Archie Goodwin (September 8, 1937 – March 1, 1998) was a legendary modern American comic strip and comic book writer and editor who scripted the original, critically acclaimed comics adaptation of the Ridley Scott film Alien for Heavy Metal Publishing.
Most prominently known as a one-time editor-and-chief at Marvel Comics, Goodwin worked on a number of comic strips in addition to comic books, and is best known for his Warren and Marvel work. For Warren he was chief writer and editor of landmark horror anthology titles Creepy and Eerie, and for Marvel he set up the creator-owned Epic Comics as well as adapting Star Wars into both comics and newspaper strips, serving as the original Star Wars comic strip writer and writer and first main editor of the Star Wars comics line during its original Marvel Comics run.
He is regularly cited as the "best-loved comic book editor, ever."
Goodwin's Alien collaborator artist Walt Simonson was also an accomplished comics creator who teamed with Goodwin on numerous projects throughout their careers.
Goodwin was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and lived in many small towns along the Kansas/Missouri border including Coffeyville. But he considered Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he spent his teen years at Will Rogers High School and in used magazine stores searching for EC Comics as his home town.
Goodwin moved to New York City to attend classes at what became the School of Visual Arts.
Goodwin began as an artist drawing cartoons for magazines and as a freelance "writer and occasional art assistant" to Leonard Starr's newspaper comic strip Mary Perkins, On Stage. His first editorial work was for Redbook magazine, on which he worked both before and after his Army service as a draftee.
In 1962, he joined Harvey Comics, and two years later became the main script writer for Warren's Creepy magazine, much of his work (according to Batman editor Mark Chiarello) there an "homage to the favorite comics of his youth, the E.C. line." By the second issue he was co-credited (alongside Russ Jones) as editor, and soon became editor of the entire Warren line: Creepy, Eerie and Blazing Combat. He worked for Warren between 1964 and 1967, as head writer and Editor-in-Chief, in which roles he is credited with providing a mythology for Warren's classic Vampirella character, as well as penning her most compelling stories. (Additional details about his time at Warren may be found in Jon B. Cooke's book The Warren Companion.)
After his departure from Warren in 1967, Goodwin would occasionally contribute stories over the next 15 years and even returned for a short stint as editor in 1974.
Archie Goodwin's first prose story was published by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine which warned him he could not use Archie Goodwin as a pen name because it was a Rex Stout character in the Nero Wolfe books. They were so delighted to learn that it was his birth name that they used the coincidence as the theme of their introduction. (Goodwin was invited to be the keynote speaker at the 1993 Black Orchid Banquet sponsored by the Wolfe Pack. His topic was "What's It Like to be Archie Goodwin.")
From 1967 to 1980, Goodwin also wrote scripts for King Features Syndicate, including the daily strip Secret Agent X-9, drawn by Al Williamson, as well as working on other strips including Captain Kate. His experience ghost writing Dan Flagg inspired "The Success Story" (drawn by Williamson, who also ghosted on Flagg) for Creepy #1 (1964), famed among comic strip fans for its EC style dark humor in depicting a creator whose only contribution to the strip that made him rich was his signature. Not constrained to newspaper strips alone, he found work at the major comics companies as both writer and editor, working for Marvel Comics on titles including Fantastic Four and Iron Man. Goodwin worked briefly for DC Comics during the 1970s, where he edited the war comics G.I. Combat, Our Fighting Forces, and Star Spangled War Stories, and replaced Julius Schwartz as editor of Detective Comics for one year. Goodwin's collaboration with Walt Simonson on the Manhunter back-up feature in Detective Comics was highly acclaimed (See Awards section below).
In 1976, Goodwin replaced Gerry Conway to become the eighth Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, with the understanding that it would only be temporary until a permanent replacement could be found. He ultimately resigned at the end of 1977 and was replaced by Jim Shooter. While Editor-in-Chief, Marvel secured the rights to publish the Star Wars adaptation and tie-in series, which then sold phenomenally well (helped by a dearth of other Star Wars merchandise at the time all overseen by George Lucas' original merchandising and licensing whiz Charles Lippincott ) at a point when the comics industry was in severe decline. Goodwin recalled about the Star Wars comic book "That really worked...but I can't take any credit for it. Roy Thomas is the one who brought it to Marvel, and he had to push a little bit to get them to do it." He followed Roy Thomas in adaptating the Star Wars characters into an on-going comic book, as well as continuing the story (pre-Return of the Jedi) in a daily comic strip. Goodwin wrote the strips under the pseudonyms R.S. Helm and Russ Helm. He wrote comic book adaptations for Marvel of the two Star Wars sequels as well as other science-fiction films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. In 1979, Goodwin wrote an adaptation of the first Alien movie which was drawn by Walt Simonson, edited by Lippincott and published by Heavy Metal.
