One of the most notorious parodies of Archie was a
1954 Mad Magazine piece called ‘STARCHIEâ
€™. This short piece was a sharp stab at all things
wholesome Americana Archie-style as it portrayed
the lead characters as juvenile delinquents with
twisted names like Starchie, Bottelneck and Wegie.

Even back then, Archie Comics founder John
Goldwater was highly sensitive about how people
treated their characters, especially if it was done for
parody. The MAD strip was particularly sensitive to
them and it was surprising that it didn’t result in
a legal case, considering the hostile relationship
between Archie and MAD. (see The Story Of Josie
for further details)

The story’s relentless sharp quality (both
material and satirical) was provided by writer and
MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman and artist Will Elder.

When interviewed about the lack of legal response
to the Starchie piece and his relationship with
Goldwater, MAD publisher William Gaines
remarked, “We hated each other’s guts. As I
recall, [John] Goodman was pretty angry about our
parody but he didn’t do anything about it. I think
it was because I did it once and that was it. I hit and
run. [The object of the parody] might get mad, but by
the time the incident is over and it’s not
repeated.�

Even though MAD was safe from Archie’s
retaliation, the artists behind the piece would not be
so lucky.
Kurtzman broke off from MAD many years later and, in 1960,
formed his third humor magazine called ‘HELP!’ and
(temporarily) took some of the MAD artists with him,
including Elder. Reaching back into his 1959 paperback â
€˜Jungle Book’ for this new title, Kurtzman pulled out a
Canidide-inspired character named Goodman Beaver and
gave him to Will Elder to illustrate the character’s
odyssey.

One of the more celebrated Goodman Beaver’s stories
was ‘Goodman Goes Playboy’, published in Help!
#13, Feb. 1962. This comedic moral tale finds Goodman
returning to his hometown after five years away and ends
up meeting his “old gangâ€�, who resembled another â
€œold gangâ€� from Archie Comics with the usual
tweaked names. Apparently, the gang are now all swept up
in the Playboy “lifestyle� that verges on the Greek
days of Rome with Archer as the leading role. After fighting
with now-ex-playmate Veromica and witnessing a shotgun
wedding of Joghead and the very pregnant Bette, Archer
drives Goodman to his lavish mansion to show him
around. Goodman is totally shocked at the sights of an orgy
and a pleasure dungeon and mentions that the whole
scene resembles the “decline of Rome�. When he
asks Archer where he got all of this from, Archer becomes
unhinged and reveals that he sold his soul to the devil for it
all and payment was due that very night. During this
rage/rant, Archer accidentally sets fire to his pad and is last
seen playing a violin admits the tremendous blaze. The
next day, the gang meet at the malt shop and disbelieves
Goodman’s story of the night before. However, a very
suspicious shadowy figure interrupts their discussion and
shows them a small little jar that contains Archer’s
soul. They are all horrified to find out that Goodman was
right all along and becomes fully aware of Archer’s
circumstances. In the next and final panel, the gang
suddenly forms a line to sign up with the figure for a similar
deal, while Goodman is left confused and conflicted.
ABOVE
Elder on top of Kurtzman
ENTER
A beginning frame of
Goodman Goes Playbot
PARODIES
GOODMAN part two