HOW MUCH MORE can you say of a man, really, than the testament that he was abundantly generous as both a professional talent and a personal friend?
Ask those who knew Stan Goldberg well, and they will tell you that whether he was at the drawing table or the dinner table, he was just a pleasure to be around, and converse with, and know.
He became a part of comics history as a colorist at the dawning of the Marvel Universe. He was a longtime Archie Comics artist, and also drew memorable romance books. With him, both the ink and the conversation flowed naturally with flair.
“Stan Goldberg was a joy both to work with, and to have as a friend,” Stan Lee, the legendary Marvel editor, tells The Post’s Comic Riffs.
“He started as a colorist at Marvel until I discovered what a terrific cartoonist he was,” Lee continues. “He drew My Friend Irma, Millie the Model and many other terrific humor books for us — until Archie Comics swiped him away after I was no longer editing the books and he became their top Archie artist.”
“Stan Goldberg’s wonderful work with Stan Lee on Millie the Model and other romance/teen comics set the stage for the breezy feel of the Marvel Age,” longtime Marvel writer and editor Danny Fingeroth tells Comic Riffs. “And, of course, his powerful coloring on the early Marvel superhero comics helped define the look and feel that led to Marvel’s early successes.”
Many Marvel fans know which creators were behind the iconic Universe that arose beginning in the ‘60s – but fewer know just how crucial Goldberg’s role was.
“While he may not be as well-known to the masses as Stan Lee or Jack Kirby, Stan Goldberg — or ‘Stan G.,’ as he was inevitably credited — was likewise one of the pioneers of the Marvel renaissance,” veteran Marvel editor Tom Brevoort tells Comic Riffs. “As Marvel’s one-man coloring department, it was he who determined that the Thing would be orange, that Spider-Man would be red and blue-black, and that Iron Man would be red and gold.”
Like Stan Lee, Mr. Goldberg began at Timely Comics – Marvel’s predecessor – as a teenager. In Goldberg’s case, it was 1949, and he was just 16; within a couple of years, he was the color department manager. He would color countless pages at Timely/Atlas until he left after nearly a decade there to go freelance – having honed his gifts as an artist.
“Stan G. was a talented and facile cartoonist, specializing in teen humor books, whether for Marvel — Millie the Model, Patsy Walker — or at Archie, where he was a mainstay of their bullpen for decades,” says Brevoort, who will be a guest this weekend at Baltimore Comic-Con.
Fingeroth notes that Mr. Goldberg’s long career at Archie “constitutes an incredible body of work.”
“Watching him draw– he made it look so easy!” says Batton Lash, the Eisner-winning cartoonist and creator of the comic Supernatural Law. “Stan’s cartooning alone would have earned him a secure spot in pop culture — among the thousands of comic-book pages he drew, Stan illustrated the milestone six-part ‘Archie Gets Married’ storyline — but comics history will always recognize him as the accomplished colorist for the fledging Marvel Comics Group.”
And when Archie Comics and Marvel Comics did crossovers, who better to get the call than Mr. Goldberg?
“I had the distinct pleasure of working with Stan Goldberg on the 1994 Marvel/Archie crossover, Archie Meets The Punisher, and Archie Comics’ 1995’s ‘House of Riverdale’ miniseries,”Lash says. “And if ‘Stan G.’ drawing my scripts wasn’t enough of a treat, getting to know Stan Goldberg was icing on the cake.”
Lash remembers his initial meeting with Mr. Goldberg: “My first impression was that he was quite the distinguished gentleman: dapper, friendly, witty and a raconteur.”
“I had the pleasure of sitting with Stan and his family at the Reuben Awards this year,” Joe Wos, director of the ToonSeum: Pittsburgh Museum of Cartoon Art, tells Comic Riffs. “I talked with him about the awards, [the] future of cartooning and his work.”
The Reuben Awards are presented by the National Cartoonists Society, which in 2012 gave Mr. Goldberg its Gold Key Award as he was inducted into the group’s Hall of Fame. He also received Comic-Con International’s Inkpot Award, in 1994.
However, “What stood out to me was, he spoke with such love for his fans,” Wos says. “He was so grateful. He was a gracious talent with no ego.”
“I am grateful for the decades of brilliant work he left behind, and lament the loss of great work he still had yet to create.”
Mr. Goldberg, who was born in 1932 in New York, cartooned throughout his life. He parodied Archie in Bongo Comics in recent years, and reportedly will have a Spider-Man collaboration appear in next month’s “Marvel 75th Anniversary Special.”
Mr. Goldberg died Sunday at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, two weeks after he suffered a stroke, say family and friends. He was 82.
He is survived by Pauline, his wife of 53 years; two sons; and four grandchildren. The Goldbergs had a daughter, who was murdered in 1984, at age 19.
Those close to Mr. Goldberg speak of a man who was warm, and charming, and kind.
“Stan was always generous with his time and memories for various projects and events of mine, and was always genuinely concerned about how things were going for me,” Fingeroth says. “He was one of the good guys, and will be greatly missed.”
“The world of comics lost one of its very important contributors,” Lash says, “and, to everyone fortunate enough to know Stan Goldberg, a dear friend.”
Stan Lee calls Mr. Goldberg “a great cartoonist” and “a great friend.”
“I’ll never forget the long walks we used to take in New York during lunch hour, while we discussed and joked about everything under the sun,” Lee recalls to Comic Riffs. “He had a great sense of humor, and was fun to be with and to work with.
“If ever anyone qualified for the description ‘Nice guy,’ it was that truly talented nice guy, Stan Goldberg.”