After Marvel Comics passed on publishing the American incarnation of Metal Hurlant (Heavy Metal), Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter was charged with producing an alternate title, which became Epic Illustrated. Initially edited by Rick Marschall, Shooter ultimately recalls approaching Stan Lee to tell him:  Goodwin was at the time still working for Marvel as a writer, and Shooter recalls concocting a plan whereby the company "pretended that Archie reported to Stan. In fact, I was doing all the paperwork and all the employee reviews and the budgets," so that Goodwin could have the illusion of not working for his successor. In the autumn of 1979, Marschall was fired and Goodwin hired as Epic's editor.
In addition to Marvel's first creator-owned imprint Epic Illustrated, Goodwin set up the Marvel Graphic Novel series, giving a number of artists and writers their first break as well as allowing established Marvel staff to work with material too difficult or 'adult' for the monthly titles. As Shooter recalls events, he approached Goodwin after the moderate success of the Epic magazine and creator-owned graphic novels to produce a full-fledged line of creator-owned comics, Epic Comics. Goodwin baulked at the additional workload, and Shooter turned to Al Milgrom before Goodwin reportedly berated Shooter for giving control to another editor, ultimately taking responsibility for the line himself.
Goodwin returned to DC Comics as an editor and writer in 1989. He wrote the graphic novel Batman: Night Cries painted by Scott Hampton and published in 1992. Throughout the 1990s, Goodwin edited a number of Batman projects, including the Elseworlds miniseries Batman: Thrillkiller, and the Alan Grant-written/Kevin O'Neill-illustrated parody one-shot Batman: Mitefall, a take-off of the Knightfall saga, filtered through the character of Bat-Mite.
Among Goodwin's most notable last editorial projects were Starman, written by James Robinson and illustrated by Tony Harris first published by DC in 1994 and DC's Batman: The Long Halloween by Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb. It is a testament to Goodwin that Loeb has said that Goodwin inspired their portrayal of Gotham police chief Jim Gordon in The Long Halloween and its sequel Batman: Dark Victory, while Robinson (who considered Goodwin both a mentor and close personal friend), continued to list Goodwin as a "Guiding Light" on later issues of Starman. Goodwin also edited Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, and Azrael.  Goodwin's Creepy work is cited by editor Mark Chiarello as informing the creation of the Batman: Black & White comics.
Goodwin died unexpectedly in 1998; few people knew he had been battling cancer. Goodwin was honored in a special tribute issue of the magazine Comic Book Profiles; more information is available at Comicfun.com. Further personal information is also available in Blake Bell's book I Have to Live with this Guy.
His work won him a good deal of recognition in the industry, including both the 1973 Shazam Award for Best Writer (Dramatic Division), and the 1974 Shazam Award for Best Writer (Dramatic Division) for the Manhunter series running in Detective Comics #437 - 443, in addition to winning Shazam Awards for Best Individual Short Story for "The Himalayan Incident" in Detective Comics #437, "Cathedral Perilous" in Detective Comics #441 and "Götterdämmerung" in Detective Comics #443 (all with Walt Simonson; all for Manhunter episodes). Goodwin's work on Manhunter, in which he both updated an obscure Golden Age hero, and, in the series' last episode, took the daring approach of killing him off (one of the few comic book deaths that has actually "taken" and not been reversed or retconned away in the decades since it occurred) is very well-regarded by both fans and other comics professionals. Goodwin stated in his final interview "I think that Manhunter is one of just several projects that I've worked on that I consider a highlight in my career. It is something that I may never be able to top in a lot of ways. To have done that and for DC to have given me the opportunity to do that was great."
He won the 1992 "Bob Clampett Humanitarian" Eisner Award, and was named Best Editor by the Eisners in 1993. In 1998 he was entered into the Eisner Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Archie was inducted into the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma by Michael Vance. The Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection, created by Vance, is located in the Toy and Action Figure Museum.
Appearances within comicsEdit
In The Batman Adventures -- the first DC Comics spinoff of Batman: The Animated Series -- Goodwin appears as Mr. Nice, a super-strong but childishly-innocent super-villain. He is one of a screwball trio of incompetent super-villains that also includes The Mastermind (a caricature of Mike Carlin) and The Perfessor (a caricature of Dennis O'Neil). Gotham Adventures #13 (dated June 1999) features the last appearance of the characters with Mr. Nice leaving the group to fulfill a prophecy, with the issue being dedicated to Archie Goodwin.
He is also name-checked in issues of Marvel's Star Wars comics (later rebranded "Classic Star Wars"), including in the Alien-language words "Niwdoog Eihcra," his name in reverse.
A character based on him also appears in issue #82 of Cerebus. He stands at the foot of the giant, living stone statue Thrunk and repeats everything Thrunk says - as if he is passing Thrunk's commands to the masses. Thrunk kills him when he steps on him.