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Goldwater, John L.


GOLDWATER, JOHN L. (1916–1999), U.S. comic-book artist. An orphan from East Harlem, n.y., Goldwater hitchhiked west in the Depression and invented prototypical teenage America in the comics. His creations – Archie Andrews, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica – were always 16 years old, going on 17. Millions worldwide came to chuckle over Archie's misadventures at school with his spinster teacher and fussy principal; his intractable romantic triangle with the sweet Betty and spoiled, rich Veronica; a hamburger obsession of the nerdy Jughead, and rivalry with the handsome, conceited Reggie. "He's basically a square," Goldwater said of Archie, "but in my opinion the squares are the backbone of America. If we didn't have squares we wouldn't have strong families." The comic strip ran in 750 newspapers and comic book sales sometimes reached 50 million a year.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Goldwater catapulted to the pinnacle of the comics world, with a publishing empire, Archie Comics Publications, one of the industry's big three, and radio and television shows and a movie.

Goldwater dreamed up Archie, a hapless teenage Everyman, in 1941, placing him in the mythical and idyllic town of Riverdale. He found a young artist, Bob Mantana, who provided what became indelible faces. He went to a magazine publisher and offered to buy his outdated issues at a penny each. Then he shipped them abroad to an avid market. The business prospered and Goldwater soon joined forces with a pulp magazine publisher, Louis Silberkleit, to found a magazine publishing business in 1941, just as the war was restricting paper supplies. Their Archie venture began as a four-page insert in another comic but proved an immediate hit and Archie and friends got their own comic.

In 1954, with national critics decrying brutality, vulgarity, and sex in comics, Goldwater helped found the Comics Magazine Association of America, whose Comics Code Authority persuaded magazines to voluntarily weed out offensive material as well as ads for guns, knives, and war weapons. Goldwater served as president for 25 years.

In 1973 Goldwater licensed Archie for evangelical Christian messages. Although Jewish, Goldwater said the sentiments were in line with his wholesome family message.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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