Harvey Comics was an American publisher of comic books from 1941 to 1994. Its most famous characters included Richie Rich and Casper the Friendly Ghost, both of whom were adapted to Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
Harvey Comics was founded in New York City by Alfred Harvey in 1941, after he bought out the small publisher Brookwood Publications. His brothers, Robert B. Harvey and Leon Harvey, joined soon after. The company soon got into licensed characters, which by the 1950s became the bulk of their output. The artist Warren Kremer is closely associated with the publisher.
Harvey Comics initially published comic books featuring characters it inherited from Brookwood Publications, including both original characters and such licensed characters as the Green Hornet and Joe Palooka. The company ultimately became best known for characters it published in comics from the 1950s onward, particularly those it licensed from the animation company Famous Studios, a division of Paramount Pictures, in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These include Little Audrey, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey and Herman and Katnip. Harvey also licensed popular characters from newspaper comic strips, such as Mutt and Jeff and Sad Sack. In addition, Harvey developed such original properties as Richie Rich, Little Dot and Little Lotta.
While the company tried to diversify the comics it published, with brief forays in the 1950s and 1960s into superhero, suspense, horror, western and other forms in such imprints as Harvey Thriller and Thrill Adventure, children's comics were the bulk of its output.
On July 27, 1958, Harvey purchased the entire Famous line (including character rights and rights to the animated shorts). The Famous cartoons were repackaged and distributed to television as Harveytoons, and Harvey continued production on new comics and a handful of new cartoons produced for television. Casper the Friendly Ghost, who had been Famous' most popular original character, now became Harvey's top draw. Associated characters such as Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost, The Ghostly Trio, Casper's horse Nightmare, Hot Stuff the Little Devil and Wendy the Good Little Witch, were added to the Harvey line.
By the early 1970s, sales had skyrocketed and more titles were added to meet with the higher demand, and many titles had 52-page issues. By 1974, the issues were downsized to the original 36-page format, which was a telltale sign that sales were in decline. 52-page issues returned by 1976, even if limited to select Richie Rich titles, which implies that sales rebounded even if just for Richie Rich. But by late 1979, the 36-page format returned permanently until Harvey ceased publication in July 1982, though they had intended to continue at least into 1983. The death of one of the Harvey brothers was believed to be the reason for the company's demise. According to an advertisement in issues released in July 1982, there were issues scheduled to be released through August 5 that year, but only one week of issues were released on July 8, 1982. Stories written in 1982 originally intended to be published in 1982 were never released until as late as 1988. Two previously unreleased issues originally scheduled for release in June 1982 were released in September 1982, but with completely new advertisements, including one designed to promote ABC's 1982/83 Saturday morning lineup, including The Pac-Man/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show, which premiered later that month.
In July 1986, the last surviving Harvey brother gave the company a second life as a sole proprietorship. However, the vast majority of titles from 1982 were dropped in 1986, leaving only the core titles, and new digest titles debuted. By 1992, Harvey had purchased the rights to use the Hanna-Barbera characters for a series of reprints originally published by Charlton Comics or Gold Key/Whitman. However, the last surviving owner of the company fell ill in 1994, and died by August 1994, thus resulting in the company's official demise (four months before the release of the movie adaptation of Richie Rich, which starred Macaulay Culkin). In 1995, the Harvey properties were purchased by Marvel Comics. The rights to Richie Rich and Casper characters were acquired by Ape Entertainment, and a new series of comics was launched in 2011, but lasted only a short time.
In 1985, Star Comics, a Marvel Comics subsidiary, published a series called Royal Roy. Harvey filed a lawsuit against Star (despite the former company not publishing at the time), citing that Roy was a blatant copy of Richie Rich, and that Roy's estate was called Cashelot. The creator of Royal Roy was Lennie Herman, a veteran writer for Harvey. He also wrote the series Top Dog and Planet Terry for Star, which were original creations. Royal Roy ended after just six issues and the lawsuit was dropped because of Herman's death in 1983.
In 1987, Harvey Comics sued Columbia Pictures, claiming that the character in the iconic logo to the 1984 film Ghostbusters bore too close a resemblance to Fatso, a member of the Ghostly Trio in the Casper the Friendly Ghost series of comics. The judge ruled in favor of Columbia Pictures in September of that year, because of Harvey's failure to renew the copyrights on earlier Casper stories and the "limited ways of designing a cartoon ghost".
