Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stinking Rich and Scared Silly

My blog this time around is going to focus on two different items of interest.

The first item is to plug the most excellent compilation book by Jerry Beck and Leslie Carbaga.

Many of you will remember those horrible adaptations of the original character, Richie Rich, the poor little rich boy because unfortunately, the novelty of Richie and his wealth became the subject of his popularity when his likeness exploded onto the namesakes of the 70s comic books, television shows, and movie later on.

However, Richie started off as a rather endearing character- a clever little boy who just happened to be stricken with unenumerable riches. In the early stories he was still rather childlike, usually trying to fit in someplace with his humble, poverty-stricken friends, or learning a youthful lesson with the help of his schoolmates or parents. He had smarts- he felt the same things as any other kid- and his mentality was still reflected as a child his age should, which is what made the character interesting.

Anyway, the best Richie stories are included in the above book with the master penmanship of Steve Muffatti, Warren Kremer, and Ernie Colon.

Which brings me to my second point of interest: Hallowe'en-
the one time of year when we are justified in pretending we're someone else.

I am especially enthusiastic about well-drawn comic book art. I do believe that comic books promote literacy in children that would otherwise be disinterested in further forms of educational reading... as long as the comic books have SOME literal value in themselves. When I was a boy, I loved reading comic books... and although my parents monitored the type of reading I was allowed to do, I could fully read any book,. and this included textbooks, from cover to cover by the time I was 6.... as well as multisyllabic words, not just "Mr. Muggs". I really owe it to the Harvey comics of the mid-60s.

There was one story in particular which I recall even to this day- a Hallowe'en themed issue of Richie Rich "Diamonds" from 1972. This story particularly freaked me out when I read it as a boy.

It is one example when Richie is totally disempowered. If anyone who is familiar with Richie can only remember his being in control of things, mostly because of his ability to buy his way out of anything (at least in the later stories), you will enjoy this story. It's creepy, bizarre, and best of all- magnificently drawn by Ernie Colon.... comments to follow.

I like how Richie's wealth always inspires everyone else into greed. He's innocently the target of extortion many times... often to the taker's misery... (a slight jab at society in a comic magazine intended for a younger audience...) his response to Gloria in the first panel of the next page is one of those examples of his childlike way of thinking that I mentioned earlier... "Only $2000!!".

This witch reminds me of my stepmother. She even looks like her. She especially acts like her, but my stepmother didn't have the spectacular magic. I'd have preferred Walla over her. Anyway, I like how Richie and Gloria are still rather polite at this point.

It's still an illusion, kiddies.... or is it.... these illusions actually interact though... very sophisticated.. it makes Richie nervous....

What kid reading this is going to understand the ghost's utterings anyway? (Inside joke: translated, the ghost says, "Quite rotten, the art of Colon."... good one, Ernie)

This is starting to get a little too weird... heh heh- Richie and Gloria are all messed up in the pie....

I like the "Black Christmas" eyeball reflection in panel two. It's more than I'd expect from a kid's comic book. It's also amusing to see that Richie's refined nature (that he's assumed from so many finishing schools) has worn out when he erupts at Walla. I guess rich kids do throw tantrums just like any other.

And now, let's have a little break. In this same comic book was a two-page insert advertising the Saturday morning cartoon lineup for September 1973. You nostalgia hounds should appreciate this. There's a light smattering of classic stuff intermixed with the throwaway limited animation productions made in those days... I actually watched, "Sealab 2020" and it was lame... I think I stopped watching cartoons after around 11:00 when the "Barkleys" ended. Ah... I miss those days when it was worth getting up on Saturday mornings.

And now, on with the story....

I like Richie's expression here when he realizes that his comfortable, secure little home life has been upended... and sees his companion / guardian Cadbury transformed into some bloodsucking entity (Cadbury looks pretty cool this way, IMO). The image of Richard and Regina especially disturbed me as a kid, thinking of what it would be like if MY parents were turned into freakish butterfly-winged ape creatures.

Heh heh- Richie still thinks his wealth and status can overthrow Walla's magic- he attempts to ring the servants to get rid of her. I especially like the "one-hand-my-pocket" Wall Street control freak attitude he's got by this point. I wonder why he thought ringing the staff would be any different, since he just finished remarking how Cadbury was changed? Silly boy.

Gloria is probably directing every effort to maintain her continence by this point, especially in panel 5 above.
Ok, now Walla is really scary-looking as she casts more spells. That image of her is rather frightful, and panic has set in for Richie and Gloria. Better make the same mistake every horror movie victim makes and run, run away! That big bug Walla is riding is certainly would be startling.

I like how Richie can still pull a second away from being frightened by making a smart remark about Walla in panel 7 above... the kid's got balls.

What do you say when you see a 20-foot dragon in your foyer? What does a star translate to anyway? Something painful, no doubt.

Nice scenes here- the story ends up just as quickly as it began. The closeup of Richie's glare in the 7th panel is rather effective. Also the display of his bounding step as he retrieves the note from Cadbury shows that he is suddenly relieved, as if waking up from a bad dream. Cadbury even recalls that something happened to him.

But there's just one thing that's bothering me, and I wondered about this ever since I initially read this comic in the 70s.....

How did Little Audrey's friend Echo become one of Richie's servants? The Rich family must have made a deal with the white slavery child labour black market and pulled him out of school to work for them, making Richie's snazzy white shoes for a living, no doubt.

Oh, those crazy wealthy capitalists!! Tee hee!

1 comment:

  1. I just happen to have finished the Richie Rich book last night. It was great to read your comments and see Richie discussed. I've been trying to recall all the subtitles of his books: Gems, Diamonds, Millions, Treasure, Success... there were many more.

    I like the rendering of the adult Gloria in the anthology.