Monday, 7 September 2009
Archire Goodwin & Walt Simonson
Archie Goodwin was born today. Archie is my favourite comic book writer ever ( with Steve Gerber a very close second ), so I make no bones about talking about him, as I think people have forgotten just how great he was. Archie was a story man first, last & always and he always, always delivered. He was also, of course, a great editor. In fact, writers & artists would regularly work for companies simply 'cos he was there, knowing they'd always get treated fairly by him. Equally, as soon as he left a company, nearly everybody went with him. There are apocryphal stories of various sleazy publishers attempting to poach Archie, and his reputation, in order to attract better talent. They wouldn't treat anybody any better, understand, they'd just assume simply having him there would deflect attention from their low pay & bad practices.
The first time I became aware of Goodwin's greatness was while he was editing Epic Illustrated. Not only was it a great mag, with great art, but Archie clearly went out of his way to get new talent he liked in there. He'd regularly write stories specifically for artists on the basis of their portfolio's, and get them in Epic, as well as regularly buying paintings, and writing text pieces around them as well. Go back through those old Epic's, you might be surprised how much of it is down to Archie.
One of the dream team's of The Bronze Age was, obviously, Archie & Walt Simonson ( whose birthday I shamefully forgot last week. See how it all ties in? I don't just throw this shit together, y'know... )
Goodwin & Simonson's greatest hour together has to be their legendary, ground-breaking Manhunter, one of the greatest superhero pieces ever done by anyone, anywhere, at any time. If I achieve nothing else with this blog, I'll get everybody who's never read Manhunter to read it. Go ahead, scoot over to ebay and get a copy. I'll wait.
Just after they won every award going for that piece, the pair contributed The Temple of The Spider to the 2nd & last issue of Atlas' Thrilling Adventure Stories, and it too is brilliant. Walt's gorgeous, decorative style is in full flow here, bringing manga to the US long before anybody else had heard of it. There's a hint of Eisner here, but really I always thought Walt was kind of like Nino, just such a completely individual stylist it could only ever come from him. Archie too, as usual, contributes an airtight script. Note also how, unlike a lot of writers at the time, he lets the art and the artist breathe, trusting Walt to tell the story without redundant caption's or purple narration, and he actually did that most of the time. Sheer greatness.