Comic book author, lyricist Goldsmith to be honored Lee Goldsmith, 92, has a lot of friends at the retirement community of East Ridge in Cutler Bay, but decades ago when he lived in New York, his friends were The Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman.
Goldsmith was a comic book writer then, writing scripts for some of the most popular titles of DC Comics. Goldsmith will be honored on Aug. 1 by East Ridge during a private event, but he took time on July 12 for an interview with Miami’s C o m m u n i t y Newspapers to talk about those days.
“I got out of the Army in December of 1945,” Goldsmith said. “I didn’t do much of anything for a few months. I was acquainted with the wife of one of the editors at DC Comics. She arranged an interview for me with the editor.
“I had done a little bit of writing in high school and in the Army. He gave me a plot outline and a couple of comic books to read, The Flash and Green Lantern, and I went home and sat down and tried to write a script for one of those characters. I showed it to him and he must have liked it, for he bought it. I was very lucky. I had no experience whatsoever in writing comic books, but I learned that there’s a lot to it.
It’s like writing a movie script.”
None of the writers or artists were actual employees of DC Comics. They were all independent contractors. So the scripts and the art were owned outright by the company.
“It wasn’t a lot of money, but it enabled me to have a nice little apartment in Manhattan,” Goldsmith said. “I was only 22 or 23, so it was great for me. I averaged two scripts a week. I got paid $17 a page, and I made a couple hundred dollars a week, which is nothing now, but in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s it was very nice in Manhattan.”
He aslo worked in the company’s National Romance Group to write love story comics geared to teenage girls.
Later, he became a lyricist writing Broadway shows such as Shine!, Chaplin, Quality Street, Ladykiller and Abe.
The superhero comics were probably the most fun for him, though.
“I was on a bus once, going back to my apartment, and there were two guys in front of me who were talking about the comic book they were reading, and I had written the script, and it was all I could do not to lean forward and say, ‘I know how it ends.’”
Goldsmith is not as impressed as you might think about the current rash of Hollywood movies about comic book superheroes, which they can do better now because of the special effects technology.
“I only wish I could benefit financially from those,” he said with a laugh. “These stories work better on the page than they do on the movie screen. Now they seem to lose track of the fact that they’re telling a story, because all they’re interested in are the special effects, and that’s all the audience is interested in. There’s much more to a story than the special effects.”
He doesn’t mind reminiscing about those days, but he doesn’t plan to write any more.
“The time has come to lay down the pen,” Goldsmith said. “I’m fairly well and I enjoy my life. I had a wonderful time writing for comic books.”