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A missed opportunity.

§ October 6th, 2007 § Filed under harvey, richie rich § 1 Comment

Now every time I come across this copy of Richie Rich Vaults of Mystery #9 (March 1976), I get the urge to post it on this site and poke a little fun at Google:

‘Course, the thing that usually holds me back is the fact that the actual mathematical term “Googol” (a 1 followed by a hundred zeroes, a fact repeated constantly over the course of this story) is the one being used as the villain’s name.

So, sure, they sound the same, but they look different, which sorta undermines any joke I want to make. Like here:

Sure, it’s still a little funny when read aloud, picturing Google, Inc. as a mysterious red-hooded villian, but the spelling mutes the humor a tad.

Now check out this panel:

That’s just crying out for some kind of “Google is conquering the world, one user at a time” observation, but, again, it’s “googol,” not “Google.” That just seems like one step too many from effective usage in satirical parody.

Some people just don’t understand Google’s business plans, or corporate decisions, or what have you, and I’d like to illustrate that concept with a Richie Rich panel, but instead I have this:

And then there’s…well, feh, I like the idea of Google being unmasked at the end of story, like, say, Agatha Christie gathering all the cast into the library for the final revelation of the murderer. But instead we get:

The heck with it…God gave us Photoshop for a reason:

See…? Funnier.

Well, I think so, and it’s my weblog, so there.

And because you’re gonna ask…here’s who the Googol was:

Yes, the “100 Zeroes” story was related earlier in the comic.

And now the comic is out of my system. Whew.

Richie Rich #220 (November 1986).

§ September 22nd, 2007 § Filed under harvey, richie rich § 4 Comments

As we observe this scene, the primary action has already occurred…the burglar is already unconscious, the bump on his head already formed, the bag of coins already at rest on the floor, the loose coins already scattered about, Richie Rich already present, hands smugly on hips, delivering his pithy bon mots. All of the objects of the cover gag, as they are drawn here, are already at rest. The gag has happened, and we are seeing the results.

However, the cover contains an incongruous action element; there are motion lines tracing the path of the falling bag from the broken shelf, to the burglar’s head, and to its stopping point on the floor. This motion is out of place, though perhaps we can forgive the motion lines around the pieces of shelving and the bag itself, perhaps representing some residual “wobbling” from the event. What we are seeing is the end result of a sequence of events; the action is completed. The motion lines more rightly belong in a theoretical “previous panel” to the cover’s “current panel” – a scene in which the burglar, still conscious and upright and in the midst of his crime, is impacted upon his head by the falling coin bag, perhaps even with an exclamation of “Ow!” or “Hey” or “What’s all this, then?” That is an action scene, and that is where the motion lines should come into play.

As it stands now, the motion lines only seem to serve as a hint to the less astute members of this comic magazine’s readership, spelling out the joke for those who can’t look at the broken shelf, who can’t infer that the large bag of coins once sat on that shelf and are clearly the only item in that room able to cause such a goose egg on the burglar’s head, and who can’t even take the hint from Richie Rich’s own dialogue.

A secondary problem in this cover image is the position of the robber. Only a moment’s consideration will reveal that the burglar’s head, when he is standing, is above the shelf in question.

Let us assume, firstly, that the duties of Irona, the Rich household’s robotic maid, do not extend into the confines of the many walk-in safes on the premises. (I realize this may in fact be contradicted by other Richie Rich comics over the years, but a consistent continuity is hardly the franchise’s primary concern…wither “Super-Richie,” for example.) Thus, perhaps the scattering of coins upon the safe’s floor were not from the falling coin bag, but present on the floor to begin with…coins dropped in the Riches’ haste to store away their money and depart to acquire more, and never cleaned up by Irona. Those coins, representing an easy acquisition, attract the burglar’s attention first, causing him to bend over to pick them up.

Judging from the burglar’s current post-impact position, it looks as if he’d fallen backwards against the wall. However, if he had been bent over in that general position when the coin bag fell, it would have impacted his lower back, if it would have hit him at all. Going by the motion line path presented on the cover, the coin bag didn’t make it that far away laterally from its starting point. Its path was primarily straight down, until it made its impact upon the burglar and bounced to the side.

Alternatively, the burglar could have been bent over facing the wall with the shelf. The coin bag falls, hits the burglar…and in the burglar’s moments prior to lapsing in unconsciousness, he perhaps could have spun around, plopped himself down back against the wall, and passed out.

The third option is that the burglar was already sitting underneath the shelf when the coin bag impact occurred, which not only explains the burglar’s position as Richie Rich finds him, but also works with the coin bag’s presented trajectory. Why he was sitting we can only theorize: tired from entering the Rich mansion, he needed to sit and rest, or perhaps he had a bad back, and it was easier for him to sit down and pick up the spilled coins rather then bend over. Who can say?

This third option also answers another question implied by the image: would a bag filled with coins falling from that short of a distance from the shelf to the burglar’s head really be enough to render him unconscious? It would certainly be an unpleasant experience, having that much weight fall upon one’s head, but would it strike with enough of a sharp blow to knock out a full grown adult?

There is a possible solution to this as well, and one that may perhaps even incorporate the seemingly out of place motion lines discussed earlier.

