories in Archie #600-605 (Oct. 2009 - March 2010), "Archie Marries Veronica" and "Archie Marries Betty", followed by some additional, final work including two pages of a flashback sequence in the 25-page "Love Finds Archie Andrews: Archie Loves Betty" in the comics magazine Life With Archie #1 (Sept. 2010), and the cover of, and an 11-page story in, Tales from Riverdale Digest #39 (Oct. 2010). In 2010, IDW released the 160-page hardcover collection Archie: The Best of Stan Goldberg, with a new Goldberg cover.
It was a great pleasure to share the time I did with Stan over the years. He'll be very dearly missed by the many, many people who had the privilege of calling him a friend.
Deepest and sincerest condolences to Pauline, Steve, Bennett, Karen, Debi, Bridget, Elliott, Benji and Ari.
New York Times Obituary: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/05/books/stan-goldberg-artist-for-archie-comics-dies-at-82.html
Just a small taste of Stan's amazing artwork from his long, successful career can be enjoyed below: