Friday, February 15, 2013

Comics Review: RICHIE RICH GEMS #48 (Ape Entertainment, 2013)

A RICHIE RICH sighting!  After some eight months!  Well, that's not strictly true... the square-backed RICHIE RICH GEMS SPECIAL COLLECTION (rather confusingly subtitled "Winter Special" on the inside front cover) made it to stores in time for the holiday season.  You may have missed the headlines.  That offering was merely a repackaging of matter from the first several GEMS releases by Ape.  Since Ape obviously feels that familiarity does not breed contempt, all four of the KEENBEAN'S CORNER gags that originally appeared in Ape's "reimagined" RICHIE RICH title -- and ALSO appeared in the back of GEMS -- made another bow in SPECIAL COLLECTION, as well.  You can well understand that the release of a brand-new (in a manner of speaking) GEMS issue came as something of a surprise to me, especially since the rebooted RICHIE title seems to have stopped dead in its tracks.  So there might be some hope for the latter after all...

As GEMS issues have gone, #48 isn't bad.  Warren Kremer's "The Mad Mad Big Big Race" is one of the better long Richie-vs.-Cousin Reggie rivalry stories from the "Classic Harvey."  The back cover blurb makes an attempt to tie the round-the-world trek in with a certain long-running reality TV show, but an examination of the particulars suggests that a better parallel might be drawn with "Around the World in 80 Bucks," the story that Boom!, for some incomprehensible reason, chose to print in the first several issues of its version of UNCLE $CROOGE.  Richie and Reggie actually go Scrooge and John D. Rockerduck one better by agreeing to race one another with just $150 in cash on hand AND without using any "motorcycles, car, trains, planes, or boats!".  It goes without saying that Reggie cheats and Richie... well, doesn't.  "Big Big Race" winds up putting "80 Bucks" to shame, though that might be more of a comment on the Duck story than on the RICHIE tale.  The credit section claims that Ralph Newman wrote the story, but, to me, it definitely "feels" like one of the RICHIE RICH AND CASPER scripts that Stan Kay wrote for Kremer later in the 1970s.  Since we are STILL getting credit goofs even at this late date (to wit: the one-page gags "Bling-kini" and "How's Your Earring?" were drawn by Ernie Colon, not Kremer), I'll stick with my theory that it was Kay who did the work.  (BTW, another way that you can tell that the same writer did the RR&C stories and this story is...  the rather frequent... use of ellipses... in both venues.)

Ernie Colon and Sid Jacobson team up once again to produce an original four-page leadoff story, "On the Way to the Ball."  It features another reference to the bum economy (you know, the one that supposedly wrecked the Reginald Van Dough fortune, as revealed in GEMS #47?) and one of the most multi-ethnic crowd scenes in Harvey Comics history.  Richie gets to show his largesse to a poor community, in the classic tradition, and gets praise from his prom-date Gloria.  The five-page "Richie's Alphabet" feeds us some forced rhymes as it runs through Richie's connections to every letter in the alphabet, but it features some nice Kremer art from the mid-70s.  The rest of the book consists of gags, and among these is one VERY interesting one by Colon (early 60's version) that I don't recall having seen before, at least not in a Harvey contextRichie baffles Reggie by giving a young orphan's home solicitor one penny on day one, two pennies on day two, etc., and over $3 million on the last day of the month.  Yup, it's the exact same "mathematic [sic] stunt" that Donald pulled on Scrooge in the comic-book adaptation of Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land.  Was I surprised to see it in a "Classic Harvey" comic?  You bet.


Joe c said...

That's actually a classic math puzzle so I didn't see it as very surprising.

joecab said...

Now that I think of it, there have been other classic logic puzzles before. Remember that old Casper story where he comes across a two-headed monster guarding two doors, where one head always lies and the other tells the truth, and he has to find out which is the correct door to go through by asking them questions?

Looks like Sid Jacobson was a big fan of recreational mathematics. I think that's an awesome thing to introduce to kids through comics.

Chris Barat said...


I didn't collect Casper so I never ran across that story. But it's existence, and that of the Richie doubling gag, certainly suggests that there may be other examples of such material in Harvey comics.