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This is the seventy-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous seventy-six. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
This week is a special theme week. All the urban legends are about Harvey Comics, and here to help me this week is Mark Arnold, author of The Best of The Harveyville Fun Times!
The Best of Harveyville Fun Times is a collection of the newsletter Mark has been doing for well over a decade, detailing the history of Harvey Comics.
Click here if you’re interested in purchasing a copy.
For each of the Urban Legends, I’ll be turning it over to Mark to give his answer to each of the question I ask.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Warren Kremer created Richie Rich.
The creation of Richie Rich is a bit of a mess, but quite often, artist Warren Kremer is the one who gets the credit.
I asked Mark about it, though, and Mark had this to say:
Over the years, I have taken both sides of this issue and have always tried to deal with it fairly, but I end up upsetting one side or the other. The Harvey family maintains that Richie Rich was created by Alfred Harvey as far back as the 1930s. Richie Rich first appeared in “Little Dot” #1 (9/53) and that version was drawn by Steve Muffatti, a longtime Famous Studios artist who was Warren Kremer’s mentor.
I have confirmed through my research that Kremer did not draw Richie Rich for the comic books until the later 50s, which seems odd to me if he indeed created the character. Also, Kremer claims that Richie was named after his son Richie, who actually was born after Richie Rich first saw print! Longtime Editor Sid Jacobson also maintains that he created Richie Rich explaining that Alfred Harvey did not participate at all in the creation process of many of the later characters. As Alfred and Warren are no longer with us, it’s hard to confirm or deny Jacobson’s claims.
What is true is that all three men were working at Harvey when Richie Rich first appeared, but no one could have predicted the phenomenal success of that creation. Otherwise, there would have been better documentation. In comparison, if Richie was a flop, nobody would care less. You never hear of anyone tooting their horn saying that they created Mr. Cheepers (a minor Richie Rich supporting character).
Very interesting, Mark, thanks.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Buzzy the Crow had his voice changed in recent re-airings of his old cartoon because it was considered racially offensive.
Buzzy the Crow was a popular animated character for Harvey in the late 40s and early 50s.
He also appeared in comic book form, although never in his own series.
An interesting thing happened awhile back, though, when the cartoons were repackaged for current syndication.
Here’s Mark on it…
Buzzy was originally voiced by the late Jackson Beck (Bluto in the “Popeye” cartoons). The voice was replaced by another actor in the early 1990s for the reason that the cartoons were considered racially offensive. The background music was also changed at that time to a more synthesized sound to give the “Harveytoons” a more “modern” feel. Eventually, the music reverted back to the original Winston Sharples score, but the replacement Buzzy voice remained. (I have heard that Beck’s voice was returned on the recent “Harveytoons” DVD set, but I have not purchased the set yet to confirm.)
Interesting move by Harvey.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Tommy Tortoise and Moe Hare never made a comic appearance until the late 90s!
Tommy Tortoise and Moe Hare were a popular series of cartoons by Harvey, even though they didn’t have THAT many features (only four feature cartoons).
Probably because they appeared in the opening credits of each episode of the syndicated Harveytoons series.
However, surprisingly enough, despite first appearing in cartoon form in 1953, they did not appear in a comic book until 1999!!!
I asked Mark about it,
“Harvey, The Magazine for Kids” came out in 1999 and was indeed the very first appearance in comic books for these two characters. That’s not to say they never appeared in print before. I have a coloring book from the early 60s that is devoted to the two characters and obviously they appeared in a handful of Famous Studios animated cartoons as well as on the “Harveytoons” opening.
Pretty weird, eh?
Okay, that’s it for this week! Thanks to Mark Arnold for the info. Check his book out if you’re interested in more Harvey history!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!
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