Tag: Harvey Comics

Brainiac On Banjo: How Many Batmans Does It Take To Screw Up A Catalog?

BATMAN. Don’t stop dancin’. Do it, do it, do it, do it. BATMAN, BATMAN, BATMAN. Don’t stop, don’t stop. Let’s do it. Don’t stop dancin’. Let’s do it, BATMAN. Let’s do it, BATMAN. Don’t stop dancin’. Don’t stop dancin’. No, damn it! Turn the music back up! You son of a bitch! – Batdance, written by Prince, 1989.

Between 1960 and 1993, Harvey Comics published (I could have ended the sentence right there) some 48 different Richie Rich titles. Screw Casper and Hot Stuff, Richie was the big breadwinner in the Harvey household. Whereas I’ve got way too short an attention span to plot this out on a spreadsheet, a great great many were released at the same time, over the same two-month publishing cycle.

Pumping out Richie stories was a tonnage operation because Richie Rich was that successful. It’s not as though most titles had an aura of individuality – aside from Richie Rich and Casper; that series was a lot of fun and, for that matter, pretty weird. Harvey Comics published whatever the newsstand market could bare at that time. I highly doubt anybody at Harvey ever said “Shit! Richie Rich $ucce$$ isn’t selling, so let’s hurry up and replace it with Richie Rich Gems.”

Artist Frank Brunner once quipped they needed a title called “Richie Rich’s Tax Shelters.”

Which brings us to the matter of Batman.

Take a look at DC’s product catalog for January 2022. The catalog is called DC Connect and it’s available at most comics shops and maybe your more refined pet shops and hardware stores. Count the number of different Batman titles. I’m including all the titles that prominently feature members of the Batman Family – including The Joker. Each of their Batteam books – Robins, Batgirls – count, as do those other teams that put a Bat on the cover. I’ll wait.

If my math is correct (and I’ve only got so many fingers and toes) DC Comics is releasing 31 different “Batman” comics titles in January 2022 alone. That’s roughly two-thirds the number of different Richie Rich titles Harvey Comics published over 33 years, but I repeat, DC is doing this in just one month.

Should you want to purchase them all – which will make your friendly neighborhood comics retailer very happy – all you’ll need is $352.72. Personally, I’d ask for a discount, but not all comics shops can afford to do that.

Apples to apples, in constant dollars using 1993 as our vanishing point, 352.72 dollars right now would have only cost you 184.27 dollars in 1993. But given this whole supply-and demand COVID inflation thing going on, you might want avoid stalling your purchase.

Can the marketplace handle 31 different Batman comics titles for the cumulative price of $352.72? Ask me again in, say, February. Take comfort in the fact that Batman is not appearing in The Peacemaker teevee series. Batman completists wouldn’t be able to make their rent.

Richie Rich has been unemployed these past several decades, although, really, when did he ever hold down a real job? Nonetheless, he’s got the money to go into any business he might like. Please note the Rich Family does not seem to be lining up to buy DC Comics.

Come to think of it, I might ask “Would Richie Rich spend all that money on a 10-minute ego trip to inner-most outer space? The answer is “I have no doubt he already did.”

With Further Ado #171: Come Fly With Me

With Further Ado #171: Come Fly With Me

I found this kooky little comic in a bargain bin at Ken Wheaton’s Empire Comic Fest last weekend. It’s a promotional comic for American Airlines, presumably given away to young kids to keep them busy during a plane ride.  This is the issue of Harvey’s AstroComics from 1975. Although sometimes they also spell it as Astro Comics.

I found it absolutely charming.

Despite the fact, that when you really think about it, one of the main characters is a dead child. I am not sure what Casper’s official origin story was at this point, or if he even had one.  But isn’t it kind of creepy to encourage a young kid (maybe it’s their first time on airplane) to read a story about a deceased little boy?

This promotional comic includes a team-up story with Richie Rich and Casper. I didn’t realize they shared adventures, but apparently they often did. In fact, Harvey published  a comic called Richie Rich & Casper that ran for 45 issues in the 70s. Kind of like Harvey’s very own version of World’s Finest Comics, I guess.

Of note: the team-up story is from Richie Rich & Casper #20, and most of the stories included are reprinted from past Harvey comics.

But Astro Comics #1 was designed to keep kids even busier with several innocuously fun American Airlines pages (i.e., corporate propaganda).  Things like a connect-the-dots activity page, a “Story of your Flight Attendant” text page, another text piece called “All about your Flight Crew” and an American Astro Comic Flight Quiz.  This quiz has questions like “Whose football team does Joe Namath play for?”*

The back cover might just be a milestone. I think it’s the very first Back Sketch Cover! Could it be? I do need to do a little more research before I wake up Overstreet’s J.C. Vaughn at 2:00 am with this amazing “find”.

But can you imagine if every kid on a plane got a free comic to read during their flight? Oh sure, they might rather play with their phone, but wow – what an introduction to comics that would be.

Hot Stuff

One more thing: I love this Hot Stuff cover!  One of my fellow faculty members, at Ithaca College’s School of Business has great memories of reading Hot Stuff comics. He’s not a “comics guy”, per se, but he got a few issues for his young son. I make it point to rescue any issues of Hot Stuff I find in bargain boxes at comic shops (like the excellent Heroes Your Mom Threw Out in Elmira or Wonderland Comics in Rochester) and pass it along to my co-worker. I recently grabbed a couple of issues with that in mind, but I love this cover so much I had to find a spot for it in my collection!


*The answer to this question ties into one of the American Airlines destinations, but you have to unscramble the answer.   It is listed as “weN rYko”.

With Further Ado #133: It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World

With Further Ado #133: It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World

I always kinda liked the ads in comics.  In stark contrast to prose books (I am a big bookworm and love to read books, too), the constant interruption of comic stories by advertisements sprinkled throughout has a charm all of its own. And when they fit in with comics, it’s even better. Sometimes the ads showcase other genre-related properties like movies, TV shows and licensed merchandise.  Sometimes they just serve as a nostalgic tether to days, and products, long gone by.

I’m proud to have had a few of my ads appear in various comics over the years. It was a thrill to see them in print. Like the Super Bowl, there were times when I’d look forward to seeing the ads more than the main event.  In a recent conversation with my old Nabisco pal, Doug Haase, we ended up talking all about our old Marvel comics cross promotion and the ads that went along with it.

I’ve worked with professional experts too. Creative types as well as sales folks. As far as I’m concerned, people like Marvel’s Renee Krumper, Valiant’s Seymour Miles, and DC’s Avery Stiratt have an important place in comics history.  Most notable is the entrepreneurial warrior, Kris Longo. He’s been fighting the good fight at Geek Riot Media, the firm he founded, for years now.

With all that in mind, I was especially delighted when I stumbled across Harvey’s Dick Tracy #99. I’m working on a Dick Tracy article for the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, and I need to get up to speed. Continue reading “With Further Ado #133: It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World”

Brainiac On Banjo #027: Comic Book Economics

Brainiac On Banjo #027: Comic Book Economics

Dan DiDio

Somebody noticed the comic book racks are overcrowded… and that somebody is Dan DiDio, co-publisher, DC Comics. I gather Dan’s deductive skills were sharpened by his decades of comic book collecting.

Well, he’s the right man for the job. Just about each month for the better part of a half-century the Diamond Distributors catalog, the one that terrorizes your friendly neighborhood comic book store owner who must bet the rent on his or her non-returnable orders, has grown like Stumbo on steroids to its present size and weight, rivaling the Manhattan phone book in water displacement. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #027: Comic Book Economics”