At first glance, the cover presents us with a burglar knocked out by a falling bag of coins. But consider this alternative sequence of events:

1. Burglar enters walk-in safe.

2. Burglar spots coins on the floor, sits to pick up coins with his back against the wall just beneath the shelf.

3. Burglar stands up quickly, possibly alarmed by the noise of someone (most likely, Richie Rich) approaching.

4. Burglar’s head impacts the shelf above, hard enough to not only break the shelf, but to also render him unconscious.

5. The breaking of the shelf dislodges a precariously placed bag of coins, located somewhere off to the side (instead of directly above the burglar’s head). The bag of coin rolls over and falls down through the break in the shelf, off the burglar, and onto the floor.

If this is the sequence of events, then this resolves the cover’s contradictory “completed action” of the unconscious burglar with the “current action” of the falling coin bag. The falling coin bag is not ultimately responsible for the burglar’s unconscious state; he is already out when the bag falls. The falling bag (which is occurring, and we — along with Richie Rich — are observing, in the “now” of the cover image) is simply adding insult to the implied off-panel shelf-impact injury.

And really, “coin-ked out?” I don’t have any explanation for that…that’s just stupid.

Additional thoughts, opinions, and arguments from my fellow scholars are, as always, welcomed.

"A treasure chest of happiness."

§ November 17th, 2006 § Filed under harvey, richie rich § 1 Comment

So we bought a large collection of ’70s comics, mostly humor books (Archie and Harvey and the like). It’s nice to have them, as while we’re pretty heavy on Archies at the moment, our Harvey selection is rather sparse. At one time we had well over three boxes of nothing but Richie Rich titles…one person came in and bought them all, and ever since you could probably count our RR stock on the fingers of both hands, and maybe a toe or two.

In this collection, though, are hundreds of Richie Rich comics, which should replenish our supply for some time to come…or, at least, until that guy who bought all the Richie Riches comes back and wipes us out again.

However, there is a downside to acquiring these Richie Riches, and that’s they’ve gotta be processed…put in bags, price stickered, etc. And that means looking at cover after cover after cover after cover celebrating Richie’s conspicuous consumption. Since I had the other employees otherwise occupied, it was up to me…and I’d only processed about 1/3 of the Richie Rich comics when I realized they were driving me insane. I was angry at the Richie Rich comics, talking back to them. “This isn’t real grass…it’s ast-dough turf!” Richie would say on the cover. “Oh, screw you, Rich,” I would reply.

I’ve noted before that one of the things that irritates me about Richie Rich is the constant rubbing of his wealth in the faces of his country bumpkin friends Pee Wee and Freckles. I mean, look at how they live:

“Oh, no, you couldn’t live with me,” Richie must tell them. “There’s just no space in my 500-room mansion…all the extra rooms are filled with money, you see. Plus, our robot maid Irona requires a multi-room suite for her privacy, my dog Dollar needs room to roam…you understand.”

And why Pee Wee and Freckles put up with this particular insult:

…I have no idea. The unseen conclusion of that particular scenario should be Rich being beaten to death by the pair with one of his own bags of money.

Sure, he does nice things for them, on occasion, like helping them mooch a free ball game:

…but are you telling me the richest kid in the world can’t spring for actual tickets? Okay, maybe the game was sold out, but would that stop someone of Richie’s wealth and influence? A bill or two dropped in the right hands, and Richie and his entourage are through the gate. Then again, maybe Rich owns the park, and is helping his friends circumvent admission out of some risk-free “flouting societal conventions” fantasy. “Oh, this must be what it’s like when the common people break the law and risk punishment!”

And, for God’s sake, what the heck is up with this tricked-out pogo stick:

Richie Rich is clearly incapable of feeling embarrassment. The Casper-head horn also raises questions I don’t want answered.

Well, cashew?

§ November 15th, 2006 § Filed under harvey, richie rich Comments Off on Well, cashew?

The Friendly Ghost Casper #183 (January 1976)

1. That’s some fine tangibility control Casper has over his ghostly body.

2. …And those are some tortured puns in that bottom blurb. “Without pecan,” indeed.

3. Casper’s expression is, I realize, borne of his response to nuts being tossed through his head, but still, that look makes it appear as if he has some nefarious plans in the works. (“Once I get all the squirrels’ nuts, they’ll starve, starve!”)

4. Where I come from, being called a “nut basket” is fightin’ words.

5. The fact that there are two different series, one named Casper the Friendly Ghost and one named The Friendly Ghost Casper, irritates me far out of proportion to its importance.

6. Is there a lot of competition for “World’s Most Famous Ghost?” Um…Hamlet’s dad, maybe? Or Slimer? Great, and now I’m picturing Slimer in the role of Hamlet’s dad:

HAMLET: “Ghostbusters and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or slime from hell….”

Er, yeah. Never mind.*

7. If one were to accept the oft-posited theory of Casper being the spirit of the departed Richie Rich, condemned to walk the earth for his sins of avarice, can the multiple times the two characters have met be seen as a literal expression of the philosophical concept of the duality of body and spirit? Or perhaps it’s Harvey Comics making explicit its support in the belief of out-of-body experiences? Or maybe, once freed of its mortal bonds, Richie’s spirit, in the form of Casper, is also freed of the progression of linear time, and is able to double-back into his own timeline and team up with himself?

Or maybe Richie and Casper are simply two different entities…but what fun is that?

* On a related note (near the end of the clip)….

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