List of Richie Rich and Casper Titles
- Richie Rich and... (11 issues, 1987-1990, each issue featuring a different character)
- Richie Rich and Billy Bellhops (1 issue, 1977)
- Richie Rich and Cadbury (29 issues, 1977-1982, and 1990)
- Richie Rich and Casper (45 issues, 1975-1982)
- Richie Rich and Casper in 3D (1 issue, 1987)
- Richie Rich and Dollar the Dog (24 issues, 1977-1982)
- Richie Rich and Dot (1 issue, 1974)
- Richie Rich and Gloria (25 issues, 1977-1982)
- Richie Rich and His Girlfriends (16 issues, 1979-1982)
- Richie Rich and Jackie Jokers (48 issues, 1973-1982, last publication before going on hiatus in 1982)
- Richie Rich and New Kids on the Block (3 issues, 1991)
- Richie Rich and Professor Keenbean (2 issues, 1990)
- Richie Rich and Reggie (3 issues, 1979-1980; #4 was advertised, but never released)
- Richoe Rich and Timmy Time (1 issue, 1977)
- Richie Rich Bankbooks (originally Bank Book, 59 issues, 1972-1982)
- Richie Rich Big Book (1992-1993)
- Richie Rich Big Bucks (6 issues, 1991-1992)
- Richie Rich Billions (48 issues, 1975-1982)
- Richie Rich Cash (47 issues, 1975-1982)
- Richie Rich Cash Money (1991-1992)
- Richie Rich, Casper and Wendy (1 issue)
- Richie Rich Collectors Comics (each issue featuring stories from the earliest two issues of each series, released in chronological order)
- Richie Rich Diamonds (59 issues, 1972-1982)
- Richie Rich Dollars and Cents (109 issues, 1963-1982)
- Richie Rich Fortunes (63 issues, 1971-1982)
- Richie Rich Gems (not to be confused with 30-second TV skit, 43 issues, 1974-1982, #44 onward published by Ape Entertainment in 2011-2012)
- Richie Rich Giant Size (4 issues, 1992-1993)
- Richie Rich Gold and Silver (42 issues, 1975-1982)
- Richie Rich Inventions (26 issues, 1977-1982)
- Richie Rich Jackpots (58 issues, 1972-1982)
- Richie Rich Millions (113 issues, 1961-1982)
- Richie Rich Money World (59 issues, 1972-1982)
- Richie Rich movie adaptation (1 issue, 1995, under the Marvel branding)
- Richie Rich Profits (47 issues, 1974-1982)
- Richie Rich
- Volume 1 (254 issues, 1960-1991)
- Volume 2 (28 issues, 1991-1994)
- Volume 3 (at least 6 issues, 2011-present, by Ape Entertainment)
- Richie Rich Relics (4 issues, 1988-1989)
- Richie Rich Riches (not to be confused with the TV series' seven-minute segment, though the TV version's logo is different; 59 issues, 1972-1982)
- Richie Rich Success Stories (105 issues, 1964-1982)
- Richie Rich Summer Bonanza (1 issue, 1991, 68-page issue which may have been a pilot for the Richie Rich Giant Size series, and its cover was the same as an early issue of Richie Rich Zillionz)
- Richie Rich Vaults of Mystery (47 issues, 1977-1982)
- Richie Rich Zillionz (33 issues, 1976-1982; originally the first 68-page publication ever published by Harvey)
- Million Dollar Digest Magazine (34 issues, 1986-1994)
- Richie Rich Adventure Digest (7 issues, 1992-1994)
- Richie Rich Best of the Years Digest (6 issues, 1977-1980)
- Richie Rich Digest Magazine (42 issues, 1986-1994)
- Richie Rich Digest Stories (17 issues, 1977-1982)
- Richie Rich Digest Winners (16 issues, 1977-1982)
- Richie Rich Gold Nuggets Digest (4 issues, 1990-1991)
- Richie Rich Holiday Digest (5 issues, 1979-1988; though the 1989 edition was actually Richie Rich Digest Magazine #19, but used the Holiday Digest logo)
- Richie Rich Million Dollar Digest (10 issues, 1980-1982)
- Richie Rich Money World Digest (1991-??)
- Richie Rich Treasure Chest Digest (3 issues, 1982; #4 was advertised but never released until 1986, but with a rebranded title)
- Richie Rich Vacation Digest (2 issues, 1991-1992)
- Richie Rich Vacation Digest '93 (1 issue, 1993)
- Richie Rich Vacations Digest (9 issues, 1977-1982)
- Casper and...
- Casper and Friends (1991-1992)
- Casper in Space
- Casper the Friendly Ghost
- TV Casper and Company
- Casper Digest Magazine
- Casper Digest Stories
- Casper Digest Winners
- Casper Enchanted Tales Digest
Notes and trivia
- Gloria Glad is a member of the Harvey Girls group, which also includes Little Audrey, Little Dot, Little Lotta and Mayda Munny.
- In the late 1970s, the titles' taglines on the top of each issue and on the left sidebars were in a variation of Futura font. That was changed to an Impact-style font by the issues released later in February 1982.
- Each issue had a thick sidebar to the left of the cover, bearing the title and the tagline. They were launched in 1977, but were eliminated as of the issues released in October 1986, three months after the company's reboot. Redundancy may be the reason for such removal. However, the sidebar did make one final appearance in the final published issue of Richie Rich and..., released in February 1990, whose cover was recycled from an earlier issue of Richie Rich and Cadbury, albeit with gradient effects. Richie Rich and Cadbury would become a regular title again by April 1990, with its issue numbering continuing from where it left off in 1982; but the series was permanently discontinued late in 1990.
- In February 1990, Harvey tried an experiment with its covers by recoloring the sky to use gradient effects. In May 1990, the sky in the republished stories that month were recolored with gradients. That practice was dropped by the summer, though the gradients still appeared on the covers until sometime in 1991.
- Beginning with issues released in August 1990, covers from prior to July 1982 were recycled for then-current issues, but by September 1990, the content of each issue were primarily reprints from past issues. By October 1992, recycling of older covers were being phased out, and original cover art returned, sometimes as a spoiler to a main story featured in the issue. Older covers were retired later in 1993.
- Beginning in issues released in August 1990, the logo no longer featured the letter "H", and the letters in Harvey each appeared in a row of six squares, tilted, and alternating. In 1994, during the final two or three months of publication, the logo's final update showed only the trademark joker's head inside a circle.
- Part of the logo for Richie Rich Zillionz was used in the logo for the Zillion-Dollar Adventures segments on TV.