A last minute Christmas gift from IDW arrived late yesterday afternoon--a review copy of ARCHIE: THE BEST OF STAN GOLDBERG. This is the second in the line of "Best of" books (after the recent Dan DeCarlo volume) that the company will be putting out along with Craig Yoe's massive history, ARCHIE: SEVEN DECADES OF AMERICA'S FAVORITE TEENAGERS...AND BEYOND (the latter now scheduled for July, 2011 release).
In conjunction with the latter book, I've spoken with Mr. Goldberg several times in recent months and found him to be an extremely nice man and a wonderful raconteur. This new volume, however, deals exclusively with a collection of the best of the artist's work at Archie from the early seventies to the present.
With a long history in comics behind him drawing Millie the Model for Marvel and Scooter and Debbi for DC, Stan G ended up at Archie in the early seventies and has never left. Originally drawing in the house style, he has subtly altered his look over time to give it some individuality.
It's hard to choose what stories represent an artist's best work but IDW had Archie fans offer their suggestions and we end up with a mixed bag of pieces from four decades. Most of the stories here are written by the prolific Archie mainstays Frank Doyle and George Gladir and are highlighted by Stan's consistent storytelling skills. There are "relevant" stories from the early seventies, historical and fantasy pastiches and just plain slice of life stories featuring the Riverdale gang.
I'll be honest and say that I'm not thrilled with the inking on some of the later work. The storytelling is uniformly good throughout but there are times late in the book where the characters look almost amateurishly drawn. The back matter of the volume includes some current pencil work by Goldberg that shows he still is spot on so I'm going to attribute the missteps to bad inking.
As far as the art goes, as I said, he began to give it his own subtle spin. Unlike the usual Archie house style, his Betty and Veronica look different from each other, with Betty in particular showing a unique cuteness when drawn by Stan. One other place where the artist really shines is in the fashions. After years of doing fashions and fashion pinup pages for Mille and Chili, he always manages to make Archie's pals and especially gals look quite trendy without being excessive.
All in all, some easy fun from a veteran comics artist all done up in IDW's trademark classy packaging and the promise of more to come. If you've ever enjoyed Archie comics, you'll enjoy ARCHIE: THE BEST OF STAN GOLDBERG.