There hasn't been much comics-related news of late, nor have I made many (um, make that any) major purchases at the store in recent weeks. Things will start to pick up again in April and May as Fantagraphics and IDW release several volumes in their "continuing series," including the final volumes of the POPEYE and KRAZY KAT Sunday-strip collections. There was also some happy news in today's PREVIEWS: Classic Comics Press is officially soliciting the collected BUCK O'RUE by Dick Huemer and Paul Murry for release in late June or early July. If we can't have new Disney comics, then seeing this little-known early-50s work from a pair of old-line "Disney Masters" is the next best thing.
There's still no indication as to when Ape Entertainment will restart its "rebooted" RICHIE RICH title. Indeed, if the latest Ape releases and solicitations are any indication, then the company appears to be pulling back a bit on its RICHIE commitment, in the manner of a "shrinking violet." Symbolic of the horticultural hesitation are the RICHIE RICH DIGEST releases that have just recently begun to appear. Now, when I think of a comics digest, I think of a chunky collection that delivers fair value for the money: WALT DISNEY COMICS DIGEST from Western Publishing, the "classic" Harvey and "Gladstone I" digests, Gemstone's DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES and MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES... and, yes, I'm even willing to throw in DISNEY ADVENTURES, provided that we only count the issues with Disney Afternoon -related material. For Ape to be flogging these 48-page (!) slick-cover pamphlets as "digests," however, I have to stretch the definition of "digest" so far that it snaps back into my face like an over-strained rubber band.
Ape's Web-site description of RICHIE RICH DIGEST is, to put it charitably, somewhat misleading. The "wealth" of additional RICHIE material that appeared in the one RRD issue that I perused appeared to consist of nothing more than one five-page Warren Kremer-drawn story, plus a gag or two. If Richie were that "wealthy," then he'd be forced to run Rich Rescue 24/7 just to make ends meet. What Ape should have done here is obvious -- collect all the parts of the initial RICH RESCUE saga into a trade paperback, perhaps throwing in a few "classic" adventure stories to "make weight." How hard can a decision like that be to make? Or, maybe there's an ulterior motive for Ape's apparent madness. Perhaps Ape's elongated re-release of the early RICH RESCUE material is an attempt to stall for time while the final details (whatever they might be) of the regular title are being worked out. If so, then the company is going to as absurd an extent as did Fenton Crackshell when he was trying to delay getting shot by the Banana Republic firing squad in "Allowance Day."
Wait, it gets worse! Here is the blurb for RICHIE RICH GEMS TREASURES (sic??), solicited in this week's PREVIEWS...
Get ready for thrills and chills in this collection of stories taken from issues #44-47 of the critically acclaimed RICHIE RICH GEMS title! This collection reprints the 4 new stories that were done by Richie Rich's creator Sid Jacobson with art by long-time fan-favorite Ernie Colon! Each issue reprinted digitally re-colored classic RICHIE RICH stories, and there are short stories from the all-new RICHIE RICH: RICH RESCUE series!
The fact that the original Jacobson/Colon stories are headlined takes a bit of the sting out of the revelation that RRGT will be reprinting material from... a reprint title. What really concerns me is the inclusion of RICH RESCUE material. Um, wouldn't this include some of the same material that was just recently reprinted in RRD? How many "variations of repetition" are you planning to feed us, guys?
At this point, Ape is my only source of new newsstand-style comics, so you'll pardon me for getting a bit exercised over exactly what the heck is going on here.