Way back in 1954 MAD lead off issue number 12 with a soon-to-be-classic parody of the comic book “Archie”, written by the late, inimitable Harvey Kurtzman and drawn by the late, incomparable Will Elder.
Kurtzman, as is well known, had some disagreements with MAD publisher Bill Gaines over pretty much everything and took his show on the road to the House of Hugh (Hefner, that is… AKA Playboy) to produce the short lived humor magazine Trump! which lasted only two wonderful but expensive-to-produce issues, and also included the likes of Will Elder. Harvey and Will stuck together with Humbug (11 issues, 1957-58), and later had one more shot at a humor magazine published by Warren Publishing called HELP!. HELP! lasted 26 issues from 1962 to 1966, and boasted a lot of talented contributors who went on to make or had made their mark in comics, humor and literature like Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, John Cleese, Robert Crumb, Terry Gilliam, Jay Lynch, Gilbert Shelton, Gloria Steinem, Skip Williamson and Gahan Wilson.
One of the most infamous pieces to be published in HELP! was a story called “Goodman Goes Playboy!”, which was another parody of “Archie” by Kurtzman and Elder… sort of a sequel to their 1954 MAD effort and this time decidedly more racy. It featured their recurring character from HELP!, the straitlaced Goodman Beaver, who goes back to visit his old pals in “Riverdale” only to find the gang has changed… a lot.
I’m not sure if the publishers of Archie threatened or filed any lawsuits against MAD when they ran “Starchie” some 10 years earlier, but they were plenty unhappy about the swinging “Playboy Philosophy” being imprinted on their characters this time, and they called down the legal lightning upon HELP!, Kurtzman and Elder.
During Will Elder’s run on the ill-fated Help! Magazine … one of three such publications upon which Elder collaborated with Mad founder Harvey Kurtzman following the latter’s exodus from the magazine that made him famous … a story starring Kurtzman and Elder’s na??òve leading man Goodman Beaver attracted the ire of Archie Comics for taking their signature characters and grafting Hugh Hefner’s “Playboy Philosophy” onto them. That story was “Goodman Goes Playboy,” and it resulted in waves of lawyers raining upon the strip’s creators, ultimately leading to Kurtzman and Elder handing the copyright to the story over to Archie and signing an agreement promising never to reproduce it again.- The Comics Journal
Interestingly enough it recently was discovered that the folks at Archie neglected to renew that copyright, so “Goodman Goes Playboy” is now in the public domain and was reprinted in The Comics Journal #262 and subsequently on the internet via TCJ’s blog. Here is the classic reproduced, click the pages for a closer look:
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