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With nearly 60 years under his belt as a comic book artist, Stan Goldberg is one of the true giants in the industry, best known for his work as a flagship artist for Archie Comics and as the color designer for all the classic Marvel superheroes and villains of the 1960s, including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Hulk.
At age 76, the part-time Hampton Bays artist shows no signs of slowing down, still working several hours a day drawing the wholesome adventures and mishaps of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of the Riverdale High teenagers.
“Charlie Schultz, who did Peanuts, once said, ‘If you’re fortunate enough to work with a very successful character and keep it going, you have to keep it looking the same, but you have to make it different in order to keep the spontaneity and freshness.’” Mr. Goldberg said recently. “Archie has been around since 1941—and I’ve been doing the illustrations since 1968—but it’s still popular and timely and appeals to all ages, from little kids to their grandparents who bought it when they were little kids.”
Mr. Goldberg, who has worked as a freelancer since 1958, has incorporated a studio into every piece of real estate he’s ever owned or rented. Currently, he and his wife of 47 years, Pauline, divide their time between three homes: a co-op apartment overlooking the Throgs Neck Bridge and the East River in Beechhurst, Queens; a tiny summer cottage in Hampton Bays that has sweeping views of the Peconic Bay and Robins Island; and a winter rental in the charming artist colony of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
“Every February and March, we rent a place in San Miguel, but our primary residence is in Queens, where all our doctors are,” he said with a laugh. “But we love our place in Hampton Bays. We’ve been coming out to the Hamptons since our kids were small and are now are fortunate to live here from May to October.”
The Goldbergs bought their cottage, once part of a 1950s motel complex, for $130,000 in 1988, after the motel had been converted into a co-op with 12 waterview cottages. Although still unheated and small in terms of square footage, over the years the couple has expanded their home to include a spacious deck, outdoor shower, extra bathroom and more space for Stan to work.
“My studio in Queens is much bigger, but I’m perfectly content with this small desk,” he said of the simple wooden work space, outfitted with only a desk lamp, ruler and pencil sketches for a “Battle of the Bands Competition” for an upcoming Archie comic. “You’ll notice there’s no computer. This new electric pencil sharpener is about as technical as I get.”
Above the desk, two white shelves provide storage and display space for a variety of mementos: comic books, stuffed Archie character dolls, a Spider-Man figure, a large Archie face cut-out, and books (“Hamptons Bohemia,” “Hampton Style,” “Studios by the Sea,” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year: 2008”).
“But these are my real treasures,” he says, pointing to photographs near his desk of his two grandchildren: 3-year-old Elliott, and Bridget, who, for her sixth birthday, wanted an Archie-themed birthday party. “They’re terrific little artists and leave their drawings on my desk. They love having a Pop-Pop who can draw with them!”
Mr. Goldberg’s desk is strategically placed so that he can look out the window at the view and gain easy access through the sliding doors to the outside deck, with its colorful display of potted flowers.
“We enjoy entertaining out here,” said Ms. Goldberg, a retired travel agent.
In addition to their grandchildren, the couple get frequent visits from their daughters-in-law and two sons, Stephen, a media director for an advertising agency, and Bennett, a graphic designer who has collaborated with his father on book projects.
“We had another child, Heidi, who at the age of 19 was raped and murdered in 1984,” Ms. Goldberg explained. “After a tragedy like that happens, your life changes forever, but you find a way to go on.”
Fortunately, the couple has found some solace through their involvement in a national organization, Parents of Murdered Children, and through their close connection with each other and their varied travels.
“We really enjoy Santa Fe and the time we spend in Mexico every year,” she said. “In fact, most of the decorations for this house came from there.”
Indeed, the Goldbergs have decorated their home space much in the way Mr. Goldberg works. For his illustrations, he takes a sheet of crisp white paper, fills each frame with characters and backdrops that tell a story, and colors it in with splashes of vibrant hues. Similarly, in their home, the Goldbergs painted all the walls and ceilings a crisp white, and filled each room with colorful objects and characters. From wooden snakes and good-luck Milagros to El Dia de los Muertos figurines and Mexican coconut-head masks, each object tells an interesting story.