Monday, May 25, 2015

Richie Rich - The Poor Little Rich Boy (Harvey Comics)

Richie Rich - The Poor Little Rich Boy
Harvey Comics
1960 - 1991

Today we're featuring a guest writer - Jon from The Harvey Mercheum. For obvious reasons, Jon has a little more expertise when it comes to the subject of Richie Rich. As such, it seemed only natural - appropriate if you will - to let him take the helm.

Richie Rich made his first appearance in 1953, as a backup story in Little Dot # 1.  There is some controversy over who created the character.  Possibilities include the founder of Harvey Comics, Alfred Harvey, editor Sid Jacobson and artist Warren Kremer.  Richie continued to make appearances in the Little Dot and Little Lotta comics, but did not get his own title until 1960.  From there, his popularity continued to grow, and more titles were added.  In all, more than 50 Richie Rich titles were published, more than any other comic character before or since.  Publication was suspended from 1982 until 1986, and ceased altogether in 1994.  Ape Entertainment tried to update Richie Rich, and released new comic books from 2011 until 2012.

In addition to comic books and digests, Richie Rich appeared in two different animated cartoons.  The first was produced by Hanna-Barbera, and ran mixed with other cartoon characters from 1980 until 1984.  The second, 1996 Film Roman cartoon only lasted 13 episodes, but was truer to the original character designs.

Two live-action films were also produced.  The first, simply titled “Richie Rich”, was released in 1994.  It was followed by a direct-to-video film titled “Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish” in 1998.
The most recent incarnation of Richie Rich is a live-action television show produced by Netflix in 2015.  The character, backstory, and supporting cast have all been reworked for this show.

So what is the original character design?  Richie Rich is normally depicted as a blond white boy, between 8 and 10 years of age.  He normally wears white shoes, blue shorts, a collared white shirt, a red bow tie and a black jacket.  He is sometimes depicted in the comics wearing a heavier winter jacket over his shorts, or a swimsuit instead of this outfit if he is at a pool or the beach.  There are times when he wears a costume, such as a cowboy outfit, but his regular clothing was so common, it became somewhat of a joke in the comics.

Despite being the richest child in the world, Richie is very down-to-earth, and appreciates the simple things in life.  He likes to use his money to help others whenever possible.  He is not snobbish, and dislikes those he is forced to associate with that are.

Richie Rich stories started with a small group of family and friends.  Over the years, more friends, relatives, staff members and even enemies were added.  Richie also interacted with characters from other Harvey titles, including Casper the Friendly Ghost.  Richie believed his meeting with Casper were all a dream, despite each story ending with evidence to the contrary.

The stories were set in a variety of locations as well.  Many happened within the Rich Mansion, the Rich Estate, or the town in which the Estate was located (Richville).  When Richie leaves Richville, he seems to be somewhere within the United States.  The world is pretty much like our own, with some fictional place names thrown in.

Join us next time when we take a look at Amalgam!

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bone (Cartoon Books / Image Comics)

Cartoon Books / Image Comics
1991 - 2004

Bone is one of those unique comics that sadly many people just don't give it the time of day that it deserves. Sure, it has a lot of fans, but it's not necessarily "mainstream" in terms of the comic world. Bone just doesn't get the chance to compete with your Spider-Man's, Batman's and Spawn's.

Artist Jeff Smith actually created the character(s) around the age of five, incorporating it into his own self published series in 1991 under the company Cartoon Books. Smith continued to self publish until issue number twenty (with the exception of issue 13.5 which was a Wizard magazine premium).

Despite its simplistic character design, Bone is actually a highly regarded series for its great story arc and character development. The series has received numerous awards and recognition from some of the most famous in the world of comics and cartoons such as Will Eisner and Peter David.

Beginning with issue number 20 in 1995, Smith shifted publication duties to Image comics. Image in turn reprinted issues one through nineteen under their own company banner. It's arguable that this exposure is what really tipped the scales for the character in terms of popularity. Image was the latest and greatest thing coming up in the comic world, and fans were more than happy to purchase any books from them sight unseen.

Bone returned to Cartoon Books with issue number 27, and remained there until the series ended in 2004 with number 55.

