After reading the comic, one would notice that this strip was a jab at
Playboy Magazine, the “lifestyle� they were selling and at its
head honcho, Hugh Hefner (who was referred to as the devil, no
less!!). Unfortunately, Archie Comics didn’t see it that way.

Soon after the issue hit the racks, lawyers for Archies contacted
Help’s publisher, James Warren, complaining of copyright
infringement and that the storyline “undermined the valuable
property my client has developed in these wholesome charactersâ
€� and demanded the remaining copies be taken off the stands.

Instead of fighting what was believed to be a weak case, Warren
reached a financial settlement with Archie and the matter was laid to
rest. That is, until Kurtzman and Elder used the story again for a
Goodman compilation book sometime later, with serious visual
alterations to the Archer characters by Elder so is not to confuse
them as Archie-inspired figures. Despite these precautions, Archie
threatened to sue again and, like the last time, Warren tried to
negotiate and Archie ended up owning the story and the original
There have been arguments and discussions, then and now, how this case would have won, largely on ‘free
speech’ and Fair Use, but Kurztman and Elder ended up signing all rights to the story to Archies. The defining
decision to settle in such a matter was due to financial reasons. In a 1984 interview, Kurtzman admitted: “John
Goldwater felt very strongly about the sanctity of his Archie characters. The first settlement was primarily Jim
Warren’s decision. Since he was the man who supplied the cash; I wasn’t in the position to argue the
point. As far as we could see, going to court, even if we’d won, would have been a Pyrrhic victory…you know,
the operation is a success but the patient died. The same holds true the second time. Goldwater seemed
prepared to spend money in court. We weren’t. And that’s an unfairness in the system. You can get a better
quality justice if you are prepared to pay for it.�

Near the end of this case, Kurtzman’s lawyer told his client: “Next time an issue as interesting as this
comes up, please be rich.�

When Kitchen Sink Press asked Archies permission to use the ‘Playboy’ story for their 1984 collection book,
Michael J. Silberkleit, the publisher/chairman, reacted strongly against the request stating the usual copyright
infringement argument, thus wouldn’t grant permission. When Kitchen Press announced a revised â
€˜Playboy’ version with the Archie/Archer characters blocked out for the book, Archie officially threatened a
lawsuit and injunction against the publisher. Thus, when the book came out, only small fractions of the original art
was used with a detailed account of the matter.

Even though John Goldwater and Michael J. Silberkleit have tried to kill off the story and have locked the actual
artwork in their basement, Goodman Beaver continued, through he ended up with a sex change as part of his

After Help folded, Kurtzman and Elder approached Playboy with a comic strip with a female version of Goodman
that would be later named Little Annie Fanny. Showcasing a far better sense of humor than Goldwater, Hugh
Hefner bought the idea and Fanny made his…I mean, her debut in October 1962 in an episode called ‘Madison

Thanks to the internet, copies of ‘Goodman Goes Playboy’ has been floating around and has become a
favorite with comic collectors and those who are interested in the growing sub-culture unofficially called ‘illegal
art’, underground art works removed from public viewing due to copyright issues and hyper sensitive copyright
holders and their lawyers, like the Negativland U2 single that was pulled thanks to threats from U2 record label and
Casey Kasem and a Karen Carpenter movie filmed with Barbie dolls that was destroyed thanks to an injunction by
Richard Carpenter.

In 2004, Comics Journal magazine re-printed the ‘Playboy’ strip in full size and content in issue #262
without authorization from Archie and, so far, there hasn’t been any reprisals…yet.

Sources: ‘Goodman Beaver’ by Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder (Kitchen Sink Press, 1984) and ‘Playboy’s Little
Annie Fanny’ Vol. 1 by Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder (Dark Horse Comics, 2000)
Part One
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