Richie Rich.


Original Medium: Comic books
Published by: Harvey Comics
First Appeared: 1953
Creator: Warren Kremer
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In the early 1950s, Harvey Comics was finally starting to find its niche, discovering that oddball kid characters, each of which could be fully summarized in a …

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… single phrase, seemed to work for them. When, in 1953, they gave Little Dot (the girl who likes polka dots to the point of obsession) her own comic, they created a couple of new back-up features for it — Little Lotta (the girl who eats all the time) and Richie Rich (the boy with limitless money).

Alfred Harvey, one of the owners of Harvey Comics, lays claim to the creation of Richie Rich. But this may be like John Goldwater's claim of having created Archie or (most likely) Ashton Collins's of Reddy Kilowatt — a lot of credit being given to an authority figure who made a general suggestion, rather than the working writers and artists who actually fleshed out the character. Warren Kremer, who is responsible for much of the "look" of Harvey Comics from the 1950s on, makes a more credible claim of having created the character.

In 1957, the publisher decided to try Richie out for his own comic, and devoted the third issue of Harvey Hits (November, 1957) to him. (Harvey Hits, like DC's Showcase, functioned as a proving ground, where series could be tested before receiving their own comics.) The experiment was repeated six issues later, but it seems not to have been a wild success. Those were the only comics Richie starred in during the 1950s.

With the November, 1960 issue, however, the publisher finally gave Richie Rich his own comic — and he went on to become their biggest star. While many Harvey characters starred in more than one comic (for example, Sad Sack appeared not only in his own book, but also in Sad Sack's Army Life, Sad Sack & the Sarge, and others), Richie Rich was the star of dozens. Richie Rich Millions (which began in 1961) and Richie Rich Dollars & Cents (1963) were the first of over 50 titles to feature the so-called "Poor Little Rich Boy". In the '70s, Richie rescued the nascent Jackie Jokers character from early oblivion by sharing a title with him, and was used the same way in the attempt to launch new ones such as Billy Bellhops and Timmy Time. It's possible that Richie Rich has appeared in more individual American comic books than any other character. (The only other credible candidate for the distinction is Archie.)

Richie was also the biggest star of Harvey's foray into digest-size comics. In the late 1970s, several publishers, including DC and Archie, experimented with smaller but thicker comics, displayed at supermarket checkout stands. Richie Rich headlined as many as four digest titles at once. But the digest form was never a major success for Harvey.

Richie made his animated debut on November 8, 1980, sharing an hour-long Saturday morning show with Scooby-Doo. His voice was done by Sparky Marcus (T.J. Tiger in Shirt Tails). ABC kept him on the air until 1984, teaming him with such other stars as Pac-Man and a cartoon version of Little Rascals. He also appeared in animated form in a show syndicated in the mid-1990s, in which his voice was done by Katie Leigh (Sunni Gummi).

In comics, tho, Richie, like the other Harvey characters, went on hiatus from 1982-86. His comic was published again from 1986-94, but has been dormant since then. Oddly, it was in the same year as his last comic book, 1994, that the character made his biggest splash outside the comics medium. The live-action Richie Rich feature film, starring Macaulay Culkin, was released December 21 of that year.

During the hiatus of the 1980s, there was talk of Marvel Comics licensing the Harvey characters for comic book publication. That didn't — but when Marvel did release its line aimed at younger readers, in 1985, one of the new characters, Royal Roy, seemed awfully likely to have been inspired by Richie Rich.

Richie is still Harvey's most popular character — but since Harvey's characters are mostly on hold, that's not a great distinction. The company says it has big plans for the new century, however, and there's no doubt Richie Rich is a prominent part of them.


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Text ©2000-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Harvey Entertainment.