Will Elder and Harvey Kurtzman's "Goodman Goes Playboy" comic

Yesterday, I posted the sad passing of Mad cartoonist Will Elder, one of the undisputed giants of comic book artists. Today, The Comics Journal blog has made available a scan of a Harvey Kurtzman / WIll Elder story from Help! magazine that Archie Comics took from Help! in a copyright infringement battle.
goodman-archie.jpg 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 naïve 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.

Some 40 years or so later, Gary Groth or someone close to him discovered that Archie had forgotten to renew the copyright to the strip, and that it had fallen into the public domain. Armed with a copy of Myron Fass’ underground zine Portzebie Illustrated, which contained a copy of the strip, we reproduced it in The Comics Journal #262 – and here it is again, Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder’s “Goodman Goes Playboy,” available either as a PDF file (5.9MB) or, if you’d prefer to use your comics-reader software to read it, as a Zip file (also 5.9MB). Next Friday, we’ll present a copy of Gary Groth’s 2003 interview with Elder for TCJ #254 here on the website, so there’s more Elder on the way, don’t you worry.



  1. I used to have an old “Help” mag and a little “Help” paperback. I was facinated with the pictures of the staff … one in particular looked very familiar.

    When I finally figured out that the lovely lady in the fetching black coctail dress and pearls – holding a drink and laughing gaily – was a very young Gloria Steinem (!!!) – I just got a big kick out of that.

    Alas, I sold all my inherited old Mad comix, magazines, and old men’s mags like “Help” to a reseller that also took boxes and boxes of moldy, bug-ridden issues of Amazing and Astounding off my hands…

  2. The irony, of course, about this satirical take-down of Playboy’s hedonistic philosophy is that Kurtzman and Elder lived out their post-Help! days doing “Little Annie Fanny” for Playboy. Goodman Beaver was a kind of trial run male version of Annie (complete with Little Orphan Annie blank zero eyes). None of this negates the brilliance of Kurtzman and Elder throughout their careers, but I’ve always wondered what K&E would have been capable of if they’d not succumbed to the velvet trap of Playboy.

    Farewell Will and Harvey! Your work lives on.

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