The series of Bone has been collected numerous times over in trade paperback, and many fans agree that the simplest and cheapest way to read the entire series is via the one shot Bone The Complete Series. It's relatively reasonably priced between $29.99 and $39.99 (at least as of the time of this writing it is). This collection is presented in black and white - Such as the series was in each issue. There are some collected versions of the series that have been printed in color, and though many fans regard it as a wonderful transition from black and white to color, the purists seek the B&W versions.

Join us next time when we take a look at Richie Rich - The Poor Little Rich Boy!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Flaming Carrot Comics (Dark Horse Comics)

Flaming Carrot Comics
Dark Horse Comics
1984 - 2002

Flaming Carrot was a character created by Bob Burden which appeared in the 1979 Visions number one from Atlanta Fantasy Fair. Burden soon began publishing the book alongside Cerebus creator  Dave Sim under the company, Aardvark-Vanaheim. The series ran from 1984 to 1985 (issues 1 - 5), then switched publishing companies to Renegade Press (1985 to 1987 - issues 6 - 17) who continued the numbering from where the prior publisher had stopped.

Though the character had an avid group of fans, he really didn't blossom into popularity until the late 1980's when Dark Horse Comics picked up the series, and began publishing it from issue eighteen to thirty-one. This gave the books a lot more commercial exposure among comic readers.

The concept of Flaming Carrot is an interesting one. He's not actually a superhero. Instead, he's just an everyday average guy who on a bet decided to read 5,000 comics back to back. This caused him to suffer brain damage, and from thereafter appear only as the Flaming Carrot.

Though issue 31 was technically the last book in the series, Dark Horse published a one-shot entitled Flamnig Carrot & Reid Flemming, World's Toughest Milkman as issue number 32.

While the Flaming Carrot series was pretty solid when it was "on", a lot of times fans got frustrated with story lines that never got completed, and were abandoned. In addition, Burden promised numerous stories and concepts in various letter pages that never came to fruition - Leaving many fans often times feeling strung along (lied to if you will).

Join us next time when we take a look at Bone!

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Masters of the Universe (Star Comics)

Masters of the Universe
Star Comics
1986 - 1988

Star Comics doesn't often times get the love that it deserves from the comic book community. It was a great subdivision of Marvel Comics which focused mainly on delivering titles to kids - Often times based on the latest and greatest animated cartoon/action figure line. As such, pretty much every title developed in the 80's featured a handful of issues before kids and the brand were off to something new. This often times didn't leave a lot of room for deep character building or massive story arcs, but it did however scratch that itch for kids in between the hours that the shows weren't airing.

Masters of the Universe was a thirteen issue series produced between 1986 and 1988. Because the original action figures had miniature comics packaged in with them (originally produced by DC Comics and later by Mattel directly), many fans consider this particular series to be volume 2.

The scripts for the majority of the series were penned by Mike Carlin (issues 1 - 8) with writer George Caragonne taking the helm for the final 3rd of the title (issues 9 - 13). As for the artists, many names were attached to the project such as (but not limited to); Ron Wilson, Dennis Janke and Danny Bulanadi.

Side Note - We love how issue thirteen showcases Skeletor on the cover based on (but not identical to) his film adaptation garb.

 In November of 1987, Star Comics incorporated a movie adaptation of the film which was released in theaters in August of that same year. Star took many liberties with the story, first and foremost shrinking it down to just fifty pages. They then changed certain events, and altered the ending which included Man-At-Arms returning from the lower level of Grayskull with an American flag and NASA flag dated July 10, 2221 - Eluding that the inhabitants of Eternia first came from the USA.

Many fans argure that the comic adaptation of the movie is far superior to the movie itself. Though personally we enjoy both, and still to this day have a guilty pleasure of watching the movie.

Also notable to the story was that the artwork for the characters was not totally based on the movie. In fact, only Gwildor, Blade and Beast Man were depicted as their film renditions. All the other characters were based on their Filmation look.

Sadly for fans, Star Comics stopped producing Masters of the Universe comics in 1988. Though there have been a handful of He-Man related titles that have trickled out in the industry since then, unfortunately it hasn't been many - The most recent being DC Comic's 2012/2013 digital print of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Join us next time when we take a look at Flaming Carrot Comics!

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